Winter has many facets: near the North Pole, a thick white coat covers the landscapes and weeks without sun follow one another throughout the season; on the other hand, the sun and the mildness linger in the Mediterranean; and in the center of the continent, we warm up cozy in the cafes and enjoy the Christmas atmosphere. Winter is an excellent season for visiting large cities such as charming little villages: the queues being shorter, you can expand the journey with more sites. In addition, you benefit from low season rates. Thanks to the European rail network, countries are visited at a leisurely pace. It also allows you to meet the inhabitants going about their daily business far from the tourist frenzy of summer. Here is the best winter destinations all over the world!
- 1 Salzburg, Austria
- 2 Saint Petersburg, Russia
- 3 Venice, Italy
- 4 Abisko, Sweden
- 5 Andalusia, Spain
- 6 Oslo, Norway
- 7 Budapest, Hungary
- 8 Stockholm, Sweden
- 9 Chicago, USA
- 10 Tallinn, Estonia
- 11 Plitvice National Park, Croatia
- 12 The Gobi Desert, Mongolia
- 13 Brugge, Belgium
- 14 Queenstown, New Zealand
- 15 The Pamir Mountains, Tajikistan
- 16 Lake Bled, Slovenia
- 17 Harbin, China
- 18 Prague, Czech Republic
- 19 Banff National Park, Canada
- 20 Hallstatt, Austria
- 21 Richmond Park, London
- 22 Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany
- 23 Trakai Castle, Lithuania
- 24 The Atlas Mountains, Morocco
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With one of the most beautiful Christmas markets in the world, Salzburg is one of the most recommended destinations this season. In winter, the city is covered with a blanket of white snow giving it the atmosphere of an enchanted village. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the old town, which can be explored on foot, promises you a journey back in time. It will surprise you in particular with the grandeur of its architecture, the Baroque facades of its palaces and its many churches. You can also take a break and wander around Residenzplatz enjoying the centuries-old cafes. Essential whatever the season, the visit of the Mozarteum museum with the effigy of the child king of the country, the composer Wolfang Amadeus Mozart. The museum has been installed in the apartment where the latter was born.
Saint Petersburg, Russia
Winter is by far the most beautiful season to visit the former capital of the Tsars, commonly called in this period “The Venice of the North”. With temperatures below zero and being crossed by multiple canals, Saint Petersburg finds itself trapped in ice. The opportunity to discover another face of the city, its architecture and its many palaces. In winter, you will have the advantage of being able to visit the various buildings more easily than in high season, with far fewer tourists than when the good weather approaches.
Visiting Venice in winter is first of all the advantage of being able to enjoy the streets, with a much lower number of tourists than in summer (except during carnival). No need to queue at museums or wait long for a gondola ride. Economically, it is also the city’s off-peak period, where you can therefore enjoy accommodation at lower prices than in normal times.
In winter in Venice, the temperatures are low and the air humid, warm clothes are to be expected. With the day, a thick mist rises which struggles to disappear over the hours, plunging the city into a mysterious, almost magical atmosphere. With the winter lights, the colorful facades of the silent alleys stand out like no other season, the opportunity to take even more beautiful photos! In December, the city is illuminated with Christmas decorations and all the shops that remain open throughout the day. In January, it is the high period of the Opera at La Fenice. But the most anticipated event arrives in February, with the establishment of the famous Venice Carnival.
The village of Abisko, a haven of peace and ice located in the far north of Swedish Lapland, is the ideal destination to enjoy a breathtaking winter landscape. Renowned for its large national park of 77km² of breathtaking beauty, you can go and meet the wild Nordic fauna. Abisko is also the ideal place for dog sledding on the famous Royal Way (kungsleden), but also on snowshoes or cross-country skiing. You can also go ice fishing on the huge frozen lake. Abisko is also the best place in the world to witness the unique spectacle of the Northern Lights (from November to March). The Aurora Sky Station is a special station accessible only by chairlift, which offers you to dine under the glow of the Aurora Borealis.
