Story by Jackie Hamilton & Kevin Montalbo
Looking for a change of pace? There’s more to our wondrous world than just the equatorial hot and steamy tropics. A light dusting of snow across any town or village and you have a winter wonderland in the offing. Think snow crested mountains, cruises to see sparkling glaciers and fjords soaring to the skies. Bundled up snow-boarders carving up white powdery ski-fields and the obligatory roaring open fires to snuggle up next to as you keep warm and toasty.
1. Russia and the Baltics
“Fascinating and astonishing”. This is how you’ll describe the scenes of Red Square, Catherine’s Palace, numerous onion-domed churches, St Petersburg, the world-class magnificent Hermitage Museum and more.
You won’t need to go in the Northern hemisphere winter, because it’s pretty much cool year-round! Want to make the most out of the experience? Go in for a Baltic Cruise. You’ll explore gorgeous seascapes and beautiful towns and cities in North Europe with a blanket of white highlighting the cityscapes.
From Sweden and Denmark, to Russia and Estonia, you’ll soak up the rich histories of these iconic cities from berlin and Moscow to Helsinki, Stockholm, Oslo and beyond.
2. Alaska, USA
Known as America’s last frontier, Alaska is home to seemingly untouched winter landscapes, with distinct panoramas that will leave you in awe. Alaska’s famous Inside Passage, generous glaciers, and an abundance of wildlife like you’ve seen before – and you can discover all this on an Alaska cruise expedition departing Vancouver, Seward or Whittier (Anchorage). You could even cruise from San Francisco or LA, if you happen to be there.
Explore the Inside Passage, befriend seals and whale watch, and, if you’re up for it (literally), board a helicopter over the gargantuan Juneau Icefield, Mendenhall and Taku Glaciers!
As an addition, we would highly recommend extending to Denali National Park, which plays host to various winter activities such as dogsled races, wildlife watching, and stunning landscapes towered over by Mount McKinley, America’s tallest mountain.
Of course there is always the Rocky Mountaineer Rail Journey, showcasing otherwise inaccessible wilderness of the Rocky Mountains in all of their magnificent glory. Secret haunts of bear and caribou, families of deer and soaring high in the sky, bald eagles.
Excited yet? You should be!
Japan is considered a year-round destination, exuding timeless beauty whatever month you may visit. Since it belongs to our cool list, there’s no doubt that the Land of the Rising Sun is simply stunning during wintertime. Ski-fields run over with so much powder snow you could ski or snowboard your way to Hakuba, Niseko, and Sahoro, each flourish with silky ski tracks, grab a snow-mobile, discover snow-monkeys in nearby hot springs (yes, there really are such a thing as snow-monkeys! Very cute.) The list is almost endless, and don’t forget to sample the freshest sushi or ramen noodles and a little saki… to keep yourself warm of course. You’ll be thanking us for this.
For a classic European winter, say hello to Austria. Outside of winter, the scenery is already set to inspire you with landscapes dotted by fairy-tale villages, green fir forests, and deep mystical lakes. Now imagine all of that with a blessing of powder white snow… simply marvellous! Other cultural treats to enjoy include the very popular Christmas markets where you’ll find delicate handmade souvenirs, the ubiquitous gluhwein (hot mulled wine), cream coloured ponies and crisp apple strudels, doorbells and sleighbells and schnitzels with noodles… OK these ARE a few of my favourite things!
And, with a trip to Austria, they are likely to become yours too.
Love winter? What better way to celebrate the chilly season that to go to Iceland? Here, you’ll get the full experience of winter, as temperatures get really low while you see spectacular views of the Northern Lights from this island nation. Warm yourself up in the island’s naturally occurring volcanic hot springs and geysers (Did you know that most of Iceland’s power is geo-thermic making use of the numerous volcanoes that still today spew forth sparks aplenty, along with the creation of new land). Plus, for the thrill-seekers among you, the ultimate winter adventure snorkel (yes you heard right, I said snorkel). Don you mask and fins, and a “dry” suit to keep you warm and snuggly as you push out into Thingvellir National Park Silfra Fissures’ clear waters. Why? I hear you ask… this is where the tectonic plates between Europe and America merge – and how cool is that! Another country to add to your adventure bucket list!
These adventures are available as part of Accor Vacation Club Travel (for eligible Premiere Plus members).
To enquire about the benefits of an Accor Vacation Club membership, visit www.accorvacationclub.com.au