by Fahad Redha
As the winter season arrives, you may be planning a trip abroad. There are lots to choose from, whether you’re dreaming of a white Christmas, or want to get away from the bitter snow and frost.
The Nordic countries are the first thing on anyone’s mind for winter destinations. In recent years, Iceland has become one of the most popular destinations for travellers. The Land of Fire and Ice boasts some of the most breath-taking scenery anywhere. One way to see the country is to hire a car and travel on Route 1 or ‘the ring road,’ which encircles the whole country. Whale watching is another must-see if you’re over there.
Bardu, Troms in Northern Norway, is home to the Wolf Lodge. Here, you can “experience arctic nature up close as you live amongst the wolves.” Experienced keepers will guide you around the enclosure where you can meet the animals face to face. There is a range of activities including Sami cultural visits, zipline adventures, scenic train rides, fishing, bird watching, historic tours, art tours, cultural heritage tours, fjord cruises, WW2 history, trips to Sweden and more.
However, for a festive holiday, it’s Finland that you’ll want to visit. To the far north you’ll find Santa’s Lapland, home to reindeer-driven sleighs, husky-driven sleds, and elves around every corner. Experience spectacular shows, tobogganing, ice fishing, snowmobiles, to name a few activities.
Canada ‘The Great White North’ is the go-to place for winter sports, whether you want to watch a hockey game or have a go at skating, skiing, or snowboarding. The Rideau Canal in Ottawa boasts the world’s largest naturally frozen skating rink. Above the Manicouagan River in Quebec is the world’s highest snowmobile bridge. You can give snowshoeing or cross-country skiing a go in Kouchibouguac National Park in New Brunswick.
Moving down south to the US and this might be the best time to see Florida. In the summer, the Sunshine State’s heat and humidity may make it uncomfortable for some people. However, in the winter, it should be much milder. The only problem may be that lots of other people have the same idea, with many ‘snowbirds’ from Northern states, also making the trip.
Which brings us to the Southern Hemisphere. New Zealand is without a doubt one of the most beautiful countries on earth and November is its spring season. December to February is its summer and considered to be the best time to visit. That said, bring extra clothes as temperatures can fluctuate throughout the day. One of the most famous attractions in the south of New Zealand is Hobbiton, the set used for filming Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy.
Now to quote Monty Python, for something completely different. There are a number of firms who specialise in Antarctic cruises and tours. Because it’s in the opposite hemisphere, it is now in the summer months and temperatures there aren’t going to be as brutal as in the winter months.
The cruises, run by experienced guides, take you through the seventh continent, a place few will ever get to see. “You’ll cross the infamous Drake Passage,” one company, Intrepid Travel, boasts, “and set foot on the Antarctic Peninsula, explore ice-dotted bays by zodiac and get up close with Gentoo penguins and migrating blue whales.”
On the theme of cruises, there are many companies that offer winter getaways. Spend the winter months sailing the oceans, visiting places as far as the Caribbean and the Falklands.
If you are planning on travelling this winter, you’re spoiled for choice. Some of you may want to escape the freeze and head to warmer climates. Or maybe the cold never bothered you anyway. There’s bound to be something that appeals to you. There’s also the option of going somewhere in either Ireland or the UK. How about a Christmas by Loch Ness?