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Winter holidays in the Alps without a lift or gondola

Cross-country skiing - that can be like leisurely winter hiking, only with narrow skis on your feet.

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Winter holidays in the Alps without a lift or gondola

Cross-country skiing - that can be like leisurely winter hiking, only with narrow skis on your feet. But also an enduring and sweaty sport, more like jogging. Cross-country skiing offers something for all levels of ability and fitness. You can really let off steam at Dolomiti-Nordic-Ski: Europe's largest cross-country skiing carousel offers around 1,000 kilometers of cross-country trails and a total cross-country trail pass in eight Italian regions - plus a border trail across to Austrian East Tyrol.

In the middle of the Dolomites, a Unesco World Heritage Site, groomed cross-country ski runs attract beginners and top athletes, classic runners and skaters. If you want to ski all the cross-country ski runs in the Three Peaks in the Dolomites, you should book a longer holiday: There are more than 200 kilometers of groomed cross-country ski runs to choose from, which reach up to 2200 meters, some on challenging World Cup terrain.

Cross-border cross-country skiing fun is offered by the East Tyrolean trail network, in Hochpustertal the border trail leads from the South Tyrolean border to Lienz. The trails vary in difficulty, i.e. steep. So in Alta Badia there are also demanding racing trails in addition to a green practice trail; if it doesn't snow enough, some of the routes can be covered with artificial snow. The 52 kilometers of cross-country trails in the Anterselva Valley meander up to 1,650 meters - one of the groomed routes leads across the frozen Anterselva Lake.

From South Tyrol, the Dolomites stretch across to Veneto. There, in Comelico, you glide along 52 kilometers of prepared tracks. Cortina d'Ampezzo is also in Veneto: the place hosted the 1956 Winter Olympics. For cross-country skiers, 70 trails are prepared here through the nature reserve of the Ampezzo Dolomites.

In all regions you walk at the foot of the fantastic Dolomites, sometimes across wide fields, sometimes through forests protected from the wind. And if you're tired, sweaty, or just hungry - somewhere there's already the next inn where you can warm up.

Info: dolomitinordicski.com

Arrival: To Brunico by train, then by bus, suedtirolmobil.info/de

Even Pieter Bruegel the Elder knew it. A winter painting by the Dutchman from 1565 shows people enjoying stick shooting on a frozen stream. Ice stock sport is something like the winter variant of Boccia and Boule. All participants must try to get as close as possible to the stave, a wooden cube, with their curling stick, a disc made of pear or maple wood with a handle.

The number of participants is unlimited – entire villages are said to have competed against each other. It was probably the Scandinavians who invented winter fun, no wonder, after all, ice surfaces are available in the north for many months of the year.

For winter vacationers, however, the Alpine region is closer. Especially in Switzerland you can ice skate in many places or otherwise have fun on ice surfaces. Saas-Fee, at 1800 meters above sea level, offers particularly good conditions; There are four natural ice rinks available in and around the Valais town. In addition to curling, you can of course also slide along on runners in the Saas Valley, go ice skating and play ice hockey.

If you want to do more challenging social ice stock sport, you call it curling. This is the sport where people busily handle brooms on the ice. Two teams of four try to shoot their curling stones as close as possible to the center of a target circle (photo). Don't forget gloves: next week the thermometer in Valais will drop into double digits.

Info: saas-fee.ch/de/winteraktivitaeten/eissport

Getting there: There are direct train connections from all major Swiss cities to Visp, from where you can take the 511 bus to the Saas Valley, sbb.ch

Forest bathing is good. A series of scientific studies shows that longer stays in the forest can, for example, lower blood pressure and improve the immune system, while the special scent of conifers reduces the feeling of stress. This also applies in winter. And so it was only a matter of time before holiday resorts would specifically advertise winter forest bathing.

The Traunsee-Almtal region in the northern Salzkammergut, one of the most densely wooded areas in Upper Austria, is a pioneer in this field. There you don't just offer simple walks between trees, but also combine the healthy aspects of the forest with physical wellness - the term "waldness" was invented for this and it was specially protected. You can imagine it as a decelerated walk with guidance. In winter, for example, the program includes snowshoe hikes, where you are encouraged to consciously smell forest aromas.

You visit a forest school with a head forester who has been specially trained as a forestness coach, where you can learn more about the healing effects of trees and forest plants. And you get tips on retreats in the snowy green, where you can recharge your batteries and, if you want to, hug trees.

