10 Unusual Winter Travel Destinations You Might Not Have Considered
If Winter Is Your Season, These Destinations Are For You
Want to beat the winter blues by hopping on a plane somewhere, but don’t know where to go? Usually there are two kinds of winter travelers: the one who escapes the cold and spends a week on a beach in the Caribbean, and the one who embraces the cold and spends a week hitting the slopes of an infamous ski resort.
Maybe it’s time for something more unusual this winter. Skip the tropics and forgo the winter destinations we’re all familiar with. This year, explore one of these captivating destinations that you might not think to visit in the wintertime.
A sprinkling of snow on the ground only makes these sights and cities more magical and you’ll be sure to have an experience few others have.
Japan might not be big on Christmas, but they know how to make winter amazing. The Imperial Palace and Gardens in Tokyo look spectacular in winter, and the emperor’s birthday happens to fall on December 23, so it is a great time to visit.
Then there are multiple winter festivals, such as the Sapporo Snow Festival. If you’re up for a day trip and looking for things to do in Tokyo, you can head to Jigokudani Monkey Park, for the best winter activity you will ever experience: watching monkeys bathe in hot pools.
The Windy City becomes a snowy city in winter, and it is all the more lovable for it. If it gets cold enough, Lake Michigan can partially freeze over, which is a truly wondrous sight.
You can take in the city’s stunning architecture while zipping around an ice skating rink with your kids in Millennium Park. You can sip hot chocolate while strolling down Michigan Avenue marveling at the Magnificent Mile Holiday Lights Festival.
And, when the cold becomes too much, you can warm up in one of the many excellent restaurants in the city.
Plitvice National Park, Croatia
A popular summer destination, you might think Plitvice National Park is an unusual winter travel vacation. The beauty of Plitvice’s waterfalls is not diminished in cold weather, though. On the contrary, if the waterfalls freeze over it only adds to the fairy tale nature of the park.
What makes a trip here in winter even better is that the park is almost deserted: you will have the majestic beauty of the cascading lakes and waterfalls almost to yourself.
Amsterdam’s canals look lovely when they are fringed with green foliage, but wintertime in this city has a special, stripped-back appeal. Icicles cling to the iron bridges, and a dusting of snow lends the whole city a romantic feel.
As if that wasn’t already picturesque enough, Amsterdam outdoes itself in the winter months with the annual Amsterdam Winter Lights Festival, which runs from November to January. Canals and streets are transformed with artful light installations.
Plus the cold is a great reason to retreat into one of the cozy coffee houses that Amsterdam is famous for.
Atlas Mountains, Morocco
Morocco isn’t the kind of place you usually associate with snow: steaming medinas and the Sahara desert tend to spring to mind instead. Morocco harbors a big, mountain-sized secret, though.
The Atlas Mountains are spectacular at any time of year, but they really come into their own in wintertime. Trekking through the mountains is the best way to enjoy the wonder of the snowy peaks, but you can also find scenic ski fields near the town of Ifrane, which is often compared to Switzerland thanks to the lush natural beauty of the area.
Winter in Yosemite can be snowy and cold, but when the sun comes out it lights up a true winter wonderland. There are a multitude of ways to enjoy the solitude, from cross-country skiing, to hiking, to simply playing in the snow.
The silence and beauty of this park in winter only makes Yosemite seem mightier. With waterfalls and rivers frozen over, visiting Yosemite in winter is like seeing a unique snapshot in time, where reality is suspended.
Andorra is the sweetest little country you may never have heard of. Scenic and not too crowded, Andorra is the perfect winter getaway.
Wedged between France and Spain, Andorra’s Pyrenees perch is ideal for skiing. More than just picturesque, the abundant countryside in Andorra means fresh local produce, such as wild berry preserves, Andorran wines, and aromatic cheeses.
On top of all this, Andorra’s tax haven status means you can pick up some duty-free shopping before heading home.
Krakow’s storybook vibe goes into overtime in winter. When the streets and parks of Krakow are frosted over, the city takes on an ethereal beauty. Poland tourism in general is filled with weird but wonderful quirks that will make you fall in love with the country — Krakow alone has a dragon that breathes fire every five minutes.
To counteract the winter darkness, Krakow is illuminated by colorful lights during wintertime, which only makes the city more dazzling. In between roaming the streets, you can warm up in one of Krakow’s many pubs with a shot of Polish vodka, or a decadent cup of hot chocolate.
Follow that with some warm and comforting pierogis and you will be toasting the chilly weather and making plans to come back next winter.
What are some of the best places to travel in winter? Read on to learn about some great destinations to travel in the winter.
It might seem a little counterintuitive to travel to Norway in wintertime. After all, it is a pretty cold country at the best of times.
If you really want to take winter travel to the next level though, Bergen has everything you could wish for. Surrounded by snowy wilderness, from Bergen you can embark on skiing, sledging, or hiking expeditions.
If that sounds a little too strenuous, you can always just hop on the Floibanen funicular, one of Norway’s most famous attractions, and ride up to unbeatable views.
Lake Como, Italy
Encircled by mountains, dotted with quaint villages, and with plenty of hearty Italian food to warm you up: it would be hard to find a better place to escape to during winter, but many people might not think of visiting Lake Como in wintertime. Low season does mean many businesses close up shop, but it also means the hustle and bustle of summer slows to quiet meander.
Romantic and reflective, Lake Como also makes for a great anniversary vacation for some time away with your significant other. The serene beauty of Lake Como is much easier to appreciate when there are fewer tourists around. You will feel like you have this glorious spot all to yourself.