The Cold Never Bothered Me Anyway! Five Underrated European Destinations For Winter Lovers
With Malta going through a pretty warm winter, you may be fancying a crisp cold getaway.
If you are seeking out a frosty travel destination that isn’t extremely popular among tourists, here are five places that are definitely worth checking out.
1. Lapland, Finland
From lake saunas, skiing and husky safaris to reindeer experiences, snowmobile adventures, and ice fishing, Finland’s Lapland offers activities which are rare to find elsewhere, although you may need to travel a bit for particular tours.
Some unmissable experiences would certainly be the Santa Claus village in Rovaniemi and the Snow Castle in Kemi.
Of course, you could even spot the famous Aurora Borealis, otherwise known as the Northern Lights, but luck must be on your side.
While Aurora is visible on 200 days of the year, it is very faint on most days but becomes more visible if there is no light pollution and no clouds.
Getting to Lapland is a worthy hassle. You might catch two flights to Helsinki, Finland’s capital, and then another plane to Rovaniemi, the capital of Lapland. If you’re lucky, you might find a good deal via London and then straight to Rovaniemi.
2. Krkonoše, Czech Republic
High up in the Czech-Polish border lie the mountains of Krkonoše, otherwise known as the Giant Mountains.
My favourite one is definitely Snežka. Found on an altitude of 1,600 metres, this mountain is the highest point in the Czech Republic. The views from up here are some of the most silencing landscapes I have ever seen. And if you love a sunset and a snow blanket, visit on a cold January afternoon just before 4pm.
Another outstanding destination in this region is the Adršpach-Teplice park. Here, one can find sandstone rock formations shaped in unusual and striking forms.
The easiest connection from Malta is through Wroclaw Airport in Poland. From there, Krkonoše is less than a three-hour drive away.
As for accommodation, if you’re keen on the Czech wintery experience, you might want to stay in what the locals call Penzion[s]. These are small cottages which can house families or groups and are super comfortable.
3. Stockholm, Sweden
If you like cities in winter, then Stockholm may be the place for you. The Swedish capital is as colourful, clean and calm as cities get. The Gamla Stan (old town) is probably the most charming part of Stockholm. However, if you fancy museums and palace tours, you will find all sorts of them here.
Travelling by metro within the city is recommended, not only for efficiecny but because every station is a sight within itself! Each metro station is decorated with graffiti that has recently seen travellers hop on the underground tubes just to see the art pieces.
Getting to Stockholm from Malta is easy and cheap as direct connections have recently been restored to Arlanda, Sweden’s largest airport.
Accommodation may depend on your preferences, but for groups I would recommend hostels. This could be a good choice especially if you’re willing to meet some fellow travellers along your journey.
4. The Baltic countries
These three states are some of the most underrated countries in Europe. Starting with Tallinn in Estonia and continuing to Riga in Latvia and Vilnius in Lithuania, these capitals are tiny in size but wealthy in culture.
Your day starts with a stroll along the charming old towns along with a sunset on top of a viewpoint in the afternoon.
In the evening, the squares are bustling with activity and if you’re heavy on nightlife, you won’t be disappointed. Some unmissable places include the Kadriorg Gardens in Tallinn, the Old Riga Square and The Hill of the Three Crosses in Vilnius.
Direct cheap flights operate to all three cities, but I would suggest starting with Tallinn then proceeding to Riga and Vilnius.
Two to three nights in each capital is more than enough time, and you can travel from one to the other with surprisingly comfortable buses. As for accommodation, hotels are cheap. However, if you are part of a young crowd you should absolutely stay in a hostel. Prices are ridiculously low here, and they also offer welcome shots on arrival!
5. Reykjavik and Húsavík, Iceland
When else would you go to a place that is called Iceland, than in winter? These two places in the volcanic epicentre of Europe are a must-see. Reykjavik is home to some explorations that you may not scout elsewhere.
From volcanoes to geysers, natural hot springs, glaciers, black sand beaches and waterfalls, this place is stacked with nature. Just like most northern places, each destination requires a bit of travelling to get to. But passing by the most stunning landscapes is no boring trip.
Húsavík is a quaint fishing village on the other side of the country and is known for its Arctic Ocean views and bathing experiences. However, a specific adventure is whale watching. During these tours, watchers observe whales and dolphins in their natural habitat.
Rest assured that most companies who offer whale watching tours do so in cruelty-free ways. In fact, they do not guarantee a tour on demand as they believe that whales must invite the boat in the pod and not the other way around.
Getting to Iceland can be tricky as there are no direct flights. Most connections go through London but layovers are not short. As for accommodation, Iceland tends apartment rentals are becoming increasingly popular in the northernmost European nation.
Where would you like to travel to this winter?