5 tips for your wintergetaway
You are longing for sunshine, your head is itching under your hat and your feet want to get out of these boots? Well, pack your camper and head south – here are our 5 top winter escape recommendations.
Côte d’Azur, France
Let’s begin with the place that has been designated UNESCO World Heritage Site in July 2021 as the ” Winter Resort Town of the Riviera”: Nice. A somewhat unusual title, one might think, but it actually goes back to Nice’s tradition as the winter residence of the aristocrats and the rich who also shaped the city’s architecture.
Monaco, Cannes and Nice are still the playground of the rich and famous, yet there are people flooding the Côte d’Azur not driving their Ferraris or Lamborghinis. And they do so mainly in summertime. While you will get stuck in traffic on the street as well as on the beach over those months, in wintertime you will easily find a nice spot at the beach with a superyacht view. Since this will (hopefully) not fill your days, the French Riviera has an amazing hinterland to go hiking and biking. There is a reason why one of the biggest MTB events in Europe, Roc d’Azur, takes place here in Fréjus. And in February, Nice is already in full bloom, which is proudly exhibited in the Battle of the Flowers, La Batailles des Fleurs, the third largest carnival parade in the world.
Portugal is never not a good idea! The food, the people, the scenery, the sea. No wonder digital nomads, analogue surfers and happy retirees love to spend their winters in the Algarve. But even those who aren’t just hunting the waves, the Iberian Peninsula is just the most amazing spot. In Sintra, for example. The old Moorish city – by the way also a UNESCO World Heritage Site – is located near Lisbon and is known for its palaces. Yes, plural: the Palacio Nacional, the crazy Palacio da Pena (Portugal’s Neuschwanstein), the walls of the Castelo dos Mouros or the Quinta da Regaleira, an estate right in the historic center of Sintra. PLUS: it’s not only close to Portugal’s capital but also the beach AND the Sintra mountains that sport an amazing network of trails and singletracks built by local mountain bikers. If you are looking for a guide: the WeRide.pt team has a great reputation.
Switching the climbing gym for rock at the seaside? Yes, please! But where to go? Kalymnos, of course! Well, the island is definitely one of the climbing hot spots, but you don’t have to travel all the way to the island located a short distance from the Turkish coast for your rock-beach dream combo. How about the eastern side of the Peloponnese, the peninsula in southern Greece? This is where you find the village of Leonidio (not really a super-secret tip anymore) with sensational rock faces and the Aegean Sea with almost pristine beaches. There are around 2,300 routes in the 90 sectors – all levels of difficulty, all lengths and varying rock quality. There is enough material for beginners and pleasure climbers, but also for ambitious sport and multi-pitch climbers. And there is the sea breeze that is so so much better than the indoor climbing gym odor…
Vinschgau, South Tyrol
For those who love the Alps, there are some places in the midst of the mighty mountains that seem to sneak under the winter radar, especially in South Tyrol. You won’t believe it, while still the Tyrolean side of the Reschen Pass, but when you roll down into the Vinschgau Valley, it will become less wintery with the drop in altitude. The inner-alpine climate here is dry and the north-facing Sonnenberg even has what they call a “steppe vegetation”. Of course, you have to keep an eye on the weather, but there is a good chance that the temperatures here in the west of South Tyrol are super mild and that all the rain and snowfall is blocked by the flanking Ötztal Alps and the Ortler massif – so you can go biking in the sun or explore the beautiful hikes even in the winter months.
The same applies to Ticino: Switzerland’s warmest canton (located on the southern side of the Alps) is also spoiled by the climate. While Lake Maggiore on the Italian border (it is the second largest lake in Italy and the largest in southern Switzerland) is bustling and busy in summer, it is all quiet in wintertime. However, you do see quite a few road cyclists, who ride around the lake (160 km, which can be shortened to a 90km loop with the ferry) or they climb the south-facing mountain roads. Mountain biking is also possible most of the days all year round – for example on Monte Brè, Locarno’s local mountain. And what else? Well, you can explore the sensational Maggia Valley, you can sit under palm trees by the Lago and/or you can enjoy polenta in the grotti.