5 Great Spots for Your European Winter Vacation
In Switzerland, we have gemütlich (“comfortably homey”), in Denmark they have hygge (“coziness”), and Bulgaria has their уют (“snug.”) Europeans love to get cozy in the middle of winter, and a getaway is the perfect chance to snuggle up with your loved ones to enjoy the coldest months of the year by a fire.
Some vacationers want a small town where they can escape the crowds, others just want to enjoy their favorite winter sports, but wherever you go, each town has its own unique way of making winter enjoyable and fun.
Here are 5 great places to stay for your upcoming vacation, each one with it’s own special way of keeping you nice and cozy.
Snæfellsnes Peninsula, Iceland
The Snæfellsnes peninsula’s landscape is made up of beautiful, moss-covered lava fields, misty cliffsides, and a gigantic volcano topped with a glacier that dates back all the way to the Ice Age. At night, you can view the northern lights, an auroral display above the magnetic poles of the northern and southern hemispheres, often seen as wondrous patches of pale greens and pinks.
In the tiny fishing town of Stykkisholmur you can stay at Hotel Egilsen, a small in with 10 cozy, New England style rooms with original sketches of local landmarks by Icelandic artist Tolli line the walls. You can enjoy the best lab stew in town across the street at Narfeyrarstofa.
Or you can stay at Hotel Búðir, a 28-room lodge with views of the Snæfell glacier or bay from every window. Sitting areas throughout the hotel are furnished with deep leather sofas and scores of old National Geographics to flip through. The lobby bar has one of the country’s largest whiskey collections.
Alpe di Siusi, Dolomites
Come to the soaring peaks of northeastern Italy, and you can either stay at a traditional hotel in the Badia Valley or head to Adler Mountain Lodge for skiing in the lesser-known Alpe di Siusi region to the west. The lodge has 18 rooms with pinewood interiors, floor-to-ceiling windows, and African décor set sporadically throughout the shared areas from the owners’ own trips to Africa. There are also 12 terraced villas resembling ancient Tyrolean huts.
In the surrounding area there are more than 220 miles of hiking and cross-country ski trails. Make sure to buy a cup of hot cocoa from the traditional baitas (stone and wood houses) spread throughout. During the holidays, you can take a short cable car ride to Santa Cristina village to see the town square filled with lights.
This mountain resort in Northern Sweden sits amongst snow-covered peaks with more than 100 powdery ski runs.
If you’re feeling adventurous, stay at Igloo Åre where the beds are made from packed snow covered in thick sleeping bags and reindeer skins. For a more traditional, and warmer, stay, try the Copperhill Mountain Lodge with it’s ski-in, ski-out chalet and large stone fireplaces. Here you can book a Samezan massage in their spa tee-pees, inspired by the region’s indigenous Sami tribe.
At night, you can enjoy a pint with the local crowd at Hotel Fjällgården, or curl up with a mug of glogg at Gute Grill & Bar in the Tott Hotel. For a tasty meal, head over to Fjällpuben, a farmhouse style restaurant serving elk carpaccio with currants and pickled beets.
This list wouldn’t be complete without including a small village in the Swiss Alps. Built from sparkling gray blocks of Vals quartzite, the Therme Vals are filled with steamy hammams and flower-covered pools. The 7132 Hotel features a restaurant that serves dishes like Öra salmon with beets and spinach. It also features rooftop suites designed by Japanese architect Kengo Kuma.
If you’re up for a challenge, traverse the 45-minute hike from the hotel along farm roads to Restaurant Ganni, an 18th-century timber mountain lodge for a pot of cheese spiked with ginger, porcini, or traditional kirsch.
Spend a night at the luxurious Cheval Blanc Courchevel in Le Jardin Alpin for up scale stay with scenic views, world renound slopes, and well-off visitors. Chef Yannick Alléno from Paris’s Michelin three-starred Le Meurice runs Le 1947, where traditional French dishes are served with a modern twist.
Courchevel’s beautiful town center is lined with high-end boutiques, including Isabel Marant and Ski Dior. Make sure to stop in at the bakery Maison Braissand for its delicious pain au chocolat.
Whether you’re looking for a small cabin to escape to or a high end resort to pamper yourself in, there’s plenty of options this winter. Decide what kind of experience you’d like, and there’s sure to be a town to suit your wintertime whims.