There's a plethora of heart-warming experiences that the winter season can bring. It's time for skiing, to go on scintillating and snowy rail journeys, to delve into the treasures of local Christmas markets. It's time to throw ourselves into the festive season and discover the deep midwinter's crisp white scenery. There's so much that makes this season unique and magical.
Everyone has their ideal winter. For every mountain climbing fanatic, there's a staycationer looking to make the most of a doorstep Christmas, and for every culture buff at a Christmas market, there's a sun-seeker wanting to stretch out on a white-sand beach. For each of these travellers, there's a winter holiday perfect for them.
With that in mind, here's our handy guide for the ideal winter holiday to suit you, no matter which category you fall in to! Prepare to discover holiday magic and fall in love with the world in winter.
The Winter Adventurer
The highest peaks and most adventurous trails may well be a challenge in summer, but for those fuelled by adrenaline, winter provides a fantastic array of new adventures. This one is for those who climb the highest mountain for the most incredible views and embark on hiking extravaganzas to make the most of the season.
Climbing mountains in winter yields spectacular views across sublime winterscapes. These adventurers often access places that no form of transport could, only having to look up for their reward as a panorama of mountains, snow, and pure blue sky greet them.
If this sounds like your dream holiday, we've picked the Swiss Alps as your destination of choice. This corner of the world is timeless, a landscape of perfection whose glamour has been etched onto the hearts of artists for generations. In particular, we'd recommend Kandersteg, high in the Bernese Oberland. Alongside its excellent walking trails, there are ski slopes in abundance, and for each one, an après-ski lodge with a hearty meal and a strong drink waiting.
The Christmas Enthusiast
Every Christmas, this character cherishes the yuletide period. His house will be decked with the biggest boughs of holly. He'll swarm out into the streets on Christmas Day singing songs of glad tidings and roar out every carol off by heart at midnight mass. He'll cook for his entire family on the special day, watch every Christmas film on the menu and you can be sure he'll be first in line for sherry around a roaring fire. When all's said and done, he'll be counting done the days until it's time to do it all again.
You can imagine how his winter holiday will look. He'll be visiting the homelands of the traditional European Christmas, wandering starry-eyed through the golden stalls of the biggest and best Christmas markets, and stopping at each Glühwein watering hole in town.
So, for him, we'd recommend a tour in the birthplace of Christmas markets, Germany, where the festive season is less a tradition and more a lifestyle choice. In particular, we'd pick Cologne. One of the gems in the crown of Germany's markets, Cologne has seven bustling markets to choose from, with its main and perhaps most impressive being the Cathedral Christmas Market. Found against the striking backdrop of Cologne's Gothic Cathedral, this celebration of all things festive is an experience to remember for the Christmas zealot, full of shimmering sights and delectable smells and other, like-minded lovers of the season.
The Winter Sun-seeker
For some, the winter months are a tough time. This poor person laments the loss of the sun and would rather give the deep snow and frosts of winter a miss, thank you very much. So, their response? Leave it all behind and chase the sun.
So, she heads off to discover a winter abroad in the sun. And what a fine choice it is - because winter is experienced differently across the world. In deepest Australia, winter is summer as the dry season kicks in, and boy does it get hot. Christmas is still on the same day, of course, so the ol' 'Baby it's Cold Outside' dialogue doesn't quite work down under.
But for us, the best destination for our summery friend is the glorious state of Kerala in southern India. This fantastic destination is one of the lesser-explored states of India and offers a dazzling alternative to the snows of Europe and Canada, what with its beautiful stretches of beaches and breathtaking lagoons.
The Winter Home-Holidayer
This entry celebrates the staycationer, those fine people who want to explore the uncovered roads of their home country and to delve into the innate charm that the UK offers when everyone else is tucked up at home, and they have these destinations almost to themselves.
Where better to discover the pristine beauty that snow and frost lends a landscape than in the great British countryside? And what better food to warm the cockles than British beef, Yorkshire puddings and pub pies? The castles of Wales look nobler than ever in the falling snow, and the Glenfinnan Viaduct in the Scottish Highlands has never looked better than against a white backdrop. It's good to stay at home for winter, and there's so much to do, taste, see, hear and experience in mighty Blighty.
The Athens of the north comes into its own during winter. The Scottish climate often brings the snow, and the Scottish people bring the cheer. There's history lurking around every street corner and culture aplenty in every museum. There are more restaurants than you can toss a caber at, and the residents of Edinburgh know what makes the perfect pub better than most.