10 group travel ideas: winter holidays

Date Posted: 21/11/2013

Dog sledding

Pictured: Take the chance to try dog-sledding, a reindeer encounter and other nature-based experinces on your winter holiday.

From brisk country walks and cruises through icebergs, to animal encounters and the magic of the Glacier Express, here are ten winter break ideas for your next group holiday.

1. See winter highlights in Japan

Inside Japan Tours offers groups a Winter Wonderland Winter Highlights tour, which visits Japan's snowy wilderness in the northern island of Hokkaido.

You can cruise through drift ice off the remote Shiretoko Peninsula, which provides a temporary home to hundreds of spotted seals and stellar sea eagles. You can also enjoy the Sapporo Snow Festival, visit the hot-spring-bathing snow monkeys in the Japanese Alps and experience the culture of Kyoto.

The trip includes 14 nights’ B&B accommodation in hotels and a Ryokan (a traditional Japanese inn), and the full-time services of a tour leader.

2. Touring the volcanic wilderness of Iceland

Group travel organisers can opt for a week-long Volcanic Ski Tour launched by KE Adventure Travel, based in Landmannalaugar in Iceland.

Rugged peaks, narrow valleys, glaciers and hot springs make this one of Iceland's fascinating areas, and winter snow cover offers opportunities for ski-touring. A week of non-technical cross-country skiing starts on easy terrain and progresses to more exhilarating ski-touring on the Fjallabak hills.

3. A Northern Lights display in Sweden

Taber Holidays has unveiled a new Snow and Aurora Break in Kiruna, Sweden, which offers the chance to see the Northern Lights on a short break.

The trip comprises three nights’ B&B at Ripan Lodge, and optional excursions such as a reindeer encounter, a Northern Lights hunt by snowmobile or dog-sled, a moose safari and a visit to the Aurora Sky Station.

4. Snow activities in Finland

The picturesque surroundings of Muotka Wilderness Lodge in northern Finland provide a great backdrop for a range of snowy activities, including reindeer sledging, snowmobiling and husky-sledding.

Norway

Pictured: Norway in the snow; where you and your group can explore snow-clad villages and chase the Northern Lights.

The evenings of your group holiday can be spent beside a log fire before seeking out the Northern Lights, and GTOs can opt from three, four or six night full-board breaks with Discover the World.

5. A luxury walking holiday in Bulgaria

A seven-night luxury guided walking adventure, launched by Ramblers Worldwide Holidays, visits two locations in Bulgaria.

Start in Velingrad, a spa town in the Rhodopi Mountains, before visiting Bansko, a traditional ski resort at the foot of the Pirin Mountains.

This holiday incorporates winter walking, a ride on Bulgaria’s last mountain train across the Rila and Pirin mountains and an opportunity to enjoy traditional culture and folklore.

Accommodation includes the four-star Hotel Zdravets in Velingrad and Park Hotel Gardenia in Bansko, plus you’ll have the services of a dedicated tour leader throughout.

6. Watch penguin chicks hatch in Antarctica

For a longer winter holiday, take a 19-night cruise to the Falkland Islands, South Georgia and the Antarctic Peninsula with Journey Latin America.

Animal lovers can see Adelie, Chin strap, Gentoo, Rockhopper and Macaroni penguins and their chicks hatching against a backdrop of snowy mountains and icebergs.

The cruise departs on 31st December from Ushuaia in Argentina and includes lectures, full-board accommodation and excursions to Port Lockroy, Cuverville Island, Gerlache Strait, Neumeyer Channel, Neko Harbour, Paradise Bay and the Melchior Islands.

7. Ski-ing across along the Russian border

Baltic Holidays have launched a break where groups can follow the Russian border trails on a cross-country ski-ing adventure.

Flying into Kuusamo in Finland, you’ll be ski-ing from hut to hut for around 20-kilometres a day under the watch of an expert guide. Whilst in the wilderness, you may also have a good chance of seeing the Northern Lights.

Glacier Express

Pictured: You can opt to enjoy a trip on the Glacier Express train and explore the Swiss Alps.

This holiday includes six nights’ accommodation in guest houses, and is available for small groups of up to 12 people.

8. Stay in an ice hotel in Romania

Groups can travel to the heart of the Transylvanian Alps on an action-packed winter break with adventure travel company Explore.

Take a cable car to the highlight of the trip - a stay in the Romanian Ice Hotel, which offers an overnight experience sleeping on ice beds.

Along the way, toboggan and trek on snowshoes through the mountains, and visit the medieval town of Sibiu in addition to the capital, Bucharest.

9. Outdoor activities in the Himalayas

For an outdoor adventure holiday with panoramic views, opt for some ski-ing in Gulmarg in the Himalayas. Located on a mountain shelf, Gulmarg is nestled under Mount Apharwat, overlooking the vale of Kashmir to eight kilometre-high Nanga Parbat.

An eight-night skiing break with Indus Experiences includes six nights’ stay in Gulmarg, one night in Srinagar and one night in Delhi. 

10. Ride the Glacier Express

Great Rail Journeys offers a twin-centre rail holiday providing opportunity to explore the Swiss Alps, and to enjoy a trip on the Glacier Express train.

Groups opting for this eight-day tour can expect seven nights’ B&B accommodation, a visit to Zermatt by mountain railway, a stay in the mountain resort of Kandersteg, and the services of a tour manager.

These ideas were generated by the Association of Independent Tour Operators (AITO); group travel organisers can find further details on each holiday on the official website.

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