With winter approaching fast, it is time to think about where you will spend your winter holiday this year. These days, when traveling is so easy and affordable, you have almost unlimited choices of destinations for your winter holiday. Those who like traditional winter locations with lot of snow can pick one of the renowned winter resorts in northern countries such as Canada, Norway, or Switzerland. Those who want to trade their parkas for swimwear and snow boots for flip flops can book a hotel in one of the all-year-round warm locations such as the Caribbean, Hawaii, or the Maldives. In fact, the winter season is also good for some fine sightseeing – particularly in countries that get too hot and/or crowded in summer. There are many ways to spend your winter holidays, and if you are not sure what might be the best option for you, keep on reading because this post will help you decide where to go this winter. From isolated tropical islands to freezing cities located north of the Arctic Circle, here are 25 Unique Places To Spend Your Winter Holiday.
Most people still associate the winter holiday with snow and skiing, so let us kick off the list with one of the most popular ski resorts in the world. Located in the Canadian province of British Colombia, Whistler is a resort town that attracts over 2 million visitors every year, primarily for alpine skiing and snowboarding. Known for its cold and snowy winters, Whistler hosted a number of alpine, Nordic, luge, skeleton, and bobsled events at the 2010 Winter Olympics.
The second largest city in the German state of Bavaria, Nuremberg is an enchanting historical city packed with numerous tourist sites. The best time to visit Nuremberg is right before Christmas as it is when the city hosts the iconic Nuremberg Christmas Markets. Visited by well over a million shoppers each year, the markets are particularly famous for handmade ornaments and local delicacies.
Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
The capital city of the United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi is one of the locations where shorts and flip flips can be worn throughout the year. The city is unbearably hot in summer (with temperatures often reaching up to 45 C or 115 F), which makes winter probably the best time to visit it. Apart from the renowned skyscraper skyline, the city boasts over 2,000 parks and gardens and numerous excellent beaches.
Known by many other noble names such as The Queen of the Adriatic, The City of Bridges, or The Floating City, Venice is an extremely popular summer tourist destination. However, all of its astonishing architectural jewels as well as its renowned canals and fancy gondolas can be admired in winter too, so picking this beautiful Italian city as your winter holiday destination might be a great idea. In winter, the city is also far less crowded and accommodations are more affordable.
One of the northernmost cities in the world, Tromso is a great choice for those who enjoy a subarctic climate and cold, snowy winters. In 1997, for example, local meteorological station recorded incredible 240 cm (94.5 in) of snow on the ground. Located north of the Arctic Circle, Tromso provides excellent conditions for watching rare natural phenomena known as the midnight sun and the Northern lights.
The largest and most populous of the Canary Islands, Tenerife experiences very mild and sunny winters, which makes it a popular winter getaway for travelers from all over the world. Although the island is relatively small (with a total area of 2,000 sq km or 785 sq mi), it offers a variety of all kinds of attractions – from picturesque fishing towns to superb black-sand beaches, abundant marine wildlife, majestic mountains, and other natural beauties.
Cape Town, South Africa
Another exotic destination to try out this winter, Cape Town is one of the largest and most developed cities in Africa. Located on the southern coast of the South Africa, the city is best known for its iconic landmark Table Mountain, but it also offers a lot of opportunities to sample local culture: from trips to the famous South African vineyards paired with chocolate tastings to hiking in local nature reserves.
Known as the Capital of the Alps, Grenoble is a city in southeastern France at the foot of the French Alps. The host of the 1968 Winter Olympics, the city is known for its snowy winters, which makes it a popular destination for fans of skiing and other winter sports. Home to about 160,000 people, Grenoble also boasts a number of interesting tourist sites such as the Bastille (an ancient series of fortifications), the Palace of Parliament, and the Museum of Grenoble.
London, United Kingdom
Spending your winter holiday in London might not be the most original or cheapest idea, but there is no denying the fact that the UK capital has a lot to offer during the winter season. If you visit London before Christmas, you will be stunned by the spectacular decorations in the streets, vibrant Christmas markets, and other festive traditions. No wonder a great part of the 65 million visitors that London receives annually comes in winter.
Saint Petersburg, Russia
Home to almost 5 million people, St. Petersburg is the second largest city in Russia and a major port in the Baltic Sea. Located 60 degrees North latitude, the city is known for its beautiful snowy winters. A nice winter walk through the city’s historic centre (which is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site) or a visit to the Hermitage, one of the largest art museums in the world, will definitely be one of the highlights of your winter holiday.
Key West, Florida, USA
Located 208 km (129 mi) from Miami, Florida and 171 km (106 mi) from Havana, Cuba, Key West is the southernmost city in the continental US. Known as the only location on the mainland U.S. to never have had a frost or freeze, the city was chosen as the Winter White House of former US President Harry Truman. Key West has a tropical climate with only a small difference in monthly mean temperatures between the coolest month (January) and the warmest month (July), which makes it a perfect winter getaway.
This isn’t the only warm place left on this list. Take a look at number 3 for a truly unique winter holiday idea.
The capital and largest city of Austria, Vienna is one of those locations that are worth visiting in any season, including winter. Winters usually come with a lot of snow here, giving the city an enchanting atmosphere. Vienna is known for a number of interesting tourist attractions such as the imperial palaces of the Hofburg and Schönbrunn, breathtaking architecture, and over 100 art museums. Its close proximity to the Alps will be also appreciated by all winter sport fans.
