With outstanding alpine scenery and cozy bistros, today we’ll be wandering in a surreal winter wonderland. Whether you long for an exciting cold-weather action in a charming ski resort, or a fairy-tale stroll with enchanting backdrops, these winter destinations will truly claim a spot in your heart.
Most interestingly, these cities somehow remind us of the ugly duckling that eventually grows up to become a gorgeous swan. In winter, these otherwise quiet, timid locales are likewise transformed into magical, surreal winter scenes. So, if you cannot wait to explore their frozen beauty, then hurry up, pack the luggage before winter is over. And while you’re at it, do not forget to pack your ski or snowboard equipment. Some of the following destinations are merely fantastic for lots of fun winter activities.
From the high-altitude splendor of Whitefish, Montana, to the Medieval city of Tallinn, Estonia, the following places are simply begging for exploration this winter. And if you're already getting itchy feet, then it's the right time for you to set off on a new winter adventure. Read on to discover more about the temperament of these magical winter destinations.
22 Whitefish, Montana, USA
Situated on Big Mountain, this charming ski town is like a tiny pearl that came loose and fell off some winter necklace. Whether you’d be coming here for the very first time, or you’re a regular skier in Whitefish, you’ll surely be able to enjoy a surreal, almost magical winter holiday. Among the best outdoor activities here is the winter festival, which presents the lesser-known sport of joring, mentalfloss.com reveals. In a nutshell, joring is when a horse and rider pull a skier along a horseshoe-shaped course. The skier’s "job" is to pull off jumps while being pulled along the 800-foot-long course.
21 Bavaria, Germany
Bavaria is often associated with beer, lederhosen and, of course, the German sausage “wurst”. Admittedly, you’ll see lots of that during your winter fairytale here, but there’s also a ton of other equally fantastic things to see and do in Bavaria.
While Bavaria isn’t exactly the home of wild parties, it can actually be a fantastic winter destination. But to make the most of it, travelers need to go the extra mile quite literally and explore Bavaria’s charming rural villages. When winter comes around, make sure to visit the Bavarian village of Hohenschwangau. There, perched on a rocky outcrop, awaits the snow-capped castle Neuschwanstein – the one that inspired the creation of Disney Land's Sleeping Beauty castle, tripsavvy.com reveals.
20 Svalbard, Norway
While most mining towns fail to pique the curiosity of the tourists, the one in Norway knows how to do it properly when winter settles in. This little mining town, nestled between the 74th and 81st parallel, is actually considered a prime locale to catch and witness the beauty of the Northern Lights, mentalfloss.com details. If it hadn’t been for its unique location, Svalbard in Norway would barely have managed to become a cherished winter destination, also known for its Polar Night experiences. Generally, Svalbard happens to be located in a pretty much unpopulated, extremely cold area where the sun rarely rises from mid-November to the end of January.
19 Midway, Utah, USA
This little town, situated west of Heber City, seems to be a peaceful place, but it’s hardly that attractive for tourists unless they come here during wintertime. Indeed, Midway in Utah, USA, is pretty much the perfect winter destination for ski enthusiasts who want to take their ski adventure to a whole new level.
From horse-drawn sleds to skiing and even scuba diving in the 90-degree waters, ski adventurers will surely have an amazing winter journey in Midway. While they hit the ski slopes, the other visitors can explore the unique ice castles, built anew by artists every winter. The intricate ice structures, mentalfloss.com details, usually consist of 20,000 million pounds of ice.
18 Harbin City, China
Every winter, the chilly Harbin City in China hosts the annual ice festival and it goes from January until February. Apart from the winter festival, the magical Chinese city also boasts massive structures, partially or entirely made of ice, and the list includes slides, castles and other tourist-oriented attractions, mentalfloss.com notes. And since it’s a winter destination, rather than another year-round vacation spot, the Chinese Harbin City also offers lots of outdoor winter activities, from building snow sculptures and ice skating to dog sledding. For those, who’re interested in perfecting the lantern art, the winter resort town has also made sure to offer appropriate lessons on it as well.
17 Tallinn, Estonia
Now that winter has finally rolled around, we can’t help but wonder where to go next for the upcoming holiday seasons. But then it suddenly dawns on us that the charming city of Tallinn, Estonia, looks phenomenal during wintertime.
“There is something about the light in Tallinn, says photographer Paul Adams, founder of padams.co.uk. "It's amazing, almost Mediterranean but no -- I can't quite put my finger on it. ‘
In winter, Tallinn’s melancholy skies are tinted in shades of deep blue, and it’s certainly nothing like the sky in other places around the world, including the UK, edition.cnn.com admits.
