From Cyprus to Australia: 5 unusual skiing destinations
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January is heading right into peak ski season in Europe. So if you are itching to hit the slopes but in the mood for something different to the usual destinations like France, Austria and Switzerland, here are some unusual places you might not have thought of.
Cyprus has long been a popular holiday destination for British travellers thanks to its long, hot summers, plentiful beaches and delicious food. Right now in its short winter season, there’s still temperatures in the mid- to high-teens everyday, but there won’t be so many tourists around. This means you’re likely to get a good flight deal and only a one-hour drive from both Limassol and Nicosia is the Troodos mountain range, which has the only skiing centre in Cyprus. The Cyprus Ski Club is open until the end of March with four chair lifts and a mix of slopes for beginners to intermediates.
How to get there: British Airways flies from London Heathrow (LHR) to Larnaca (LCA) from £127 return or for 17,000 Avios plus £35 and from Gatwick (LGW) to Paphos (PFO) from £128 return or 17,000 Avios plus £35 during winter. Wizz Air, EasyJet, Jet2, TUI and Ryanair also offer year-round flights between the U.K. and Cyprus for as little as £39 return.
The Arabian desert may be the last place you’d expect to find snow, but for Dubai, that’s not an issue. Dubai has an indoor ski field in the Mall of the Emirates, which allows indoor skiing year round, whatever the weather outside. Given the blisteringly hot temperatures the city experiences for many months of the year it can be a refreshing respite to hit the slopes rather than the beach.
You can also stay in a hotel in the mall with a view of the slopes so can spend your time skiing, shopping and eating without even going outside.
How to get there: British Airways flies nonstop to Dubai (DXB) from about £345 return or 26,000 Avios plus £257 and Emirates from £397 return or 45,000 Skywards miles plus £285.
How does skiing and safari in the same trip sound? Tiffindell is one of the only two ski resorts in South Africa. Decent amounts of natural snow here can be hard to come by, given how far north in the country the area is, though cold, clear nights in their winter (from June to August) make for very favourable snow-making conditions — and there are plenty of machines on site for this. It is around 185 miles from Johannesburg but geographically closer to Durban, which British Airways now flies to nonstop from London (LHR).
How to get there: British Airways flies from Heathrow to Durban (DUR) for about £595 return or 32,500 Avios plus £392 and also nonstop to Johannesburg (JNB) for £480 or 32,500 Avios plus £332. Virgin Atlantic also has flights from £479 or 25,000 Flying Club miles plus £247, or South African Airways from £548 nonstop return.
In the summer you can enjoy the beautiful beaches of Tel Aviv during the day and the city’s incredible nightlife by night. Come winter, you can drive just two hours to Mount Hermon, the country’s only snow and ski resort with 28 miles of trails and 11 chair lifts and t-bars.
How to get there: British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, El Al, EasyJet and Wizz Air all fly nonstop from London (various airports) to Tel Aviv (TLV) during winter. Flight time is around five hours. BA starts at £283 return or 20,000 Avios plus £196, Virgin Atlantic has prices from £294 or 18,000 Flying Club miles plus £197 return. Nonstop cash fares on low-cost airlines are as low as £128 return between the U.K. and Israel.
Australia is currently suffering through horrendous bushfires in a scorching hot summer. But in the winter months (June to September), there are some places in Australia high enough and cold enough to get snow. There’s Mount Buller and Mount Hotham, three to four hours drive from Melbourne, which means day trips from the city are possible — though they will be very long days. There’s also Thredbo, which is mid-way between Sydney and Melbourne and Perisher in New South Wales. You can expect a mix of runs for different proficiency levels, though the snow may not be as deep or consistent as some northern hemisphere skiing hot spots.
How to get there: There are dozens of airlines, routings and prices on the “Kangaroo Route” between London and Sydney, so read which airports are the best to connect in when flying to Australia.
Skiing trips don’t have to be in the typical European or Northern American hot spots. By doing some research, you can still hit the slopes but maybe have a less crowded and cheaper experience — and in places that are large enough to have hugely different landscapes, take in a safari or a wine tour, too!
Featured image courtesy of Mt Buller Resort