Goa is the smallest state by area (3,700 sq km or 1,430 sq mi) in India, but its warm and sunny climate, stunning palm-lined beaches, and numerous festivals and parties make it one of the most popular and visited winter locations in the country. From mellow yoga events and excellent conditions for almost all types of water sports to impressive temples, delicious local cuisine and the high-energy February Carnival, Goa has something for everybody.
Nicknamed the Capital of Europe, Brussels has a lot to offer in wintertime. This city might get little cold and dark as the sun sets as early as about 4 pm, but there are many things you can do in this vibrant metropolis. Home to some of the world’s best chocolates and sweets, Brussels is particularly popular among gourmets, but it also boasts many shopping centers, museums, diverse architecture, and its two iconic features – the Manneken Pis (a sculpture of a urinating boy) and the Atomium structure.
Located 64 degrees North latitude just outside the Arctic Circle, Iceland is a country that every true winter fan must love as it features extremely cold and snowy winters. Reykjavik, the country’s capital, is a great base to make trips to the renowned Icelandic nature. Considered one of the cleanest, greenest, and safest cities in the world, Reykjavik is also notable for a surprisingly busy nightlife with hundreds of bars and clubs scattered around the city.
New Orleans, Louisiana, USA
Sometimes also referred to as the northernmost Caribbean city, New Orleans is another city that attracts crowds of sun-deprived Americans from northern states in winter. The Big Easy is not as warm as Key West, but its average daily temperature of 18 C (64 F) in winter still makes it a place where you never need your parka. Its biggest tourist season is in mid-February, when the streets fill with colorful Mardi Gras parades.
Consisting of 1,192 coral islands grouped in a double chain of 26 atolls, Maldives is a South Asian tropical island country located right on the equator, which means the temperature is constant here all year round. The country is most famous for its superb white-sand beaches and warm, crystal clear waters, but its capital, Male, offers more than just that. It serves as the country’s main harbor and a center of culture, shopping, administration ,and all commercial activities.
Situated at a stunning altitude of 1,620 m (almost 5,300 ft), Zermatt is one of the world’s highest and most popular ski areas where snow lasts ten months of the year (July and August are the only two months that usually have no snowfalls). Surrounded by the monumental snow-blanketed peaks of the Swiss Alps, Zermatt also offers a variety of accommodation ranging from luxury hotels to stylish wooden chalets.
Heading out to Australia might be another option for those who want to spend their winter vacation in shorts. The second biggest city of the country, Melbourne enjoys its summer when the Northern Hemisphere is lost to wind, rain, cold, and snow. Cooled by the ocean breeze, the city offers pleasant temperatures of around 25 C (77 F) in January. Melbourne has been regularly ranked as the world’s most livable city, so spending your winter holiday here cannot do any harm.
Cancun, the most popular resort city in Mexico and one of the most popular tourist destinations in the world, is also a great tip for every sun seeker. Cancun has a tropical climate with few temperature differences between seasons, which is why local hotels are full all year round. The Caribbean city is most famous for its excellent beaches, but its close proximity to ancient Mayan archaeological sites and other interesting places makes it a great place to visit for everybody.
With over 1800 sunshine hours per year, Stockholm is one of the sunniest cities in Northern Europe, but if you come here in winter, be ready to get just about six hours of daylight due to the city’s high northerly latitude. However, with hundreds of top-notch museums, art galleries, theaters, and other cultural facilities found in the city, the small number of daylight hours is not a problem. Stockholm is also considered one of the cleanest, greenest, and wealthiest cities in the world.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
With almost 3 million international visitors annually, Rio de Janeiro is the most visited city in Brazil as well as in South America. The city is renowned for many things – from world-class hotels and great beaches to samba schools and the iconic landmark, Statue of Christ the Redeemer. If you come here in February, you can also enjoy the world’s largest and most spectacular carnival, the legendary Rio Carnival.
Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt
Once a small harbor town, Sharm El Sheikh is a tourist hotspot offering a dramatic landscape, year-round dry climate with hot summers and warm winters as well as long stretches of natural beaches. Local clear waters have become popular for various water sports, particularly scuba diving and snorkeling. Boasting amazing marine wildlife with 250 different coral reefs and 1,000 fish species, this Egyptian city has become a popular winter getaway for sun seekers from all over the world.
Methow Valley, Washington, USA
Located in the Upper Cascade Range, Methow Valley provides excellent conditions for cross-country skiing. Just a few-hour drive from Seattle, this area features over a hundred miles of perfectly groomed trails, making it one of the largest and most scenic Nordic systems in the US. With a variety of stylish rustic lodges and chalets to stay, Methow Valley is a great place to spend your winter holiday.
Christmas Island, Australia
The most exotic destination on the list, Christmas Island is a little tropical island belonging to Australia. Despite its winter-evoking name, the island has few things to associate with our idea of winter as it is located toward the southern edge of the equatorial region, enjoying a typical tropical climate. With two-thirds of its area being a National Park, Christmas Island has been known for its unique species, both of flora and fauna.
Staying home this winter? Check out 25 Free Fun Things To Do This Winter.