The most romantic mountain getaways (for gay couples and singles too)

Scale the freshly dusted slopes of the world’s most scenic peaks to discover incredible mountain vistas and romance beyond measure. Whether it’s a snow sports adventure that tickles your fancy or simply a log cabin in view of spring blossom and pines, we’ve put together a list of 10 romantic mountain cabin getaways sure to give you a cosy feeling in spite of nippy winter temperatures. From the Swiss Alps to the Alaskan wilderness, choose the gay mountain getaway for you.

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Along with a choice of 360 kilometres of Zermatt ski pistes to whistle down in winter, there’s the added option of skiing across the Matterhorn glacier into Italy and arriving back in Switzerland before lunch!

1. Zermatt, Switzerland

Kicking off with one of the world’s most glamorous skiing destinations, we start in Zermatt, Switzerland, at the foot of the famed Matterhorn mountain. Among the best-known resorts in Europe since the 19th century, Zermatt has seen its fair share of celebrity visitors, including Teddy Roosevelt and Winston Churchill who came for the impressive hiking as early as 1865. Today, Zermatt remains a pinnacle destination for hiking in the warmer months before turning into a snow sports paradise come winter, all seasons greeted with a spectacular skyline dominated by the Matterhorn and surrounding peaks.

Another selling point for Zermatt is that the town is completely car-free, allowing for ultimate tranquillity among the picturesque wooden chalets and shopping boutiques within the centre. Besides a choice of 360 kilometres of Zermatt ski pistes to whistle down in winter, there’s the added option of skiing across the Matterhorn glacier into Italy and arriving back in Switzerland before lunch! Outside of ski season meanwhile, the town remains vibrant with a community of hikers, climbers and cyclists taking on the melting peaks. To keep everyone amused, Zermatt not only has its own cog railway reaching the 3,089-metre peak of Gornergrat mountain but also offers Europe’s highest cable car viewpoint, each with unrivalled views of the pointed Matterhorn and Monte-Rosa massif. Stay spellbound in Switzerland for a little longer with our ultimate Switzerland itinerary.

Zermatt, Switzerland | Photo: Morgan Thompson

Zermatt, Switzerland | Photo: Joshua Earle

2. Lake Placid, New York. USA

When even the name breathes serenity, you know you’re in for a treat. Introducing Lake Placid, a stunning site surrounded by one of New York’s most romantic small towns. Famous for its lake vistas as much as its winter sports opportunities, Lake Placid is the perfect honeymoon getaway, allowing couples to divide their time evenly between outside adventure, relaxing spa days and fine dining, all backgrounded by lake and mountain views. As well as skiing and hiking the 46 High Peak of the Adirondacks, visitors in search of a thrill can try ice skating, luging, ice climbing and even bobsledding on the Olympic Centre, built for the Winter Olympics of 1932.

Another activity causing a stir in this otherwise calm town includes the annual Lake Placid IRONMAN triathlon (only for proper fitties, mind you!), but a growler at the local Brewery and a walk around Mirror Lake may be more your scene. Alternatively, enjoy the scenery with a trip on the gondola and scenic railway – or even a golfing session – before returning to the lakeside for indulgent eating and drinking among the countless hotels and locally-owned restaurants dotted around the historic centre.

3. Moena, Italy

Journeying this time to Italy, we stop at Moena, one of the nation’s top spots for skiing at the heart of the Dolomites. An ever-popular mountain resort with perfect access to the region’s best pistes as well as pristine hiking trails outside of ski season, Moena is also well known for its cable car that rides towards spectacular vistas over Northern Italy, such as those at Sass Pordoi. Though small with a resident population of just 2,500, the village is well equipped to keep you amused, with its labyrinthine streets and alleyways showcasing ancient churches, a Gothic bell tower and century-spanning artwork. Notably, the church of San Volfango combines all three, with 15th-century frescoes and 17th-century ceiling art by Giovanni Guadagnini.

One of the popular areas in the village is the Turkish Quarters named after an Ottoman soldier who rocked up and never left – or so legend would have it. Come to this traditional spot for a nice selection of local boutiques selling Turkish crafts, alongside bakeries and restaurants all heavy with the tempting scent of regional apple strudel.

Moena, Italy | Photo: Giuseppe Mondi

Moena, Italy | Photo: Mattia Bericchia

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If you want blue skies and a tan on your mountain vacation, Sedona is sure to please, allowing for desert solitude and rolling countryside views with none of the crowding you might find at better-known resorts

4. Sedona, Arizona. USA

Mixing mountains with desert in the open lands of Arizona, we find our second North American mountain getaway. Surprising newcomers with its burnt terracotta landscapes strewn with snow come winter, the landscape of Sedona is hard to beat if only for its sheer unlikeliness. If you want blue skies and a tan on your mountain vacation, Sedona is sure to please, allowing for desert solitude and rolling countryside views with none of the crowding you might find at better-known resorts. Of all the things to do in Sedona, skiing is just one activity. As well as the pistes at Flagstaff, you’ve got the options of driving through the desert canyons, taking a hot air balloon ride over the region and stargazing to your heart’s content far from the light pollution of the city.

