Instead of fretting over the coming winter months and the bleak skies and cold temperatures, think of the season as a new chapter in your travel life. Where once were alpine meadows there are now epic ski trails. Where once glacial lakes inviting kayaking, now you can ice skate or marvel at icebergs. For now, read up on these cozy-when-cold destinations, then bundle up and venture out to visit any of these 25 winter wonderlands around the world.
1. Banff National Park, Canada
If you’ve been to the Canadian Rockies and their stellar national parks – Banff and Jasper – in the summer, you already know how incredibly beautiful they are. Get a new perspective and visiting during the colder months when you’ll see wildlife, as well as glacial Lake Louise – but frozen this time, and a sublime sight to behold.
Land of ice, glaciers, volcanoes – and penguins – Antarctica beckons, even in the coldest time of year. Even when the waters of the Drake Passage are rough, you can choose to fly over it, then cruise around the polar region to see emperor penguins and humpback whales.
3. Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah
Skip the sweltering heat and the crowds of summer and visit Bryce Canyon during the winter. Don some snowshoes and join a ranger for an insightful tour of the park and enjoy incredible stargazing. The photography opportunities are epic this time of year, with those distinctive hoodoos all covered in snow.
4. Gokayama, Japan
You’ll feel as if you’ve stepped into a snow globe in Gokayama, in one of the northernmost, coldest regions of Japan. Explore these 170 protected acres of central Japan, where you’ll find adorable thatched-cottage villages like Shirakawa-go and Gokayama.
5. Paris, France
Dusted with snow and dazzling with holiday lights, Paris shines in the winter. The upside to the freezing temperatures? You won’t have to battle long lines at top tourist destinations, like the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre.
Whether or not you’re a snow-sports enthusiast, Switzerland is a beloved winter wonderland. Indulge in warm raclette before a roaring fire and contemplate what you’ll do next, from skiing powdery slopes to sinking into luscious spa treatments at a mountain resort.
7. Lake Bled, Slovenia
Another winter destination that looks like it jumped off a postcard, Lake Bled’s iconic island church and Julian Alps views make for a fairytale holiday. While you’re in Slovenia, pop over to Ljubljana for a real-life fairytale experience as you walk about snow-sprinkled Old Town and sip warm coffee in riverside cafes.
8. Lake Baikal, Russia
For those who don’t mind bundling up, consider visiting Lake Baikal during the winter. This oldest and deepest freshwater lake on Earth is surrounded by jagged ice caves in the colder months and becomes the largest ice-skating rink you’ll ever see.
9. Prague, Czech Republic
Grab a loved one and stroll for hours through the Christmas markets of Prague, where the scent of mulled wine and baked goods and the festive ambience will have you smitten. Admire the Baroque architecture, made even more striking under blankets of snow, then pop into a historic pub for a pint.
10. Crater Lake, Oregon
Don’t overlook Crater Lake from November to May. During the winter, you can explore the deepest lake in the United States – and known for its intense blue color – through cross-country skiing, snowmobiling and ranger-led snowshoeing.
11. Lofoten Islands, Norway
Combining state-of-the-art museums and traditional fishing villages, clear-blue waters that rival the Caribbean and Norway’s signature fjords, the Lofoten Islands are a nature lover’s paradise. Plus, they’re a great place to spot the Northern Lights in the winter.
12. Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
The elk and bison still roam in Grand Teton National Park through the cold, winter months. Explore on skis or snowmobile or just drink in the expansive views of the Teton range with a warm drink in hand from a cozy cabin.
13. Harbin, China
Nothing says “winter wonderland” like a city made of ice – and that’s what you fill in northern China every January. Visit for the Harbin International Ice & Snow Sculpture Festival to fine a temporary frozen city with LED-covered skyscrapers, palaces, sculptures and more.
14. Lapland, Finland
Hang with reindeer and Santa in idyllic Lapland, Finland’s northernmost region. You can even sleep out under the Northern Lights in a bubble-type structure. A more perfect winter scene, we can’t imagine.
15. Plitvice Lakes, Croatia
The interconnected, terraced lakes of Plitvice Lakes National Park in Croatia are stunning in the warm months and fascinating with their varying shades of blue. Imagine, then, how marvelous they appear when the waterfalls freeze – come witness a moment in time in the great outdoors.
16. Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska
Haven’t considered Alaska in the winter? Think again. Set your sights on Bear Lake in Kenai Fjords National Park, which comes alive in the darker, colder part of the year thanks to sea kayaking year-round, ice skating, dog mushing, glacier hiking and the viewing of the Northern Lights between September and April.
17. Ilulissat, Greenland
We know what you’re thinking. “Greenland? Really? In the winter?” Yes! Hardy visitors find much to love in UNESCO-listed Ilulissat Icejord, from dog sledding to cozy pub meals to admiring the colorful buildings and icebergs.
18. Quebec City, Canada
Perhaps even more romantic than usual in the wintertime, historic, European-esque Quebec City whisks you to a colonial French wonderland, while staying relatively close to home. Shop for everyone on your list along the cobblestone streets of Old Town and don’t miss the chance to ride the thrilling toboggan run at the renowned Chateau Frontenac.
19. Central Park, New York City
There are myriad ways to welcome winter at Central Park. Take a horse and carriage ride, go ice skating, attend the annual holiday lighting, go sledding, stroll through the grounds with a hot chocolate and more.
20. Budapest, Hungary
Now, here’s a European city that’s actually better to visit in winter. Start by heading to the Hungarian Parliament to marvel at the ice drifts on the Danube River. The Christmas markets are among the best in the world (the most famous is the Vorosmarty Square market), the ice skating in City Park is on point and there are more than enough thermal baths to warm you up when the chills runs deep (our favorite is the Szechenyi Baths).
21. Salzburg, Austria
The hills are still alive with the sound of music even when the temperatures plummet. Indulge in crisp apple strudel and open brown paper packages tied up with spring after shopping some of the continent’s best Christmas markets.
22. Cambridge, UK
Join the students in convivial, warm pubs, stroll through snow-covered Gothic courtyards and soak up the college atmosphere of Cambridge. Architectural buffs will especially enjoy seeing the Cloister Court, the Friars Building and the Mathematical Bridge dusted with snow.
23. Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany
Visit the castle that famously served as inspiration for Disneyland’s Sleeping Beauty Castle. You’ll likely be singing “Let It Go” from Frozen the moment you glimpse this clifftop castle in the Bavarian wilderness.
24. Lake Kussharo, Japan
Join the hundreds of whooper cranes who descend on Japan’s Akan Mashu National Park each winter. Enjoy the serenity as you watch them glide about on the caldera lake.
25. Moscow, Russia
Don your faux-furs and explore Moscow and its Red Square. The State Historical Museum and St. Basil’s Cathedral are particularly eye-popping after a fresh snowfall.