16 Innsbruck, Austria
With its glistening peaks and stunning snowy setting, Innsbruck in Austria has long managed to capture the heart and mind of the true cold-weather enthusiasts. According to travel.usnews.com, Innsbruck is not only perfect for skiing – it boasts world-class ski slopes – but is also home to top-notch cafes and restaurants lining both sides of the narrow streets in the Old Town quarters. Admittedly, Innsbruck is mostly visited in winter, being its highest and busiest season. But outside of that, Innsbruck happens to be just another typically small Austrian ski town that becomes sterile when winter is over.
15 Stowe, Vermont
Located at the foot of Mount Mansfield, Stowe is a small ski town, packed with dozens of cute shops, fine restaurants, and attractive lodging options. With the first snow flurries of the season, Stowe makes the perfect place for any amorous couple. Actually, Stowe, Vermont, is even dubbed 'The Ski Capital of the East', and is also home to Stowe Mountain Resort – another awesome ski resort with terrain on Mount Mansfield and Spruce Peak. So, whether you’re a regular visitor or a new one, Stowe simply beckons to all snow powder seekers of all skills and age.
14 Breckenridge, Colorado
The snow conditions in Breckenridge, Colorado, can absolutely rival those in more lavish neighbors, including Aspen or Vail, travel.usnews.com reveals. This lovely place merely abounds with scenes that almost look as though they’ve been plucked out of a winter fairytale. Generally, what really strikes first-time visitors about Breckenridge is the pristine peaks, skiing opportunities, stunning landscapes, and horse-drawn sleigh rides. But that’s not all, though. In the evening, tourists can stop by the unique galleries and lively boutique shops at the Arts District, travel.usnews.com notes. Well, apparently, Breckenridge knows how to cure visitors of winter blues.
13 Seward, Alaska, USA
Seward, Alaska, has got the unique habit to surprise visitors with its crisp air and easy access to the Chugach Mountains. Indeed, that’s quite perfect for all hunters of those out-of-the-box winter escapes in Alaska. Whether you want to explore the snow-dusted Exit Glacier or just take a trip to the magical Resurrection Bay, Seward can offer you lots of diversions, travel.usnews.com notes. In winter, Exit Glacier is usually closed off to cars, but it’s still open for cross-country skiers or anyone who enjoys snowmobiling, fat biking, and dog sledding. But to make the most of your winter getaway in Seward, visitors should consider a park ranger-guided boat tour.
12 North Conway, New Hampshire
To those of you, who’ve always wanted to glide down snow-capped peaks, we’d love to recommend the classic English ski town, North Conway. This charming town in New Hampshire can offer a variety of well-maintained ski areas. But even if you’re not particularly interested in skiing, you can always have fun on the sleigh rides. This pretty ski resort in New England is also ideal for cross-country trails, travel.usnews.com shares, so lace up the winter boots and get ready to become one with nature. Before going back to your hotel room, make sure to check out the famous Conway Scenic Railroad which allows for stunning views of the surroundings.
11 Jackson, Wyoming
If you’re looking for a place with luxurious accommodations, fresh powder and stunning landscapes, Jackson, Wyoming, will surely fit the bill for you this winter. This fabulous town offers the ideal ski break as it’s also super close to other prime tourist spots, such as the Yellowstone National park. The friendly Jackson Hotel Mountain Resort features an excellent range of runs for beginner, intermediate and advanced skiers. But aside from the ski slopes and adventures, tourists can also explore the nearby National Elk Refuge, travel.usnews.com notes. And once you start feeling a bit weary, retire to your lavish accommodation in Teton Village where you can reward yourself with a special Swedish alpine massage.
10 Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy
Framed by the magnificent peaks of the Dolomites, Cortina d’Ampezzo, Italy presents the ultimate winter scene. This charming town has long been known as a top winter destination to practice winter sports or just to enjoy the snow-dusted peaks and hills in the distance. The Ampezzo Vallet, dolomiti.org shares, is also another major attraction that keeps winter enthusiasts interested in visiting Cortina d’Ampezzo. The lovely town provides unique wellness experiences and treatments that allow visitors to relax in a fairy-tale setting, far away from the hustle and bustle of the big city.
9 Banff, Canada
Situated at the foot of Ban National Park, this beautiful town offers awe-inspiring surroundings, diverse ski areas, catering to all winter adventurers. When it comes to the powder-chasers, Banff can provide over 3,5000 skiable acres in the nearby Sunshine Village. But if you’re seeking a more relaxing, laid-back winter getaway, you can also come here to admire the frosty landscapes via an ice walk. Thanks to the special Discover Banff Tours, visitors are able to immerse themselves into a world of snow powder and magnificent mountains; and when darkness falls, refuel your energy at the cozy Castello Ristorante.