The mountaineering resort of Grünau im Almtal offers four-day Waldness packages in winter. If you want, you can also learn how to read game tracks in the snow and how to smoke tree resin properly. And so that nobody freezes while bathing in the forest, there is a weather patch on loan, a weatherproof cape made of loden.

Info: oberoesterreich.at; The Waldness package can also be found here, three nights with breakfast from 285 euros.

Arrival: From Munich by train via Salzburg and Wels to the Almtal, shop.oebbtickets.at/de/ticket.

Come to us, we have nothing - with this slogan the East Tyrolean Villgratental advertised a few years ago. Nothing, that means above all: no lifts, no gondolas. It is a valley without skiremmidemmi, even if there were plans for a ski lift. You can still ski as a ski tourer. In other words: you have to work your way up the mountain on foot, i.e. mount climbing skins under your skis and stomp off before you can finally wag your skis downhill.

45 ski tours are offered in the Villgratental, for example you can go on a tour to the Kreuzeck with mountain guide Hannes Grüner. Grüner was against the construction of a lift: “Then there will be another lift, then there will be an umbrella bar, then we will be like all valleys. It is only unique the way it is now.”

However, such a ski tour is also uniquely exhausting. You work your way up and up step by step in serpentines. This is definitely energy-saving – just not for you! You should have a granola bar in your backpack that you can throw in like a shovel of coal. More mountains appear at every hairpin bend. You can already see the Drei Zinnen over in South Tyrol and higher peaks further west. "The Ortler," says Grüner.

Mountain guides know their way around, including the dangers. Avalanches lurk up there like cocked mousetraps, says Grüner. A few locals trudge past, and a dialogue about the avalanche situation follows: "Sain the lameness is dangerous?" - "Sem wants. – “Woll, woll.” If you don’t know your way around, you should only go on a ski tour with experienced mountain guides.

Finally the summit of the Kreuzeck has been reached, a handful of people have also made it this far. Most of them only enjoy the panorama and the blazing sun for a short time, stuff the climbing skins in their backpack and rush back down to the valley on an untracked slope. Experience in deep snow is an advantage.

Info: villgratental.com, osttirol.com

Arrival: By train from Munich to Silian in East Tyrol, preferably via Franzensfeste/Fortezza. Buses run from Silian.

Long-distance hiking is a trend in summer anyway, but now it’s also possible in winter. On the Seefeld high plateau in Tyrol, a good 140 kilometers of winter hiking trails are regularly cleared during the cold season. Now some of them have been "linked together" and expanded into a winter hiking tour. You don't return to the same hotel bed every day, you complete a route. In four daily stages it goes through the Leutasch, the Fludertal, to the Wildmoosalm and to the Wettersteinhütte.

54 kilometers and 1300 meters in altitude have to be mastered, although this is not a guided hike. A certain physical condition and a realistic self-assessment of one's own strength are therefore advantageous. No previous alpine knowledge is required for the round, as you are hiking on cleared, signposted paths.

If it is slippery, spikes are recommended, which can be purchased locally. Hiking sticks are also helpful. Luggage is transported daily from one accommodation to the next. The exception is the remote Wettersteinhütte: For the night there, guests have to pack the bare essentials in their backpacks; meanwhile the suitcase stays in the valley.

On all stages there are alpine pastures and mountain huts along the way, where you can strengthen yourself. On the first day of hiking, a stop at Polis Hütte in Leutasch's Gasse district is a good idea. Hüttenwirt Simon Althaler is a trained confectioner, so the range of pastries is correspondingly large and great. "Heisse Marille", a hot drink with apricot liqueur, is recommended for warming up.

After that you need fresh air. The highlight of the tour is, literally, the overnight stay at the Wettersteinhütte at 1,717 meters above sea level. The dream panorama and the homemade Kaiserschmarren make this stage unforgettable. Here, too, a local drink helps against cold feet: a glass of blue gentian schnapps.

Info: seefeld.com. Four daily stages with three nights and half board cost from 495 euros per person; Additional nights can be booked additionally.

Arrival: From Munich by train via Innsbruck to Seefeld in Tirol, shop.oebbtickets.at/de/ticket.

Winter is approaching and in some places the ski areas have already opened. Snow cannons are used to provide enough snow. But they are real power guzzlers. The result is higher prices.

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