Believe it or not winter is a great time to get outdoors and travel. Everyone needs to try these winter activities at least once, but be warned you might just fall in love with the season of snow and ice.
Making memories shouldn’t just be for the summer months, get out and have some unforgettable experiences this Winter.
A lot of people don’t realise but most of New Zealand, where I grew up, is a very mild climate in the winter months. Sure there is snow on the mountains but seeing snow outside of the alpine regions is rare and most New Zealanders would need to drive more than 3 hours to get to a snow capped mountain.
We are now into our 4th winter living in Germany and I absolutely love the real winter! Of course the winter kicking off with the Christmas markets is a huge bonus but I also love all the new winter activities we get to do with the kids, especially those involving snow.
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Snow just makes everything look magical and I love how it dampens the city sounds, everything is so still, quite and dream like walking in the fresh snow.
Maybe you feel like hibernating until the temperatures start to climb but winter can be a great time to get outdoors, this list of winter activities will inspire you to pull on your boots, grab your jacket and head out to explore your neighbourhood or books some travels further afield to far off snowy lands.
Be sure to share with someone that needs a push to get out of their mid-winter funk.
TOP 20 WINTER ACTIVITIES
1.VIEW THE NORTHERN LIGHTS
Seeing the Northern Lights is a magical experience. The long dark nights of the winter give the best chance of seeing this dazzling display of lights. The further North you go the higher your chance is of seeing the Aurora. Scotland, Iceland, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Alaska and Canada are some of the places where the lights are visible during the winter.
2. GO SLEDDING
Grab a sled and head to your closest snowy patch for a few hours of fun. Don’t have a sled? No problem, all sorts of objects can be used as a makeshift sled, a rubbish bag, the lid of a garbage can, an old real-estate sign. It might be cold but the kids will soon warm up racing up the hill for the next turn.
3. TAKE A HORSE DRAWN SLEIGH
Climb into a cozy carriage with a bundle of blankets and snuggle up as a family while you are drawn through a snowy forest in a horse drawn sleigh. Even if there is no snow to be found a horse drawn carriage around the park or old town is more magical (and less smelly) in winter time.
4. SOAK IN AN OUTDOOR HOT POOL
Slipping into a warm hot pool when the air is crisp and cold is an amazing feeling. As your feet tingle with the changing temperature any tension in your muscles will melt away. Feeling really brave, do like the scandinavians and rub yourself with snow for an epic sensory experience before jumping back into the warm.
Read Next: Visiting the Blue Lagoon in Iceland
5. VISIT AN ICE HOTEL
Staying in an ice hotel is not something I’d recommend for kids but visiting one during the day is a great experience. You’ll find these hotels in places like Norway and Finland. Melting away in the summer means that the hotels are rebuilt each winter. Large blocks of ice are sourced from local glaciers and frozen lakes carved to create dining halls, bedrooms and even wedding chapels, coloured lights filtering through the lights sets the mood.
6. VISIT SANTA IN LAPLAND
Living in his cabin in snowy Lapland with Mrs Claus, some reindeer and friendly elves Father Christmas is ready for your visit. There are a number of options for visiting Santa in Lapland from the amusement park type experience at Santa’s Village in Rovaniemi to a more low key experience visiting Santa in his cabin in the woods near Levi.The best winter itineraries for travelling families Click To Tweet
7. VISIT A TOURIST HOT-SPOT
Winter is a great time to visit some of the cities that are otherwise teeming with tourists at warmer times of the years. Cities like Venice, Prague and Dubrovnik get most of their visitors during the months of July and August, longs queues, crowded streets and rising temperatures can be uncomfortable for anyone and especially kids. While you might need an extra layer or two and won’t be hitting the beach, the sites of these historic cities are just as impressive in the off season. Take advantage of off season prices and plan a winter city trip.
8. HIT THE SLOPES ON SKIS OR SNOWBOARD
With a lower centre of gravity kids take to skiing and snowboarding quicker than most adults. Join your kids on the slopes or join them up for ski school while you enjoy a book in the cafe. For some of the best family friendly ski holidays in Europe, check out the Kinderhotel brand, we have stayed at 2 of the hotels in the network and had an amazing experience.
9. TAKE A WINTER SUN HOLIDAY
Need a break from the cold and dark of winter? Head to the tropics or the opposite hemisphere to have a sunshine holiday. The weather is warm between November and April in New Zealand, making it a perfect time to visit and bask in sunny days.
10. GO ICE FISHING
Best done with a guide or an experienced local, ice fishing is a unique experience. A hole is drilled through the thick layer of ice covering a frozen lake, large enough to drop a line down and pull a fish up.
