Stretching from Switzerland to France to Germany and to Northern Italy with some of the most scenic snow capped peaks, the Alps are a winter oasis to many travelers. When most people think of the Alps, they think of lederhosens, yodeling, and skiing. And while most of those stereotypes are somewhat accurate, there is also much more to this alpine region. Here are 15 reasons why you should visit the Alps this winter.
We’ll get this one out of the way. Alpine mountains are internationally renown as one of the world’s best skiing destination. With a multitude of ski resorts and ski events, the Alps invites skiers across the globe to relinquish in their favorite sport (and hopefully not pinwheel down the mountain).
2. Dog sledding
Some Alpine resorts offer sledding with huskies. So if you ever wanted to relive the heroic Balto expedition, now is your chance to dream a little.
3. Scenic train ride
Take the express train to explore the breathtaking view the Alps have to offer (all from the comfort of your seat in a heated boxcar). Oh, and be sure to hold your cup of Bavarian cocoa steady on the train.
When taking a break from skiing, visit the surrounding small towns and go window shopping. You’ll never find cozier shops selling Veronese salamis, Swiss chocolate, nutcrackers, or lederhosens outside of Europe.
5. Explore a glacier from the inside
When traveling to the alps, you can personally explore the mind-blowing tunnels surrounded by natural glaciers. However, it’s advised to not bring a lighter.
6. See wonderful Alpine creatures on a hike
The chamois (pictured above) can be spotted frolicking in the region along with ibexes, marmots, foxes, golden eagles and mountain hares. So bring your binoculars and hold your breath, you might get lucky.
7. Glorious Alpine food
Whether it’s delectable fondue from Grenoble or a hearty Bavarian bratwurst with potatoes, eating warm and delicious Alpine food will surely hit the spot after a long day of winter sports. Bon Appetit!
8. Visit Mont Blanc in Chamonix
One of the most popular skiing communes, Chamonix is known for legendary Mount Blanc, the highest mountain in the Alps at 15,781 feet. It’s also famous for the multiple restaurants and pubs that surround the mountain.
9. Live, breathe and be Mozart in Salzburg
Home to Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Salzburg, Austria is obsessed with this late prodigy pianist. Visit the Mozart museum, buy Mozart puppets, listen to Mozart play on the streets by street performers, and engorge yourself with chocolate in the shape of Mozart. Mozart until you drop!
10. Winter paragliding
Winter paragliding is for the thrill-seeking adventurer in you (and those without a heart condition). While yes, you can paraglide in the summer, it’s more special to hover over the alps in the thin air and let the blankets of snow mesmerize you.
11. Go ice skating
Ice skating in the Alps is a bit different than your typical ice-skating rink you would find on a paved parking lot in New Jersey. Alpine ice skating is romantic as you are accompanied with wondrous holiday lights, historical monuments and buildings. Some ice skating rinks in the Alps are not man-made and let you skate over frozen (but sturdy) lakes.
12. Krampus Festival
Tis the season to be naughty! In Alpine cultures, parents will warn their misbehaving kids that if they do not wise up, Krampus, a horned-devilish-goat-beast will haunt them. Around Christmas, multiple alpine villages will host their own Krampus festival, dress up as the hoofed beast and playfully spook the kids (and adults).
13. Ride the Les Bulles over Grenoble
One of the most iconic cable cars in the world would be Les Bulles in Grenoble. The “bubbles” cable cars will hoist you up to 1,581 feet high, overlooking the picturesque town. This is your chance to overcome your fear of heights in a poetic sense.
14. Enjoy the hot springs in Leukerbad
In Leukerbad, Switzerland, lies a paradise in the midst of the snowy mountain range. The Leukerbad hot springs will cozy you up with steaming warm water to submerge yourself while enjoying the winter wonderland. Remember not to get “too relieved”, others will be in the springs too.
Christmas in the Alps is a must-do for every traveler and hopeless romantic. Christkindlmarkt is held in multiple Alpine cities and usually features taffy apples, pecan log rolls, holiday mugs, and hot spiced cider or cocoa. This will surely make this one of your most memorable holidays.