Europe’s Top Christmas City
Helsinki is often hailed as Europe’s top Christmas city. It is certainly on top of the list of best Christmas destinations in Europe. The city itself is both the largest city in Finland and is the country’s capital. Even during the off season, there are tons of things to do in this magical city, but Christmas in Helsinki is the time of year when the capital seems to come alive with attractions, lights, and decorations. Everybody in the local area gets into the Christmas spirit and, weather permitting; it provides beautiful vistas for all to gaze upon. The many churches that dot the landscape provide an extra bonus insofar as they help spread the religious and cultural history of the city to anyone interested.
Here are just a few of the many reasons to consider a short break in Helsinki during the Christmas season:
- Christmas lights throughout Aleksanterinkatu – Every year around the end of November, the lights along the shopping center in the city are turned on. 2014 marks the 66th year of the tradition and promises to be one of the most enchanting celebrations to date. The tradition began all the way back in 1949 as a means to compensate for the effects of World War II on the city. This is the official opening of the Christmas season in the city.
- Glogi – Glogi is a traditional drink during Christmas time. It is made from wine with spices, almonds, raisins, and a little bit of vodka. This unique drink is served at parties, in homes, and through street vendors in the markets around Helsinki and other European cities during the Christmas season.
- Ample amounts of snow – When it comes to finding the European city with the best winter snow cover, Helsinki is certainly an impressive option. Snow usually arrives early in the season in Helsinki and is almost guaranteed to carry through until mid-spring. The locals know how to handle the issue, so traffic and flow of services are rarely impeded.
- Ice Skating at the Railway Station – Another popular tradition, especially with families, is ice skating at the local railway station. Open every day, the ice rink at the Railway Station has a café and is a wonderful place to bring the whole family after finishing your Christmas shopping for the day.
Planning a Short Break in Helsinki
Visiting Europe during the winter almost necessitates a stop in Helsinki. Since the city is easy to get to because of eased travel restrictions in the European Union, barriers to entry are minimal. This means that if you are in Finland or one of its neighboring countries, it is a simple matter to stop by for a day or two (or longer) and see all that the city has to offer, from beautiful churches and sparkling lights to the small local shops filled with hand-made artisan goods.
Rent a car in Finland to get around Helsinki and tour the area at your own leisure, avoiding public transportation services which are often expensive during the holiday season in the city. It should come as no surprise that Helsinki could easily be Europe’s top Christmas city, as it boasts a truly magical experience for travelers looking for a trip brimming with atmosphere and old-world charm. Plan your next holiday trip around Christmas in Helsinki and you will be sure to have a memorable experience. Rely on Kemwel for all your trip-planning needs, from great deals on hotels to convenient chauffeur services among many other specials and promotions. We are here to help you book an affordable rental car, or help you arrange any of our other convenient travel services. Easily make your reservation online, or call us toll-free 24/7 at 1-877-820-0668!
Backcountry Skiing in Europe
Backcountry skiing, also known as off-piste skiing, is one of the most exciting activities that travelers to Europe can take advantage of during the winter months. Unlike traditional alpine skiing, which utilizes the benefit of marked trails and regular ski patrols, backcountry skiing generally takes place on un-groomed territory outside the confined boundaries of a ski resort. Though the terrain involved may be somewhat forgiving, off-piste skiing can still employ the use of equipment like ski lifts, snowmobiles, or even helicopters. Traversing slopes in the backcountry can be a challenge for first-timers, but once you are able to push through any initial issues that arise, you will find a rich and rewarding sport awaiting you.
Finding the Best Backcountry Skiing
There are numerous locations in Europe that offer fantastic off-piste skiing opportunities, from the Alpine mountains of beautiful Switzerland and lovely Italy to the Pyrenees Range in the nation of France. Providing a plethora of beautiful landscapes and winters abound with powdery snowfall, Western Europe is a veritable paradise of backcountry skiing havens that keep adventurous travelers entertained for days and weeks on end. Combine that with the ease of accommodations and travel and you’ll have a recipe for the ski holiday of a lifetime!
Follow these guidelines for having a great off-piste ski vacation in Europe:
- Ski common trails until you are experienced – One of the most common pitfalls for individuals trying out off-piste skiing for the first time is that they will become a bit overzealous in their own abilities and try to ski some of the more difficult trails right off the bat. This presents a problem because, although tractable, the sport can be somewhat dangerous for inexperienced individuals. Pick easy trails to start out on like the Gatterl route in the mountainous country of Austria.
- Look for tourist packages – Countries that feature fantastic off-piste skiing destinations will also host a number of tour companies that offer comprehensive ski packages for everyone from beginners to experts. This means that you’ll be able to purchase an all-encompassing package that includes ski passes, rentals, accommodations, and even lessons, all at a reasonable price.
- Consult the experts – There are many experienced local guides who are willing to make their expertise available to visitors exploring the ski scene in a new area. This is often the best way to get your foot in the door and learn the ropes in a given locale before branching out on your own. While many other sports are more straightforward for newcomers, backcountry skiing has an element of exploration and discovery that requires some seasoned insight.