11. GLIDE AROUND ON ICE SKATES
With the aid of double blade skates and balance aids even toddlers can enjoy ice skating. Kids are fast learners so don’t be surprised if they out shine you by the end of the day.
12. SNOW BALLS, SNOW ANGELS AND SNOW MEN
Sometimes being a kid is entertainment enough so if you have some snow nearby just go out and play, throw snowballs, build snowmen and make snow angels. Don’t forget some crazy accessories for your snowman and off course a carrot for his nose.
13. DOG SLEDDING
Dog sledding is an exhilarating experience. Siberian Husky and Alaskan Malamutes have been providing dog power for over a thousand years. Bred into their DNA these dogs love getting out and working as a team, the dogs bark with excitement until the anchor is pulled and they can speed off.
14. VISIT A MUSEUM
Winter is a great time to do some activities indoors so if you are on vacation or sticking around home for your winter holiday include a museum visit in your schedule. Pick a museum with child friendly displays and check online or at the museum information desk for kids museum trails, activity packs or children’s audio guides.
15. VISIT A SNOW CAPPED MOUNTAIN
Whether or not you are plan on skiing taking a scenic trip up a mountain is a fun experience. Many ski resorts will have a cafe you can visit and a viewing area where you can look out and feel like you are on top of the world. Choose a clear day and avoid 9-10 am and 3-4pm when skiers will be coming and going from the ski field.Top 20 winter experiences to have with kids Click To Tweet
16. GO TO THE BEACH
Heading to the beach may not be the first thing you think of when you conjure up images of winter but beaches in the winter time are beautiful. The fresh smell of the ocean, the soothing sound of the waves and open space for kids to run and play. Dress warm, build sand castles and collect shells.
You find plenty of places available on airbnb.
17. VISIT A CHRISTMAS MARKET
The Christmas Markets in Germany are a lot of fun with children. Live music, bakeries where kids can make their own cookies, ferris wheels, theatre and puppet shows, as well as light displays and animated Christmas scenes will all delight children which you shop for hand crafted ornaments and enjoy hot and perfectly spiced Gluhwein.
Read Next: The best Christmas Market in Germany
Snowmobiling is a lot of fun for kids and adults alike. Smaller kids can be pulled in a sled behind the snowmobile while older kids can sit behind an adult.
19. ICE SCULPTURE FESTIVAL
Ice Sculpture festivals are held throughout the world. Large blocks of ice are carefully carved into intricate displays, an amazing feat of craftsmanship. There are Ice Sculpture festivals held in Belgium, Poland, Dresden, China and Dubai. Do you know of any others to add to this list?
20. BE A WINTER SPORT SPECTATOR
Instead of joining in how about being a spectator? Ice hockey, figure skating, curling, ski jump, boarder cross are just some of the sports you can watch during the winter. Stay close to home and support your local team or search out some new sports to watch at your winter destination.
What are some of your favourite winter activites?
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I love this list! Although I hate winter! We havent even gone sledding yet this year – its been cold, but thankfully not too snowy. I do love a good winter beach trip (when its not too cold or windy)
Being from New Zealand myself I’m really not a fan of the cold so avoid travelling to crazy cold climates! I am definitely missing out on a lot reading this post – Ice hotels, snowmobiling and Christmas Markets are all things I’d love to try!
I still love a good New Zealand summer but am loving having some new experiences over here. One thing I really miss about NZ in the winter is the clear blue sky days, we don’t get many of those in German winter.
Oh, I’d love to go dogsledding in winter time! I’ve only done it during the summer, but can imagine it’s even better with the cold air in your face! I’d add snowshoeing – have you tried it?
I haven’t tried snowshoeing but I absolutely would love to, that and cross country skiing.
I went husky dog sledging in Norway and it was fabulous. I remember whizzing along through the snow thinking I’m so very glad to be alive and lucky to have these opportunities.
The thing I noticed was that it was so quiet. Bliss when you have kids!
What a great list! As a Canadian, I’ve experienced my fair share of winters, and I’ve learned to embrace them. A couple things I would add to this list would be to go snowshoeing and winter camping in a yurt. This list is so much fun. I loved going tobogganing as a kid with all the hills surrounding my house. Winter happens every year, so might as well embrace it! 🙂
Please don’t talk to me about snow shoeing, lol, this was top of my list in Lapland and then I got injured and couldn’t go, I tried to encourage the rest of the family to go but they preferred to sit by the fire drinking wine and playing uno. Missing out just makes me want to do it even more!