Go on, get out and active this winter. Associated Press
Winter Games

Looking to get away this winter? We've picked out 5 perfect sporting breaks

Dog sledding or ice climbing? Here’s a handful of cool things to try this winter.

WINTER IS ENCROACHING on us all too quickly so it’s time to start planning a bit of a getaway where freezing temperatures might not be so miserable.

Europe boasts some of the best country’s to do anything winter-sport related, and we’ve come up with five suggestions for you to try out…and all places can be reached from Dublin in just a few hours.

Split boarding

What is it? A splitboard is a snowboard that splits in half for cross-country ski-touring.
Separated, they can assist you in hiking uphill but once you hit a downhill section you click them back together and away you go.

Where can it be done in Europe? Andermatt in Switzerland, Chamonix in France or if you’re feeling very adventurous, the Lyngen Alps in northern Norway.

Suitable for: Those who have mastered skiing and snowboarding and want something more technically difficult and physically demanding.

Fat biking

What is it? It’s one of the fastest-growing winter sports in the US at the moment and is really catching on in Europe also, with many operators now giving winter fat bike tours.

So called because the tyres are, well, extremely fat and unlike road biking, mountain biking or cyclo-cross biking, fat biking is done on snow.

Where can it be done? Gstaad in Switzerland, just east of Geneva, is something of a European hotbed for it. Vallnord in Andorra is also catering to fat bikers with some ‘fat bike only trails’ while Cauterets on the French side of the Pyrenees is another popular spot.

Suitable for: Those new to winter sports as fat biking is safer and easier than skiing and snowboarding.

Cross-country skiing

What is it? It’s the oldest form of skiing and differs from the downhill or Alpine equivalent in that no ski lifts are used. It’s trekking ‘cross country’ using skis, essentially.

Where can it be done? Pretty much anywhere there’s snow but France, Switzerland, Andorra, Austria and Italy are all pretty popular. Slovakia also has some quality backcountry routes to explore.

Suitable for: Those with skiing experience looking for more of a workout from their ski holiday. And less of an adrenaline rush of screaming down congested black slopes.

Dog sledding

What is it? You stand or sit in a sleigh and get dragged along the surface by a pack of sled dogs.

Where can it be done? Finland is the most well-known place in Europe for it but Finnmark in northern Norway and Lapland in Sweden are also widely visited.

Suitable for: People of all ages who want a completely unique experience in total isolation.

Ice climbing

What is it? Pretty self-explanatory but there are two kinds; one involves getting to the top of a frozen object like as a glacier, while the second is water scaling ice, which is usually something that runs freely in summer – such as a waterfall.

Where can it be done? Múlafjall in Iceland is near the capital Reykjavik and is one of the best places in Europe but closer to home, the Cullen Ridge in Scotland and the Italian Dolomites are also popular.

Suitable for: Those with a head for heights, the climbing skills of a goat and the strength of a back rower.

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