Seven of the best winter-only travel wonders

ENJOY A WEEK OF WINTER EXPERIENCES ON THE ARCTIC CIRCLE, FINLAND

Tucked against the Arctic Circle and the Russian border, Oulanka National Park is Finland's premier summer hiking destination, but things are even better here in winter. The park's Basecamp Oulanka hotel is hired out exclusively to Exodus Travels in the sub-zero months, becoming a base for weeklong trips that offer changing daily snow activities: dog sledding, snowshoeing beneath the Northern Lights, climbing on the hotel's own ice wall, and cross-country skiing at nearby Ruka resort. See exodustravels.com/au

SING SILENT NIGHT IN SALZBURG, AUSTRIA

In 1818 the church organist at Obendorf outside Salzburg composed one of the world's most famous Christmas carols to lyrics by the local priest. Join a procession on Christmas Eve through Oberdorf village for a rendition of the song outside the Silent Night Chapel. With a bit of luck, snow might be falling. The city itself is alive with music from Christmas market buskers, concerts and advent singers. See salzburg.info

HIRE YOUR OWN WINTER ISLAND RETREAT, TASMANIA

What could be as romantic as hiring your own luxurious private island at Australia's wildest winter address? Stay at Satellite Island in the D'Entrecasteaux Channel at the bottom of Tasmania and spend your days watching storms coming up from the Great Southern Ocean; and fossicking for oysters and mussels on the island's beaches to eat by a log fire on an island only recently accessible to the public. See satelliteisland.com.au

SEE THE NORTHERN LIGHTS FROM THE SEA, NORWAY

Take a cruise along the northern Norway coast and watch the Northern Lights from the water. Cruise with Hurtigren Cruises on a 12-day cruise and if you don't see the lights, they'll throw in a six-day cruise for free. You'll get to see fiords and ports where no other ships go, and a polar twilight that lasts from September to March. Norway provides the best vantage point for seeing Earth's most famous night show. See hurtigruten.com

TAKE A SELF-GUIDED ART WALK IN THREDBO, NSW

One of the best ways to get to know Thredbo's village is on foot and on its self-guided Art Walk, there are about 30 intriguing pieces, with sculptures through the village and paintings (by John Olsen and local artist Brad Spalding among others) in the quirky Thredbo Alpine Hotel. The Heritage Walk is a wander through a golden era of Australian architecture, with buildings designed by Eric Nicholls and Harry Seidler, among others. See thredbo.com.au

STROLL MOSCOW IN WINTER

The Russian capital – with sights such as the Kremlin and St Basil's Cathedral, Gorky Park and the Bolshoi Theatre – is surprisingly beautiful at any time of year; however, Moscow takes on a whole new dimension when the snow settles and the big coats and furry hats are broken out for winter. This city is a joy to simply stroll on a cold winter's day, taking in the bluster and the beauty. See russiatourism.ru

7 MEET SANTA IN ROVANIEMI, FINLAND

Meeting the jolly old fellow at his Christmas work above the Arctic Circle in northern Finland is sure to warm anyone's heart. At Santa Park, you can study to be Santa's helper at Elf School, decorate gingerbread men with Mrs Claus, and descend into an ice grotto. Santa's Village provides Christmas decorations, a museum of Christmas traditions around the world and reindeer rides. You can stay in an igloo. See visitrovaniemi.fi

CONTRIBUTORS

Andrew Bain, Elspeth Callender, Jim Darby, Anthony Dennis, Ben Groundwater, Ute Junker, Nina Karnikowski, Steve McKenna, Jane Reddy, Jane Richards, Craig Tansley and Guy Wilkinson

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