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Winter is often a time when many of us want to hide away indoors with a comfy blanket and a hot cup of tea. In many parts of the world winter means brutal temperatures, grey skies, and icy roads. But the coldest season of the year isn’t always bleak. In fact, winter can also mean blankets of brilliant white snow that glitter like diamonds when the sun shines down on it. It can mean frozen lakes that are perfect for ice skating, dreamy Christmas towns, or mountains that are just begging to be skied! We asked bloggers from across the globe to weigh in on the best – more unbelievable – winter wonderlands. From as far south as New Zealand to as far north as the Arctic Circle, these snowy destinations around the world will have you wanting to bundle up and fall in love with winter!
Winter Wonderlands in Asia
Of all the continents, Asia is probably the most unique, in my opinion. With it’s rich history and breathtaking temples, Asia is enchanting regardless of the season in which you visit. While parts of Asia rarely – or even never – see snow, other areas can turn into incredible winter wonderlands when the temperatures turn cold. Here are some of the most wonderful winter wonderlands in Asia that will have you eager to book your next flight east.
Nick – Spiritual Travels
Koyasan is one of the most important spiritual destinations in Japan. The mountaintop village was settled over 1,000 years ago by Kukai, who founded Shingon Buddhism in Japan. Kukui is interred in Okunoin Cemetery in Koyasan. With over 200,000 gorgeously arranged tombstones and statues, this incredible cemetery is a sight like no other.
Few people see Koyasan as a winter destination. However, when I visited Japan in winter, I actually wanted to see snow; as much of it as possible. I’m from Canada, but I’ve been living in Asia for a decade and I truly miss it. Lo and behold, just before I visited Koyasan, there was a huge snowstorm that dumped several feet of snow in the area.
Seeing Okunoin cemetery and the temples of Koysan blanketed in snow was nothing short of mystical. It was as if I had been transported to a magical Buddhist winter wonderland. Buddha statues in the park wore hats of snow several inches thick, while fresh sparkling snow dropped amidst the ancient trees. Besides the incredible white landscapes, doing a shukubo (temple stay) in winter was an experience I’ll forever recall. After much research, I stayed at popular Eko-In Koyasan, right across from the cemetery. With no central heating system, staying in a wooden temple in winter is freezing, but fortunately they have a steaming hot onsen bath and yakuta robe waiting for you!
Read more here about Nick’s stay at Eko-In Koyasan!
Jigokudani Monkey Park, Japan
Matilda – Travel Sisters
One of the most beautiful winter wonderlands in the world is Jigokudani Monkey Park located in the Nagano prefecture of Japan. The park is home to a group of Japanese macaques which play in the snow and hang out in hot springs just inches away from visitors during the cold winter.
While Jigokudani Monkey Park is open year round, winter is the best time to visit. Not only is the area more picturesque when it is covered with snow, but the snow monkeys are more likely to soak in the hot springs to stay warm. Getting to the hot springs from the park entrance involves an enjoyable walk on a snow covered trail through the beautiful forest.
In addition to seeing the cute snow monkeys, I recommend exploring the surrounding snow covered area. Unless visiting on a day trip from Tokyo or Nagano, many visitors will stay at a ryokan (traditional Japanese inn) in one of the nearby traditional hot spring towns of Yamanouchi or Shibu Onsen where you can soak in an onsen yourself. Another fun winter activity to do in the area is go skiing at one of the nearby ski resorts.
Read Matilda’s post for more about Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park.
Interested in ethical animal experiences in Japan? Check out the wild deer in Nara.
James – Where You’re Between
Sapporo is caked in snow for several months a year and is easily the best time to visit. A fun and lively city, the capital of Hokkaido is built to withstand the strongest of cold snaps, with the help of an endless supply of ramen and curry soup. If there’s a queue outside a restaurant on a cold snowy night then get in line, it’s bound to be worth it.
Each February the city hosts the legendary week long Sapporo Snow Festival in Odori Park. Huge intricate sculptures are expertly carved from the mountains of snow that covers this part of northern Japan. In December a Bavarian Christmas Market is held in the same spot beneath the city’s iconic TV Tower. A host of stalls selling everything from traditional German Christmas decorations, bratwurst and mulled wine pop up in honour of Sapporo’s twin city of Munich. From the viewing point at the top of the JR Tower, Sapporo’s tallest building, you can take in a magnificent panorama of the whole area, including the mountain ranges that surround the suburbs. Alternatively take the cable car and funicular to the top of Mount Moiwa on the edge of Sapporo for a stunning snow covered view of the entire city.
Get inspired to visit Sapporo in winter.
Nami Island, South Korea
Monique – MC Adventure Blog
Nami Island is a tiny haven just outside of Seoul in South Korea. It is gorgeous to visit at any time of year, but Winter is when it really shows off. Nami Island exists for tourists, and you can find tons of restaurants, cafes, and activities for the whole family. In winter there is a snowman festival, and you can wander through spectacular ice carvings, and even learn to make one yourself. There are open fires to warm yourself along your stroll through the tree-lined avenues, or snuggle up at one of the cafes and watch the icicles drip over the frozen Han river. There is also an amazing Italian restaurant there, which has the reputation of being the best in Seoul.
