A short scenic train ride or drive from Munich, the Bavarian Alps are a stunning winter wonderland, and the village of Schliersee is the perfect base to enjoy them. Located on the shores of Lake Schliersee, which often freezes over in winter, it’s delightfully off-radar outside of Germany, but fast becoming a dream destination for those in the know. You can ski or snowboard, go ice skating on the lake or set off on a horse-drawn carriage ride, warmed by mulled wine. You can climb Schlierberg and Wendelstein mountains for spectacular views of the Alps, or explore other snowy sights, such as King Ludwig II’s famous fairy-tale castles – including the iconic Castle Neuschwanstein, which was the inspiration for Walt Disney’s Sleeping Beauty. At the end of the day, relax in a traditional Bavarian bar – expect lederhosen and steins – or wind down in your hotel spa.
• Stay at the four-star Karma Bavaria, where a Classic Double Room with king-size bed and private sun terrace starts from £167 for two adults per night (breakfast included). The hotel has a great spa, with a pool, sauna and jacuzzi, and is just 15 minutes from the largest interconnected ski resort in Germany. Book at Karmagroup.com
Rockies by rail
Canada boasts some of the most dramatic snowscapes in the world, and now there’s an 11-day escorted rail tour you can take to experience it for yourself. Travelling from Toronto to Vancouver on board Via Rail’s famous Canadian train, you’ll see the country’s stunning winter landscape from the comfort of Sleeper Plus accommodation with meals included. Cross the Canadian Rockies, glide past icy forests, and cut through the white blankets of the vast prairies. There’s plenty of time to explore Toronto and Vancouver, but the icing on the cake of this once-in-a-lifetime trip is a visit to Niagara Falls.
• Ffestiniog Travel’s Canada In The Snow tour departs 6 February 2022 and costs from £3,200 per person. Price includes flights, all rail travel, accommodation, hotel transfers and the services of a tour leader throughout. For details and to book, go to Ffestiniogtravel.com
Located on the mouth of the River Daugava, Latvia’s Riga is the perfect spot for a snowy city break. Widely regarded as home to the finest art nouveau architecture in the world, the city’s Old Town is on the UNESCO World Heritage list and is a maze of crooked alleyways and gaping city squares. Start at Rātslaukums, where you can pick up maps from the tourist information centre, then wander to discover the museums, restaurants and beer gardens of Livu Laukums and the tourist-friendly cafés and shops of Torna Iela. The city’s iconic art nouveau district is home to colourful late 19th-century architecture, particularly Albert Street and the Art Nouveau Museum. Elsewhere, Riga Central Market, the largest in Europe, is housed in a series of WWII Zeppelin hangars and is the ideal place for people watching.
• Stay at the five-star Grand Poet by Semarah Hotels, where standard double or twin rooms start from £120 per night. Located in the heart of Old Riga, it’s the perfect luxury base for a winter adventure. Book at Grandpoet.semarahhotels.com
Iceland’s capital, Reykjavik, provides a fascinating first stop on an organised tour holiday from Omega Breaks. The route explores where the European and American tectonic plates are slowly moving apart, and marvels at the Gullfoss Waterfall and the bubbling muds of the Geysir hot spring area. The remote location of one of the hotels – on a riverbank in Hella – means you’re perfectly placed to watch the northern lights. For those interested in learning more or photographing them, Pete Lawrence from the BBC’s The Sky At Night will be on hand to help.
• The five-day Iceland and the Northern Lights tour costs from £799 per person, based on two sharing. Price includes return flights from Luton to Keflavik departing 31 March 2022, one night’s B&B in Reykjavik, two nights’ half-board in Hella and one night at Keflavik airport. A full-day Golden Circle Tour is included, as well as a full-day South Iceland tour and visits to the Urrioafoss Waterfall and Krysuvik. Book at Omegabreaks.com
Dubbed the Arctic Capital, Tromsø in Norway is where the sun doesn’t set from May to late July. You can see the Northern Lights, too, but there’s more to this city than its dazzling skies. Visit the Arctic Cathedral for northern lights concerts, say hello to the seals in Polaria or find out more about the town’s history at the Polar Museum. You can ride the cable car up to Mount Storsteinen – or climb the 1,200 stone steps – for stunning panoramic views. You can also go reindeer sledging or whale watching, or journey on a sled led by huskies. For buzzy city life, Tromsø is the world’s northernmost university town, so there’s plenty of nightlife. Check out the restaurants and sample grilled stockfish, reindeer sirloin or seagull eggs.
• Fred. Holidays are offering a four-night break to Tromsø from £649 per person, including return scheduled flights from London Gatwick on 5 February 2022 and four nights in a three-star hotel in Tromsø based on two adults sharing a room. Call 0800 988 3369 or visit Fredholidays.co.uk
Please check Gov.uk/guidance/travel-advice-novel-coronavirus for travelling advice following the outbreak of the coronavirus
Words: Jo Chapman