The most wonderful time of the year is here again! With super sales everywhere, eggnogs, boxes of presents, huge colorful Christmas trees, and bright twinkling lights, what else could you ask for? If you like me live in a tropical country, probably a little snow for that white Christmas feel. There is always something magical and serene about the way everything is covered in a blanket of snow.
For anyone who would like to have a genuine white Christmas experience, here are 10 winter wonderland places that you can visit :
1. Vienna, Austria
During Christmas, Vienna transforms itself into a magical place even the Grinch would want to visit. Dropping by a Christkindlmarkt (Christmas market) is a must while you are in the city during winter. Vienna’s night markets are ideal for gift shopping, dining, and just relaxing and smelling the Christmas air while drinking a steaming mug of Weihnachtspunsch or Christmas punch. Take a walk around the city, see some tourist spots, and be dazzled with the Christmas lights and décor from the State Opera Building to the Hofburg palace. Attending a performance of the Vienna Boys’ Choir is also a treat.
2. Shirakawa, Japan
Shirakawa is one of the places around the world that has the heaviest snowfalls during winter. This is a top winter destination of the neighboring Asian countries that do not have snow. The snowfall in Shirakawa could reach over thirty feet. The main attraction in the area would be the snow covered Gassho-zukuri houses which look like a scene from an anime fairytale. Skiing is also a popular activity here. If you haven’t tried it yet, ski lessons for beginners are also offered.
3. Munich, Germany
Winter in Munich is all about night markets, festivals, and more night markets. The Tollwood Winter Festival in Theresienwiese draws a lot of visitors annually. You can party the cold away while enjoying the festival’s own Christmas market outside. If the music is too loud for you, you can also visit other night markets, such as the medieval style at Wittelsbacherplatz. After visiting night markets and attending festivals, a warm and cozy café might be a good idea. Luckily, Munich has a lot, including the famous Café Luitpold.
4. Yosemite National Park, USA
Aside from the calm and cold, visitors often come to Yosemite National Park for its Ski and Snowboard Area, which opens annually around mid-December to early April the next year. If snow activities are what you look forward to, you won’t run out of things to do here. They offer backcountry and cross-country ski tours, downhill skiing and snowboarding, and snow tubing. If you have kids who are visiting for the first time, lessons on skiing and snowboarding are offered. Lodging and dining accommodations are also available for you to make the most out of your winter vacation.
5. Quebec, Canada
The Quebec Winter Carnival is just one of the many reasons why you should fly to Quebec for your winter wonderland getaway. With an average of 157 inches (400 centimeters) of snowfall every year, Quebec has become one of the world’s perfect playgrounds for anyone who genuinely enjoys winter activities. The winter carnival will let you experience their famous Ice Hotel. Interested in sleeping in a room made of ice? You can do that here! Of course, they make sure you will stay warm and comfortable during your entire stay. Explore Quebec and see snow sculptures, dogsled races, and enjoy an outdoor hot bath in the middle of snow.
6. Lapland, Finland
Lapland is your place to be for ice hotel hopping and northern lights watching. There are a couple of hotels made out of ice in Lapland. The most popular would be Snowman World and Snow Village. They are themed hotels which change every year so if it’s not your first time here, you will still find something new to discover. A lot of couples also fly here to get married in an ice church, which is pretty magical. What’s even more magical is when the Northern Lights come out and show off its beauty. There are a couple of other places where you can catch this beauty, such as Norway, but Lapland, Finland is also a great place to do so.
7. Queenstown, New Zealand
Queenstown, New Zealand is a breathtaking place no matter what the season is. During winter season, the hustle and bustle starts in the four ski fields in the area, where you can ski and snowboard to your heart’s content. Of course, if you want something less strenuous and a little warmer, visit one of Queenstown’s hot pools and get a massage. You can also enjoy the area’s vibrant nightlife or join a wine tour. There is also an endless array of family fun, such as steamship cruises and ice skating activities, to name a few.
8. Bled, Slovenia
Winter in Lake Bled, Slovenia is like being in a movie set of a Disney animated princess movie. The Bled Castle towering over the lake would easily remind you of Disney’s Frozen. It’s snowy, beautiful, and magical. Yes, it would be extremely cold, but Bled is way less crowded during wintertime, which gives you so much room to look around and explore. You can tour around the castle or ice skate on Lake Bled (well, if it freezes, so make sure to check ahead). After the winter activities, dine at Park Restaurant and Café and try their famous Original Lake Bled Cream Cake. It’s a delicious treat, especially when paired with a cup of hot tea on a cold winter day.
9. Segovia, Spain
A lot of tourists flock to Segovia, Spain during summer and spring season to visit Alcazar de Segovia (Segovia Fortress). This castle is a World Heritage Site and has been said to be the inspiration of Walt Disney’s Cinderella’s castle. The castle (which is now open to the public) looks even more magical during winter season. It looks like a winter wonderland fairytale castle. The crowd is a little less during winter as well, so this means you will be able to take better photos without worrying about photo bombers.
10. Petersburg, Russia
St. Petersburg in winter is more often than not covered in an icy mantle. Its rivers and canals freeze up until the beginning of spring. Still, there are so many activities that you can do while you are here during winter season. If you are a fan of ice skating and skiing, the Victory Park is a haven for you. It has large outdoor rinks where you could skate with your friends and families. Indoor activities such as watching a ballet or Opera performances are also available.