Snow on the mountains (Dreamstime)
Article 17 November

9 Greatest winter travel experiences

Warm up in Budapest's thermal spas, live out your own New York fairytale or soak in the Australian sun… Wanderlust readers share their favourite winter experiences

1: Snowshoeing in Ontario, Canada

Head to the back country of eastern Canada for an alternative active adventure, wading through a whitewash of freshly set snow in Ontario. With snowshoes clipped on, get ready to wind your way through forests and up to great heights that overlook the winter wonderland of Algonquin Provincial Park. Plan to finish the hike at dusk for views of Toronto's CN Tower glowing in the distance by night.

Snowshoeing in Canada (Dreamstime)

Snowshoeing in Canada (Dreamstime)

Start with a snow-shoe hike in London, Ontario and finish with glimpses of Toronto's skyline and the CN Tower (Lindsay)

2: Dog Sledding in Norway

Embrace the exhilaration of being towed through snow flurries by a pack of huskies in the outback of Tromsø. Wrapped in an insulated bodysuit for this Arctic thrill, you can mush through the white to absorb views of vast plateaus, mountains and even the ocean. Sit back and enjoy the ride on this Nordic trail.

Dog sledding under the northern lights (Dreamstime)

Dog sledding under the northern lights (Dreamstime)

Dog sledding at what seemed like neck-breaking speed under the northern lights near Tromso, Norway (Liz)

3: Warm up in Budapest's thermal spas

Soaking in mineral goodness at one of Budapest's 120-odd thermal springs is a must when visiting the city. With 18 pools to choose from, Szechenyi Spa is a prime spot easily distinguished by its grand yellow exterior. Each pool varies in size and temperature so visitors can choose to brave a ‘brisk’ tip-toe to relaxing in 38°C waters outside – or just chill inside the splendid interiors.

Fancy something more lively? Head to one of Szechenyi's weekly 'sparty' events and clink chilled champagne over steamy pools.

Szechenyi spa, Budapest (Dreamstime)

Szechenyi spa, Budapest (Dreamstime)

Cradling cups of steaming hot wine and sinking into thermal waters. Despite reaching below freezing temperatures, Budapest is the city to go to for warming up in the winter (Eppie)

4: Fairytale in New York

Cars big as bars, rivers of gold... The Pogues might have been exaggerating a touch but there really is no place quite like New York at Christmas time. Surrounded by vertigo-inducing skyscrapers, fast-paced yellow cabs and, how could we forget, the Rockerfeller Center Christmas tree and ice-skating rink, New York offers a buzzing, metropolitan Christmas fairytale like no other.

Yellow cab in New York City (Dreamstime)

Yellow cab in New York City (Dreamstime)

Arriving in New York City at Christmas time in a yellow cab as Fairytale of New York plays on the radio (Louise)

5: Summit Mount Kilimanjaro

Seeking a challenge in the new year? Why not start with the bucket-list favourite to plant two cold feet atop one of the world's seven summits. With the early months of January to March offering clear, dry trekking conditions and fewer crowds, the off-peak winter season is regarded as an ideal time to tackle the peak of Africa‘s tallest mountain.

Summit of Mt Kilimanjaro (Dreamstime)

Summit of Mt Kilimanjaro (Dreamstime)

Mouth ulcers froze, gluing my lips together, but still reached the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro (Matty)

6: Wolf watching in Lapland

With those luminous streaks of purple and green dancing overhead, a creamy hot chocolate to hand and possibly even a visit to the big guy himself, a winter experience in Lapland conjures the archetypal Christmas postcard image. But it's not just the northern lights that showcase Finland's spectacular nature; try spotting some of the 180 wolves that make their home in Finland's 37 national parks, along with bears, lynx, eagles, cranes and swans and a rich wealth of birds.

Remember to put the carrots out and you might even be able to spot Santa's reindeer too...

A pack of wolves gather (Dreamstime)

A pack of wolves gather (Dreamstime)

Hearing wolves while drinking hot chocolate outside our cabin in Lapland, under a purple twilight with frozen eyelashes (Vanessa)

7: Sun, sand and Christmas in Australia

Kick off the shoes and head to the pearl-white sands on the Australian coast for an alternative sun-soaked winter break. Sail off the shores to Whitsunday Island, the largest of the Whitsundays, and explore Whitehaven Beach’s 7km stretch of sand and hidden beaches in all corners.

Whitehaven Beach, Queensland, Australia (Dreamstime)

Whitehaven Beach, Queensland, Australia (Dreamstime)

Sitting on Whitehaven Beach in the Whitsundays in Queensland, Australia for a week. It was a magical and perfect way to spend a 'winter' (Janet)

8: Walk with wildlife in Chitwan, Nepal

Get up-close with Chitwan's wildlife in the humid jungle depths of southern Nepal. Strolling through Chitwan National Park offers the rare opportunity to observe endangered animals in a safe and natural habitat. Watch as elephants spout river water and greater one-horned rhinos munch on fresh vegetation in the protected grounds, or count some of the 544 species of bird soaring overhead.

A greater one-horned rhino in Chitwan (Phoebe Smith)

A greater one-horned rhino in Chitwan (Phoebe Smith)

Walking my rescue dogs in the morning fog in Nepal, when I encountered a mother and baby rhino wandering through the village (Molly)

9: Watch Chinese lanterns float above mountains in Sweden

From the comfort of a resort or the side of a mountain, celebrate the new year by watching lanterns flicker over reflective lakes and into the darkness of the night. Originally a Chinese tradition, the mass release of red paper lanterns has since been adopted around the world as a hopeful, glowing wish for a bright future.

Chinese lanterns (Dreamstime)

Chinese lanterns (Dreamstime)

New Year high on the mountains in Abisko, watching Chinese lanterns float over the valley and lake, surrounded by a confetti of snow (Cristina)