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Winter Travel

While many look forward to the summer months, traveling during winter has its own kind of appeal. The start of the season varies, and it typically depends on the country of your choice. However, it usually begins in December and lasts for about three months. Many people love winter travel because it allows them to enjoy many activities unique to the season, from skiing to snow sledding. So, if you’re one of those people, check out this page for a complete guide on all things winter travel.

The appeal of winter travel

• Winter sports

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Adrenaline seekers love winter as it opens doors for sports you can't really do in other seasons. These adventurers usually have go-to mountains where they travel to partake in various activities, the most common being skiing. Other sports include snowboarding, sledding, ice skating, ice fishing, and curling. You need not be an expert to try these activities — what’s important is that you have fun.

• Winter carnivals and festivals

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Be surrounded by a charming community at a winter carnival or festival! These events are fun for people of all ages, making it a great activity for families. If you have little ones, you can take them to a couple of kid-friendly rides and treat them to classic corndogs or caramel apples. For thrill-seekers, some winter carnivals also have rollercoasters and tall Ferris wheels.

• Christmas markets

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Christmas markets are the place to be for food lovers! Walk around, buy a mug of mulled wine to warm you up, and let the aroma of cooking food entice you to visit different stalls. In European Christmas markets, you'll find stalls selling delicious potato dishes, gingerbread, sausages and more. Some markets also sell trinkets and Christmas decorations (such as Santa Claus statues and ornaments), which make for great souvenirs.

• Hot springs or hot tubs

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The incredible contrast of relaxing in a hot tub or hot spring during the winter season is an experience worth having. After a long day out in the snow, winter travelers can warm up and relax. This amenity is often outside so that people using it can enjoy scenic winter landscape.

• Northern lights

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Winter is the best time to travel for a view of the stunning northern lights or the aurora borealis. Getting to see this wonder is on a lot of people’s bucket lists, and judging by how the night sky lights up with shades of green and blue, it’s understandable. For a memorable experience, you can check out the top destinations where northern lights are visible.

• Snowy landscapes

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Winter offers a lot of beautiful sceneries you can happily get lost in. People make the most of this season by booking accommodation in the mountains. Doing so lets you enjoy magnificent snow-capped views. But if you’re not too fond of heights, bundle up and head to the woods or the park to enjoy the scenery on a short walk.

• Winter treats

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With winter comes a lot of treats and comfort food! A famous staple during this time of the year is hot chocolate, and many people make different versions of it by adding a dash of cinnamon or topping it up with loads of marshmallows. Cookies are also sought-after, no matter if they're soft, chewy, or hard. But apart from sweet treats, hot vegetable stews, mashed potatoes, and all kinds of casseroles are usually made and shared with loved ones.

• Cozy atmosphere

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It’s perfectly reasonable to just stay at home and keep warm during winter! In fact, there are many things you can do indoors. For instance, reading a book by the fireplace is an ideal way to keep your mind engaged while feeling cozy. Some people also opt to have movie marathons while bundled up in thick blankets. You can also bake all sorts of desserts instead, such as cakes and cookies.

• Fewer crowds

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Though some places attract crowds during the winter season, the majority of destinations boast fewer crowds compared to summer. So, if you don’t want to be in the middle of the hustle and bustle, winter is the perfect time to start your holiday. You can also immerse yourself in the environment in a more intimate manner since there’ll be less noise and foot traffic.

• Winter wildlife

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One of the wonders of winter is that you can witness different animals that often only make their presence known during this season. For instance, the reindeer, one of the symbols of Christmas. You may also encounter squirrels, beavers, and owls, among others.

Destinations with ski accommodations

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Want to ski for hours on end? Booking a ski accommodation is the right move. Of course, you must be located in a mountainous region with great snow and apt weather. Luckily, there are a lot of perfect places for skiing.

• Japan

The beautiful country of Japan offers a few snow-capped mountains, making it the ideal destination for winter travel. Moreover, you can stay in one of its ski resorts or ski-in ski-out accommodations. You can also head to popular ski spots, such as Hakuba, Nagano, Fukushima, or places near Tokyo to have a great time skiing alone or with loved ones.

• Colorado, USA

Colorado is known for its bustling metropolis and expansive landscapes, offering the best of both worlds. Most of the time, tourists visit this state for winter-related activities, especially in areas such as Vail and Estes Park. Other must-visit places here include Denver Botanic Gardens and Rocky Mountain National Park.