The site for many famous Korean Drama series, Nami Island is filled with storybook characters and folklore, making both a perfect family day out or a romantic date. You can reach it via train and bus from Seoul, and catch the ferry or take a zipline onto the island. Nami Island is my favourite winter escape in Korea, and it should be yours, too!
Read more about this day trip from Seoul here.
Yulia -That’s What She Had
Given how notoriously famous Russia is for cold winters, I can’t imagine a place better suited if you want a full winter wonderland experience! But don’t get scared just yet. If you chose a popular destination like Moscow within Russia, the winter is not as bad as people imagine. In fact, the temperature in December is around -10°C (14°F). This is really mild for winter months in comparison with regions like Ural or Siberia (which are also beautiful, but you’ll indeed have to brave the cold). As we say in Russia, there’s no such thing as bad weather, you are just not dressed properly.
In the latest years, the city administration makes a lot of efforts to make Moscow look its prettiest for winter holidays. When it comes to sophisticated decorations and Christmas markets, Moscow is among the most beautiful and lively capitals. Plan your trip in the end of December – beginning of January. This way, you can experience Catholic Christmas, New Year, and Russian Orthodox Christmas (that we celebrate on the 7th of January) all at once.
Find travel tips for visiting Russia here.
Somnath – Travel Crusade
Yumesamdong, India is a paradise for people of Sikkim and travelers coming from other parts of the country. The wonderful hinterland is visited by thousands of travellers in the winter season until April as the region remains covered with snow during this time frame, and people come to enjoy the winter fantasies. Yumesamdong is not difficult to reach as travelers make Gangtok the centre point before they come to pay a tribute to this beautiful destination.
Travelers normally stay a day or two in Lachung, a place in North Sikkim dedicated for travelers coming to pay a tribute to these awesome destinations. Yumesamdong is an hour drive from the valley of flowers known as Yumthang and mostly visited by travelers when they start early in the morning hours to pay a tribute to this wonderful destination. Snow remains in these regions during this time frame as these destinations are not accessible during other time of the year after March-April due to heavy landslides and rainfall affecting these areas. The only drawback is that there is no provision for stay in these areas due to heavy snowfall so it is imperative to come down to Lachung and spend the night.
Discover more fascinating places around India and the world.
Winter Wonderlands in Australia and Oceania
When I think of winter, I don’t typically think of Australia and Oceania. Perhaps its because their winter falls during summer in the United States where I live. But if you long for winter during the months of June through August, look no further than the following places.
Wanaka, New Zealand
Yen – Swing Abroad
Located an hour from Queenstown, New Zealand lies one of the most popular and lovely towns in the country, Wanaka. Built by Lake Wanaka and surrounded by mountains, Wanaka is often the top choice when it comes to winter vacation destinations.
Accommodations are at their peak during winter as there are several ski fields near the town. The convenient transportation is also a reason why Wanaka has been adored by ski-lovers around the world. What makes the town itself beautiful during winter? Well, plenty. During winter, snowfall often covered the upper half of nearby mountains. These snow-capped mountains, along with the lovely town itself give you a dreamy wonderland feel.
The only thing that’s a minus for the town is the crowd. Visitors love Wanaka so much that the main streets are often crowded during peak season. Other than ski-lovers, tourists often pick Wanaka more than other destinations, as well. While there are many things to do other than skiing in Wanaka, there’s one thing I really couldn’t recommend more: Hiking Roy’s Peak. It’s probably the most popular activity to do by travelers. The panoramic views at the peak are just stunning beyond words. Bring some food, and have a picnic up there! Note that the snow could get one-meter thick!
Falls Creek, Victoria Australia
Barbara – Let’s Go Mum
Falls Creek is a mountain-top village, located in the Victorian alpine area of Australia. It is located within a few hours’ drive of Victoria’s capital city, Melbourne. It’s shown to its best advantage during winter when the snows settle in, painting the entire village in a startling blanket of white. This beautiful area is incredibly popular with Australians from all areas in winter – not just because of the excellent skiing and snowboarding offered, but also for it’s pure natural beauty.
Impossibly high mountains offer incredible vistas at every turn. Eucalyptus tree avenues beckon visitors to ski, snowshoe, or stroll down them to view their showcase of stunning natural icicle sculptures dangling from their branches. The village itself is as picturesque as a chocolate box lid. A ski-in ski-out village above the snowline during winter, Falls Creek Village has numerous cozy bars, cafes and restaurants to offer its visitors. There are many hotels and lodges to choose from, including the nearby charming Howman’s Gap, which offers accommodation for all budgets. The main Falls Creek Village chairlift carries passengers up the mountain to witness stunning views across the valleys. Falls Creek has to be one of Australia’s most outstanding winter wonderlands – don’t miss it!
