I wanted to share some great destinations for winter travel with you guys, so I reached out to some fellow travel bloggers to ask about their favourite destinations for travelling in the winter. The response was overwhelming, and this post contains loads of beautiful destinations from some pretty awesome travel bloggers. It is with confidence that I call this the ULTIMATE list of winter destinations!
Not all of these are snowy and cold, some are beach getaways – perfect for escaping the cold Winter. Whatever kind of trip you want to take this Winter, you’re covered. And if you need any further assistance, check out this guide to planning a Winter getaway!
There were so many amazing places submitted, and in order to make it easier to navigate the post I decided to split the destinations into two themes; so wheather you’re a sun chaser or snow lover – you’ll find the perfect winter destination!
For Snow Lovers
Prague, Czech Republic
Park City, Utah
Park City, Utah is an amazing winter destination for anyone looking for snow. There are two main ski resorts and including the Park City ski resort, which is the largest single ski and snowboard resort in the United States. For thrill seekers, you can visit the Olympic park where several events during the 2002 Winter Olympic games. You can take a tour, visit the museum and even experience a bobsled ride.
When you are done with all the winter sports, you can experience the Sundance Film Festival hosted in late January or enjoy main street any time of the year. There is great shopping for midwestern gear and art as well as plenty of restaurants and bars.
Quebec City, Canada
If you are a sports enthusiast, there are plenty of winter activities to take advantage of in the area. From snowshoeing, to snowmobiling, to downhill skiing or snowboarding at one of the nearby resorts, there is something for everyone. Kids will love to visit the giant ice slide in front of the famous Chateau Frontenac hotel, and everyone should plan a trip to see the stunning Montmorency Falls where, if you are feeling extra adventurous, you can go ice climbing.
Canadian Winters may be known for the snow and the cold, but there is a definite charm to them that deserves to be experiences, and Quebec City is one of the best cities in the country from which to do so. Please note, 2017 is Canada’s 150th birthday, so if you plan a visit this year you might stumble across some extra celebrations.
Andorra is one of tiniest countries in Europe, located in the Pyrenees between Spain and France. Although the two big neighbors had major influence on the history of Andorra, this small country has its own identity, the official language being Catalan for instance. Andorra is also a tax haven, famous between Spanish and French citizens as a shopping paradise.
The major reason to visit this country is the fantastic alpine landscape you can find here. In summer, it’s a hiker’s paradise with infinite hiking and mountain bike trails to explore, while in winter it’s one of the most important ski stations of the whole European continent. The two main ski areas in Andorra: Vallnord in the North-East, where you can find longer and easier ski slopes, and Grandvalira, which is for the braver with lost of black runs. Apart from alpine skiing you can also do a lot of other winter activities from snowshoeing to sledging. After a busy day of winter sport you can relax in the Caldea, Europe’s largest spa.
Japan is a top destination year round and winter is no exception. With delightful snow festivals and popular Winter sports resorts, Japan is a great cold winter vacation destination. One of the best things to do in Japan during the Winter is to see the famous Japanese snow monkeys at Jigokudani Yaen Kōen (aka Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park) located near Nagano. The main attraction at the park is a group of Japanese macaques which soak, relax, groom each other and play in hot springs (onsen) just inches away from visitors. You can visit the snow monkey park year round but winter is definitely the best time to view and photograph these cute monkeys as everything is covered in snow making them true “snow monkeys”. Although a visit is possible as a day trip from Tokyo, we recommend spending a few days in the surrounding area where you can explore snow-covered trails and even enjoy a soak in an onsen yourself.
Visiting Sweden in winter is one of the best times to go, with tons of cheap flights from the US and other parts of the world. While Stockholm is beautiful under a layer of snow, you should really make a point to visit Swedish Lapland up north, starting in the small town of Kiruna. From there, you can stay in Abisko, a national park glittering in snow situated on a frozen lake.
The activities in Abisko are endless, but my favorite thing was dogsledding through the mountains on my own personal dogsled. Watching the snowy landscape go past was simply breathtaking. You can also snowshoe, cross country ski, downhill ski nearby at Björkliden, ice climb, and snowmobile – amongst other wintry activities. But the main reason people go is to see the Northern lights in Abisko. It’s scientifically proven to be one of the best places to see the elusive lights, with an 80% chance of seeing them if you stay 3 nights. The best part is you don’t even need to take a pricy lights hunting tour – you can just walk outside and see them dancing above you. Magical!
Although Iceland receives most of its visitors in summer, it’s also an amazing destination to visit in winter. Depending on the temperature, you can see snow, frozen waterfalls, icebergs, glaciers and if lucky even the Northern Lights. Iceland is cold but it’s gorgeous, you will love it! My number one tip for Iceland in winter is the relatively unknown Reykjadalur Valley, just about an hour drive from Reykjavík. The valley can be found near the town of Hveragerdi. Here you can access Reykjadalur (‘Smokey Valley) and will find boiling grounds, waterfalls, some great hiking trails and … a hot stream to bathe in. Access is for free, you will just have to walk up for a bit until you reach the part of the stream where it’s actually comfortable to get in. It’s your ultimate winter experience for sure!