• Canada

Up north is the charming town of Whistler, a sought-after area for lovers of skiing and snowboarding. Here, you can find a great number of ski resorts, such as The Westin Resort & Spa and Four Seasons Resort Whistler. There are also other ski accommodations positioned in elevated spaces. Moreover, the city of Mont-Tremblant is a charming place that offers all sorts of adventures in the snow.

• France

If the idea of a perfect skiing trip allures you, book a ticket to France and witness the incredible beauty of The French Alps. Many of the accommodations offered here provide ski-in and ski-out access for a more hassle-free experience. Alternatively, you can check out the ski hotels and chalets in Chamonix for more options.

• Switzerland

In Central Europe lies Switzerland — perhaps one of the most famous ski destinations in the world. Besides an array of famous buildings and historic attractions, ranging from Chillon Castle to Chapel Bridge, this country is visited by adventurous travelers who like the snow and mountains. You can book any of its ski resorts and other accommodations with ski-in ski-out access. If you want to stay in a ski hotel, Zermatt is one of the best places to be.

Destinations with access to other winter sports

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Not fond of skiing? There are tons of winter sports that await you in different destinations!

• Alaska, USA

In the northwest part of the US is Alaska, a state associated with snow and all things cold. If you visit different places such as Anchorage, you'll find many skiing and even snowboarding opportunities. There are many mountain passes, too — one of which is the Hatcher Pass.

• England and Scotland, United Kingdom

Apart from the Tower of London, Buckingham Palace, and other things to do during winter in London, the UK has several snowboarding destinations worth visiting. In England, you'll find Yad Moss, Ski-Allenheads, and Swadlincote Snowsports Centre. You can also head to Scotland and enjoy snowboarding in Nevis Range Mountain Resort, among other places.

• Madrid and Granada, Spain

Spain is known as a summer destination, but little do some people know that there are plenty of areas here with ideal snow for skiing and snowboarding. While here, make sure to visit Baqueira-Beret in Lleida, Estación de Esquí Puerto de Navacerrada in Madrid, or Sierra Nevada in Granada.

• Banff, Canada

Majestic lakes, gorgeous architecture, and snowboarding opportunities make Banff a wonder to behold. The most sought-after destination here for your winter travel is the iconic Sunshine Village Ski Resort in Banff National Park.

Destinations featuring hot springs

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Taking a dip into a hot spring is quite an experience. It relaxes your muscles and even improves your blood circulation — things that can aid in having a healthier system. Here are the top destinations with hot springs.

• Japan

If you want to try it out and find out why everyone’s flocking to hot springs, Japan is the best place to start! This country boasts thousands of hot springs or onsens, so you’ll have lots of options to choose from. One of the most famous onsen towns that you can visit in Japan is Hakone, Kanagawa, which also has astounding views of Mt. Fuji.

• Iceland

Another country with an abundance of hot springs is Iceland. This Nordic country, also called “The Land of Fire and Ice,” is a hidden gem filled with awe-inspiring landscapes and parks. Some of the most famous hot spring destinations here include The Blue Lagoon and Secret Lagoon.

Countries offering views of the northern lights

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The photos of northern lights are already mesmerizing — but even more so when you see them in person in all their glory! If you want to check them, you can visit any of the following places.

• Iceland

Witnessing a wave of lights softly dancing in the sky as you sit on the snow is the definition of utter wonder and fascination, and you can do so in places such as Reykjavik, Iceland, especially when you head to a beautiful landscape where the open horizon is the only thing you'll see. Make sure to visit this country between September and April for the best experience.

• Northern Canada

Seeing the northern lights in Northern Canada can be quite rare, but when you happen upon it, then it'll certainly be a fantastic show. While here, you can book a vacation rental for a comfy stay. You can also head to Manitoba, Yukon, or Nunavut, which gives you the best chance to see the lights.

• Norway

Norway is undoubtedly one of the best destinations to witness the northern lights, especially between September and March. Almost every part of Northern Norway, such as Tromsø and Lofoten, lets you see this phenomenon, and you'll find lots of accommodations here to maximize your experience.

• Sweden

Visit Sweden between September and March and get the chance to see the northern lights in action! Here, you'll see the skies light up with shades of pink, green, and purple — a celestial harmony produced by nature. It's also best to check it out in less crowded and less polluted places, such as Abisko and Kiruna, where you can also enjoy other interesting activities.