Click here to help plan your visit to Falls Creek.
Winter Wonderlands in North America
North America is big and diverse. And when the weather turns cold, the northern part of the continent is home to some of most stunning winter wonderlands in the world. Some of these magical places you simply have to see to believe.
Quebec City, Canada
Hannah – That Adventurer Blog
Québec City is one of my favorite winter destinations. Yes, it’s super, super cold and snowy but that’s all part of the appeal. As long as you’re wrapped up warm you’ll find plenty of reasons to love Québec City in the winter!
I’ve never seen such a picture-perfect city as Québec City. It’s an old city, especially for North America, and dates back to 1608. It sits on the banks of the huge Saint Lawrence River in the French-speaking province of Québec. The city is made up of stone buildings, and cobbled streets, and it’s all the more picturesque due to constantly being decorated in wreaths and Christmas lights.
Visit Hannah’s blog here to get inspired to visit Québec City.
Sue Slaght – Travel Tales of Life
With the onset of winter in Canada, winter means the icy season of awe has arrived in Banff, Alberta. Canada’s oldest National Park is likely the best known and for good reason. With the snow-capped Canadian Rockies encircling the Banff town site, visitors and locals alike are left gob smacked by the frosty beauty.
With world class downhill ski hills throughout the park and as close as five minutes from town, Banff makes a perfect winter holiday destination. Not to worry if you don’t want to strap on skis. There are plenty of winter activities for all ages. With multiple outdoor locations in Banff, ice skating as if in a snow globe of glistening peaks, will be a winter postcard memory to treasure. Family-friendly snow tubing will leave you squealing like a kid and is sure to put even the most negative winter wanderer in a good spirits. Strap on some snowshoes or cross country skis for a relaxing sightseeing excursion. End your day by warming up in Banff’s natural hot springs, the origin of Canada’s first national park.
For more information on visiting Banff in winter click here.
Banff is a great place to visit with kids in any season. Check out the best things to do in Banff with kids here.
New York City, USA
Sion and Ben – The Globetrotter Guys
New York can be a city of extremes… extremely hot in the summer and extremely cold in the winter. However, when snow descends onto the city in the depths of winter it turns into a beautiful winter wonderland and it is well worth braving the cold temperatures to see the city at this time of the year!
New York City in winter is iconic. For those that have seen Home Alone 2, that’s the perfect representation. Many ice skating rinks pop up around the city, the Rockefeller Centre and Central Park being the most popular. The view from the Rockefeller Centre and Empire State building completely changes. When the whole city is covered in a blanket of snow it is quite spectacular to see from above! Bear in mind, up high it is extra cold, so much so that when we went the binoculars to view the city had an inch of ice on them!
But the jewel of the city at this time of the year is of course Central Park. Snow-lined trees, knee deep snow, and icicles framing each of the bridge arches make this a truly magical place. You will find children bringing sledges to play, people taking leisurely walks (carefully!), and other who come for the skating. When we went back in 2015, we would not have had it any other way! It was beautiful!
Don’t be put off by the cold temperature, make sure you visit at this magical time of year.
Visit The Globetrotter Guys for tips on visiting New York on a budget.
Lora – Explore with Lora
Canada is known for its long, cold winters but the benefit of living in the north is that the country becomes a paradise of winter wonderlands from coast to coast during the winter season. Toronto is no exception to this. Snow can arrive in the city as early as December, which is just in time for the iconic Toronto Christmas Market in the distillery district. This festive market is the perfect place to get in the holiday spirit. At the market you can shop for gifts, listen to carolers, take a ride on the ferris wheel, eat giant turkey legs, and drink mulled wine to warm you up.
Another great feature about winter in Toronto is the many outdoor skating rinks you can enjoy right in the city. My favorite is the City Hall skating rink located in Nathan Phillips square. During the wintertime, the square is decorated with beautiful festive lights to admire while you skate. Another great reason to brave the cold during the wintertime in Toronto is to head to the outdoor Scandinavian spas just outside the city. Watching the snowflakes fall down from the comfort of a heated pool to keep you warm is a magical and relaxing experience.
Visit Lora’s blog to find your next travel destination.
Melissa – Parenthood and Passports
Midway, Utah is one of those small towns that becomes positively dreamy in winter. Located approximately 45 minutes from Salt Lake City, this tiny bedroom community is home to one of the most unique winter attractions in North America – Ice Castles! Each winter, builders spend thousands of hours hand-placing icicles to create a frozen wonderland that is straight out of a fairy tale. While professional photographers and Instagrammers may flock to Ice Castles for its picturesque qualities, the attraction also includes slides, crawl spaces for kids, and maze-like tunnels for families to have fun exploring.
After spending an hour of so at Ice Castles, warm up by taking a dip at the Homestead Crater, a natural hot spring located inside a cave-like limestone dome. The nearby Zermatt Utah Resort in Midway is a great place for a relaxing weekend. The hotel has a European ambiance that will make you feel like you’ve been transported directly to the Swiss Alps.