Popular among spiritual seekers and artists for its supposed cosmic energy drawn from various vortexes across the land, Sedona has a unique vibe, best felt from the town centre where alternative medicines and spiritual practices share the space with shops on Tlaquepaque and the art galleries on Highway 89A. If the idea of a shopping spree and a past-life workshop doesn’t intrigue you, however, take to the red-rock mountains for hiking, biking and climbing day trips to points of interest such as Cathedral Rock, Bear Mountain and Oak Creek Canyon. Bear in mind that the unique topography of Sedona can mean the temperature fluctuates heavily between day and night. To avoid the worst heat of summer and brittle chill of winter, most people visit during spring and fall.

Sedona, Arizona | Photo: Patrick Boyer

Sedona, Arizona | Photo: Ameer Basheer

5. Sierra Nevada, Spain

Another tall European beauty lies this time in the dramatic surrounds of Spain’s Sierra Nevada, a famed mountain range stretching 75 kilometres from east to west. Home to Spain’s highest peak – the 3,479 metre Mulhacén – and Europe’s southernmost ski resort – Pradollano – the Sierra Nevada has much going for it besides its looks. At the foot of the slopes towards the south, a series of white-washed villages known as Las Alpujarras provide the ultimate base to relax a while before venturing into the wider 859 square kilometres of protected parkland. Labelled the Parque Nacional Sierra Nevada, this is the nation’s largest national park, boasting 2,100 plant species and the most ibex across the whole of Andalucía.

Though good beach spots can be found in Roquetas de Mar, no more than a day trip away, the Sierra Nevada saves itself for hiking and winter sports adventures, benefitting from fewer crowds than the Pyrenees despite its fantastic skiing and snowboarding facilities. For the ski season, arrive between the months of December and April when snow coverage and daily sunshine comes almost guaranteed. In the summer months meanwhile, the mountain resort appeals to the hikers and bikers among us, allowing for one of the easiest 3,000 meter climbs in Europe as well as vast biking trails through the landscape. To rest, consider staying in the elevated village of Pradollano, a relatively small yet picturesque resort packed with more than enough restaurants, hotels, shops and ski lifts to fulfil any traveller. Get the very best from your Spain vacation with our 10 day Spanish itinerary.

Alhambra, Granada, Spain | Photo: Dimitry B

6. Wrangell – St. Elias National Park And Preserve, Alaska. USA

One for the intrepid backpackers among you is the Alaskan wonder of Wrangell, a site covering an epic 53,400 square kilometres over volcanic mountain ranges, rivers, glaciers and snow forests within St. Elias National Park. Though the long, frigid winters might put off some people, the region is a true year-round beauty, allowing for snow camping experiences among richly biodiverse lands and a range of adventure sports backgrounded by stunning scenery. Bring your binoculars to spot a grizzly bear, bison, moose and 50 more species of mammal and 239 species of birds across the park, with endangered marine life, such as the Stellar sea lion, along the park’s coastal edge. As well as wildlife watching, try your hand at horseback riding, fishing and birding, saving the adrenaline-pumping white water rafting and kayaking for warmer months. The McCarthy river tour is one of the favourite all-season activities, passing through the best of Wrangell’s landscapes in view of various peaks including Mount St. Elias, Mount Bona, Mount Sanford and Mount Blackburn.

With so many grand peaks to climb – several measuring up to 5,000 metres – hiking and mountaineering are of course top lures to Wrangell. Join a guided tour or venture out alone (on snowshoes or cross-country skis in winter), staying on a campsite or at the handful of remote backcountry cabins offered for free on a first-come, first-served basis. If camping isn’t for you, stay at any of the hotels, motels, RV sites or bed and breakfasts within Wrangell city before touring the park via the Nabesna and McCarthy Roads. For convenience, airplanes and snowmobiles serve the difficult-to-reach sections of the park, with boats and rafts traversing the rivers. A must-see within the park is the Wrangell Volcanic Field, home to one of the world’s largest active volcanoes – Mt Wrangell itself – which steams away happily on cool days beside the Klawasi mud volcanoes, a rarity in North America. Then, the St. Elias Hubbard glacier is another part not to be missed but – at 120 kilometres long, 11 kilometres wide and 180 metres tall – it’s pretty hard to do so!

