Musement takes a look at five destinations in Europe where you can go sleigh riding this winter.
Sparkling snow, rays of sunlight peaking through snow-capped peaks, the scent of pine, the biting cold, the jingling bells from a sleigh as it glides on powder, and the footsteps of horse hooves. A sleigh ride in the midst of mountains adds a magical flair that will immerse you in an atmosphere worthy of a fairy tale. From beneath the warmth of a cozy blanket, discover of some of Europe’s finest mountain scenery.
1. The Jura Mountains, France
Did you know that the Jura Mountains are full of wonderful isolated snow-covered treasures that are often difficult to access? Over the years, adventurers have found various solutions to brave the elements and travel through the mountains under pretty much any weather conditions. One of the most traditional and effective means is by sleigh, pulled here by powerful, golden-mane Comtois horses. Let the landscape unfold before your eyes, lulled only by the sound of hooves sinking into the sparkling white snow, and join, far from clear and normal roads, a high-altitude hut at the edge of a frozen lake. Once you’re at your destination, why not end your excursion by savoring the region’s seasonal specialty? Mont d’Or is an artisanal cheese made exclusively from raw milk of high Montbéliard cows grazing at over 800 meters. Wrapped in a strap of spruce, it’s also conditioned in a spruce box that adds a lot of character.
2. The Salzburg region, Austria
Austria is a particularly popular destination for skiers from far and nigh, and rightly so. The Austrian Alps offer breathtaking vistas of villages, hamlets, and wild, glacial landscapes. From Salzburg, a multitude of routes opens up to you amidst this fairy-tale land. Cross the forest and picturesque villages, have lunch at a local inn, stroll through the heart of the Salzach river valley, and find yourself at the foot of the majestic Dachstein mountain range. While you’re aboard an authentic, wooden sleigh and wrapped in a warm, cozy blanket, an outing in the Salzburg region to the soundtrack of jingling bells will remain etched in your memory forever.
3. Val Gardena, Italy
If you’re spending the winter holidays in Val Gardena, the most famous valley of the Dolomites, feel free to add a romantic side to your stay and treat yourself to a carriage ride under the sunny blue sky, with only the sound of snow crunching as the sled slides across. It’s a small but powerful Haflinger horse that pulls you through the unspoiled landscapes of the Dolomites. Take this opportunity to visit one of the many alpine pastures or shelters, where you’ll discover, through gastronomy, the successful marriage of the three local cultures—German, Italian and Latin—that coexist there.
4. Moscow, Russia
No need to go to the mountains to enjoy a romantic carriage ride in a snowy landscape. If you’re staying in Moscow, you’ll surely want to visit the Palace of Kuskovo where you can take a ride in an authentic Russian Troika, a sleigh pulled by a team of three horses, also recognizable from the sound of their dancing bells. A ride in a troika in the 740-acre Kuskovo park will immerse you in a magical winter atmosphere.
5. Vallnord and Grandvalira, Andorra
Nestled on the border between France and Spain is a country of medium and high mountains where you can indulge in outdoor activities that delight both nature lovers and winter sports enthusiasts. Andorra’s two major ski resorts, Vallnord and Grandvalira, offer a wide range of sporting activities besides skiing, such as dog sledding, also called “mushing.” A sleigh ride will put you in full contact with nature. You’ll be impressed by the strength of the Nordic dogs; their intelligence and instincts help them find the safest route through the spectacular scenery. Don’t hesitate to test this particularly amazing experience for a good adrenaline rush and laughs among friends or family. You’ll be sure to take away excellent memories!
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If you can't ski you can't go to the mountains… well that is a big fat lie 🎿 ===== A lot of people assume that in a mountain resort in winter you have got to ski. These people often think that if you can't ski you won't be able to do anything. Well, they are wrong because there is so much more they can do! ====== Take this throwback snap to Andorra when I got the chance to go dog sledding. You could do other things like ice skate, skidoo, cross country skiing, walking… to name only a few. There are always activities and events on. So before you dismiss the mountains in winter because you can't ski or snowboard – have a look at the other things you might be able to do.