Text by: Quartz Co. Editorial Team
Ski lovers and travel aficionados will no longer have to make a heartbreaking choice between cultural and sporting destinations with these ski resorts that offer the possibility of combining a few days of skiing with a trip to an exotic location. Because let's face it, snow-covered mountains are not what immediately comes to mind when we think of Greece, Morocco or South Africa...but at the right time of the year, it is possible to ski in each of these countries. Curious about these unusual ski destination alternatives to traditional ski resorts? Read on!
In Spanish, sierra nevada means "snow-covered mountain range". No wonder, then, that this is a popular ski destination in Spain! After the Alps, these peaks are the highest on the continent and are home to the southernmost ski resort in Europe, also named Sierra Nevada. It boasts over 100 kilometers of world-class pistes. And since it’s located less than 30 kilometers from the city of Granada, after skiing down the slopes, you can quickly find yourself in front of an appetizing tapas dish or on the edge of the Mediterranean.
Do you want to discover Greece differently? Leave Santorini and Mykonos aside and head instead for Mount Parnassos, located 3 hours north of Athens. The country's largest ski resort - with 13 lifts - offers a variety of slopes that will delight beginners and intermediates alike. Need to warm up a little? Take refuge in one of the resort’s two chalets and enjoy a hot chocolate or ouzo, a Greek alcoholic drink made from aniseed. After all, you are in Greece to discover local specialties! End your stay with a visit to Delphi, an unmissable UNESCO World Heritage archaeological site.
The very mention of Japan brings to mind large cities bubbling with energy and illuminated by neon lights. But the Land of the Rising Sun is also home to a large number of mountains and ski resorts with breathtaking views. Japan is, therefore, a very popular ski destination, and the Niseko ski resort, which with its deep, dry powder, has everything to seduce skiers and snowboarders. After a long day on the slopes, you can relax in an onsen, a traditional Japanese thermal baths with therapeutic properties, large numbers of which can be found in the villages nestled at the foot of the Japanese slopes. Take note, though, that people with tattoos are forbidden to enter onsens… A word to the wise!
Australia is undoubtedly a surfers' paradise, but did you know that there are also mountains which are ideal for winter sports? Trade your surfboard for a snowboard and head for New South Wales. The huge Perisher ski resort was recently created from four distinct ski areas. Located about six hours' drive from both Sydney and Melbourne, it offers skiers more than 1,245 hectares of land for skiers to explore. Five snow parks, the opportunity to ski in the evening and weekly celebrations with fireworks all give this ski resort a particularly festive atmosphere!
Skiing and adventure lovers will be delighted in Hemavan and Tärnaby, two ski resorts nestled in the heart of Swedish Lapland. Easily accessible by plane from the airport located at the foot of the Hemavan runways, these ski resorts will allow you to live an outdoor experience like no other. Need a well-deserved break? Why not go out to meet a reindeer herd, go ice fishing or experience the thrills of riding a snowmobile? If you’re lucky, you can even see majestic northern lights on some evenings. No doubt, this trip is guaranteed to be unforgettable!
Only 80 kilometers from the souks of Marrakech is the Oukaïmeden ski resort, in the heart of the High Atlas Mountains. Its altitude of 3,000 meters makes it the highest ski resort in Africa. Equipped with a ski lift and slopes adapted to beginners and experts alike, it is the perfect destination for a day off the Moroccan tourist trails.
Where else in the world can you ski and go on a safari on the same day? South Africa offers a magical skiing experience at Tiffindell, it's only resort, which is also one of only two ski resorts in southern Africa. With an altitude of 2,720 meters, Tiffindell is perched on the slopes of the highest peak in the province. The station is in operation for only three months (June to August), so plan your trip accordingly. You have to admit: skiing down the slopes and then going to the savannah to sleep near lions and giraffes, once your skis are off, is an enchanting idea.
So, where will you head to next?
Photos by: Perisher Ski Resort, Getty Images/ Scott Markewitz