Destinations with Christmas markets

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‘Tis the season! There are lots of things to love about Christmas — one of which is heading to a delightful Christmas market and checking out what they have in store. You can find some of them below.

• Zurich, Switzerland

A popular destination for this is in Zurich, Switzerland. You’ll surely have a wonderful time walking on cobblestone streets and viewing each stall serving varying food, souvenirs, and trinkets. People usually go to Frau Gerolds Garten or Wienachtsdorf beim Bellevue in the city as their offerings are expansive.

• Vienna, Austria

Vienna is characterized by its elegance, historic landmarks, and friendly people. Apart from these things, you'll also find incredible Christmas markets here, where you can buy a wide variety of products and even play. Christmas Village Old General Hospital and Belvedere Christmas Village are just some of the markets open during the holidays.

• Copenhagen, Denmark

Denmark's capital, Copenhagen, celebrates the holidays in a distinct and cozy way, so it's no surprise why people go here during the winter. Plus, there are lots of Christmas markets you can visit! Some examples are Freetown Christiana Christmas Market, Nyhavn Harbor Christmas Market, and Kronborg Christmas Market.

• Prague, Czech Republic

History enthusiasts love visiting Prague because of its many castles, bridges, and museums. Another reason why you should visit during winter is because it boasts incredible Christmas markets. The big Wenceslas Square becomes a winter wonderland filled with different stalls offering food and other trinkets.

Best budget-friendly winter travel destinations

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Going to another country can be quite expensive, especially if you’re not traveling alone. So, the best way to lessen the expenses is by having a thorough budget plan and sticking to it as much as possible. Here are a few of the best budget-friendly destinations during winter.

• Lithuania

It's ideal to choose a destination that offers many things to do for free, such as Lithuania, which boasts magnificent lakes and forests. You will have a wonderful time, especially if you visit during the Christmas season. This Baltic country boasts many rich and historic attractions, such as Gediminas Castle Tower and Hill of Crosses, and other places to discover.

• Lake Tahoe

This lake between California and Nevada has many beaches and even nearby ski accommodations. A lot of these areas can be easily accessed at a low cost or free! Some activities in Lake Tahoe include a helicopter tour and sunset cruises.

• Estonia

Estonia boasts over 1,500 islands and a high quality of life, and the fact that it's a fairly cheap winter destination adds to the advantage. Here, you can enjoy Christmas markets in places such as Talinn. This Northern European country also has attractions you can visit for free, including Kadriorg Park, Alexander Nevsky Cathedral, and St. Olaf’s Church.

Things to consider when planning a winter vacation

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• Location

During your research, it’s important to consider the location of where you want to stay and figure out what kind of environment you want to surround yourself in during your vacation. You can book a room in a mountain accommodation if you wish to have easy ski access. But if you wish to be near markets and carnivals, check out accommodations near these attractions.

• Travel dates

It’s best to plan out the month you want to travel during winter, as it can get crowded in some places and you might find fewer opportunities to explore freely. Planning so close to the date of departure will also result in fewer accommodation options. So, to avoid these things, try to plan a few months before the intended trip.

• Accommodation

Speaking of accommodations, this plays a huge part in completing your winter travel. You need to book your preferred accommodation as early as possible to give you more time to think about other factors, such as how to get there and the budget. And, of course, it's best to choose an accommodation with your must-have amenities, be it hot water, hot tubs, fireplaces, big storage, and more.

• Weather conditions and potential risks

Before anything else, you need to take into account the potential risks that come with traveling during winter, seeing as the weather can be unpredictable and harsh here and then. So, it's best to make your itinerary flexible or have several options of activities just in case. Plus, you should always be on the lookout for weather reports or alerts, as it could affect your trip.

• Mode of transportation

There are times when the journey to your accommodation of choice can get a bit bumpy, so it’s also important to figure out if your vehicle is apt for the trip. Sometimes, vacation rental hosts encourage guests to come via a 4WD. But, if lucky, the hosts can come to get you themselves! It all depends on the accommodation, so make sure to check out how to get there.

• Connectivity

If you’re not up for having a tech-free retreat, you should choose an accommodation with reliable Wi-Fi connectivity and cellphone reception. Having these two things can help you connect with your loved ones no matter where you are. It’ll also come in handy whenever you are in an emergency and need to contact the authorities. Plus, with Wi-Fi comes plenty of opportunities to binge-watch shows on streaming platforms at night!

