The Non-Ski Guide To Winter Sports Holidays

With winter well and truly here, you might already be thinking about just how you’re going to escape it. As the temperature drops and the snow piles up, people all across the world are saddling up for the ski season, looking to the mountains. While skiing is very much top dog of the winter sports scene, there are plenty of alternatives out there, each formulated around the same mountain getaway scene. Taking to the hills may serve you well this season, and by paying attention to these alternative winter sports, you can diversify your snow-filled fun.

If you’re heading to Europe this winter season, France has its fair share of snowy mountain spots. When you’re trying to get away from the hustle and bustle of the country’s ski resorts, it’s best to look for an area that offers great hiking trails and contemplative viewpoints. Enter Le Grand Bornand. One of the most popular areas in France’s mountain regions, Le Grand Bornand is ahead of the curve, offering cutting edge sporting technology to those who don’t want to don conventional skis this season. At this ski resort you can rent your very own Snooc, an invention that serves as a pair of adaptable skis. You can use your Snooc to go hiking off piste and transform it into a toboggan for when it’s time to descend.


If you prefer something a little more up-tempo, however, you might want to try your hand at baseboarding. A cross between body boarding and snowboarding, baseboarding requires you to lay face first on a board to descend the soft and snowy pistes safely. You don’t need to be a racing expert to give this sport a go, although there will be lessons available at Whistler, Canada, this year. Gather up a group of friends and give the activity a try.


Getting out into the mountains is very much like seeing a whole other world, and as a result, it pays to give the surrounding landscapes a little attention. If hurtling down a mountain doesn’t sound like a good way of getting to know the area, why not try slowing the pace a little? Hiking holiday trips are becoming increasingly popular and serve as a fantastic way of seeing different parts of the world. One of the most beautiful hiking routes departs from Reykjavik, Iceland, and offers breathtaking views of ash mountains, waterfalls, and volcanoes along the way. If you’re really lucky, you might just finish the trip with a glimpse of the northern lights.


There are other activities that you can use to enjoy the snow, and not all of them involve being upright on a pair of skis. Fatbiking is a modified version of mountain biking, incorporating even bigger tires on the vehicles to ensure a safer ride. If this kind of winter activity sounds good to you, heading to Lenzerheide in Switzerland might just be your best bet. The European ski resort has closed one of its ski slopes so that it can be used exclusively for the activity. The slopes also come equipped with a bike park and custom-made obstacles for the more daring riders.


Taking to the waters might not be as bad an idea as it sounds this winter. In many mountain settings, stretches of natural lakes remain liquid during the colder months, giving kayakers the chance to explore a new part of the world. Interlaken in Switzerland is one of the best places in which to give winter kayaking a go, offering up a stunning set of views. Adapted kayaking gear will keep you toasty warm during your expedition, making the activity all the more enjoyable.

Getting away this winter season isn’t just about hitting the ski slopes, and by turning your attention to alternative activities, you can explore the world’s mountain ranges as if for the very first time.

Hannah Lamarque
Hannah is a freelance writer and copy editor living in Europe. She writes about travel, art, design and culture and loves discovering hidden places in the cities that she visits.