Top 10 Alternative Winter Sports


If skiing and snowboarding isn't on the cards this year, try these alternative winter sports for an adrenalin rush without the ski-pass. If you are lucky enough to be visiting a resort make sure you know the rules on Skiing Off Piste.


You don't need days of classes to hit the slopes - just whiz down in a toboggan! While almost all ski resorts offer tobogganing, it's far nicer to head to a local slope in the UK. To stay as safe as possible, opt for an official slope that caters especially for tobogganers.

WHERE: There are official ski resorts and tobogganing slopes across the UK, see here for their location.


Like sledding, but at night. Obviously this is a touch more dangerous than standard sledding so be sure to use specially flood lit slopes and book as part of an organised event.

WHERE: If you're heading to Morzine-Avoriaz in France you'll be in for a night sledding treat. Instead of bright lights, you only get given a small torch to strap to your head before speeding down the dark slope.


With (relatively) less risk of broken limbs, ice skating is one of this season's many pleasures. Rinks at this time of year come up trumps with festive treats such as a Christmas market (Hyde Park's Winter Wonderland comes complete with market and funfair) or a mulled wine rest stop - try Canary Wharf's impressive Rinkside Bar for that.

WHERE: The UK, particularly London, is in no short supply of beautifully festive outdoor rinks on which you can slide gracefully, or land painfully. See here for a choice selection of UK icerinks.


Thanks to a growing number of snow domes in the UK, you don't have to take an expensive holiday to go skiing or snowboarding. As well as offering classes and opportunities for confident skiers and snowboarders to practice, most snow domes lay on freestyle, toboggan and tubing events.

WHERE: For a comprehensive guide to skiing and snowboarding in the UK see Essential Travel's Skiing Feature.


A cross between a quad bike and a jet ski, a snowmobile is the perfect vehicle for mountain exploration. Aside from the thrill of zipping along through snowy terrain, it allows you to get into inaccessible areas to discover more of the alpine wilderness - sort of like a snow safari.

WHERE: Americans and Canadians love to snowmobile and its caught on in Europe too. Finland is a big snowmobile destination, though you can also get good trails in the French Alps in a resort such as Meribel.


Like a giant frozen waterslide, a ski slope just begs to be slid down. Try it on a giant inflatable ring or raft for a dizzying experience.

WHERE: Most European resorts offer snow rafting and tubing, though Switzerland is especially keen on the activity - head to Leysin for stellar slopes. You can also get involved in the UK - try the snow sport centre in Trowse, Norwich.


Broom Ball is the fun alternative to ice hockey. While game play is almost identical, broom ball is played WEARING special rubber shoes rather than skates, and with a ball instead of a dangerous puck. Protective gear is still worn - helmets, pads and gloves - because it does get a wee bit rough on the ice.

WHERE: The sport was born in Canada, arguably the biggest winters ports destination in the world, around the turn of the century. Since then it has spread to the United States and is making ground across Europe and beyond. Broomball


Snow kayaking? Yes, that's right. Swap your life jacket for a snow suit and some thermal underwear, and your sun glasses for snow goggles. Remember to keep your helmet on though. Instead of charging down rapids, snow kayaks head down snowy hills. The thrill factor is high with this modern fusion sport.

WHERE: The World Snow Kayaking Champs takes place in Austria each year, but it's gaining popularity in most countries where kayaks and snow are found in the same place. Snow Kayaking


Ice fishing offers all the therapeutic relaxation and primitive enjoyment that traditional fishing brings to the table. It's just done on frozen lakes. Anglers will head out with specialized equipment to break through the ice - a saw, chisel or auger - and go from there. One of the biggest challenges is keeping warm - remember to layer up and bring along portable heat. The end goal is still the same - to bring home supper (or breakfast or lunch).

WHERE: Iceland, North America, Norway, Germany, Ukraine, Russia. Everywhere fishing lakes freeze over. Ice Fishing


Skijoring, meaning 'ski driving', is tow assisted cross country skiing. A skier is towed by dogs or horses over a course (often involving jumps), using harnesses. People have also been known to use motor bikes. Don't be fooled: skijoring looks like wonderful fun, but it can be rather dangerous. Bigger dogs, like Siberian Huskeys, and horses can get up to great speeds over a long enough distance. Helmets and protective gear are a must.

WHERE: Europe, North America and Canada. Skijoring was formerly an Olympic Sport. Skijoring

Last Updated: December 2009

Guest Travel Writer

Guest Travel Writer

Your Essential Travel Experts can't be everywhere all the time, so we often welcome guest travel writers. This article was written by one such visiting travel enthusiast whose experience of different places and advice for travellers makes for an interesting read. Enjoy!