Some people just love the cold. It doesn’t matter how far the temperature drops, there is always fun to be had. While this is a viewpoint that sun-lovers certainly find to be odd at best, the thriving tourist industries in colder climates prove that it is in fact very popular.
There are some experiences that just can’t be had if the sun makes too many appearances. Ice skating through a frozen forest, standing on ancient glaciers and of course catching glimpses of the unique wildlife are all possible if prepared for the weather so here are 10 places that warm travelers with experiences, not temperature.
10 Anchorage, United States
The largest city in Alaska, Anchorage has it all for adventurers that don’t mind wearing a few additional layers. Seven months of the year, the average day-time temperature here doesn’t go above six and often dips below zero.
One of the best viewing platforms for the Northern Lights, Anchorage also hosts the iconic Iditarod Dog Race that draws visitors from every corner of the globe. The stunning Mendenhall Ice Caves aren’t far away either and are a transformative experience that can’t be found anywhere else.
9 Hveragerdi, Iceland
Just down the road from Reykjavik, this charming town takes its place within a large geothermal area that creates warming, wonderful hot springs that allow locals and visitors to escape the cold. There is no better feeling than sliding into a naturally heated pool while the frozen air lingers above.
While here, an exploration of the time-carved Skoftafell Ice Cave is an absolute must. There are also several frozen waterfalls that will take the breath away, with two of the most impressive being Skogafoss and Seljalandsfoss.
8 Kirkenes, Norway
A popular end point for Northern Lights Cruises, Kirkenes is often visited but rarely explored to it’s full potential. The temperature does not climb above the freezing mark from November through to March, so genuine fans of the cold will be in frosty heaven here.
Ice fishing is a way of life here and so it is the perfect place to try your luck with a line poking through the ice. King crab safaris take place most days and welcome travelers and when it all becomes too cold, the Northern Lights can be viewed from the comfort of a warmed room.
7 Shirakawa-go, Japan
Having long been an enticing destination for skiers and snowboarders, Japan has so much to offer in the winter months and Shirakawa-go is a wonderful example. The traditional village is constructed using a unique and ancient method, some of which date back almost three centuries.
Lovingly carved into the middle of endless and untouched forest, it can be tough to reach the village when winter is at its strongest. It doesn’t matter what time of year one visits however, it is simply stunning and impossibly delightful every single day.
6 Quebec City, Canada
While some cities retreat into themselves during the harshest winter months, Quebec City is the sort of place that instead bursts to life with a passion for the dropping mercury.
The city centre actually contains a toboggan slide that has been in place since 1884 and sends users hurtling down at surprisingly rapid speeds. One of just a few ice hotels in the world is here and certainly warrants a visit, but Quebec City in the winter does not need to boast it’s benefits, a simple walk through the falling snow and watching it settle on the ancient buildings will be the highlight of any trip.
5 Launceston, Australia
Defying the popular-held views of Australia, there are actually some parts that get cold. Very cold. Tasmania, for example, which sits just off the mainland’s southern coast, often sees temperatures in the low single digits throughout winter.
After enjoying the beautiful setting and homely welcome that the city of Launceston exudes, embark on the short drive to Cradle Mountain and prepare to be amazed at the view that awaits. Even in the colder weather, a bracing walk through the Tasmanian wind will instill a respect for the chilly air in every visitor.
4 Arrowhead Provincial Park, Canada
Just two hours from the thriving hub of Toronto, Arrowhead Provincial Park is the quintessential Canadian winter experience. Something as beautiful as this area can only be naturally-crafted through consistent temperatures that regularly read -20 and below.
A single day here can include ice skating through a freshly frozen forest, forging a path through the snow in specially designed shoes, cross-country skiing while looking for wildlife and sitting by the fire with a delicious meal and a warm drink to wash it down with. A true winter wonderland.
3 Lapland, Finland
A uniquely magical place in the Arctic Circle, Lapland is most notable for being the supposed home of Santa and is without doubt one of the best places to see real-life reindeer.
Heated igloos can be rented to get a true experience of the Finnish winter and are the best way to get out into the open for the shimmering Northern Lights spectacle. There is almost no light pollution here due to its remoteness so bring a thick jacket and take your place in the front row for one of the greatest shows on Earth.
2 Lhasa, Tibet
Despite often being referred to as ‘The City of Sunshine,’ Lhasa sees the temperature drop into the single digits throughout winter and as such becomes a great destination for those in search of a cold snap. The moniker comes from the glorious sun that bathes the city year-round, even on the coldest days.
Some experiences to add to the agenda are Jokhang Temple, Barkhor Square Potala Palace and the Tibet Museum, all of which take on an even more magisterial feel in the winter. Tibet is steeped in history and it is worth fighting through the elements to find it.
The first destination to jump into the minds of many when it comes to ice-laden tourism, Antarctica holds mystery and wonder unlike any other continent on the planet. During the absolute dead of winter here, the entire area is plunged into darkness, not sighting the sun for weeks on end.
Even in summer the temperature rarely climbs above the freezing mark so for the biggest fans of the freeze, this is the best time to visit. Cruises will take travelers out amongst the ice to see startling panoramas and hopefully catch a glimpse of the hardy wildlife. Shore excursions are possible for those wanting to get closer to playful penguins or explore both defunct and active research centers.