If you’ve heard of the Bavarian Alps before, then you’ll more than likely recognise it as a winter wonderland, with some of the best ski runs in Europe, and boasting marvellous snow-capped mountain vistas. But this snowy spot is certainly about more than amazing skiing resorts. The Bavarian Alps offer everything from jagged mountains and walking trails, to beaches and their iconic onion-domed churches. Stretching west from Germany’s remote south-eastern corner, across to Lake Constance, the mountains form a beautiful natural divide along the Austrian border.
The Top Spot: Surrounded by the region of Chiemgau, one of the stunning ranges within the Bavarian Alps, is the Chiemsee – otherwise known as the ‘Bavarian Sea’ – a tranquil freshwater lake. Unlike other parts of the Bavarian Alps, you won´t find Aprés ski parties here. Instead, there are idyllic mountain villages and traditional architecture amid untouched nature, all just waiting to be explored.
Where To Stay: Standing in lush Alpine meadows just outside the charming village of Reit im Winkl, Gut Steinbach is a stunning, traditional Bavarian mountain farmhouse. When you’re not out exploring, you can wind down in the Spa and Wellness area, with a large indoor pool, saunas, a relaxation area and a range of first-class cosmetic treatments and massages.
In the heart of the charming Bavarian mountain town of Oberstdorf, Hotel Exquisit is a luxury boutique hotel offering sumptuous accommodation, fine cuisine and a fabulous range of outdoor activities in an authentic mountain atmosphere. Hikers and cyclists are also spoilt for choice – the hotel offers bicycles and electric bikes, free of charge. The Oberstdorf Golf Club is also just a golf stroke away.
Enjoying an elevated position directly by Lake Chiemsee, and situated close to many places of interest, including local market towns and even a Roman settlement, is the four-star Gut Ising hotel. Offering pure, understated luxury, the hotel is set in 170 hectares of grounds and is nestled within the peaceful countryside of Chiemgau, away from the crowds of tourists. And offering everything from a sumptuous spa to a nine-hole golf course, and, of course, their lavishly-furnished rooms, Gut Ising proves the perfect Bavarian hideaway
The Dolomites, north-eastern Italy’s magnificent mountain range, are jaw-droppingly huge – the 18 peaks cover 350,000 acres (so we won’t even bother trying to imagine how many football pitches that would be). The ‘pale mountains’, as they’re also known, are a paradise for climbing and exploring. They boast world-famous rock formations, enchanting forests and breathtaking alpine landscapes. We recommend heading to the iconic Three Peaks, which form one of the most striking mountain chains in the Dolomites, and are also recognised as World Natural Heritage site.
The Top Spot: Emerald waters that glisten with the speckles of a rainbow, mysterious forests that have inspired centuries-old legends, and breathtaking views of the intriguing limestone Latemar mountains… Lago Di Carezza, meaning ‘lake of rainbows’ in Italian, has to be seen to be believed. Local folklore claims that a sorcerer threw a rainbow into the lake after he couldn’t win over an enchanting water nymph who lived beneath the lake. Though we’re not sure how true that legend is, we can’t deny the beauty to be found here.
Where To Stay: The Moseralm Hotel is suitably situated a short drive away from some of the best walking spots in the Dolomites, and it couldn’t be closer to the Rosengarten-Latemar mountain, one of the Dolomites’ stunning World Heritage sites. All of the rooms in the Moseralm are sumptuously-furnished, and the spa hotel provides the perfect balance between wellness and nature. Just picture yourself floating in their sky pool, eye-to-eye with the glowing mountain peaks.
The family-run La Perla is nestled within the majestic ring of mountains known as the Sella massif, high in The Dolomites. Renowned as one of the finest hotels in the world, it offers charming Ladin chalet-esque rooms and the warmest hospitality.
Hotel Leitlhof is in a spectacular location in the heart of the Dolomites, situated on a hillside overlooking the village of San Candido. This charming boutique hotel offers luxurious accommodation in an authentic Alpine atmosphere, with breathtaking views of the valley and the towering Dolomites in the distance
The World Heritage-listed Canadian Rockies stretch for 69,498 square miles across British Columbia and Alberta, and they’re absolutely perfect for exploring on foot. Famous for their snowy summits, emerald glacial lakes, and luscious evergreen forests, the Rockies boast mountain trails in abundance, winding through Lake Louise, Canmore and plenty of other tourist-friendly towns. If you’re after a bit more of an adventure, you could attempt the challenging hike across Mount Robson Provincial Park’s picturesque Berg Lake.