Check out our post on the Midway Ice Castles.
Winter Wonderlands in Europe
Europe is perhaps home to many of the most well-know winter wonderlands. There is just something magical about wandering through cobblestone streets covered in snow while sipping mulled wine at one of Europe’s best Christmas markets. Europe is romantic and beautiful, and in winter those qualities are only amplified.
Katy – Untold Morsels
Do you like twinkling lights and festive cheer? Then visit London in winter. It is one of the best times to visit, particularly in December in the build up to Christmas.
No city quite embraces the festive season like London. Stores decorate their windows and the streets are adorned with sparkling lights. Christmas markets set up along the Southbank and in Leicester Square. And there are ice skating rinks at some of the major historical sites including the Tower of London and Natural History Museum.
Take a brisk walk through Hyde Park and you will stumble on London’s Winter Wonderland festival full of festive gift and food stalls, rides and of course the big man in the red suit. All that time outdoors is sure to make you hungry, so it is a good idea to head to the closest cozy pub with an open fireplace. If you can tear yourself away, winter is also the best time to see a show or musical at the West End theaters.
London in winter is a very special experience. If you are lucky enough to see the city blanketed in snow, you will remember it forever.
Read more about visiting London in winter here.
Tom – Trip Gourmets
One of the most beautiful places in winter we’ve ever seen is Zermatt, Switzerland. While this small town in the Swiss Alps is beautiful all year round, it is definitely most attractive during the winter, when it’s completely covered with snow. The fact that cars are forbidden within the cute mountain town make the whole place even more romantic. There are a variety of really good restaurants (some even with Gault Millau Points and/or Michelin Stars), bars, and shops, so you will definitely not get bored.
What makes Zermatt really great though are the amazing surroundings. Throning in front of the village is the majestic and world famous Matterhorn, which inspired poets and mountaineers alike with its beauty. With the Matterhorn comes also the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise, which is the highest ski resort in Europe and promises snow all year round. But even if you don’t ski or snowboard, there is still a lot to do, like hiking, enjoying a ride with the Gornergrat Bahn up to 3089 meters above sea level, or relaxing in one of the delightful spas in Zermatt.
Discover even more things to do in Zermatt, Switzerland.
Prague, Czech Republic
Veronika – Travel Geekery
Anybody who plans to visit Prague should consider doing so in winter! It’s clearly the most beautiful time of year, especially when it snows.
If you get lucky and there’s snow, you’ll see Prague’s hundreds of spires and roofs all beautifully covered with a white blanket. Walking in the quiet streets in the evening, with the snow peacefully falling to the ground is an experience you can’t get in the heat of summer. Plus, there are Christmas markets. Every year from December 1st until January 6th Prague hosts a number of Christmas markets. The most popular one with the largest Christmas tree is at the Old Town Square. While it is definitely a must-see, I also encourage you to check out the smaller markets visited mostly by locals. Such a market is e.g. at the Square of Peace (Náměstí míru).
Even when the temperatures drop below zero, you can still do short bounds of sightseeing and combine them with a lot of pit stops for food and coffee. Prague has a lot of charming cafés that’ll keep you warm and well caffeinated.
Also read: Things to do in Prague with kids
Sara – Our Kind of Crazy
Finland has quickly become one of our favorite places, especially in the winter. If you are looking for the perfect winter getaway, Saariselka is the place to be! The amazing Northern Lights could be reason enough to bring you out into the snow, but Saariselka has so many other amazing activities, as well. Our favorite thing was staying in a glass igloo, as we watched the Auroras from our cabin. Can’t beat that view in the warmth of your own bed! They also have tons of winter activities you can take an ice fishing trip in the morning and catch your own dinner. Take the snow mobiles around the city an enjoy some Finnish culture. Can’t forget the Finnish sauna of course. You can spend some time with the huskies and reindeer, and even go for a sleigh ride in the snow.
One of our top adventures was the ice kart racing, where you get to drive a go-kart on an ice track as fast as you can. Between the Northern Lights, the beautiful snow, and all the winter activities Saariselka provides, its without question a perfect winter getaway for anyone looking for some winter magic and romance!
Check out Sara’s blog to help plan your travels to Finland.
Stubai Valley, Austria
Linda – Travel Tyrol
A glacier, snow-capped mountains, quaint Tyrolean towns, and age-old local traditions – this is what you can expect in winter in the Stubai Valley near Innsbruck in the Austrian Tyrol.
The winter wonderland starts from the moment you enter the 35 km long Stubai Valley from the A13 Brenner motorway between Austria and Italy. The first village with ski lifts, sled runs, and other fun winter activities is only a few kilometers down the road.
