Unforgettable winter snow holidays for non-skiers

These winter snow holidays for non-skiers provide the best opportunities to enjoy the magic of a snowy vacation without having to strap on a pair of skis

A composite image of winter snow holidays for non-skiers including Canada, Iceland and Germany
(Image credit: Getty/Canva)

These winter snow holidays for non-skiers mean you can enjoy the beauty and tranquillity of a snow-covered landscape without having to descend a mountain on a pair of skis.

If you’re looking to get away this season to play in the powder but have no desire to hit the slopes, then consider these unforgettable winter snow holidays.

Planning for a winter holiday will look different to those in past years, as destinations continue to put restrictions in place to help contain the spread of COVID-19. Each destination has its own set of requirements, which varies from having proof of vaccination to a negative PCR test. 

In addition, destinations continue to enforce varying social distancing rules and mandatory mask-wearing requirements, so stay up-to-date on the latest travel guidance during these unusual times and make sure you're familiar with your destination's entry requirements before booking.

Winter snow holidays for non-skiers in the US and Canada

1. Ride the train through the Canadian Rockies

Snowy lake in the Canadian Rockies

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Experience the wintry magic of Banff and Jasper National Parks on a train trip through the majestic Canadian Rockies. Board the Canadian Train in Vancouver, and travel to the scenic mountain town of Jasper. 

Strap on a pair of cleats and try ice walking along the icy floor of Maligne Canyon to see frozen waterfalls and ice caves. Then travel along the Icefields Parkway, to Banff - one of the best places to visit in January thanks to the wealth of snowy activities on offer - keeping your eyes peeled for bighorn sheep and elk along the way. 

On the train, sip wine as you peer out of the panoramic dome, and fall asleep to scenic views of frozen lakes, snow-capped mountains and gently falling snowflakes. 

2. Go snowmobiling in Grand Teton National Park

Wildlife in Grand Teton NP

Wildlife in Grand Teton National Park

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Spanning some 310,000 acres just north of Jackson in Wyoming, Grand Teton National Park boasts over 200 miles of trails. 

Discover its pristine lakes and wide-open spaces as you whiz through the park on a snowmobile. And if you're lucky, spot moose, red foxes and bison in the wild. Wander along the Snake River, which meanders through the park, marvel at views of the Teton Range, and bask in the serenity of this place, which has enjoyed its National Park status since 1929. 

3. Get cozy in Mammoth Lakes, California

Winter reflections at Mammoth Lakes in California

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Most visitors to California make a beeline for SoCal beaches in the summer, but those looking for an outdoor adventure combining picturesque scenery with excellent culinary options should make time for Mammoth Lakes, in the Sierra Nevada Mountains. 

During the summer, Mammoth offers wilderness camping, mountain biking, hiking and fly fishing, whilst snowmobiling and snowshoeing activities take over in the winter months. You can even take a ride in a snowcat for one of the most unique excursions in the Eastern Sierra. 

Accommodation ranges from cool campsites and luxurious hotels to the Tamarack Lodge—Mammoth’s most secluded resort, where cosy cabins line the water’s edge of Twin Lakes. 

Winter snow holidays for non-skiers in Europe

4. See the Aurora Lights in Abisko

Northern lights in Sweden

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Journey to the tiny village of Abisko, north of the Arctic Circle in Swedish Lapland. While summertime visitors enjoy hiking and endless summer nights, winter travelers come in search of the Northern Lights. 

On clear nights between early September and late March, the sky comes alive with streaks of fluorescent yellows and striking greens and purples. 

During the day, see Nordic wildlife such as reindeer, wolverines and lynx at Abisko National Park. And when night falls, put on your best winter coat and make your way to the Aurora Sky Station at the top of Mount Nuolja for your best chance to see the Northern Lights dance in the sky. 

5. Shop at the Nuremberg Christmas Markets

Nuremberg Christmas Market

The Christmas market in Nuremberg

(Image credit: Getty)

Situated on the Pegnitz River, Nuremberg, Germany, is Bavaria's second-largest city. Meander the quaint cobblestone alleys of the Old Town, visit the rich collection of historical buildings and museums in this district, and explore Nuremberg Castle, which dominates the skyline. 

Get into the Christmas spirit by perusing the traditional red and white roofed booths of one of the best Christmas markets in Europe - the Christkindlesmarkt - which takes over the main market square at the end of every November. 

As one of the city's largest annual events, the official start of the Christmas market is marked by an opening ceremony. Sip on glühwein and gorge on roasted sausages as you shop for toys and Christmas ornaments. 

6. Indulge in an Icelandic spa break

Blue Lagoon in Iceland

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Pamper yourself on a spa break to Iceland this winter, and treat yourself to a visit to the Blue Lagoon. 

Heated at a comfortable 38°C, the silky blue water is said to improve circulation, relieve aches and pains, and condition the skin. Equipped with restaurants, steam rooms and saunas, and situated among a stunning black lava field, you're primed for relaxation here. 

For a less commercial experience, head to the noticeably smaller Hrunalaug thermal springs or Reykjadalur Steam Valley for a soak in its mineral-rich geothermal waters. 

Best winter snow holidays for non-skiers across the rest of the world

7. Cruise the Chilean Patagonia

Wildlife in Patagonia

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Spanning southern Chile and Argentina, Patagonia enjoys one of the world's most remote locations. 

Take off from the adventure towns of Punta Arenas or Puerto Montt for a cruise through this region on an expedition ship. Sail past enormous glaciers, through pristine fjords, and stop at lush national parks for nature walks. Cross the Gulf of Corcovado and witness blue and humpback whales at play, and visit Isla Magdalena to see its colony of playful Magellanic penguins up close. 

December through February marks Patagonia's summertime, which makes its mild weather the ideal time for a visit and also means it's one of the best places to visit in February, too.

8. Head to Seoul for a city break

Seoul blanketed in snow

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The dynamic city of Seoul, Korea, is one that's always on the go. Dive into its culinary scene and gorge on fried chicken and a glass of refreshing Cass Fresh beer for a midday snack. Sample some street grub at the buzzing Gwangjang and Dongdaemun Markets, making sure not to miss out on the tteokbokki (spicy rice cakes), odeng (fish cakes), and gimbap (Korean sushi). 

Then hit Seoul's premier shopping neighborhood of Myeong-dong, which comes to life at night with its glowing neon signs, and load up on Korean skincare and cosmetics. 

For panoramic views of the city, make your way to the top of N Seoul Tower on Namsan Mountain, smack in the middle of this South Korean capital. 

9. Take part in thrill-seeking activities in Pokhara

Annapurna Base Camp in Nepal

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Thrill-seekers should head to the adventure town of Pokhara in central Nepal for an action-packed winter getaway. 

Drift among the clouds on a paragliding excursion, and admire the shimmering waters of Phewa Lake from above. Avid trekkers flock to this region for the multi-day treks to Poon Hill and Annapurna Base Camp, which reward them with splendid views of the Himalayan range and beyond, especially in the winter when it's blanketed in snow. 

With its winding rivers surrounded by lush jungle, those with a penchant for watersports will also find Pokhara to be an exciting white-water rafting destination.  

Vivian Chung
Freelance travel writer

Vivian is a Vancouver-based freelance writer who has worked for Culture Trip and Fodor's Travel as well as Woman&Home. She covers a wide range of topics, ranging from travel and outdoor adventure, to food and mental health and wellness. She's a curious wanderer with a thirst for adventure, and when she’s not writing, can likely be found lazing by a lake, hiking the forested trails of beautiful British Columbia, or on a mission for the next best donut.