Don’t let cold weather put you off getting active this winter, there are still plenty of ways to enjoy the outdoors.
Glacier-trekking in Skaftafell, Iceland
Take a glacier tour in Iceland's Skaftafell wilderness
For the ultimate active, winter wilderness experience, the Skaftafell region in Iceland is where it’s at. Within a national park, it boasts two intimidatingly- and thrillingly-enormous glaciers, Skaftafellsjökull and Svínafellsjökull. Discover extraordinary glacier tongues and trek up valleys carved by the ice to be met with far-reaching views. There are plenty of glacier tours to choose from here (it’s certainly not advised to do a glacier trek solo), during which you’ll have all the features of the retreating ice explained, as well as crevasses, dirt cones and moulins pointed out to you. Stay at Hotel Skaftafell for views of Iceland’s highest mountain, Hvannadalshnjukur, and Vatnajökull, the largest glacier in Europe.
Cycling in Bédoin, France
The ascent up Mont Ventoux is quieter in the winter months
The medieval, Provençal town of Bédoin is best known as the starting point of the ascent up Mont Ventoux, one of the most gruelling stages of the Tour de France. Summer brings high temperatures and lots of tourists so unless you're a professional athlete, the winter season is the best time to visit. If you're not up for this challenging climb, the wider region is covered with cycling routes through orchards, vineyards and lavender fields (with Mont Ventoux as the backdrop), or following rivers and valleys through the mountains. Just outside Bédoin, La Garance is a highly rated boutique hotel set in a restored, apricot-coloured farmhouse with baby-blue shutters.
Skiing in Les Menuires, France
Staying in Les Menuires, you'll have access to the largest ski area in the world
Les Menuires is part of Les Trois Vallées, the largest ski area in the world, with glacier and mountain views, including the mammoth peak of Mont Blanc. Since the town isn’t as pretty as neighbouring Courchevel and Méribel, its high quality and quantity of pistes are often overlooked. But on one side of the village, the lifts carry you up the 2,804 metre-high summit of Pointe de La Masse, where you’ll find uncrowded and excellent on- and off-piste opportunities. For beginners, there are plenty of blue and red runs, as well as lessons available with the Ecole du Ski Français (ESF). Ho36 Les Ménuires is a brand new hostel with a mix of Scandi and industrial decor, private rooms and ski-to-door access.
Hiking in Palas de Rei, Spain
Follow the Galician section of the historic pilgrimage, Camino de Santiago
The town of Palas de Rei is one of the last stops on the Camino de Santiago, a centuries-old pilgrimage that today attracts visitors as much for its scenery as for its religious significance. The Galician section – from Palas de Rei to the city of Santiago de Compostela – is a hiker’s paradise of dark pine forests and undulating hills. In the winter months, when rainy Galicia is at its greenest, the absence of summer crowds means heightened peace and solitude. Stay at Casa Blanco, an old white farmhouse just outside Palas de Rei, with its own restaurant offering home-cooked, gourmet food.
Surfing in Playa Grande, Costa Rica
Get a winter vitamin D boost in Costa Rica
A curveball on the list (for the summer babies), surfing in Costa Rica is a pretty dreamy way to get active during a northern hemisphere winter. The year-round swells and sunny weather in Playa Grande make it ideal for surfers of all levels; left and right breaks as well as a sandy seabed mean it’s a safe place for beginners to master their skills, while also providing world-class breaks further out for more advanced surfers. Stay at Sugar's Monkey, just a few minutes’ walk from the best surf spot in Playa Grande.