But it’s at the white mass of ice and snow at the end of the valley where the true winter wonderland awaits. The Stubai glacier is home to Tyrol’s biggest glacier ski area. However, this beautiful natural landscape isn’t only for skiers. Non-skiers can easily access the Top of Tyrol viewing platform at 3,210 m from where you can see no less than 109 mountain peaks of over 3,000 m high. Or they can explore what’s going on inside the glacial ice in the ice cave with its 200 m of tunnels 30 m below the ski slopes.
Neustift, Mieders, and Fulpmes are three of the bigger villages with their own ski resorts waiting to welcome visitors in the Stubai Valley in winter. Indoor swimming pools, snowshoe hiking, sledding, and magical light shows are just some of the things besides skiing that will make you want to come back here after your first visit.
Get inspired to visit Stubai Valley, Austria.
Joanna – Lose the Map
Tromsø, often considered the northernmost city in the world because it is the northernmost settlement above 50,000 people, is located above the Arctic Circle in stunning Norway. It is one of the best Scandinavian cities to visit.
Though it undoubtedly has its own charms in the summer, there is no place like Tromsø in winter, where you can live out a real Arctic dream under the cover of polar night. From dog sledding on the fresh white snow to chasing the famous Northern Lights, Tromsø and its surrounding area have everything you could wish for on an Arctic adventure. You can explore some wonderful local culture here by visiting one of the nearby Sami settlements, a community of indigenous reindeer herders. Learn about traditional Sami culture from the tribe members themselves, and you can even help feed the reindeer!
With these incredible activities all around the city, it’s easy to overlook Tromsø itself. But this winter destination actually has plenty of great museums, dining, and nightlife. Stroll down the main street of Storgata to discover great bars and restaurants, or walk further up to Mathallen for fine Norwegian cuisine. To learn more about the Arctic wilderness, stop by the modern Polaria museum. For another stunning example of the Norwegian winter aesthetic, take a look at the Arctic Cathedral.
And of course, no trip to Tromsø is complete without taking the cable car up to Fjellheisen, where you can get a sweeping panorama of the snow-covered town set between the cold, icy rivers that encircle it.
Check out Joanna’s blog to read more about Tromsø, Norway in winter.
Maria and Rui – Two Find a Way
Zakopane, a quaint small town in the south of Poland, is the perfect destination if you’re looking for snow covered peaks and festive decorations that turn even the most grey days into a colorful wonderland.
Located at the foot of the Tatra mountains, this stunning region is worth braving the cold and snow for. Why? To start, it is a paradise for nature lovers! There are plenty of hikes to try and stunning locations to visit. However, do not worry if you prefer to take it slow: there are easy alternatives with which you can still enjoy the beautiful views, namely cable cars that take you the viewpoints (the most famous are Gubalowka and Kasprowy Wierch). The atmosphere in Zakopane is very unique, in part due to the traditional architecture that decorates the city.
One thing that will certainly help you deal with the cold weather is the food – there are many different dishes to try. If you prefer sweets, there are plenty of warm pastries on offer, but the most traditional thing you can try while you visit Zakopane is oscypek – delicious grilled smoked sheep cheese, served with cranberry sauce.
Read about visiting Zakopane, Poland on Maria and Rui’s blog.
Dean – Life out the Hive
Dartmoor is situated in the south west of England and has been the inspiration for many artists and writers over the years. The rugged landscape, icy waters and desolate atmosphere create a beautiful setting for a wondrous wintry scene. Dartmoor has a uniqueness in the fact that much of its landscape is uninhabited, this adds to the authentic feeling you get when your exploring its endless pathways.
Braving the cold peaks of Dartmoor during the winter is something that will give you an appreciation for the natural world. Ramble along ancient pathways sharing open landscapes with stags and wild horses. The snow often pays visits to Dartmoor during the winter and this gives visitors the opportunity to witness a sea of white flowing over the hills.
Dartmoor can be a bit scary for anyone who is not used to hiking but many of the trails are popular throughout the year. There are many things to do on Dartmoor whether it’s visiting the famous Dartmoor prison or stumbling into a warm cozy tavern to enjoy a well-earned drink and some locally sourced food. Dartmoor is an authentic, rural landscape all year round but to see its true beauty there is no better time than winter.
Visit Dean’s website, Life out the Hive for a great resource on Dartmoor.
Kamila – My Wanderlust
Lviv, Ukraine is a perfect place for a city break all year long. But it’s even more beautiful in the winter time, when the streets and rooftops are covered in snow. The white blanket everywhere around makes Lviv look like a it’s taken straight from a fairy tale, too beautiful to be true. It’s a pure pleasure to wander around, feeling like you’re transferred in time and falling in love with the city.
Winter and cold temperatures are a perfect excuse to visit as many cafes as possible, to get warmer and drink a delicious coffee followed by even more delicious cake. You wouldn’t feel bad for spending a lot of the time inside as Lviv is known for its spectacular cafe scene. The city has the highest number of cafes per capita and they are not the random places where you just get your drink and go. Lviv cafes are one of a kind. Some of them have a very distinctive style (like the post-office or the pharmacy theme) other focus on coffee itself and even offer guided tours showing how the drink is prepared from the scratch. When you travel to Lviv you don’t need to worry about the expenses as the city is very affordable and even if you spend most of your day going from one cafe to another your wallet still won’t be drained at the end of the day!