Wrangell, Alaska | Photo: David Mark

7. Gatlinburg, Tennessee. USA

The Great Smoky Mountain National Park is the most visited national park in the US for good reason. Not simply for showcasing the Appalachian wilderness within its borders, but also for the hospitality and charm of its nearby towns. Gatlinburg tucked away at the gate to the Smoky Mountains, is a perfect example of Tennessee’s small-town magnetism, providing travellers with all they need for a romantic getaway. Find a great selection of shops, restaurants and nightlife options downtown, including a winery and abundant supply of pancake houses for the ultimate pre-hike breakfast. Enjoy the diverse art, crafts and music scene – not to mention the population of plaid-shirted bears – a handsome reminder of the town’s lumberjack past, before journeying into the forests for alternative sights such as Wild Bear Falls. Of all the top things to do, consider the Alpine Slide and aerial tramway for adrenaline inducing panoramas, or take a rain check at the indoor water park, amusement park or Ripley’s Aquarium of the Smokies.

Gatlinburg, Tennessee | Photo: Chad Madden

Gatlinburg, Tennessee | Photo: Chad Madden

Photo: Renate Vanaga

8. Kranjska Gora, Slovenia

All the better for its lack of international publicity, Kranjska Gora is Slovenia’s answer to the Rockies, located in the Zgornjesavska Valley cradled by the Julian Alps. In winter, active pursuits stay firmly on the mountainside with a choice of 30 kilometres of pistes and an additional 40 of cross-country ski routes, all accessed via 19 different ski lifts. Other than the advanced Snow Park Kranjska Gora and exclusive snowboard-only slopes, more excitements include reindeer sledging, ice climbing and mountain biking alongside some of the best hiking trails in Europe within Triglav National Park. Of the latter, the most popular trails – known as ferratas – will take you up to Triglav peak (2,864 metres), Prisojnik (2,547 metres) and Razor (2,601) from the start point of Vrata Valley near Mojstrana village.

After a tiring day on the mountain, return to Kranjska Gora for rest and relaxation among the wellness spas and hotel resorts about town, revelling in the spectacular alpine scenery and lively atmosphere. While you’re here, take a morning to explore the Russian Chapel built amid the Vrsic Pass and an afternoon for tranquil Lake Jasna. Stay on in this magical country a little longer with our guide to gay Slovenia.

Kranjska Gora, Slovenia | Photo: George Bakos

9. Pocono Mountains, Pennsylvania. USA

A winning wilderness spot in the green mountains of northeast Pennsylvania is Pocono, where pine-laden forests, crystal lakes and cute cabin cottages vie for your attention on the valleys and slopes above the Delaware River. Flanked by both Lake Wallenpaupack and the Wyoming Valley, Pocono is never short of things to do and is popular among families, nature lovers and nomads alike. Choose to stay in a motel or bed and breakfast at the foot of the mountains or move further in forevermore condo, cabin or camping options. Wherever you stay, a good view is easy to find as well as utmost cosiness thanks to steaming lakeside saunas, heated whirlpools and glowing fireplaces overlooking the terrain.

By day, Pocono’s more lofty attractions include the string of waterfalls peaking at Bushkill Falls and crashing down several levels through to Laurel Glen and Upper Canyon before once again dropping in dramatic style to the Main Falls and beyond in pretty fern-veiled surroundings. Take any of the trails winding through the area, remaining quiet for the best chance of glimpsing all kinds of wildlife such as black bears, foxes and bobcats, as well as many kinds of bird species. From there, rent a paddleboat, fishing rod or golf club on the edges of Sand Spring or Promised Land Lake, or move to the west for a look at the intriguing Moon-like boulder landscapes of Hickory Run State Park.

10. Val d'Isere, France

For one final stop on our list, we find ourselves on the French mountainside of Val d’Isere, a frequent name among Europe’s top ski resorts. When combined with the nearby town of Tignes, Val d’Isere is a getaway like no other, allowing for adventures along 300 kilometres of ski slopes, joined by 2 underground railways (the Funival and Funiculaire Grande Motte) and as many as 88 ski lifts and gondolas climbing up to the glacier and mountain lake named Le Lac de L’Ouillette. Busy with stylish skiers and snowboarders throughout the winter months, the Val d’Isere resort maintains its appeal year-round for its hiking opportunities and traditional Alpine character, exemplified by stone pillars and chic panoramic windows looking out over the pristine landscape.

Stay within the town’s upmarket resort hotels to take advantage of the world-class leisure facilities – including sports pavilions, gyms and spas – refuelling at a range of fine restaurants serving everything from farm-to-table to Michelin-starred fare. Though it’s likely you’ll be spending most days sledging and sliding or hiking and biking along the ferrata trails of Plates de la Daille and Roc of Tovière, save some energy for end of day when the town’s nightlife enables the large international community of Brits, Danes and Swedes to mingle and let loose. See more of the top resorts among our list of the top 10 best gay Skiing vacations.

Val d'Isere, France | Photo: Yann Allegre

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Moena, Italy | Photo: Benjamin Voros

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