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Ski holidays: Japan’s thrilling Niseko resort gets more snow than almost anywhere else in the world

Just because you don’t fancy throwing yourself down the side of a mountain with a pair of planks attached to your feet doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a snowy getaway. Here’s our guide to non-ski activities in cold climes.

Have a spin at ice driving

The ice-driving course at Val Thorens is the highest in Europe, with an impressive and challenging half-mile long track.

High-octane fun: Drive a rally buggy on the Val Thorens ice track in the Alps – the course is the highest in Europe

If you don’t fancy taking the wheel, a professional ice driver will take you on a high-speed lap or two, although we recommend signing up for a lesson, during which an instructor will show you the basics. Then take control of a rally buggy or car fitted with studded tyres.

Don’t miss: Trying out the BMW 3 Series ice driving cars with their high-tech electronic stability controls.

Details: From £86 pp (icedrivingvalthorens.com). 

Ride a ‘snow tank’

How about something different from the usual horse-drawn carriages and husky sleighs? Head to northern Finland and explore the scenery in a cosy enclosed sled towed by a snow tank — a mean machine usually used to clear snow from roads.

A guide will give you the lowdown on north-eastern Finland. Restore energy levels with mugs of warm blueberry juice.

Don’t miss: The Northern Lights — Finland’s north is one of the best places to see them.

Details: From £122 pp (kakslauttanen.fi).

Bobsleds at 80 mph

Got a need for speed? Fly down the St Moritz-Celerina Olympia bob run — which has had a starring role in two Olympic Games — in a four-person bobsled steered by a professional. Deep in the Swiss Alps, the bob takes 75 seconds to speed down the 1.1-mile track, which opened in 1904.

Don’t miss: A walk around St Moritz’s beautiful frozen lake.

Details: From £210 pp (olympia-bobrun.ch).

Go ice fishing

Melchsee-Frutt, pictured, in Switzerland is a popular spot for ice fishing. It's surrounded by 'gorgeous snow-capped peaks'

Melchsee-Frutt, pictured, in Switzerland is a popular spot for ice fishing. It’s surrounded by ‘gorgeous snow-capped peaks’

Melchsee-Frutt is a lovely Swiss ski resort easily accessible from Lucerne. It’s also a popular spot for fans of ice fishing, who come here to wrangle trout and char from the ice-covered Melchsee — a mountain lake.

Sign up for an ice-fishing lesson and your guide will drill through some 7ft of ice before handing you a fishing line. Then it’s a waiting game, surrounded by gorgeous snow-capped peaks.

Don’t miss: Warming up in the hot tubs and steam rooms of the Hotel Frutt Lodge & Spa.

Details: From £44 pp (melchsee-frutt.ch).

Snowshoe in Slovenia

If you’ve been heading to the same ski resort for years but fancy a change, consider Slovenia’s Bohinj Valley in the Julian Alps. A great way to explore this region is on a snow-shoeing hike around Lake Bohinj, Slovenia’s largest lake. Guides lead four-hour hikes on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays.

Don’t miss: Alpine choughs — beautiful birds with glossy black plumage.

Details: From £33 pp (bohinj.si).

Give curling a whirl

Curling is like bowls but more exciting. It’s on ice for starters, although grippy shoes minimise the potential for hip dislocations. The twice-weekly sessions in the French ski resort of Les Contamines-Montjoie are free. And you’ll be learning from the masters — the club plays in 20 major tournaments a year.

Don’t miss: The beautiful alpine village of Les Contamines, with old wooden farmhouses in typical Savoyard style.

Details: Lessons (lescontamines.com).

Llama treks

The picture above shows the valley in Liechtenstein where you can go on a two-day llama trek, with a night in a cosy mountain hut

The picture above shows the valley in Liechtenstein where you can go on a two-day llama trek, with a night in a cosy mountain hut 

Who doesn’t love a llama? They’re softer than reindeer (although admittedly more likely to spit), less flighty and Santa doesn’t have them on speed dial. This explains why there’s no shortage available to guide you on a two-day winter walk through Liechtenstein.

You start in pretty Triesenberg, with its backdrop of jagged peaks and snow-dusted forests, and spend the night in a cosy mountain hut.

Don’t miss: Tasting the delicious cheese from an alpine dairy.

Details: From £255 pp (lama-alpaka.li).

Camp in Sami Norway

Get back to basics with a night’s stay in a Sami lavvu, a traditional tent used by the indigenous Sami people. Before turning in for the night, a Sami guide will take you on a reindeer-sled tour and to a spot for seeing the Northern Lights dance.

After dinner, you’ll crawl inside an insulated sleeping bag atop a reindeer hide.

Don’t miss: The pre-bedtime Sami storytelling session.

Details: From £237 pp (tromsolapland.no).

Join the pack

Skating across ice-covered lakes, dodging branches, weaving through forests and taking in snowscapes — there’s nothing quite like dog sledding in Lapland. This is the best way to see Finland’s largest, northernmost region.

The dogs are bred for this environment and they’ll be raring to go once given the command. This break is three or four days including flights and full-board accommodation.

Don’t miss: Learning about husky history — they played a crucial role in World War I.

Details: From £839 pp (transun.co.uk) 

By Tamara Hinson   

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