Europe has undeniably some of the most beautiful spots in the world to visit. Although summer is great for exploring, the European winter season also brings out some of the most wonderful sceneries and cozy experiences.
We’ve put together a list of 5 hidden gems you should experience if you’re looking for a getaway during European winters.
1) Mascognaz, Italian Alps
In the winter, the breathtaking Hotellerie de Mascognaz can be reached on snowmobiles only. Once a small village, this place has been transformed into a hotel where wild nature is the absolute protagonist; a tiny wooden bridge over a frozen river, tall pines covered by snow, unforgettable sunsets. The Hotellerie offers a total of seven chalets available to book, each and every one unique and different from the others: once houses and barns built in the 14th century, they have now been restructured with characteristic furniture. The hotel has also a private restaurant where you can taste typical dishes such as homemade tagliatelle with duck sauce, Aosta valley cheeses and sweet jams, pears dipped in red wine.
In the heart of the Alps, this paradise is perfect for hiking and skiing, as the Champoluc, Antagnod and Frachey ski resorts are all close. Not more than half an hour away is also a wonderful spa, the perfect place to relax while enjoying the privileged view of a glacier through the tall glass walls. To learn more about the Hotellerie check out its website here: https://www.hotelleriedemascognaz.com/en/.
2) Kuusamo, Lapland
Located between Helsinki and the Arctic Cycle, Kuusamo seems like a contemporary piece of art; snow, ice and frost accumulate on the tree branches, producing unbelievable snow sculptures. This town has as many inhabitants as reindeers and many private houses to rent.
The hotel Oivangin lomakartano is lost in a fairy-tale forest setting and is perfect for hiking and every winter sport, such as cross country skiing and riding snow mobiles, but also fishing on the ice of the Kitkajarvi lake or sitting on a sledge carried by huskies or reindeers.
Oivangin lomakartano was built near the same ancient dwellings where the Sami people used to live. You can stay in one of its four log chalets, which are set on the shores of lakes in the forest, or enjoy the private restaurant Ukonkivi. Offering space for more than 100 people, Ukonkivi is perfect for parties, but also for quiet dinners: the atmosphere is peaceful; the view on the lake is incredible. More information on the hotel here: https://oivanginlomakartano.fi/en/our-story.
3) St. Moritz, Switzerland
Even though not “hidden” like the others, St. Moritz is a gem always worth visiting. This Swiss town is divided into two parts, St. Moritz Dorf (which means “village”), where you can enjoy a walk around the lake, and St. Moritz Bad (literally “Spa”), where cars are not allowed and pedestrians walk around little shops.
The Badrutt’s Palace Hotel is an historical landmark in the centre of the town. Opened in 1896, it has hosted many celebrities over time thanks to its position near one of the best ski areas in the world, its nightlife at the “King’s Club” and the relaxing atmosphere at “Palace wellness”. More information on the hotel can be found here: https://www.swissdeluxehotels.com/en/hotel/badrutt-s-palace-hotel.
If you are looking for a more affordable option, check out also Hotel Waldhaus am See, located on the lakeside and with the largest whisky bar in the world (over 2500 different types of whisky).
Finally, make sure you do not miss Hanselmann, the pastry shop famous for its chocolate and cakes, and Veltlinerkeller for the traditional pizzoccheri, a ribbon pasta cooked with green and cubed potatoes, layered with cheese and topped with fried garlic and sage.
4) Alto Adige, Italian Alps
It seems impossible to choose one option among the many gems in Alto Adige, the Northern part of the Italian region Trentino Alto Adige. Close to the huge ski resort of the Dolomiti superski, the National Park of Puez-Odle (perfect for lovers of snowshoes and ski mountaineering) and Passo delle Erbe (a 3-kilometres-long sled slope) the area is a natural paradise. The Hotel Chalet Corso, located in the cosy village of San Vigilio di Marebbe, is 4-star family-run hotel with a log cabin lost in the woods that lodges a hot tub and a “farmer’s” sauna (in the original large well with herbs and perfumed essences!).
To find out more about Hotel Chalet Corso visit the official website: https://www.chaletcorso.com/en.
Villa Calluna is located in Valle Aurina and was built following a more modern interpretation of the traditional architectural style of the region. It has nine apartments to rent, a big swimming pool and a striking panorama over the mountains of Valle Aurina. The location is quiet yet close to the shops, cafes and restaurants of the centre.
You can find details of Villa Calluna here: http://www.villacalluna.com/en/apartment-in-valle-di-tures/1-0.html.
Apart from the endless expanses of snow, the gorgeous slopes and the wooden houses, food is another reason why you cannot miss a holiday in Alto Adige: traditional dishes include smoked sausages and speck ham, homemade jams, honey and white wine sauces, apple strüdels, turtres (a type of fritter) and the canederli, namely boiled dumplings with ham and cheese.
5) La Plagne, France
In one of the best ski resorts in the world, La Plagne, a village made entirely of ice and snow can be an inspiring way to spend your winter holidays. In the Igloo Village Blacksheep La Plagne, you eat and sleep in an actual igloo with an unforgettable view of the Mont Blanc. For those who fear the cold too much, there is a Hot Igloo, heated by a wood stove and with a panoramic view, while for the more adventurous ones the Igloo Dormitory is a perfect option. The entire accommodation is eco-friendly with organic and local food and ecotourism itineraries offered.
These 5 hidden gems are wonderful places to travel to and relax in if you’re looking for a mini escape for a couple of days.
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