8 St. Moritz, Switzerland
This legendary alpine town merely begs to be visited, especially in the cold winter seasons. The dreamy town in the Swiss Alps boasts a century-long ski culture; therefore, it has got no problem enticing travelers with spectacular surroundings. This Swiss town was also the destination for the Winter Olympic Games in 1928, travel.usnews.com explains. But apart from the outdoor winter activities, St. Moritz is also ideal for romantic getaways. Here, guests at fancy places, such as the surreal Bradrutt’s Palace Hotel, can enjoy special oxygen facials and VIP Rolls Royce transfers. Not bad for a small alpine town, right?
7 Bend, Oregon, USA
With more backcountry black trails than St.Moritz, and nature on the doorstep, Bend, Oregon, draws international visitors with its unpretentious character and laid-back atmosphere. In winter, this otherwise quiet place vibrates with energy as travelers enjoy Nordic skiing, dog sledding, off-slope jumping, and snowboarding. Mount Bachelor, for instance, is usually dusted with over 400 inches of snowfall while boasting over 100 runs, travel.usnews.com adds. But aside from the challenging slopes, Bend, Oregon, is also visited for its fine range of breweries and diners nearby Pronghorn Resort. After a long day in the cold winter, visitors can warm up with a delicious meal at the nearby Zydeco Kitchen & Cocktails.
6 Hallstatt, Austria
This Austrian town may seem a little boring at first, but that completely changes when winter rolls around. Strolling through Hallstatt surely feels like a surreal scene taken out of a Christmas card. According to travel.usnews.com, Hallstatt is even thought of as one of the most beautiful towns in Europe.
Aside from the beautiful alpine scenery and legendary salt mining heritage, Hallstatt in Austria is also admired for its vibrant market squares. The town is also known for its cute little cafes and diners, serving apple strudel and other traditional Austrian desserts and meals.
5 Bennington, Vermont
Bennington, Vermont, has long been able to attract winter travelers with its picturesque arts scenes and craft beer. Well, it may not be a huge city with an endless range of outdoor activities; however, it’s a charming place with unique museums and other must-see landmarks, such as the Revolutionary War structure.
Among the other major attractions are the Bennington Battle Monument and the Vermont Arts Exchange. According to travel.usnews.com, Bennington, Vermont, is perfect for couples who love relaxing in a peaceful, dreamy atmosphere, far away from the hectic pace of the outside world.
4 Chamonix, France
This lovely French town is, indeed, a world-class winter destination, with epic glacier-capped mountains and plunging vertical drops. The charming town of Chamonix easily stands out with its fantastic and heart-pounding slopes along the Mont Blanc massif. Here, the car-free town resort is known for its narrow cobblestone streets, cozy little cafes, serving French toast and fine coffee beverages. Breaks from the ski slopes usually include visiting the nearby Alpine Museum, travel.usnews.com reveals. And when the day finally closes, travelers can also indulge in never-ending Tibetan-inspired spa treatments. Indeed, the charming town of Chamonix is never easy to forget.
3 Taos, New Mexico
Over the years, Taos has become known for its cultural and artistic reputation; however, it still struggles to keep a constant flow of regulars. When winter falls in Taos, though, it instantly turns the town into a magical setting that's totally worth seeing. All in all, Taos boasts fantastic Swiss-inspired chalets as well as post-ski activities and adobe-style homes. Indeed, whatever you pick, you’ll surely leave this place happy, completely relaxed and at peace with yourself.
“With four main ski resort areas, there are plenty of places to enjoy classic winter pastimes”, says travel.usnews.com.
2 Malmo, Sweden
World-class art and 16-century charm go hand in hand in this fabulous Swedish town, located near Copenhagen, travel.usnews.com notes. Although the high design of the town stretches as far back as the 16th century, Malmo also offers a unique range of futuristic buildings as well. Excellent examples are Moderna Museet Malmo and Turning Torso. Once you’ve explored their legacy, stroll along the cutting-edge dining venue, known as Vollmers and Bloom, lined with cozy cafes and restaurants. Get inside to grab a steaming cup of coffee while taking in the magical beauty of this charming Swedish town.
1 Ketchum, Idaho
Ketchum in yet another fabulous, art-driven town that boasts premium skiing opportunities. Once you’ve arrived here, the first stop on your list should be Bald Mountain. From there, you’ve got almost 3,400 vertical feet of well-maintained terrain, perfect for some powder shredding action. Apart from the slopes, which surely make it a fancied winter destination, Ketchum offers a healthy balance of spa and yoga treatments. Indeed, these are quite excellent ways to unwind after having embraced the snow-dusted scenery and crisp mountain air, travel.usnews.com reveals. In the evening, you can finally pop into Sawtooth Brewery to grab and enjoy a warm beverage.
References: travel.usnews.com, mentalfloss.com, tripsavvy.com, padams.co.uk.