• Child and pet policies

Have a hassle-free winter travel with your little ones and furry friends by making sure your accommodation welcomes them without issues. Once assured, the next ideal step is to read the child and pet policies thoroughly. Some accommodations may not allow children of certain ages, and some may have strict pet rules, such as maximum weight and type of breed. You can find these policies on the official site or booking site.

• Accessible features

You must check the accommodation's accessibility features if you have mobility issues or will be with someone with mobility issues. Some typical amenities include roll-in showers, pool hoists, braille, handicap parking, and more. It’s better to reach out to the staff or host to confirm how accessible their accommodations are.

• Packing essentials

Packing efficiently and correctly is a great way to have a smooth sailing winter trip. Since it’ll get cold, you need to bring thicker clothing, such as coats and puffer jackets. You should also bring a first-aid kit and medicine in case of any minor injuries. Moreover, you can bring your sports gear and equipment if you’re a winter sports enthusiast. Other packing essentials include flashlights, toiletries, hot packs, chargers, and maybe even a book to keep you company.

A jolly time awaits

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Have a jolly time during winter! There's so much to do and see during this time of the year, a lot of which can be enjoyed by people of all ages. So, if you're prepared to immerse yourself in the beauty of this season, let this article be your guide to an unforgettable winter travel experience.

Things To Do During Christmas in Canada and the USA

Things To Do During Christmas in Other Destinations

Christmas Markets in Europe

Christmas Markets in Canada and the USA

Ski-In Ski-Out Accommodations in the US

Ski-In Ski-Out Accommodations in Canada

Ski-In Ski-Out Accommodations in Europe

Ski-In Ski-Out Accommodations in Other Destinations

Ski Resorts in the US

Ski Resorts in Canada

Ski Resorts in Asia

Ski Resorts in Europe

Ski Resorts in Other Destinations

Ski Hotels in the US

Ski Hotels in Europe

Ski Condos in the US

Destinations for Snowboarding and Skiing in the US and Canada

Destinations for Snowboarding and Skiing in Other Destinations

FAQ's about winter travel

  • What are the best months for winter travel?
    Winter commonly starts in the third week of December and ends in the third week of March — thus making this duration the ideal month for winter travel. However, to avoid any surprises, it’s best to research the destination of your choosing during the peak winter months.
  • What destinations are popular for winter travel?
    The most popular destinations during the winter are those that have snow, this is because you can indulge in all kinds of winter-related activities, such as skiing. Some great examples include Norway, Finland, Iceland, Arizona, and more.
  • What kind of activities can I enjoy in winter?
    There are loads of activities you can do. However, the common ones happen in the mountains, such as skiing, sledding, and snowboarding. For a more laid-back activity, there’s gingerbread making, ice skating, and snowball fighting!
  • What should I pack for a winter vacation?
    For clothing, essentials include a winter jacket, gloves, warm socks, scarves, and thermal wear. You should also pack medicine and vitamins to keep your immune system strong to avoid any illnesses during your vacation. If needed, a portable heater may come in really handy.
  • What should I look for while choosing accommodation for my winter vacation?
    Before choosing your accommodation, plan out everything first. You need to consider location, type of accommodation, popularity, and budget. These factors should always be thought ahead to avoid further issues during your travel.
  • Is it safe to travel during the winter season?
    Yes! Many winter destinations expect that many locals and tourists will visit, which is why they set up certain safety measures to keep everyone as secure and comfortable as possible. But do take time to read up on the possible risks and dangers of a particular area to come prepared.
  • Where can I see the northern lights during winter?
    To see the spectacular northern lights, you can head to Sweden, Finland, Norway, and Canada, which are the most famous countries that offer incredible views of this phenomenon.
  • Are ski resorts expensive?
    It depends on the property itself. Some ski resorts have a higher reputation and standing, which means they cost more than that of a typical ski resort. However, no matter the price, all of them provide easy or direct ski access as well as great amenities.
  • Can I take my pet along on my winter vacation?
    If you want to bring your furry friend along, make sure to book a stay in a pet-friendly property. You can check out their official website or booking sites to double-check their pet policy.
  • What are the health considerations for winter travel?
    The best way to enjoy winter travel is by having great health. Winter can sometimes have harsh weather, so you must stay fit to handle the changes. Make sure to also bring vitamins and other maintenance medicines.

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