Delphine – LesterLost
Winter is a fascinating season. I especially love the quietness and the soft crunch of the snow. To me, winter is especially gorgeous in the mountains and one of my favorite places to admire a snowy wonderland is in Chamonix, France. Chamonix is a famous destination for mountaineering pursuits in all seasons. The absolute highlight of a visit to Chamonix is to make your way to the top of the Aiguille du Midi in a cable-car and admire the most incredible view over the Alps. From there, you can even take a view over Italy and Switzerland! The Aiguille du Midi is a built compound on top of the mountain, with many terraces and viewpoints. Bear in mind that you will go to a very high altitude and you need to be suitably dressed for very cold temperatures.
Making your way to the top of the Aiguille du Midi will give you a fantastic opportunity to approach the top of Europe… Indeed, the Mont Blanc is right in front of you and this is the closest you can get to it without actually climbing it! Viewing the most beautiful panorama of the French Alps is an experience you will always cherish.
Fall in love with winter in the French Alps here.
Mark and Bec- Wyld Family Travel
I thought there was nothing like Munich in the summer, sitting in a beer garden, wandering the streets and eating eis (ice cream)…well that was until I saw it covered in snow. It is an absolute winter wonderland although a seriously cold one! But don’t fear visiting Munich in the winter is just as good as the summer. You can always find a warm place to go and what you will find in there is amazing or if you are like us and traveling with kids you can hop on the hop on, hop off bus and they will take you to all the sights you must see.
On our last trip we visited the Munich Residenz and spent a few hours wandering the gorgeous halls. Another great place to visit is Nymphenburg Palace. I have seen it on a beautiful summers day with its red roof gleaming but I had always wanted to see it covered in snow. It was an absolute dream! The inside is so beautiful and so regal that I didn’t want to leave. In one of the buildings next to it is the Marstall Museum with all the Royal carriages you could imagine.
Although you will find all the beer gardens closed for the cold months you can find a beer hall nearly anywhere in the city. They are so family friendly during the day and they welcomed us at night with the girls. Good hearty meals will keep you wandering for hours without even feeling the cold. There is so much to do in Munich in winter so just pop on some layers and get out there!
Have a limited time in Munich? Read our post about how to see Munich in a day.
Allison – Eternal Arrival
If you’re looking for a true winter wonderland I can’t think of a better place in the world than Swedish Lapland! While Swedish Lapland is certainly lovely in summer, when people hike the famous Kungsleden trail, Swedish Lapland truly shines in the winter when it is covered in snow and you can enjoy winter activities by day and Sweden’s northern lights by night.
During the day, you shouldn’t miss the chance to enjoy the snowy paradise with fun activities like dog sledding with a team of huskies or snowshoeing across Abisko National Park. You can hunt for frozen waterfalls and the brave amongst us can even ice climb these waterfalls (with a guide, of course!). By night, your time is best spent curled up in front of a fire with a book, enjoying a traditional Swedish sauna (be sure to jump in the snow afterwards for a truly Swedish experience) or of course, hunting down the elusive Northern lights. Bundle up warm and make sure you bring lots of extra camera batteries if you are trying to photograph the lights!
Finally, a few other points of interest in Swedish Lapland include the famous Ice Hotel in Jukkasjarvi, meeting with indigenous Sami locals to learn about their traditions, or exploring the cute and interesting mining town of Kiruna. You could even pop into Narvik, Norway for the day on the Arctic Circle train!
Find out how to see the northern lights in Sweden here.
Corinne – Reflections Enroute
As winter wonderlands go, you can’t get much cozier, with that wintry frozen nose feeling then heading up to the world heritage city of Bergen, Norway. From the views as you fly in, you will be enveloped in a brisk, snowy atmosphere.
There’s plenty to do in Bergen, including taking their fjord boat out to see some gorgeous landscapes as you sit inside, nice and warm, with a cup of chocolate or tea in your hands. When we did this, there was a thin layer of ice in parts, and the crackling of the ice as we motored through added a new sensation to our ride. We also tasted the ice and water off of a glacier, and oh how refreshing it was.
The best part of Bergen’s winter, though, is taking the Floibanen funicular up to the top of the hill. The views, especially as the sun is setting are spectacular and once up there you can ski, sled, or walk back down. The children all bring their little bum sleds up and slide down all the way to town. The bum sleds can be bought all over the city for only a few dollars, so you too, can join in. After your fill of winter activities indulge in one of Bergen’s fabulous restaurants or for dinner at the Fish Market, overlooking the harbor, and with the freshest fish around. No matter what you pick, you can’t go wrong.
Don’t miss going to Bergen during winter; you’ll love it!