For Sun Chasers
Thailand has to be one of the best places to travel to during the winter to escape the cold weather of the Northern hemisphere. I spent a couple of weeks there in the winter of 2016 and loved it. I found Bangkok to be full of life, culture and with a great vibe. However, the places I enjoyed the most were Koh Chang and Koh Wai. They are the perfect places to soak in the sun, relax, enjoy some water sports and have a nice cold beer looking at an amazing sunset. If Koh Chang is lively and busy (especially in areas like Lonely Beach), Koh Wai is a bit like a lost paradise: there is no running electricity (only a few generators), no internet, no roads, only a couple of restaurants and it is pure bliss. I’d go back anytime!
Gran Canaria, Spain
One of our favourite winter destinations is Gran Canaria. It’s a very popular destination for Europeans because it’s sunny almost all year round, making it the perfect place to get a sun tan during our winter. It’s part of the Spanish Canary Islands and located just off the coast of Africa, near Morocco, hence the brilliant all year weather.
Gran Canaria is also extremely popular with gay travellers: Maspaloma Pride is one of Europe’s largest annual gay events. The beach near the sand dunes of Playa del Ingles is THE place to hang out during the day and then it’s on to the infamous Yumbo Centre in the evening – a shopping mall gay playground filled with bars, clubs and Clone Zone type shops.
Gran Canaria also has some of the best gay events during the winter months, such as Maspalomas Winter Pride in November and no fewer than 2 large Carnival events in February/March: one in Las Palmas and another in Maspalomas.
Raja Ampat, Indonesia
I travelled to Raja Ampat in November, when the temperature in my hometown Milan was 10 degrees and rainy. Raja Ampat, an archipelago off the coast of West Papua, Indonesia, greeted us with wonderful sunshine and the most amazing sea I’ve ever seen. I keep recommending people to travel to Raja Ampat, especially if they love marine life. Divers will be especially amazed – the islands are known to be home to an incredible amount of species, and in just one dive I saw more than in all other dives of my life combined. A truly wonderful destination, especially when it’s rainy and snowy at home!
Visiting Taiwan in the winter time requires some good planning as the country is very divergent when it comes to weather. While Taipei and the Northern part of the land might be quite cold in December, the South is warm and sunny in the winter!
That said, if you’re an avid hiker and love outdoors, Taiwan should be on the top of your travel list. Winter is considered a low season here, so you might end up hiking a trail in a national park by yourself or with a few local tourists, especially during the week as Taiwanese love going hiking during weekends and holidays.
The Philippines is the perfect winter destination. While your friends and family are back home, snowed in, shoveling sidewalks and bundling up you can be relaxing on some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. The country is known around the world for its epic dive sites, the food is delicious, and the people are some of the friendliest I’ve ever met. Not only are Filipinos incredibly friendly but almost all of them speak English. You can go snorkeling with whale sharks, dive from a live aboard, go on epic treks or just catch some of the most gorgeous sunsets ever from the comfort of your sun bed if you like.
Looking for a winter escape? Head to Cuba! Last year I finally ticked Cuba off my bucket list but instantly put it right back on, as I can’t wait to get back. Traveling to Cuba you can get a little bit of beach time, be one with nature, culture, and drink some amazing mojitos.
Northern Territory, Australia
I never knew that dirt could be so magical until I came to the NT! Starkly juxtaposed next to the soft greens of the shrubs and gumtrees, this extremely isolated area of Australia is breathtakingly beautiful. It’s the perfect destination for people wanting to get outdoors and escape the miserable weather of winter.
Maui, an island located in the volcanic chain of U.S. state of Hawaii, is a 5-hour flight from California. It’s so remote that some tourists wonder if English is spoken or if the U.S. dollar is the currency—yes + yes. Maui has a dry side and a wet, lush tropical jungle. Most places are reachable within a couple of hours drive from the airport. Public transportation is limited, so plan on renting a car.
I spent 2 weeks on the island on a solo trip and kept myself thoroughly entertained. One day I hiked Mt. Haleakala. The 10,000-foot- high crater mountain contains a desert unto itself. The crater is considered one of the places on earth most similar to Mars, and is a wonder to hike through. One can even rent a cabin and spend a night inside the crater. My last morning in Maui was spent flying off the top via paraglider. It’s the largest descent you can take anywhere in the world—it’s ten thousand feet to sea level, and landing on the beach is exciting!
There are plenty of activities, including SCUBA diving. I took courses to complete my advanced open water certification. On one dive we went into a cave and observed a shark and sea turtles taking their midday nap. Such an amazing experience!
Riviera Maya, Mexico
Mexico wasn’t the first place I escaped to for the winter but it was the one place I visited that stole my heart. After that first visit, it was not uncommon for my husband, David, and I to spend a couple weeks every winter in the beautiful Riviera Maya. What we love about it is the tropical climate, white sand beaches and teal water that is paired with lush jungles, Mayan ruins and endless adventure.
Every time we go to the Riviera Maya we discover new things to do and are quickly reminded why we love the area, making it our favorite place to escape to during the cold winters in the Midwest.
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