- Ask your local rental/accommodation providers – Consider consulting your destination’s local car rental office or the concierge at your hotel in Europe. They will likely have extensive information about backcountry skiing in the area, as well as other useful local travel tips. Also be sure to check if they have ski racks that you can attach to your vehicle to make your snowbound adventure even easier!
You can add an element of adventure and excitement to your next winter holiday by planning ahead for some venturous backcountry skiing using the tips outlined above. Whether you decide to explore the uncharted slopes beyond the confines of marked trails, stick to traditional outlined ski resort routes, or just spend a relaxing stay at a warm and cozy base lodge, look to Kemwel to get the best travel discounts and deals for your next wintry expedition. The powdery mountains of Europe await and you can have the vacation of a lifetime for less than you may think when you book a great deal on a cheap car rental with Kemwel! Browse our rates online or feel free to call one of our friendly reservation agents anytime, 24/7 and toll free at 1-877-820-0668
A vacation during the year’s colder months can take you to any number of fantastic winter wonderland locations around the globe, from the Alps of beautiful Switzerland to the scenic fjords of Norway, but a wise wayfarer is always wary of travel conditions inclement to winter driving safety like ice, snow, and slush. Freezing temperatures, while making for a great ski holiday with lots of powdery snow, can cause serious driving complications that will catch the unprepared journeyer off-guard. Luckily, though, winter driving difficulties can be easily dealt with and avoided with some careful consideration and a little knowledge.
Myths of Winter Driving Safety
Here are five of the most common myths about driving during the winter:
- Driving a large vehicle is better than a small one – In truth, driving a large vehicle can prove to be more trouble than it is worth. This is especially true if you are not used to driving a large vehicle. Should you need to rent a vehicle during the holidays, it pays to rent the same size vehicle as the one that you already own; something that you’re already used to driving.
- Front wheel drive is the best for winter driving – The truth of the matter is, the traction and control offered by a front wheel drive vehicle pales in comparison to a vehicle of comparable size with all-wheel drive. All-wheel or 4-wheel drive will allow you to distribute the grip on the road amongst all 4 tires, providing you with a good amount of extra stability. When possible, avoid driving rear-wheel drive cars in snow, ice, and slush as the decreased traction causes the back end of the vehicle to “fishtail” resulting in loss of control.
- Gas mileage is the same all year – This myth is simply untrue; mileage will decrease during the winter months for all car types and sizes. Try to keep this in mind when you choose what vehicle you drive on holiday. You don’t want to rent something that already guzzles gas if you are going to be doing a lot of driving during colder winter months.
- Light will increase visibility – This is generally true in optimal conditions, but avoid vehicles with headlights that are too bright when considering winter driving safety. They can reflect back in both snow and fog and confuse you while you are trying to navigate. The glare can be horrible! Use low beams and vehicles with low intensity bulbs to combat the increased contrast and white-out possibility of snowfall in winter.
- You don’t need to winterize – All vehicles should have some modifications for the winter. If they don’t, you are risking your own safety and the safety of anyone driving with you. Vehicles should always be inspected thoroughly and run frequently during the cold to make sure they can handle the temperatures. This is, of course, no issue if you are renting but owners have to take extra steps themselves.
Maintaining Winter Driving Safety When Renting a Vehicle
Most of the issues involved with preparing a vehicle for safe driving during the winter months will already be taken care of when you rent a vehicle. With that being said, there are a few things that you will want to double check on prior to renting a vehicle to ensure that you have a safe and worry-free vacation:
- Insurance information – During the winter months you will definitely want to make sure that you have your insurance covered. While you might not be able to control road conditions or weather, you can neatly handle any issues that might come up due to an accident provided you have planned ahead and purchased insurance.
- Rent the right size vehicle – On icy roads, the weight and size of a vehicle can make a large difference in the way that it handles. Rent a vehicle that is of a comparable size to the vehicle you own or typically drive; trying to operate a large vehicle that you are not accustomed to driving will only make navigating snowy winter landscapes that much more difficult!
- Speak with the representative about the vehicle – It is good to speak with whoever is renting the vehicle to you about anything you might need to know regarding driving during wintry weather. Road conditions and weather patterns will vary greatly depending on your destination and some local insight will prove valuable as you explore the unfamiliar territory with your rental vehicle.
These are just a few tips to follow for winter driving safety on your next vacation. If you need to rent a car feel free to call Kemwel anytime, 24/7 and toll-free at 1-877-820-0668 or browse our rates online. If you’d like additional driving information on specific countries feel free to visit our international driving information page and be sure to check out Kemwel’s great special offers, getting you fantastic rates on everything from hotels to airfare and more! We’ll help you find a great price on the ideal vehicle for your next snowbound holiday and so long as you heed all local warnings and prepare accordingly, you should have no worries regarding winter driving safety while traveling on your next vacation!