Summers can sometimes be unbearable even for its most honest admirers.
For winter fanatics, it’s far worse.
They can only dream of sipping hot chocolate (or rum) and watching soft pillowy snow fall to the ground, cover every inch of the wet mud and settle on trees, turning them icy white.
Every winter fanatic wants to run away from the heat really.
But a winter extremist is on another league altogether.
The extremist comes alive when it’s the dead of winter. They want to go, see nothing but white all around and feel the shiver of the freezing wind on their face.
And what’s a better time to see snow-covered mountains than in the middle of a gruelling summer?
So, for every winter extremist out there, I put together a list of the places that are freezing even when the rest of the world is sweating. Mind you, the places get more extreme as the list goes on.
1) Dachstein, Austria
Go here for some of the best views of a snow-covered valley in the world.
Head to Dachstein Sky Walk and Stairs Of Nothingness for a panoramic view of snow-capped mountains.
Take the Suspension Bridge for an exciting way to get to The Dachstein Ice Palace. It is located six meters below the glaciers and has several intricately carved ice figurines, ice pillars and a crystal dome.
Finish off with a ride in the Dachstein cable car that’s made entirely out of glass and get a bird’s eye view of the mountains.
2) Zermatt, Switzerland
Zermatt is a town famed for having Switzerland’s highest ski resort. It lies at the base of pyramid-shaped Matterhorn mountain. It offers a year-round skiing and a mesmerizing view of the Swizz Alps.
The ‘5 Seenweg’ or Five Lakes Walk is a unique hike with an opportunity to swim in one of the lakes that you explore.
Interestingly, Zermatt has two Michelin star restaurants, so delicious food is guaranteed here as well.
3) Afriski, Africa
Afriski, Africa | © Cecelia Lombard/ Flickr
Africa is not exactly the first thought when one thinks of winter and snow. In fact, Afriski is one of the only two ski resorts in South Africa.
Afriski is located in Lesotho, which is four to five hours away from Johannesburg. Head here for scenic mountains and thrilling skiing.
Besides skiing, it also has an impressive range of other snow sport activities like mountain biking, Enduro motorbike trips and trail running.
4) Mendoza, Argentina
Mendoza, Argentina | WhiskyAlfa/Flickr
Mendoza is the place to be for snow sports, especially if you want to skii a black diamond run.
Not a skier? That’s alright. There are still plenty of things to indulge in here.
Climb Mount Aconcagua, the highest peak outside of Asia. The climb isn’t too difficult, and so is a favourite amongst novice and professionals alike.
You can also go Paragliding in Mendoza to view majestic white mountains of the valley from atop.
5) Tasmania, Australia
Tasmania, Australia | © Sam Walker/Flickr
Tasmania knows how to celebrate winters.
Head here for a snowshoeing trip along the hiking track and see the quaint frost-covered Tasmanian forest.
Follow the Tasmanian Whiskey Trail and attend Tasmanian Whiskey week (held in August) for behind the scenes of the industry and to warm yourself up with locally-produced whiskeys on offer.
The chocolate Winterfest, also held in August, is a delightful event. Held in Latrobe, you can taste a variety of chocolates here and try your hand at chocolate making.
6) Tignes, France
Tignes, France | © Alan Brown/ Flickr
Tignes is located in the Rhône-Alpes region of south-eastern France and is well-known for being the highest skiable area in Europe. It is a part of the Tarentaise Valley which is the biggest concentration of ski resorts in the world. The ski area opens from mid-June and goes on till August.
It’s perfect whether you are a professional skier or want to learn the sport since there are a variety of runs here and Tignes’ summer school conducts lessons and workshops during the ski season to teach skiing.
7) International Falls, USA
International Falls, located at the border of the USA and Canada, is known as ‘the icebox of the country’. Besides being one of the coldest places on earth, it is also an important international rail port.
Although this town in Minnesota has a small population, it conducts several snow sports such as snowmobiling, snowshoeing and cross country skiing.
Rainy Lake in the town is a great spot for some fantastic ice fishing.
8) Oymyakon, Russia
Oymyakon, Russia | © Hannes Rada/ Flickr
Oymyakon is one of the coldest inhabited places in the world with only a population of about 500.
The winters here see temperature fluctuating around -50°C mark. This is not a place for the faint-hearted, and there is a high chance of getting frostbite.
If you do choose to visit here, know that it’s one day’s drive from Yakutsk.
9) North Ice, Greenland
Greenland | © Simone Gramegna/ Flickr
North Ice is a former research station of the British North Greenland Expedition and famous for having the lowest recorded temperature in North America of −66.1 °C in 1954.
Currently, it is the fifth coldest place on earth.
Although other parts of Northern Greenland provide many adventures such as whale watching and kayaking, North Ice is inhospitable and will be difficult to reach should you choose to venture here.
10) Vostok station, Antarctica
Antarctica | © Dan Steen/ Flickr
Vostok was also a research station but is quite literally poles apart from North Ice.
It holds the record for the coldest temperature ever recorded on earth- a whopping -89.2°C.
It also has one of the largest lakes on Earth, Lake Vostok, but it lies below 4 km of glacial ice. What makes a trip here particularly tricky is the lack of oxygen in the air. So, if you do plan to visit Vostok station, tread carefully.