Click here for a look at the best things to do in Bergen in winter.
Sherrie – A Sherrie Affair
Iceland is truly a natures winter wonderland. The mountains are covered with a very bright shining snow that reflects off the sun. Combine this with one of the bluest skies I have ever seen, makes a breathtaking view. The Golden Circle offers must-see icy itinerary experiences; Gullfoss Waterfall, the Geysir Geothermal Area, Thingvellir National Park and more. If you are an adventurer you would love taking a snowmobile tour. There are different ones to choose from like the tour to the Katla volcano in South Iceland. There are a lot more waterfalls and mountains to see in the South part of Iceland, including a black sand beach near Vik. The snow lays on the black sand as little pebbles, the white and black contrast is beautiful.
To truly enjoy an Iceland winter, a hotel or home rental stay in the more secluded areas makes a great vacation. Lucky travelers that experience the Northern Lights will be able to see them more clearly with less city lights. In fact, the visible Northern Lights are one of the most fascinating things about Iceland. Just because it’s cold out and the snow is dropping does not mean you can’t enjoy the year-round thermal baths such as the famous Blue Lagoon. In fact, it is probably more exciting with such a difference in temperatures.
A winter holiday in Iceland is an amazing time to go and experience. Enjoy!
Julia – Small World This Is
Krakow is beautiful anytime of the year to visit, but is especially magical during wintertime. During the colder months, the city transforms into a true winter wonderland, where the Main Square and Wawel Castle are covered in snow. The summer crowds are gone and there’s a calm that takes over the city, where you can explore scenic side streets or duck into cozy cafes to warm up with a cup of hot chocolate.
Speaking of cafes, Krakow boasts excellent ones where you can have a leisurely brunch (Café Camelot) or treat yourself to a late night snack (Café Botanica). Polish food is the perfect wintertime cuisine, with hearty dishes like pierogi, bigos, and cabbage rolls that will warm you right up. Some great spots to go around the city include the Milk Bars, which are inexpensive cafeteria-style spots left over from Soviet times.
If you’re in Krakow in December, you can enjoy the Christmas decorations, including the famous Krakow nativity szopka. These decorative structures are modeled after St. Mary’s Basilica and the best ones are displayed on the Main Square. There is also a Christmas Market in the Main Square that sells traditional Polish food, seasonal trinkets and gifts, and has live entertainment.
Check out this post to plan your trip to Krakow in winter.
Also read: Why we loved and hated Krakow.
Tom – Travel Past 50
Åre (pronounced or-rey), Sweden, isn’t just a ski town, though it would be the first place I’d recommend if you want a top-notch ski destination in Scandinavia, or anywhere.
This town in Jämtland County in Sweden’s middle west stands on its own any time of year apart from any ski crowd. In fact, Åre, was originally established as a summer destination, a retreat for good health and exercise in the exceptionally clean mountain air.
The first tram on Åre Mountain was installed in 1910. The mountain was finally developed as a serious ski destination beginning in the 1970s and is now one of the world’s top ski areas. In 2019, Åre will host the FIS Alpine World Ski Championships.
Indeed, there is no winter sport that you can’t do in Åre. We skied downhill and cross country. We went dog sledding. We snowshoed. And we went to a Sami village and fed reindeer. We even were towed on our skis by snowmobiles up to the very top of the Åre mountain–far above where the ski lift reaches–to eat waffles and drink hot chocolate.
Don’t miss the food, either. There are several outstanding restaurants–Uvisan, a popup restaurant by famed chef Magnus Nilsson, and the VinBaren (Wine Bar) at the Åregården Hotel are particularly outstanding. The Åregården Hotel is also a fine place to stay in town. But be sure to have a look at Copperhill Mountain Lodge if you want spectacular views, a gourmet restaurant, and downhill ski runs right out the front door.
Discover winter in Åre, Sweden on Tom’s blog, Travel Past 50.
Cate – International Desserts Blog
When I was teaching in Germany my husband flew over to spend Christmas and New Years with me. We spent Christmas with friends in southern Germany near where I was teaching, and then spontaneously decided to spend New Year’s in Berlin. I’d lived near there a few years earlier, so I knew it would be cold. And COLD it was! But we absolutely loved visiting Berlin in the winter. Berlin is a magical city any time of year but I love it even more in the winter season. Partly because there’s just something romantic about getting all bundled up and heading out to explore a snowy city together. And partly because Germans don’t hesitate to spend time outside in the winter, so there are plenty of things to do both indoors and outdoors.
We had a great time walking all over the city, even though we did nearly freeze while waiting in the line to enter the Reichstag! We enjoyed cozy afternoons and candle-lit evenings in cafes and bars, and it was easy enough to warm up by popping into museum or a cute restaurant for a meal. If you have the opportunity to visit Berlin in the winter season, pack warm clothes and go for it!
Read more about Berlin and other great cities to visit in Germany.
