Must-see winter destinations
In Canada, they have a saying: ‘There’s no such thing as bad weather – just the wrong clothes.’ And that, right there, is winter in a nutshell. There’s no need to be intimidated by the cold. There’s no need to worry about snow or ice or blizzard conditions. All these things have an innate beauty that’s begging to be experienced and enjoyed. The cold is great – you just need the right clothes.
With the right clothes you’re skiing in Japan; photographing penguins in Antarctica; watching the Northern Lights in Norway; hanging out in snow-covered Central Park; or feasting on French market produce. The world changes during winter, becoming more beautiful, more interesting, more amazing. You just need the right destinations – and the right clothes. Here are seven of the top spots to try.
1. Best for families: Canada
There’s fun for everyone in Canada in winter, with a huge range of family-friendly enjoyment on offer in the great, snowy outdoors.
In Quebec City – a European-style town that oozes charm at any time of the year – there’s a toboggan slide set up each winter out the front of the Château Frontenac, where kids big and small can shoot down the ice at up to 70km/h.
In British Columbia, world-famous ski resorts such as Whistler and Big White are always filled with children getting their first taste of snow sports. In Alberta, meanwhile, the Icefields Parkway is a 232km car journey through some of the world’s most spectacular scenery.
2. Best for adventurers: Antarctica
Summer in Antarctica still seems pretty wintry, so it's a good time to visit if you're keen to avoid the worst of the chill. During December and January, daylight stretches out way past dinnertime and the temperatures are relatively mild compared to those of June and July.
Antarctica truly is a winter wonderland – a jaw-droppingly beautiful and serene place where you can spend hours in the company of a colony of penguins, or cruising calm waters in search of whales and seals, or just sitting and watching as a huge glacier carves ice into the cold
ocean below. A trip to Antarctica is an experience everyone should have.
3. Best for photographers: Norway
Before you’ve even read the words, you know what this is about: the Northern Lights. Aurora Borealis. One of the world’s most fascinating and natural phenomena that photographers across the globe dream of one day capturing on film.
It takes commitment to see the Northern Lights in Norwegian towns such as Hammerfest, Tromsø and Svalbard, where sightseers brave the cold night after night in the hope of seeing one of nature’s finest
When it does come, however – when the sky lights up with ghostly greens and blues and yellows – it all seems worth it.
4. Best for skiers: Japan
There’s so much to love about skiing in Japan. While plenty of skiers will be drawn in by the huge snowfalls alone, there are also the affordable lift ticket prices at Japanese resorts.
There’s also beautiful mountain scenery, great food, hot spring ‘onsen’ baths strewn across the country, and a unique, no-frills atmosphere at most of these resorts that instantly wins people over.
While Niseko in the north, and Hakuba on the main island, remain firm
favourites among Australians, there are plenty more affordable, beautiful resorts to discover across the country.
5. Best for culture vultures: Austria
Plenty of people will come to Austria in winter to ski in world-class snow sports areas such as St Anton am Arlberg, Kitzbühel and Lech.
However, there’s more to this country than sliding down a mountain. Austria in winter is a hive of cultural activity, from shopping and eating on the streets of Salzburg, to museum and palace visits in Vienna (followed by one of the world’s best hot chocolates).
The Austrian capital also has great breweries and beer halls, including the ever-popular Salm Bräu – the perfect spot to while away a long, cold evening.
6. Best for foodies: France
Winter means many things to many people. If, for you, it means stuffing your face guilt-free with delicious food, safe in the knowledge that bulky clothes will cover your crimes until summer, then France is just the spot.
Cosy bistros across the country serve up hearty winter fare – the likes of beef Bourguignon, pot-au-feu, cassoulet, potato gratin, and hachis parmentier, which is like a cheesy shepherd’s pie.
Throw in a few croissants every morning and a baguette with cheese for lunch, plus red wine to wash it down, and you have every foodie’s winter heaven.
7. Best for city slickers: USA
While some might prefer their winters with a dose of serenity, there’s something to be said for the big smoke. And no country does an urban winter better than the USA – in particular, New York.
We’re talking long walks through snow-covered Central Park, or going ice-skating outside the Rockefeller Center, or keeping warm by attending a Broadway show.
Outside of the Big Apple, there’s also winter fun to be had in Boston, which is perfect for a scenic walk in the snow, and Chicago, where you can check out the Lincoln National Park ZooLights festival.
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