Winter is a fantastic time to travel. You can head to a cold weather destination during off-season and save a ton of cash. Or if you find yourself yearning for some sunshine during these cooler months, you can hop a plane to the southern hemisphere. I’m a frequent traveler during the winter months and have traveled to a wide of array of winter destinations. Need some ideas to inspire your winter wanderlust? Here’s my top winter travel destinations for both warm and cold weather.
My Favorite Top Winter Travel Destinations
Top Cold Weather Destinations:
1. Stockholm, Sweden
Stockholm is a city situated on an archipelago of islands, but there’s no shortage of things to do when temperatures drop. The Swedish capital is home to several famous museums, but just because there is snow on the ground, don’t feel like you can’t spend time outside! Brave the elements and take an archipelago cruise, (yes, a cruise in winter)… If you prefer, you can stay inside the boat and enjoy the scenery, but I suggest that you head up to the boat’s top deck. Keep yourself warm with reindeer hides and treat yourself to some delicious glogg when you head inside (my favorite)!
Touted as the world’s most expensive country, you can save a ton on your flight and accommodations if you choose to visit Norway in winter. (I got my roundtrip flight from the USA for less than $350!) Norway’s scenery is breathtaking, no matter what time of the year. Don’t hesitate to take the famous Norway in a Nutshell Tour – typically jam-packed with tourists, you won’t have to fight the crowds during off-season.
3. Tallinn, Estonia
Okay, to be perfectly honest with you, I haven’t visited Tallinn in the wintertime. I’ve only experienced the city in spring – but, after just one visit I can’t stop imagining how beautiful the city’s spiral towers and orange rooftops would be with snow on them! Tallinn’s Old Town is warm and inviting, and I would be willing to bet that the city is even more magical during the holidays.
4. Banff, Canada
If you’ve ever visited Banff, you know why the village gets my top vote as your best bet for a cold weather winter getaway this season. Banff truly is a winter wonderland! World class skiing, hot springs, ice hiking and dog sledding, there’s no way you won’t adore your winter trip to Banff.
Top Warm Weather Destinations:
5. The Caribbean
Seeking sun and sand? Live the island life this winter in the Caribbean. You can explore Mayan Ruins in Cozumel, scuba dive among spectacular coral reefs in Curacao or visit a bioluminescent bay in Puerto Rico.
6. South Africa
South Africa literally has something for everyone. Need a break and want to relax? Head to the beach to soak up some sun and watch for whales, or spend your days sipping delicious wines in Stellenbosch or Franschhoek. Seeking adventure? Head out on safari in search of the Big Five, or get your adrenaline pumping while diving with great white sharks just minutes off the coast. If you’re longing for a city getaway, Cape Town tops many travelers’ lists for good reason.
This list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the gorgeous island nation south of Sicily. Malta’s weather is mild all year long – I visited in December when temperatures were in the 70’s. Even if the water is too cold for you to dive in, Malta has plenty attractions to keep you busy. Make sure to explore the medieval “Silent City” of Mdina, the vintage streets of Valetta and the gorgeous island of Gozo.
8. Siem Reap, Cambodia
Trekking through the temples of Angkor Wat is still one of my favorite travel experiences to date. Despite how many temples you’ve visited, few compare to the temple complex just minutes outside Siem Reap in Cambodia. In winter, the weather in Cambodia is as warm as the people are kind. And as an added bonus, Cambodia is super inexpensive by western standards.