Popular Topics

Ice Cool: Where to Travel in Winter for Luxury

Frosty air, twinkling lights and a glass of something mulled, winter truly is the most captivating of seasons. In this article, we jet off around the world to look at where to travel in winter for luxury and relaxation.

You may fancy cruising frozen F1 tracks in snowy Scandinavia or indulging in a ski trip at an exclusive US resort – or perhaps you just want to chill out in front of a log fire with a hot chocolate.

Whatever your way of seizing the season, we have a wonderland of wintery magic to explore.

Where are some of the most luxurious places to go in the European winter?

Many countries are at their very best in winter, where the coldest and snowiest places truly capture the magic of the season. Surely nowhere could be more ice cool than the Icelandic Highlands… or is there somewhere even crisper on our list? 

A team of dogs tows a sled along a path in a snow covered forest

Image: Robert Tjalondo on Unsplash

Rovaniemi, Finland

The Finnish city of Rovaniemi is the official hometown of Santa Claus on the Arctic Circle. While hibernal magic permeates the city throughout the year, Rovaniemi is at its unequivocal finest in November and December, when permanent snow falls and the area becomes a full-time winter playground. You can stay in a luxury cabin with a private outdoor hot tub, explore enchanted snowy forests, and sip hot chocolate in ice bars — you can even get married in a snow chapel — should the mood take you.

A black Lamborghini executes a controlled drift on a track on a frozen lake.

Image: Ultimate Driving Tours

Lapland, Sweden

Where is the best winter wonderland? While Rovaniemi has its charm, we love the Swedish Laplands. Not only do you get to enjoy the magic of the snow, the ruggedness of nature and the cosiness of the luxury cabins, but you can also enjoy some exclusive white-knuckle adventures. For example, guests on our Ice Driving Experience enjoy two days of driving high-performance winter cars along full-scale replicas of legendary F1 tracks carved into the ice, before relaxing for the evenings at an opulent alpine resort.

Vivid green patterns stretch across the sky above arctic mountains as the aurora borealis is seen from below.


Icelandic Highlands, Iceland

If you have a taste for ice driving, then another must-visit winter destination – and another stop on our Winter Driving Experience – is the Icelandic Highlands. Here, you can explore the hauntingly beautiful Valley of Thor as you cruise the dramatic peaks and glacier rivers in special artic trucks. In the evenings, you may be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the remarkable Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) from the comfort of your hot tub.

A flock of seagulls flies across a lake with the city of Hamburg in the background.

Hamburg, Germany

Germany is synonymous with festive Christmas markets, from Nuremberg’s famous Christkindlesmarkt to the truly unique Weihnachtsmarkt in Ravenna Gorge. Yet the city of Hamburg boasts 30 different Christmas markets, with something for everybody. This includes the sprawling City Hall market as well as the intriguing adults-only market at St. Pauli. Of course, as well as handmade crafts and warm Glühwein, you can also indulge in the fine-dining and luxury hotels in this major city.

The alpine village of Andermatt in the Swiss Alps.

Image: Bianca on Unsplash

Andermatt, Switzerland

When it comes to winter luxury resorts, it takes a lot to beat the picturesque town of Andermatt in the Ursen Valley; a hidden gem in the world-famous Swiss Alps. Often overlooked for the nearby town of Zermatt, Andermatt offers sublime snow for winter sports as well as the heritage mountain railway that links the town to Disentis. Andermatt is also home to one of the most sumptuous upscale hotels in the Alps, The Chedi – with its unique architecture, state-of-the-art spa, cigar library, and even a 5-metre cheese tower. Guests on our Luxury Supercar Tour of Switzerland always enjoy a great night here.

An empty single track road cuts through a snowy forest in Upstate New York.

Image: Clay Banks on Unsplash

Upstate New York, USA

Upstate New York makes for a wonderful visit at any time of the year, yet this area of the East Coast is even more beautiful as the leaves turn golden and the air becomes frosty. The charming sleepy towns, the sweeping mountain scenes and a myriad of things to do – from ice skating to sipping a craft wine at a local vineyard. We always enjoy visiting in late autumn, where you can book yourself a special self-drive tour of Upstate New York. Enjoy cruising in your choice of exotic car, staying in boutique hotels and dining in gourmet restaurants along the way.

