12 travel destinations that totally transform in winter

Feb 14 2020, 9:14 am

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We all need a little something to help us get through the winter blues. For some, it’s finding a cozy spot on the couch to hibernate, loading up on tons our favourite winter snacks, like warm soups and teas that will help defrost us until the spring thaw.

For the more adventurous among us, it means planning an epic trip to escape the winter altogether (for a little while, at least). But the truly travel-savvy know that embracing wintry destinations in the off-season means saving tons of cash (yay!) and dodging the summer crowds. Above all, you’ll get to experience places in a way most travellers never get to and when they’re at their most enchanting: bright and glistening with snow.

Besides, the upside of being a Canadian is having the grit to handle just about any kind of weather (unless you’re from Vancouver, sorry guys). Plus, these destinations are so spectacular, you won’t even notice that you can’t feel your toes.

1. Dolomites, Italy

 

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Wow, where do we even start? The stunning rock formations and jagged peaks that are the Dolomites extend across Northeastern Italy. Naturally, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is jammed full of natural wonders, from its luscious forests to its soaring peaks and steep valleys.

2. Bryce Canyon, USA

 

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This expansive National Park is an unexpected winter destination, but the contrast of the ivory snow against the crimson-hoodoos is a sight quite unlike any other.

Pro tip: plan to go for the sunrise or sunset when the ruby-hued rock formations are at their most vibrant.

3. Banff, Canada

 

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Alas, no winter-wonderland listicle would be complete without acknowledging the breathtaking beauty of our very own Banff National Park, the epitome of the Canadian Rockies.

4. Sapporo, Japan

 

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Beer aficionados will recognize this destination as the name-sake for the popular Japanese brew. But frothy-goodness aside, this mountainous northern metro has tons of winter fun to offer. From the city’s annual Snow Festival to skiing and snowboarding, or just chowing down on some ramen, you’re sure to find lots to enjoy.

5. Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany 

 

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This iconic Bavarian fortress is nestled in the heart of the German Alps. Its stunning architecture and landscape seem to transform and offer a different vista with every changing season.

If the idea of seeing this majestic structure covered in snow isn’t tempting enough, visiting during off-season means you’ll have the palace nearly all to yourself.

6. Hallstatt, Austria 

 

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The pure magic of this tiny Austrian village can only be rivalled to how magical it is under the glittering snow. Walk around its highly-instagrammable streets, peruse the local boutiques, and savour the scent of the traditional bakeries tucked around every corner.

Bonus points if you take the funicular all the way up to the Skywalk Lookout.

7. Prague, Czech Republic 

 

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Snow or no snow, this gothic city is the essence of Eastern European charm.

Beer enthusiasts will be in good company: the locals here consume more beer per capita than any other country in the world.

8. Lofoten Islands, Norway

 

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Picture this: a cluster of islands speckled with brightly-coloured fishing villages, surrounded by the icy Norwegian sea and its colossal fjords.

Wintertime in the Lofoten Islands means short days and long nights, but with the darkness comes the Northern Lights flickering in the nighttime sky.

9. Harbin, China 

 

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Listen up, they call it the Ice City for a reason. Every year, the city lives up to its name with its impressive Ice and Snow Festival. The globally renowned festival attracts 10 to 15 million visitors a year, with some ice sculptures measuring up to 46 metres high!

10. Iceland

 

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Notice we didn’t specify a particular location? That’s because well…just about everywhere in Iceland is a wintry playground this time of year. Seasonal adventures include pale blue ice caves, geothermal spas, and glacier hiking.

11. Lapland, Finland 

 

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Love snow? Then you’re heading to the right place. In fact, it snows on average 200 days a year in Lapland.

Those brave enough to face the cold will be rewarded with celestial wonders when night falls and the Northern Lights come out to play.

12. Quebec City, Canada 

 

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Admired by North Americans for its European flair, Quebec City is a truly unique winter destination. Whether you’re coming from near or far, experiencing this historic city is worth the trek.

Venture through its quaint, cobblestoned Vieux-Quebec (“Old Town”), make your way to the Chateau Frontenac or check out the annual Carnaval de Québec. Either way, you’re sure not to be disappointed.


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