Europe is home to some of the most beautiful winter landscapes in the world, whether you're contemplating a Scottish staycation or heading south to the Alps. Better still, there's absolutely no need to fly with most of the continent's (and the UK's) prettiest Alpine panoramas within striking distance of a railway station. What’s more, taking public transport instead of the car can be a positive boon when travelling with children', as Charlotte Hindle, author of the Lonely Planet Guide to Travelling with Children pointed out.
'Don’t assume that the car is always the easiest way to travel,’ she says. ‘If you don’t have too much luggage, taking public transport is great for children and they tend to enjoy it. Ferries are particularly exciting and it’s easy to go as a foot passenger.’
So where are this winter’s child-friendly hotspots to be found? Between the stunning scenery of the Alps, Europe has some of best skiing conditions on the planet. Choose eco accommodation powered by renewable energy, which will cut down your carbon footprint by more than half. Away from the slopes, try getting back to nature with moonlit walks in France or even a spot of yoga during a child-free moment. Whatever you’re looking for, travel journalist and green travel expert, Holly Tuppen, has come up with something to suit your needs and your budget.
Whitepod, Swiss Alps, Switzerland
Tucked in the snow above the town of Les Cerniers, this collection of hi-tech domed ‘pods’ offers some of the most innovative accommodation in the Swiss Alps, providing guests with an unforgettable eco experience. The pods are just a short walk away from Chalet des Cerniers, which has its own restaurant and spa, and the site has access to a private 600m ski run with drag lifts.
Get there: On Eurostar (www.eurostar.com) you can take a train from London St Pancras to Paris Nord and then from Paris Gare De Lyon to Aigle. Then Whitepod can arrange a taxi from the Aigle train station. On Eurostar's website you must first purchase your London to Paris ticket and then the Paris to Aigle ticket. Rail Europe also has tickets but you must transfer in Geneva before heading to Aigle: (www.raileurope.co.uk)
For more information, go to: www.whitepod.com
La Source, French Alps, France
Situated in the village of Samoens, one of the only listed heritage villages in the French Alps, La Source offers guests the opportunity to spend a week in the mountains doing yoga, skiing, snowshoeing, ski touring, moonlit walking and relaxing in the chalet with home-made food. This organic holiday is guaranteed to leave you feeling refreshed and revitalised.
Get there: Guest can be collected from Geneva train station, which is a short and easy journey by train from London. See www.raileurope.co.uk for fares and times.
For more information, go to: www.greenadventureretreats.com
Winter Wonderland Holiday on a Forest Farm, Halsingland, Sweden
Experience life on a working Swedish farm and enjoy heaps of activities in the beautiful, snow-drenched countryside including ice fishing, sleigh rides and cross country skiing. This holiday, offered by Nature Travels, is an excellent option for families.
Get there: Accommodation is only two and a half hours from Stockholm and transfers to and from the nearest station are included in the price. See Seat61.com to find out more about getting from London to Stockholm by ferry and train.
For more information, go to: www.naturetravels.co.uk
Ski Touring in the Cairngorms, Scotland
The Cairngorms National Park is home to five of the six highest mountains in the UK and with plenty of snow over winter months, is a great destination to go ski touring. Wilderness Scotland offers an inclusive, group holiday for people who want to learn the skills needed to head off-piste and ski tour through Scotland's most dramatic mountains.
Where to stay: Stay in the Rumblie, an organic and eco-friendly Guest House, in the Cairngorms National Park itself. For more information see www.rumblie.com.
Get there: There is no public transport to Cairngorm but guests of the Rumblie can be collected from the train or coach stations at Newtonmore, Kingussie or Dalwhinnie (by prior arrangement). Taxis are also an option.
For more information, go to: www.greentraveller.co.uk
Five ways to make this year's family break the greenest ever
From taking the ferry to a budget version of the Orient Express, Greentraveller founder, Richard Hammond, shares his top five ways to holiday without harming the planet
Lions and eco luxury on South Africa’s Eastern Cape
Pristine wilderness and eco-friendly lodges have made the Kwandwe Reserve a key stop on South Africa's Garden Route. Ruth Styles went to visit
Has the ski industry got its head in the snow about climate change?
With mountainous regions under threat from global warming, is the winter sports business doing enough to protect the delicate eco-system in its care?
Review: Cornish Tipi Holidays
With its crystal clear spring water lake, countless outdoor activities and acres of woodland to explore, Cornish Tipi Holidays is the ideal setting in which to get reacquainted with nature, says Tom Watts
Davos: taking back the banker’s paradise
It’s better known for the yearly financial knees-up that is the World Economic Forum but when the bankers have gone, Davos is a family-friendly town with oodles of quiet charm, as Ruth Styles found out