It's no secret that many travelers love visiting warmer locales with breezy summers and destinations with breathtaking beach views. However, as autumn is winding down, winter is approaching, calling for longer nights and shorter days.
Travelers need not worry: some of the coldest destinations on the planet are still worth visiting for their picturesque landscapes and unique winter activities.
Planning a vacation? Ditch the swimsuits and sunglasses to check out some of these unique travel destinations, which are totally epic during the winter season!
The Land of Ice and Fire had to be included in this list. Despite the fact that Iceland's winters often come with short periods of daylight, tourists can still enjoy a variety of sights and attractions. Visitors can book a trip to the Hornstrandir Nature Reserve or walk along Diamond Beach (near the famous glacial lake, Jökulsárlón) to spot beautiful nuggets of ice chunks (that look like diamonds!). Alternatively, tourists can visit the Gullfoss to take in the beauty of this popular Icelandic waterfall.
7 Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, Canada
Canada gets a bad reputation for being cold, but don't let that discourage you from visiting the Great White North in the winter. Our recommendation is to check out Yellowknife, located in Canada's Northwest Territories. It can get really cold in the winter, with temperatures known to drop to -40 degrees Celsius!
Visitors who brave the cold will be awarded views of the Aurora Borealis (or Northern Lights) while enjoying other seasonal activities like dog sledding, ice fishing, snowshoeing, and snowmobiling. Travelers who visit Yellowknife in March can check out the famous Snow Castle while taking a scenic walk around Frame Lake or the Niven Lake Trails.
For a really cool experience, tourists can rent a car and drive the infamous ice road from Yellowknife to Dettah!
6 Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, Canada
With winter beginning as early as mid-November, Saskatchewan experiences winters that are bone-chillingly cold and dry. Despite the cold, Saskatoon offers tourists an array of fun activities perfect for winter. Whether it's tobogganing, snow tubing, curling, dog sledding, ice hockey, ice fishing, snowmobiling, or hiking, the long winters in Saskatoon mean these activities can be enjoyed months on end! Brave travelers with camping experience can even enjoy the wilderness at Big Eddy Lodge, soaking in the winter sights while catching a glimpse of the Northern Lights.
5 Alaska, USA
We couldn't leave Alaska from this list; this North American state enjoys a long and robust winter, spanning from October to April. This means that tourists have an array of winter activities to enjoy! Visitors can visit the massive Matanuska Glacier (which is over 27 miles long) or take a day trip to Denali, which is home to the tallest mountains in North America. For some relaxation and a restful getaway, tourists can also head to the Chena Hot Springs Resort at Fairbanks North Star Borough. Meanwhile, brave visitors with a fully-equipped rental car can try their hand at driving the Alaska Highway in winter, which is known to offer picturesque views of the vast landscape. For something even more breathtaking, winter tourists can view the Northern Lights in Alaska!
4 Montana, USA
With dramatic winter landscapes and winter activities to enjoy, Montana offers tourists a great winter vacation without the excessive price or large hordes of tourists. Winter visitors can enjoy some skiing, snowboarding, hiking, and fat biking.
Tourists will also be pleased that Yellowstone National Park and Glacier National Park are almost devoid of tourists during the winter, giving you plenty of space to enjoy the natural space!
Montana also offers hot springs resorts to relax your tired bones, whether it's at Quinn's Hot Springs Resorts or the Sleeping Buffalo Hotsprings.
3 Harbin City, China
Harbin City is known as Asia's Ice City, due to its harsh winters which can reach up to -40 degrees Celsius! Located in China's Heilongjiang province, Harbin City attracts tourists for its ice sculpture festival, frozen lake ice skating, hiking, and dog sledding. Unlike other cities in the winter, Harbin City also enjoys clear skies and sunny days during the cold weather. Tourists can also enjoy the city's beautiful architecture, which is a mixture of Russian and Chinese influences.
2 Lake Bled, Slovenia
Lake Bled is a stunning lake located in Central Europe along the Julian Alps. Despite gaining some tourist attention over the years, this Slovenian lake is still quiet compared to other European landmarks.
Snow transforms this area into a romantic winter wonderland, and is perfect for ice skating, skiing, sledding, snowshoeing, and riding around a horse-drawn carriage! For beautiful photos, tourists can walk up Bled Castle and admire the aerial view of the lake.
1 Lake Baikal, Russia
Being one of the largest freshwater lakes in the world, Lake Baikal is located north of the Mongolian border in Siberia. This massive ancient lake is over 640 km long with a depth of 1,620 meters (or 5,314 feet)! In mid-January, the lake begins to freeze, turning into thick sheets of ice with a "polished" surface, due to the strong winds in the area.
Known as Olkhon Ice, Lake Baikal is perfect for ice skating (but only after mid-January, since the ice is at its strongest during this time). Other activities like dog sledding, the local ice sculpture festival, and hiking are also popular in the area.
Visitors looking for peace and relaxation should check out some nearby mineral springs in Arshan, Zhemchug, and The Zmeinaya Bay!