To spend a warm winter, we recommend Andalusia, which has the advantage of enjoying a rather mild climate in winter. Indeed, this Spanish region can boast of having more than 300 days of sunshine a year, enough to be able to extend the days outside in winter without being bothered by the usual horde of tourists. For its unique flora and fauna, Andalusia is one of the most visited regions in Spain. You can also calmly visit the towns and villages of the region, classified as World Heritage by Unesco. Winter sports enthusiasts, all you have to do is go about thirty kilometers to enjoy the most beautiful ski and snowboard spots, in particular at the Sierra Nevada station or that of Pradollano. Another advantage, the prices of transport and accommodation are reduced during this period. So do not hesitate!
Commonly known as the winter capital of the world, this season is the ideal time to visit the city of Oslo. Many activities are available and the winter landscapes are breathtaking. Oslo Winter Park, located just thirty minutes from the city center, is the largest ski resort in the area with 18 runs and 11 lifts and a snowpark. For enthusiasts, 4000 years of skiing history are on display at the oldest ski museum in the world in Holmenkollen. In the heart of the city, many ice rinks and toboggan runs are available for young and old. The warm and family atmosphere of the city of Oslo is sure to please you, during this calm period when few tourists dare to come and face the cold Norwegian temperatures.
What better season than winter to visit the Hungarian capital? In December, it offers one of the best Christmas markets there is, with illuminations throughout the month in several districts of Budapest. At this time, enjoy the unique experience of the Budapest thermal springs at 38 degrees under the snow. Also enjoy the mysterious and magical atmosphere offered by the various castles of the capital. Winter is the best time for cultural visits to Budapest. To warm up, do not hesitate to visit the many museums and art galleries that the city offers.
If the days are short in winter in Stockholm, it is during this period that the city lights up and becomes warmer than ever. The capital offers a large number of activities for an unforgettable stay, especially in the city center. Thus, it is possible to skate on the frozen lake of Hellasgarden or on the Vasaparken ice rink. At this time of year, make the exceptional experience of the Hellasgarden sauna and then dive into the frozen lake like a true Swede! Finally, after a good day of sightseeing, nothing better than a fika break. Typically Swedish, these coffee breaks are best taken warm in an armchair with a hot drink, a pastry and a blanket please!
Also known as the Windy City, the city of Chicago is even more beautiful in winter when the snow cover makes its appearance. But what you absolutely must not miss takes place in January and February when the temperatures are at their lowest, so low that Lake Michigan partially freezes: a sight to see absolutely!
Endowed with an incredibly preserved historical heritage, the medieval old town of Tallinn is already a must-see in normal times. But in winter, when it is adorned with its coat of snow, the visit is incredible and the atmosphere is truly exceptional.
Plitvice National Park, Croatia
Plitvice National Park is already one of the most remarkable places in Croatia thanks to its 16 large turquoise lakes linked together through incredible waterfalls. Discovering the same scene in winter but with frozen lakes and waterfalls is simply incredible!
The Gobi Desert, Mongolia
A vast desert region between northern China and southern Mongolia, the Gobi Desert measures at least a third of the surface of Mongolia. In winter, local camel herders organize sports tournaments (race, polo) which means that it is not impossible to come across some of them in the middle of the desert despite the winter, and as it is very friendly, you can probably ride one!
With its cobbled streets, its frozen canals and its architecture of gingerbread houses, Bruges is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful cities to visit in winter. Visiting Bruges in January or February when the Christmas markets are over will allow you to have the whole city to yourself and visiting in November or December to see the Ice Sculpture Festival.
Queenstown, New Zealand
Queenstown is best known for thrill seekers (bungee jumping, rafting, speedboat, paragliding, parachuting, etc.). But it is during the winter season that the city is in full swing, many skiers and snowboarders come to slide on the Remarkables, mountains located not far from the city.
The Pamir Mountains, Tajikistan
A place rarely visited in normal times due to its 7,495 meters high, it is even less so in winter when the lakes of these mountains can be covered with a meter of ice. Extreme conditions that even the locals do not venture there, only a few intrepid explorers in search of very extreme sensations dare to walk there in winter. The Pamir is indeed one of the most isolated regions in the world.
