A break in the winter doesn't always have to be about skiing or snowboarding, there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy the snowy landscapes in a more sedate manner. If winter walking sounds like your kind of thing, here are a few suggestions about where you can go.
As a well known winter sports destination, Switzerland should also be near the top of your list when it comes to European winter walking holiday destinations. Boasting mountains, lakes and vast open spaces, the country is home to landscapes that are beautiful at any time of the year, but when they are covered with glistening, white snow, they take on a magical quality.
If you are keen to discover life in one of its villages, plan a stay in Guarda in the Engadine Valley, which has a permanent population of just 200 people and is largely free from cars - or any other vehicles for that matter. Strap on a pair of snowshoes and head out to enjoy the wintry scenes in the valley.
You will stroll past frozen lakes, snow-covered meadows and towering peaks during the course of your break. Following a local guide, you can also make your way to neighbouring villages, enjoying the unspoilt scenery along the way. One of the must-visit nearby sites is Castle Tarasp, an 11th century fortress that is perched on a 100 m-high rock and looks particularly dramatic in a wintry setting.
Another European nation renowned for its credentials as a winter sports destination is Austria which, like Switzerland, is home to stunning mountains, lakes and meadows. Winter walking in Tyrol, a region in the west of the country, is outstanding, with numerous options for you to choose from when booking a break.
The village of Mosern is an excellent base, due to its location close to the skiing areas in the mountains and the neighbouring lake. There are many routes you can take to explore the countryside around the settlement, some of which loop around the lake and others that take you higher into the surrounding peaks. If you are keen to look at some amazing views of the landscape, take the trail to Gschwandtkopf, which stands at an altitude of 1,495 m. From here you can enjoy some breathtaking panoramas over the village and lake below.
Italy may not be the first destination that comes to mind when you think of top locations for winter walking, but its northern regions have plenty to offer those keen to pull on their snowshoes and stretch their legs. Close to the Austrian border is the Dolomites mountain range, and nestled high among the peaks is the Seiseralm Plateau - an ideal place to explore on foot at any time of the year.
Stay in Kastelruth - also known as Castelrotto - and you will be perfectly placed to take advantage of all this winter wonderland has to offer. The Seiseralm Plateau is the biggest high-altitude meadow in Europe - covering 57 sq km - and there are various walking trails that crisscross the area. You will be able to see skiers and boarders on the slopes near the plateau as you stroll, while the sheer peaks of the Dolomites tower above you.
Dotted around the plateau are several villages in addition to Kastelruth, including Sisui and Fie, that you can walk to during the day and explore at your leisure. Each is home to charming streets and quaint churches, as well as restaurants and cafes where you can warm up and refresh yourself before heading out on your next winter stroll.