People walking across a small bridge crosses a river in snow-covered Central Park, New York.

Image: Dre Nieto on Unsplash

New York City, USA

Winter in New York City is when the Big Apple truly comes alive, especially during the month of December as the city gears up for Christmas. Stay at one of Manhattan’s best luxury hotels, then check out the Rockefeller Tree, go ice skating in Central Park, and do a little luxury shopping along Fifth Avenue, with its mesmerising window displays. You can also take a subway ride out to Brooklyn’s Dyker Heights to catch the gloriously over-the-top decorations in the gorgeous residential neighbourhood.

The town of Aspen seen in the evening, brightly illuminated below its famous ski runs.

Image: Jonathan Ross on Getty

Aspen, USA

Aspen in Colorado is one of the world’s best known and most exclusive ski resorts. It’s therefore one of the most luxurious places to go in the winter regardless of whether you ski or not. Of course, if you do hit the slopes, it’s a real treat as the Rocky Mountains town is perfectly placed to access four mountains, with luxury lifts and heated gondolas keeping you comfortable. Aspen is also legendary for its lavishness, with an abundance of fine-dining options, opulent hotels, swanky spas and exclusive night spots.

A view over Edinburgh from its famous castle on a winter’s evening.

Image: Bluefinart on Getty

Edinburgh, Scotland

The United Kingdom is not short of enchanting winter cities, but few beat Edinburgh in Scotland for seasonal festivities. This historic city boasts a magical atmosphere (and not just because it’s where the Harry Potter books were written!). Wrap up warm and wander the beautiful Royal Mile, tour Edinburgh Castle, and enjoy the famous Christmas market, before relaxing in your cosy luxury hotel with a glass of smoky Scotch by the fire. If you head to Edinburgh at the very end of the year, you will also catch one of the best New Year’s Eve parties on the planet, known as Hogmanay. 

A row of brightly coloured buildings reflected in a lake at a snowy alpine resort

Image: Tatiana Kolesnikova on Getty

Bergen, Norway

Sitting on Norway’s southwestern coast, surrounded by snowy mountains and breathtaking fjords, Bergen is a true delight in winter. Norway’s second city is awash with luxury boutique hotels and fine-dining options, along with an abundance of wintry things to do. This includes strolling the picture-postcard waterfront, visiting festive Christmas markets, trying some icy winter swimming, and controlling your urge to eat everything at the world’s largest gingerbread city.

A fondue served with wine, a skillet full of gnochhi in tomato sauce and a mulled wine with melting sugar cone atop.

Winter cuisine in Europe: must-try dishes and beverages

While many foods can be enjoyed all year around – such as Italian pizza and French wine – some things are best enjoyed in the winter.  

One of these is the classic Alpine dish of Swiss fondue, where crusty bread is generously dipped into a cauldron of melted Swiss cheeses, such as Gruyère and Emmental. Yes, at this point, it’s acceptable to drool.

Over in Italy, winter is the best time to try little potato dumplings known as gnocchi, served with a warm tomato and basil sauce. This is true comfort food. Elsewhere, hearty stews such as French onion soup and Hungarian goulash also shine in winter.

Of course, if you are heading to a Christmas market in Germany, it is essential to try a cup of warming mulled Glühwein. You can also crank up the intensity with a Feuerzangenbowle – mulled wine with a flaming sugar cone – or Swedish Glögg, which is mulled wine spiked with brandy, vodka, or the famous Swedish potato spirit, aquavit.

Finally, over in Spain, you can combine winter food and drink with a dish of crispy churros dipped into a thick hot chocolate known as chocolate caliente – a must-try breakfast treat for the colder Iberian weather.

Embark on an incredible winter luxury adventure with Ultimate Driving Tours

Whether this worldwide voyage has inspired you to take a trip this winter or you are still craving some summer sun, we have a catalogue of exclusive tours to suit any taste.

Reach out to our friendly team today to learn more about our European luxury driving tours.

icons sprites