Lake Bled, Slovenia
A glacial lake located in Slovenia, it encircles the only island in the country known for its neo-Gothic church from the 15th century. Atypical landscape in winter, the biggest difficulty is knowing where to stop when going around the lake to take the most beautiful picture! Hours of walking around the lake or in the small mountains, friendly people and a magnificent landscape still to be respected.
If you go to China, be sure to go in January when the city hosts the biggest ice sculpture festival in the world. And take your gloves because this part of the globe is famous for having temperatures that easily drop below -20°C in winter!
Prague, Czech Republic
Prague, the city of a hundred spiers, is without a doubt one of the most beautiful cities in the world. Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, it lights up with a thousand admirable lights during the Christmas period and organizes one of the most beautiful Christmas markets in the world.
Banff National Park, Canada
Located in the Canadian Rocky Mountains, the star attraction of Banff National Park is undoubtedly Moraine Lake, a glacial lake in which the Ten Peaks Valley is reflected. A representation of Moraine Lake was even chosen to appear on the back of old Canadian 20 dollar bills from 1969 and 1979. It was established in 1885, making it one of the Canada’s oldest national park. It is the origin of three people who discovered a cave from which came hot springs, on the eastern flank of the rocky mountains… Today the park has greatly expanded, until it reaches its current 6,641 km².
Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Hallstatt is a village on Lake Hallstättersee, a small river basin 5.9 kilometers long and 2.3 kilometers wide. In winter, certainly one of the most beautiful panoramas in the world! Hallstatt is one of those cities that sticks with you for life. It is absolutely beautiful and walking there is a delight. A perfect place to take pictures. It is not for nothing that it has been declared a World Heritage Site as “the most beautiful lakeside town in the world”. A good example of how man and nature can coexist.
Richmond Park, London
It is the largest park in London and one of the eight royal parks in the capital. Believe us or not, you can even come across – in the heart of London – wild deer galloping like in the middle of the wild countryside. If it snows, this is definitely the place to visit in London! Richmond Park is easily accessible from central London by bus, count 30-40min, then 10 min walk to finally enjoy a large park where you come across many animals in the wild, including deer, rabbits, geese… Inside the park it is possible to cycle but also golf…
Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany
Do you remember Sleeping Beauty’s castle at Disneyland? Neuschwanstein Castle is nothing more than the one that inspired it, it is Germany’s most famous castle and is visited by over a million tourists every year. Covered in snow and standing on a rocky outcrop 200 meters high, Neuschwanstein Castle is simply sublime in winter.
Trakai Castle, Lithuania
Trakai is a small town located 28 km west of Vilnius, it is accessible by train or even better, by bus. It is literally built on water, which is why it is surrounded by lakes. The castle stands on an island located 2 km from the city. To avoid the trot, it is best to rent a bike to get there. It is said to be the only castle in Europe built on an island surrounded by Lake Galve. The only access is a floating footbridge on this lake. The castle is built in red bricks, it is Gothic in style. It was founded by Lithuania’s national hero, Grand Duke Gediminas, in the 14th century. Trakai Castle in Lithuania was the ceremonial residence of the Grand Dukes of Lithuania until the middle of the 15th century. The latter received ambassadors and foreign sovereigns, impressed by the beauty of the site and the high towers of the castle. It obviously takes on another dimension when winter arrives and snow covers the entire building.
The Atlas Mountains, Morocco
Another vision of hot countries and Africa, treks to discover the Moroccan Atlas and these peaks at more than 4,000 meters above sea level, in particular the mythical Mount Toubkal! The Anti-Atlas is an old mountain range that stretches over 600 kilometers, in southern Morocco, in a rather hot and arid climate. The western part extends around the town of Tafraoute. Canyons shelter in their hollow palm groves, remarkable oases. The peaks of basalt or pink granite “with alkaline feldspars” push a colorful song towards the azure, when they are not playing with a scarf of mists.