Text by: Quartz Co. Editorial Team
The winter season is the perfect time to escape to sunnier destinations and more clement temperatures. For others, traveling abroad this cold season is just another opportunity to embrace winter sports and mountain explorations. For these adventurer types, snow enthusiasts and Northern lights lovers, here are our recommendations for five unusual winter holiday trips.
A Luxury Hotel Experience in Gstaad
Whether you’re an experienced skier or not, mentioning Gstaad readily evokes snow-covered slopes, breathtaking vistas and fun-filled days skiing or snowboarding. Choosing a hotel with a spa as a home away from home ensures that you can relax after a day spent on the slopes. For a luxurious experience from start to finish, we recommend staying at the Hotel Alpina. Since opening in 2012, the property has been delighting guests with its Michelin-starred restaurant, its sprawling 2,000 square meter spa, a mere throw from the Gemsstockbahn cable car. If that doesn't convince you, the fact that the hotel was awarded the prestigious Swiss Gault & Millau 2017 Hotel of the Year award just might.
Ski and Onsens in Niseko
Look beyond the popular cities of Tokyo and Kyoto, and you will find that Japan offers wonderful outdoor opportunities for winter lovers. Head for the island of Hokkaido, the northernmost one in Japan, to reach Niseko, a city that gets record snowfall year after year. Last winter, astonishingly, almost 10 meters of dry snow was recorded there, guaranteeing memorable days on the slopes. After a day spent outdoors, don’t miss the opportunity to enjoy one of the city’s many legendary onsens (hot springs baths) for a moment of pure bliss and relaxation.
Watching the Northern Lights in Norway
Watching the Northern Lights race across the night sky is an unforgettable experience that ranks high on many traveler’s bucket list, and Norway is a prime destination for aurora observation. We suggest heading to Tromsø, the capital of the Arctic, or pushing north to the city of Alta, where the world’s first Northern Lights observatory was built in 1899, to enjoy a night gazing at the astral phenomenon.
Hiking Torres del Paine in Patagonia
The horn-shaped peaks of the Torres del Paine mountain range are among the most easily recognizable in the world and they host unique wildlife and flora. See the wonders of the national park for yourself by going on a hike over several days with an experienced local guide. Several travel agencies and tour operators offer all-inclusive packages that will satisfy experienced hikers and beginners alike. And since our winter corresponds to summer in the southern hemisphere, the weather there will be nicer and the landscapes more colorful.
The Experience of a Lifetime in Antarctica
A visit to Antarctica, the ultimate snow-covered playground, is one that you won't be forgetting anytime soon! Set off to meet Emperor penguins and their newborns, and visit the largest desert in the world, with White Desert and their private plane. For the experience of a lifetime plan to stay on the continent over the course of eight days (including a visit to the South Pole), for an incredible, life-altering journey. The North American winter is the perfect time to visit Antarctica since the days there are longer and the temperatures are higher. If it’s your dream to meet penguins, the end of the month of December is the best time to visit. The month of March, on the other hand, is perfect for whale watching.
Whichever of these unique destinations sparks your interest, make sure you dress warm and wear a winter coat that’s suitable for prolonged outdoor adventures in cold temperatures. Canadian-made Quartz Co. winter jackets are of the highest quality and will keep you both warm and stylish on your trip so you can enjoy it to the fullest.
Photos by: Wikicommons, Hotel Alpina, Getty Images