Winter is a wonderful time to travel – the cooler temperatures lend themselves well to long-distance travel and some of the world’s most exquisite destinations look even more stunning when carpeted by a thick layer of snow. If you’re looking to escape to a pristine winter wonderland on your next out-of-town vacation, make sure to check out our list of winter-perfect holiday destinations that every traveller should visit – at least once in their lifetime.
While Munich is stunning at any time of the year, the city makes a pretty big deal out of its winters, celebrating the cold with centuries-old traditions. The Christkindle market in Marienplatz is the best place to visit for handcrafted mugs loaded with steaming mulled wine. While here, also check out the elaborate gingerbread castles and shop for artisanal wooden toys.
This remote mountainous district in Japan receives some of the heaviest snowfall in the world. The rustic landscape is studded with houses built in the traditional minka style – the vertiginous thatched roofs resemble hands folded in prayer, and have been specially modelled to handle the heavy snowfall. The area has been declared as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and features in the popular Japanese game series Higurashi no Naku Koro ni, propelling it to worldwide fame.
Home to the Marlinsky Theatre, the St Petersburg Philharmonic and several other culturally significant attractions, this city is a must visit all through the year. Wintertime in St Petersburg is much like stepping into the pages of a Russian novel, as the lakes freeze over and the landscapes take on a white, sculptural aesthetic. Dress in your finest furs (fake, if you so prefer) as you wander through the city in the pale winter light. Orthodox Christmas is celebrated here on January 6, and the twinkling city takes on an almost magical appeal during this period.
There’s a very good reason why Harbin is popularly known as the Ice City – it is China’s coldest city and host to the acclaimed Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture festival. The festival is held on the banks of the Songhua River, and its sculptures are carved out of giant blocks of ice taken from the river. This festival is the largest of its kind in the world and features the world’s biggest ice sculptures by local and international artists.
Austria’s quaint medieval town is known for its pristine slopes that offer excellent skiing opportunities. Winter sees this area transform into an Alpine paradise, as skiers from around the world test their mettle on miles of snow-carpeted flat plains. Even if you aren’t a skier, do visit Kitzbühel for its gorgeous streets and vibrant Christmas market.
Alcazar de Segovina
Spain’s stunning palace has served as a fortress, a royal residence and even as a prison. It has also served as the inspiration for Walt Disney’s famous Cinderella Castle. Today, the castle is accessible to the public as a museum and is especially beautiful during winters, when it looks every bit the magical fairytale castles that it once inspired.
The canals of Netherlands’s capital city are lined with snow during winter, making the usually scenic Amsterdam even more stunning. Amsterdam celebrates its winters with much pomp and splendour, with seasonal lights draped across the city centre, skating rinks set up at various spots and numerous cultural shows that range from musicals to the wildly popular annual street parade.