Top 8 Winter Destinations in the World
02 October 2017
Winter is traditionally the time of year where we pine for a getaway to escape the uncompromising weather and dreary winter evenings. Whether you are looking to follow the sunshine to a winter sun location, or you want to embrace the winter wonderlands of Europe, why wait until summer to get your holiday fix?
Read our list of favourite winter destination here at Travel Counsellors, guaranteed to help you make the most of the winter season.
While many cities enter a commercial hibernation period during winter months, Austria’s capital city springs to life through the chill to become one of the most endearing winter cities in Europe, where crystal clear skies and powder white layers of snow help visitors get into the seasonal spirit street markets, cafes and bars warm you up while moving between the city’s fascinating museums, and the old-world charm of twinkling lights at every turn.
Unendingly attractive winter scenes make Copenhagen an eternal winter break destination, as enveloped winter bathing and the magic of festive markets punctuate a location primed with outdoor activities such as the Tivoli Gardens, specially themed during winter season with fairy lights and decorations, alongside the opportunity to skate through the ice of Frederiksberg Have, providing plenty of fun whether you’re a beginner or seasoned skater.
Winter in Budapest is often the best time to visit during the year, where winter festivals and a range of indoor activities see the city still full of life. Sports enthusiasts are particularly well facilitated during winter’s grasp on the city, with ice skating within Europe’s largest skating rink, Műjégpálya, situated in a striking castle and tree laden setting, while keen sledders will relish the chance to visit Buda Hills, where winter trails through beautiful scenery can be enjoyed before warming body and soul at one of many wine bars serving mulled wine.
Find a slice of summer during the traditional winter months as you head for the Spain’s vibrant and colourful southernmost coastline to catch some much-needed sunshine within an Andalusian region reflecting quintessential Spain in the form of Moorish castles, whitewashed villages, fabulous flamenco, and expansive stretches of golden sands for the ultimate beach resort and family-friendly getaway leaving the depths of winter behind.
Travel Counsellor Mebs spent time in Jaen, recommending it as Andalusia's hidden gem: "For anyone wishing to experience modern yet unspoiled Spain, Jaen is the place. It's a sleeping town in the afternoon, but a whole lot different when evening sets in when the many typical Spanish cafes, restaurants and bars light up for business."
The colder months are often a wonderful chance to holiday in Venice, where tourists have long since departed and the city sits back in reflective calm. Romance is in the air during winter in Venice, with twilight walkways and unhurried gondoliers as your playground. Exploring without a destination in mind sees you end up in majestic public churches and meeting houses before stopping for a drink or snack among the quaint and quiet refrain of the local taverns.
Truly coming into its own during snowfall season, Rovaniemi offers a packed festive activity schedule in the official hometown of Santa Claus. Experience the vicarious thrill of seeing children and grandchildren meeting Santa in person at Santa Claus Village, while elves of the future can even gain a diploma at the prestigious Elf School in Santa Park. The Christmas based thrills don’t end there however, with husky tours and reindeer rides particularly popular activities within this city of everlasting winter wonder.
Travel Counsellor Sarah was almost lost for words when describing her stay in Rovaniemi:
"Fun-filled days were met with quieter times of Lappish tales around a campfire drinking hot berry juice, a visit to Santa Claus and sometimes just standing still for a minute and listening…to nothing but the sound of the snowflakes falling. It was like walking through the wardrobe into Narnia, and just for those few, short, snow-filled days I was 7 years old again and I believed.
The supremely cosy village of Shirakawa in the Gifu Prefecture of Japan regularly has some of the heaviest levels of snowfall across the globe, with yearly averages reaching over 30-feet in total. Aside from an ever-present scenic snowscape, the village is also listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, partly due to its ‘gingerbread house’ style minka buildings comprising long thatched roofs designed to prevent damage during periods of heavy snowfall.
St. Petersburg, Russia
Seasonal events abound during winter in the Russian port city of St. Petersburg, where frozen lakes and eye-catching furs are commonplace through ambiently lit streets interspersed with inviting ballet venues such as the famous Mariinsky Theatre. The assortment of cultural gems ensures the city is worth visiting year-round, although the magical dusting of frost and snow during winter helps make it extra special.