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5 Snowy Destinations You Wouldn’t Expect for a Winter Getaway

Written by Javier Peinado

Snow lovers have plenty of dreamy destinations to choose from when winter comes. From the Swiss Alps and the Aspen slopes to the impressive landscapes of the Baltic states, it’s impossible to think of certain places without conjuring evocative pictures of frozen wonderlands in our minds. But, why take the easy road when you can explore and find out new destinations that, against all odds, also provide plenty of snowy fun? Because ’tis the season to wonder and get surprised, join us on this international trek throughout some of the most surprising snowy destinations to have a hell of a time surrounded by snow!

Jigokudani Monkey Park, Japan

If you love animals as much as snow, this should definitely be a top spot on your travel bucket list. Located 1 hour away from Nagano, this one-of-a-kind conservation area was created in  1964 as a haven to protect the local Japanese macaque. Commonly known among visitors as Snow Monkey Park, thousands of visitors flock to the base of the Joshinetsu Kogen National Park every winter to watch the more than 150, ever-curious monkeys playing with the snow, taking relaxing baths at the natural hot springs, and, mostly, going about their lives while mingling with humans. A fun and charming spectacle all year long, it’s clear that winter is the best moment to say shiver among these cold-loving creatures!

Mauna Kea, Hawaii

Ah, Hawaii. A quintessential destination for honeymooners, film crews, surfers, and…snowboarders? That’s right, the Big Island features a very distinctive spot that allows islanders and tourists alike to enjoy snow sports: Mauna Kea, a sacred volcano that sometimes gets enough snow to allow experienced skiers to go all in. But make no mistake. As amazing as enjoying a snowy mountain in Hawaii truly is, it’s not an experience for everyone. Forget about ski resorts and cable transports: if you want to hop on any last minute flights to face Mauna Kea’s more than 13,000 feet, you’ll need to drive to the top and then ski your way down. with your own equipment. Although altitude sickness and the rough and treacherous orography are definitely things to keep in mind when embarking on this adventure, the experience will definitely pay off!

Huesca, Spain

Dogg sledding enthusiasts usually head to world-renowned spots like Vermont, Finland, or the Alaskan wilderness to live their passion. But you’d be surprised about how many countries also partake in the sport also known as “mushing”…even a Mediterranean nation like Spain! Truth is, even if most of the country is famous for its sunny skies and hot temperatures during summertime, the Spanish North features vast chilly regions that are perfect for enjoying the snow when winter comes. Among all of them, we need to point out the Pyrenees, the mountain range that divides Spain from Andorra and France. Here — more specifically, amidst the region of Alto Aragón — it’s possible to rent a sled pulled by dogs in resort towns close to the city of Huesca such as Llanos del Hospital, Linza, or Pineta.

You may also like: 11 Essential Items You Need to Pack for a Winter Trip to Europe

Snowbombing, Austria

 

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This vibrant music festival takes place in Mayrhofen amidst breathtaking scenery surrounded by the snowed peaks of the Austrian Tyrol mountains. With lineups featuring top-notch DJs like Fatboy Slim, underground icons of the electronic scene, Snowbombing is the perfect destination to party hard at live concerts performed in alpine forests, go clubbing at the mountain, enjoy a rooftop brunch, or learn to ski and snowboard in a setting like no other!

Afriski, Lesotho

We put an end to our slippery trip on a truly unusual continent. Because…who would’ve thought that we would find a ski paradise in luscious Africa, of all places? Welcome to Lesotho, a tiny country located at the southern point that has the honor to be the only one in the world that lies above 1,000 meters…which, as you might’ve imagined, means cold! In the capital, Maseru, snow can accumulate up to half an inch. But if you want to go big when it comes to spending a snowy getaway in the kingdom of Lesotho, then head to the majestic Maluti Mountains. There you will find one of the only two ski resorts you will find in the continent: Afriski, an unexpected playground where you’ll be more than welcome to practice skiing, snowboarding, and any other winter sport. No matter your expertise or skill set…if you intend to look for cheap last-minute flights to Africa and love hitting the slopes, this is definitely the place to be!

Do you know any other unexpected snowy destination? Let us know in our comments section below!

About the author

Javier Peinado

Born in Barcelona. Raised in Madrid. New Yorker at heart. When he is not geeking out at a comic book convention or binge-watching superhero shows, this bilingual journalist loves to discover secret venues and hidden places around the world to fill his insatiable wanderlust. He also digs into ghost-busting, Bigfoot-hunting, and UFO-sighting. The truth is out there.

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