From Canada to Croatia, these destinations wear the cold exceptionally well.


Frozen waterfalls. Snow-dusted pine trees. Spectacular natural light shows. Some places were just meant to be viewed and visited in all their wintertime glory, with a fresh layer of powder turning already beautiful landscapes into epic wonderlands.

But what’s even better than a jaw-dropping vista? One with less crowds and lower costs. Traveling during winter lets you trade packed trails and peak season prices for quiet hikes, cheaper admission rates, and more affordable flights.

Read on to discover these wintry locales around the world spectacular enough to rustle you out of hibernation.

Gullfoss Waterfall, Iceland

Partially frozen and surrounded by snow, Gullfoss Waterfall, located 90 minutes from Reykjavik, is an especially dramatic sight in the winter months.

Visit during peak daylight – Iceland only gets five hours in December and January – and be sure to climb the stairs to the ridgeline of the canyon from the upper pathway for the best views of the massive two-tiered waterfall.

During the warmer months, you can catch the rainbow effect as the sunlight reflects off the mist, but in the winter, you’re more likely to get sprayed with tiny ice pellets so bring sunglasses to protect your eyes.

Another reason to visit Iceland in the winter? You have a better chance of experiencing the magic of the aurora borealis. Peak season for viewing the phenomenon is October to March. Consider a guided tour of the Golden Circle Route to hit all the top sites.

Banff National Park, Canada

The first national park in Canada, Banff is a winter-lover’s paradise. The snow-covered Canadian Rocky Mountains are the backdrop to ice-skating on the picturesque Lake Louise, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing on miles of fir-lined trails, sleigh rides across the meadows, and so much more.

Ride the gondola up to the summit of Sulphur Mountain to enjoy some of the best views in the area, or take a tour of Abraham Lake – winter is the only time you can witness the magic of frozen ice bubbles submerged beneath its surface.

The park is about a two-hour drive from Calgary, but stay in Banff to experience a cosy mountain town bursting with holiday cheer. The shops along Banff Avenue know how to deck the halls to the max.

Travellers say: “This area is very windy so dress in layers [and] there is no cellphone reception [on Abraham Lake] so plan ahead and download all maps before hand. Don’t forget to bring food as there isn’t much available to eat nearby [in winter].” – @Hussain110

Rovaniemi, Finland

Rovaniemi, a small city on the Arctic Circle in Finland’s Lapland region, is known as the official hometown of Santa Claus. The designation may only be thanks to some clever tourism board marketing, but the town more than makes up for its not-so-truthful claim to fame with an abundance of wintery delights, including a bunch of Santa-themed attractions.

There’s Santa Claus Village, a theme park with Elf’s Farmyard, where you can feed reindeer; SantaPark, an underground fantasy land built in a series of caverns; and Santa Claus Secret Forest, a snowy destination located in the woods just outside the city.

When you’ve had enough of the jolly ol’ guy, you can hit the slopes at Ounasvaaran Hiihtokeskus Oy or take a snowshoe hike to see frozen waterfalls. Because it’s such a popular winter destination, a number of airlines offer direct flights to Rovaniemi from European cities from late October to early April.

Lake Placid, NY

If “winter wonderland” means winter sports to you, head to Lake Placid, the host city of the 1932 and 1980 Olympic Winter Games.

It’s a sports-lovers dream with plenty of Olympic sites to visit, all set amid the scenic Adirondack Mountains. There’s the Ski Jump Complex, where you can stand on the platform to see just how high the pros jump, and the Herb Brooks Arena, where the United States men’s ice hockey team beat the Soviet Union in the 1980 “miracle on ice” game.

You can pretend you’re racing for the gold on the Olympic Speed Skating Oval (be sure to slow down to take in the views) or get your adrenaline pumping as you zoom down the track at the Bobsled and Luge Complex.

You can also rent snowmobiles, hit the slopes on Whiteface Mountain – home to the highest vertical drop on the East Coast – cross-country ski, and ride a toboggan.

Tromsö, Norway

Part charming fishing village, part energetic college town, Tromsö shows that seaside towns don’t just have to be limited to summertime holidays.

Situated along the Norwegian Sea on the country’s northern coast, Tromsö is especially fitting for a winter getaway, as it’s a popular gateway to the Arctic Circle.

Surrounded by tranquil fjords, jagged mountain peaks, and scenic glaciers, it’s hard to get enough of the wintry landscapes
in this region. You’ll also find a number of guided tours designed around the area’s Indigenous Sami culture and maritime history.

“Conditions vary a lot,” says traveller @klimaflyktning. “To cover all aspects of the unpredictable weather you should think of dressing in layers with a windproof and waterproof outer layer and waterproof hiking boots with room for warm socks.”

Fairbanks, Alaska

Fairbanks makes an incredible base for exploring some of the most awe-inspiring winter landscapes in the U.S.

Just over two hours’ drive south, Denali National Park and Preserve is at its best in winter, with miles of tundra ideal for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling.

A number of guided trips and tours are available to be booked from the city, including dozens that aim for a glimpse of the northern lights.

The season is long, lasting nine months from late-August to late-April, but know that cloud coverage can make the lights elusive. Some tours also stop at the nearby Chena Hot Springs Resort, or include other wintry exploits like ice fishing, glacier hiking, and snowmobiling.

Don’t forget to visit North Pole; this tiny Alaskan town 20 minutes from Fairbanks is home to the Santa Claus House, a family-friendly spot that celebrates yuletide all year long.

Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia

With its towering limestone cliffs draped in plant growth, Plitvice Lakes National Park is a top destination for nature lovers all year long – but come winter, it looks like something out of a sci-fi novel, with snow-coated branches, placid lakes, and frozen waterfalls stretching over the nearly 75,000-acre expanse.

About a two-hour drive from Zagreb, the national park (Croatia’s first, founded in 1949) does close some of its northern trails during the winter, but still keeps key attractions like the Upper Lakes, Lower Lakes, and Veliki Slap (otherwise known as the Great Waterfall) open as long as the weather and access allow.

Remember to check the website for the latest updates before heading out. One extra bonus: Visiting the park in the winter months allows you to experience the dazzling landscape without the crowds, which tend to flock here in the summer. Plus, tickets are more than 50 percent cheaper!

Travellers say: “Just wow… The magic of Plitvice is unimaginable. We went in the off season and it was great not having thousands of people to fight on the trails. It’s magical [in] winter!” – @cheryl53719

(Article source: trip Advisor)

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