Explore Europe this winter with a dozen different getaways

There are plenty of good reasons to take your vacation in winter, whether you dislike hot weather, hate crowds or simply love the cold and snow. Now, a Toronto-based adventure tour operator has come up with a dozen more.

Exodus Travels, which has been arranging tours for solo travelers, couples, families and groups for more than 45 years, has unveiled a new collection of winter trips that capitalizes on seasonal traditions, holiday celebrations and winter’s other charms at destinations completely altered by the first snowfall.

Many of the portfolio of tours will appeal to those who enjoy snow-based sports like skiing and snow-shoeing. Adventurers can lead a team of huskies across Lapland, cycle across frozen lakes on fat bikes, or border hop the Alps by Nordic skies. Those interested in less strenuous activities can take tours that allow them to admire the Northern Lights, visit Christkindlmarkts, or relax by the fire in a cozy Norwegian cabin. All prices quoted are in U.S. dollars.

Finland Northern Lights
High above the Arctic Circle, in a remote part of Finnish Lapland, expert guides lead travelers deep into a snow-laden wilderness that will, with any luck, become the backdrop to one of the most spectacular natural phenomena on earth.

The new Aurora adventure includes an interactive day spent at a local reindeer herder’s farm where guests learn to throw a Lappish lasso, or ‘suopunki,’ and channel their inner Saint Nick on a traditional reindeer sleigh ride. Four days from $1,515.

Fat Biking in Finland
Active travelers can now explore Lapland’s Oulanka National Park by the chunky, extra grip tires of their fat bikes. They will cycle through snow-veiled pine forests and across frozen lakes to the border of Russia. Surrounded by remote wilderness and beneath the darkest skies, the guided group will have an excellent chance of seeing the Northern Lights. Nights are spent in remote wilderness cabins with wood burning fireplaces and traditional saunas. Eight days from $1,705.


Fossavatn Ski Race, Iceland
The Fossavatn Ski Marathon is intended for all levels, from elite racers to recreational weekend skiers. Against a backdrop of Iceland's West Fjords, cross-country skiers join local guides for race up to 50km across the land of fire and ice, followed by festive celebrations, including a cake buffet and live music. Eight days from $3,875.

Cross-Country Skiing in Iceland
Cross-country skiing is quickly becoming a favorite Icelandic pastime. The weeklong adventure begins at a ski area near Reykjavik, surrounded by sharp mountains and lava plateaus, and journeys northbound to Akureyri, a small settlement that sits at the head of Iceland’s longest fjord. Eight days from $2,956.

Jura Cross-Country Ski Tour
Situated on the border of Switzerland and France, the Jura plateau is one of France's top cross-country skiing destinations. Nordic skis are the vehicle of choice for Exodus’ newest point-to-point ski adventure. Skiers go off the beaten tracks to far-flung mountain huts and secret viewpoints of the snow-capped Alps. The tour ends in Les Rousses, a traditional French winter resort. Eight days from $1,705.

Cross-Country Skiing in Oulanka
Avid skiers can now travel from Finland to Russia, following new tracks made each day by a snowmobile that cuts fresh loipes exclusively for Exodus’ small group. Skiers navigate the Finnish wilderness, taking paths through forests where elks and reindeer roam freely. Back at basecamp, the surrounding parkland can be explored by snowshoe, dogsled, fat bikes or snowmobiles. Eight days from $1,545.

Cross-Country Skiing in Kamben, Norway
Located on a rising plateau in central Norway, Kamben is dotted with birch and conifer forest boasting well marked trails for all levels of cross-country skiers. Longer excursions take skiers across more challenging terrain made up of broad loops, wide tracks and some steep ascents. Eight days from $1,475.

\ Dogsledding at Basecamp Oulanka
When the temperature dips below 0°C, travelers can warm up by ‘mushing’ their own team of Alaskan or Siberian huskies across a blanket of fresh snow, past snow-covered trees and frozen lakes. Two nights are spent in remote wilderness cabins close to the Arctic Circle before guests mush back to basecamp through Poronkutsu, known for its reindeer sightings. Eight days from $3,095.


Snowshoeing in the Catalan Pyrenees
Surrounded by soaring peaks, the little-known and less-trodden part of the Catalan Pyrenees provides a dramatic setting for snowshoeing. Winter lovers will stay in traditional Spanish villages, snowshoe across ancient woodlands and tranquil meadows, and visit local producers of wine, cheese and wool. Eight days from $1,475.

Snowshoeing in the Southern Alps
Sparkling snowfields, towering pine and rugged peaks set the stage for snowshoeing through the Southern Alps. Explorers will be based in the small village of Saint Veran, one of the highest inhabited villages in Europe, and venture into the neighboring valley of the River Guil. From atop Curley Cross viewpoint, they can gaze across the winter wonderland to the Italian border. Eight days from $1,545.

Transalpine Snowshoe Week
Exodus’ new cross-border snowshoe trek begins in a remote alpine valley in western Italy and climbs into the wild white mountains of France’s Montgenevre range. Snowshoers travel from hut-to-hut exploring new wintry territory each day, from flat larch tree forests, wide passes and rocky peaks. Eight days from $1,515.


Budapest to Prague in Winter
Europe bound travelers will find all the same great attractions in winter, but without the summer crowds. Highlights include guided tours of the European capitals of Budapest, Vienna and Prague, visits to snow-covered castles and grand cathedrals, and a unique beer spa experience in Pilsen. In November and December, adventurers will also enjoy magical Christkindlmarkts (Christmas Markets), traditional choral performances and hearty holiday feasts. Eight days from $1,705.

More information on these tours can be obtained at Exodus Travels’ website, www.ExodusTravels.com.

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