The Top Spot: You can spend all day drinking in the magnificent views of the Rockies, but if you’re wanting some pretty special evening views, then Jasper National Park is the place to go. Not only is it the largest national park in the Canadian Rockies, it’s also the second-largest dark sky preserve in the entire world, so there’s next-to-no artificial light pollution to obscure the night sky. It’s also absolutely packed full of wildlife, and home to some of the largest populations of grizzlies and moose.
Where To Stay: Tastefully-furnished rooms, a fitness centre and a swimming pool, plus it’s conveniently located next to some of the mountain range’s major attractions – Canmore Inn and Suites would be our choice of where to stay. Right by the ice-capped mountains, downtown Canmore offers plenty of entertainment – take a tour of the Wild Life Distillery, or treat yourself to some jewellery made from ammolite, a rare gemstone found in south-eastern Alberta at The Ammonite Factory.
Thea’s House combines the charm of a bed and breakfast, with the comfort and amenities of a boutique hotel, and is situated right in the middle of the town of Banff in the Canadian Rockies. There’s plenty to explore right on the doorstep of Thea’s House, but with every room offering a jacuzzi and balcony from which to enjoy the mountain views, we wouldn’t blame you for wanting to spend some time indoors.
Nestled in a high Alpine zone dominated by the iconic Columbia Icefield (the largest icefield in the Rocky Mountains) is the Glacier View Lodge. The cosy and comfortable guest rooms overlooking vast glaciers and mountains make for a peaceful night’s sleep before heading out to see what the icefield has to offer.
Magnificent Munros, a loch shrowded in mystery, rugged coastlines – we can only be talking about the Scottish Highlands. Scotland’s natural playground is just begging to be explored. Though much of the Highlands is largely mountainous and uninhabited, the locals you’ll come across on your travels are some of the friendliest you’ll ever encounter, and after a long day of walking, you’ll be welcomed into any one of the pubs with open arms, (and a dram of their unbeatable whisky). While Edinburgh Castle and Stirling Castle may architecturally be the most impressive in the country, the epic landscapes of the Highlands serve as magnificent backdrop to the castles further north. Expect to see dolphins leaping off the Moray Coast, the North Highlands’ staggering seascape, and, of course, the highest mountain on the British Isles, Ben Nevis.
The Top Spot: If you’re a fan of the 1995 motion picture Braveheart, then you might just recognise this place. Glencoe served as part of the backdrop for the film, and has also featured in Skyfall and Harry Potter – there’s a reason that film companies keep coming back to shoot here – it’s absolutely breathtaking. There’s plenty to do around here, too, from bagging a few Munros to kayaking across Loch Leven. Or you could simply absorb the spectacular Highland scenery, the epic peaks surrounding the haunting valley, and the Scottish wildlife which roam free. Glencoe village is located between the banks of Loch Leven and the mouth of the famous glen – it’s the perfect base for exploring Lochaber, the Outdoor Capital of the UK.
Where To Stay: If you’re looking for luxury, then you’ll find delicious food and stylish bedrooms at Kylesku Hotel, a boutique hotel and restaurant in the north west Scottish Highlands. Specialising in ultra-local produce (including meat and seafood), you can expect to come back to relaxed dining after a wilderness adventure amongst Scotland’s glorious mountains and lochs.
The Loch Ness Inn, located in Drumnadrochit, within striking distance of Urquhart Castle and a short drive away from the Highland capital, Inverness, is a traditional Scottish inn built in 1838. Original artwork by renowned Scottish artist, Dot Walker, can be found in the restaurant and bar as well as in the individually-designed bedrooms.
Situated in a perfect location to explore the outstanding natural beauty of the Western Highlands of Scotland and scenic islands beyond, The Lochailort Inn is a small, friendly pub with 11 comfortable ensuite rooms. With Loch Ailort and Loch Eilt both a stone’s throw away, plus the rugged hills of Moidart nearby, there’s plenty to explore.