Lake Bled, Slovenia
Chrisoula – Travel Passionate
Lake Bled is quite possibly Slovenia’s most recognizable tourist destination. Summer at the lake is picturesque and full of people soaking up the sun and taking advantage of water sports, hiking, and waterfall watching. But, if you visit Slovenia’s Lake Bled in winter, you just might mistake real life for a fairy tale. While the blue-green water and the island church are beautiful any time of year, in the winter they are simply ethereal. Just because its winter don’t assume that there is any shortage of activities.
Another reason to visit in winter–you’ll feel like you have the place to yourself. The lake doesn’t freeze over every year, but if you are lucky enough to go on a year when it does, go ice skating! If Lake Bled isn’t frozen, don’t worry, there is a man-made rink just outside the Park Restaurant and Café with a fantastic view of the lake. Towering high above the lake, Bled Castle is open for tours during the winter. Being that it’s one of Slovenia’s most popular tourist attraction, take advantage of the non-existent winter crowds and take a tour. The snow-covered ground also makes it the perfect destination for snowshoeing in Triglav National Park, or cross-country skiing at Sports Center Pokljuka. Surrounded on all sides by the dominating peaks of the Julian Alps, a snow-covered Lake Bled a winter wonderland!
Learn more about Lake Bled, Slovenia here.
Mei and Kerstin -Travel with Mei and Kerstin
Copenhagen goes polar in winter. When we arrived in the city on a fine December morning, the only sound we heard was the crackling ice under our feet. We couldn’t walk around Copenhagen for a minute without wearing our entire winter garment, and even two pairs of woolen socks ! But despite the freezing temperatures, the Danish capital is one of the most beautiful winter wonderlands we have ever seen.
Due to the cold weather we had to stop at least once an hour to get shelter at the closest coffee shop for a mug of cocoa or a cup of tea. But snuggling up in front of a fireplace, where we can sink in a comfy armchair while sipping at a hot drink and watching the snowflakes falling gently outside… that was true coziness – or what the Danes call hygge!
Wandering around the picture-perfect King’s Garden and Rosenborg Castle, and along the colorful houses and idyllic snow-covered boats in Nyhavn was one of the best winter experiences we’ve had. But our favorite spot in Copenhagen is definitely the Tivoli Gardens. This second-oldest amusement park in the world looks like a 19th century Nordic fairy tale land, and is the most romantic and magical place to experience a perfect winter wonderland!
Read more about winter at Copenhagen’s Tivoli Gardens.
High Tatras, Slovakia
Peter – I Heart Slovakia
The High Tatras, a mountain range that’s also a national park, is Slovakia‘s pride and joy, dubbed the Slovak Alps. While hiking and rock climbing are quite popular during the summer in this north-Carpathian mountain range, it’s the winter that turns the Tatras into a wonderland.
A number of ski resorts, each with one or more pistes, each accessible with a ski lift, caters to skiers and snowboarders, who love the combined 32 kilometers of slopes for their affordability and gentleness. The most popular resorts like Tatranská Lomnica and Štrbské Pleso draw the bulk of the crowds.
Even though most hiking paths in the High Tatras get shut down for the winter, hikers appreciate less foot traffic and the beauty of snow-covered peaks and valleys. Better still, the snow that covers the rocky mountain sides and forests turns each hike into a silent retreat from civilization. Best enjoyed with a warm lunch at one of the alpine chalets.
The Tatras are easily accessible by mountain train from the nearby town of Poprad, by the cog railway from the village of Štrba, and of course by road. A little further out, the medieval towns of Kežmarok and Spišská Nová Ves are excellent starting point as well, offering, if you’re lucky, a snow-covered approach for the ages.
Discover more things to do near the High Tatras here.
Leona – Wandermust Family
To me Stockholm, Sweden is the perfect winter wonderland! And actually it is a city better visited in winter rather than summer in my opinion! In summer the crowds can be immense especially if one or several cruise ships are docked in the city! But in winter you’ll find the city much quieter and more full of locals! In winter the dark nights close in early which adds to the atmosphere of the city and the cold weather offers many opportunities to experience fika and the traditional dish of Swedish meatballs.
As the city is set for winter there are plenty of indoor activities including a wealth of museums however my favorite place is to walk around the living museum Skansen and experience traditional Swedish life! For kids the Nordic zoo at Skansen is a lovely place to see animals in their original habitat and environment! But my absolute favorite thing is to experience the traditional Christmas markets at Gamla Stad and Skansen. And if you are lucky you might just get some snow, too – just like we did.
Find out all the great things to do in Stockholm in winter here.
34 reasons to fall in love with winter
It’s safe to say, paradise doesn’t always have to be warm. So many magical places in the world become even more incredible when they’re covered in snow. From white, snow-capped mountains to ice castles and cities that have embraced winter to the fullest, these 34 winter wonderlands from around the world give you so many reasons to fall in love with winter.
So which of these winter wonderlands would you most like to visit? And where in the world do you go during the coldest season of the year to experience a snowy paradise?
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