The 10 Best Places to Visit in the Winter

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No matter if your ideal winter activity is skiing or staying cozy indoors with a hot beverage, these towns look like perfect postcards when winter rolls around.

Rome comes alive during wintertime, when its crowds thin out and temperatures remain warm enough for exploring historic streets while sipping on cappuccino. Bruges is another gem, boasting cobbled streets lined with chocolatiers that provide cozy accommodations.

1. Banff National Park

Banff National Park is one of the world’s most breathtaking alpine destinations, boasting breathtaking vistas and snow-covered peaks at every turn.

Canadian Rockies hiking trails are particularly stunning during winter. Trek Johnston Canyon for an amazing adventure; or for something extra daring and scary take a nighttime guided tour.

Gondola rides in the park are incredible, especially the Lake Louise Summer Gondola which provides stunning views of wildlife such as grizzly bears and mountain goats. Additionally, Icefields Adventure Bus service to Athabasca Glacier and Glacier Skywalk provide thrilling excursions.

2. Prague

Prague stands as an icon of European life and culture, having witnessed centuries of shifting political and cultural currents. Bohemia’s rich past can be glimpsed within Prague’s historic centre listed by UNESCO – it provides an intriguing window to its rich past.

As the “City of a Hundred Spires,” Prague is sure to captivate its visitors with ancient riverbank views and medieval landmarks, like its iconic astronomical clock on Old Town Square.

Cafes like Parisian-style Cafe Slavia and Grand Cafe Orient offer luxurious treats for music fans or those in search of exquisite cappuccinos, while boys will especially enjoy visiting the National Technical Museum with its impressive steam locomotives and precursors to automobiles on display.

3. Harbin

Harbin, China’s largest city in Northern Heilongjiang Province and widely considered an unmissable winter destination, boasts a rich Russian-influenced cultural scene as well as hosting one of the largest ice festivals worldwide.

Harbin may often experience temperatures well below freezing, yet life still thrives there. Streets remain busy until late at night with people eating kabobs and sipping beers.

Dongbei people (people from Northeast China) enjoy drinking with every meal and so the bar scene in Sun Island, Old Town and near universities has grown immensely popular.

4. Jigokudani natural hot springs

Jigokudani hot springs at Joshinetsu-Kogen National Park in northern Nagano are famously frequented by snow monkeys. Here is one of the only places in the world where wild Japanese macaques relax in an outdoor hot spring amid snow-covered mountains!

Hot springs play an integral part in monkey survival strategies, helping them keep warm in subzero temperatures and alleviate stress.

The park charges an entrance fee of Y=800, but the experience of seeing these adorable monkeys up close and witnessing their unique behaviors more than makes up for this expense.

5. Neuschwanstein

Disney’s Sleeping Beauty castle was inspired by an idyllic medieval castle which truly comes to life when covered with snow. A popular tourist destination in summer months, winter offers significantly fewer crowds.

Take a guided tour to Neuschwanstein and explore nearby Hohenschwangau or Fussen. I stayed in an adorable B & B in Fussen after visiting Neuschwanstein, and loved exploring this charming small town afterwards. Plus you’ll get to visit one of Ludwig’s royal palaces – Linderhof!

6. Trakai Castle

Trakai Castle is one of Lithuania’s top attractions and features an exquisite Gothic structure reminiscent of something out of a fairytale. Built on an island, Trakai Castle stands as an unforgettable attraction that should not be missed!

Lake Galve Castle sits atop Lake Galve, connected by a long wooden bridge to the mainland. Visitors can either take a guided tour from Vilnius or travel independently on public transit (buses take 40 minutes each way, with 30 daily buses passing by the castle) to reach it themselves, costing 8 Euros to enter it.

7. Saxony in Germany

Saxony’s small towns and villages, set amid the elegant Baroque castles and palaces, exude an irresistibly romantic charm. Explore Leipzig’s cobbled streets reminiscent of Romantic artists’ footsteps or hike Saxon Switzerland with its bizarre rock fingers for an unforgettable experience.

Saxony-Anhalt, home of Martin Luther’s birth, offers visitors the chance to retrace his steps at authentic historical sites. Not to mention Erfurt Cathedral and charming villages like Quedlinburg which hosts one of Europe’s best Christmas markets! Perfect for an easygoing visit!

8. Vilnius

Paris remains a top travel destination year-round, but winter offers visitors the perfect time to experience its cobblestone streets less crowdedly and explore top attractions such as the Louvre while warming themselves in cozy cafes.

Vilnius boasts an exciting food scene, from fine-dining restaurants to local favorites. Experience traditional Lithuanian dishes like cepelinai (potato dumplings stuffed with meat or cheese) or kibinai (savory pastries filled with meat or vegetables). Street music also takes over Vilnius during this festival month of May when all city dwellers unite to celebrate “Street Music Day”, making an incredible experience truly incredible!

9. Chicago

No matter your preferred activities – sunbathing on the beach or exploring world-class museums – Chicago provides the ideal way to escape winter’s grip and rejuvenate for an enjoyable winter vacation experience.

Wander Michigan Avenue and take in its luxurious shops, incredible restaurants, and magnificent holiday lights – don’t miss the Magnificent Mile Festival of Lights Parade if possible!

This event showcases beautifully decorated trees from all cultures, and provides one of the best ways to see the city by night! Be sure to bundle up!

10. Phuket

Many people perceive Phuket as a beach paradise, but the island offers much more. With mountainous interiors dotted with rainforest and native species to discover on guided hikes.

Phang Nga Bay, where limestone cliffs protrude dramatically out of its green waters, is one of the main tourist draws for any visit to Phuket. Nature enthusiasts should also visit Karon Viewpoint where you can enjoy stunning panoramic vistas of surrounding islands.