select - Northern European winter experiences
Written by Brian Johnston
Winter arrives early in northern Europe, and with it come opportunities to experience a winter wonderland of snow and ice, as well as skiing and many other outdoor activities.
Moscow is surrounded by wide, forest-covered landscapes that make for plenty of cross-country skiing options. Indeed, places such as Bitsevsky and Sokolniki Park, within the city limits, can be reached by metro. For perhaps the best cross-country experience, head to Izmailovsky Park, where you can meander under ice-encrusted birch trees on paths dotted with the footprints of squirrels and birds.
Distance: 3,568 km
Flight Time: 5 hours, 15 minutes
Frequency: 12 flights a week
Travelling through the frozen forests of Lapland in far northern Sweden by dog sled is a great winter experience. In the ski resort of Kiruna – which lies on the same latitude as Greenland – tour companies run by indigenous Sami people will take you out behind a team of huskies across the tundra for a chilly but exhilarating ride. Even better, you’ll get the chance to see the Northern Lights, when the sky shimmers with eerie, phosphorescent light in one of the world’s most awe-inspiring natural phenomena.
Distance: 4,585 km
Flight Time: 6 hours, 50 minutes
If you want to give downhill skiing or snowboarding a go, head to Lillehammer – Norway’s oldest ski resort and host city of the 1994 Winter Olympic Games. The slopes of its Hafjell Alpine Centre cater for all levels of skiers, with one exhilarating run continuing for 7km. Lillehammer is also a notable cross-country ski centre, with 400km of tracks meandering across beautiful Hardangervidda Plateau, some of which are illuminated at night to magical effect.
Flight Time: 7 hours, 30 minutes
Denmark is too flat for any serious skiing, but you can have your winter experience right in the capital at Tivoli Gardens, the famous amusement park created in 1843 and still a Copenhagen favourite. This year, the winter theme is based on Scandinavian and Russian Christmases, with traditional wooden huts and Christmas trees. Over 100,000 lights bring a sparkle to long winter evenings, and you can whirl across the ice rink like the Sugar Plum Fairy. You can also skate in the city’s main square, Kongens Nutorv.
Distance: 4,748 km
Flight Time: 6 hours, 45 minutes