11 Picture-Perfect Winter Destinations to Put on Your Travel List

by Colleen Stinchcombe
Jan 8, 2018 at 12:00 p.m. ET

The holidays are over, but winter is still here. If that sparks some excitement in you, you might be in the market for a winter vacation. Maybe you’re like me, a local to Arizona, and you’re lucky if you get to wear a sweater around the house because it’s January and already reaching the mid-70s in the afternoon. Maybe you just really love winter — the chance of snow, the warm wooly socks, the feeling of being all bundled up before stepping outside. Or maybe you’re just looking to make the most out of winter since, you know, it comes around every year, and there’s no use wishing it wouldn’t.

Who says vacations have to be in tropical climates? Not us. There are lots of places you can visit to help you embrace the winter weather. Whether it’s stunning architecture, amazing slopes or going dog sledding in the Arctic Circle under aurora borealis (yes, please!), we’ve rounded up the best places to don your warmest clothing and explore.

1 /12: Aspen, Colorado

1/12 :Aspen, Colorado

Beyond the obvious skiing potential, there's snow tubing (no skills required), or you can check out the 30,000-square-foot Aspen Art Museum (which offers free admission on Tuesdays) or go to an outdoor concert thanks to the Bud Light Hi-Fi Concert Series

2 /12: Munich, Germany

2/12 :Munich, Germany

Munich is a stunning city made even more beautiful by layers of snow. Our recommendation for the top winter activity? Go ice-skating in front of Nymphenburg Castle, where the canals freeze over in the winter. You can even play a game or two of curling, which is sort of like playing shuffleboard on ice. 

3 /12: Glacier National Park, Montana

3/12 :Glacier National Park, Montana

Hang out in Apgar Village, camp for free (and with few competitors!) in one of the open campgrounds or take a guided snowshoe tour with one of the park rangers on the weekend. It's already one of the most pristine parks in the country, but winter in Glacier National Park will put you even more in awe of nature’s incredible power.

4 /12: Nagano, Japan

4/12 :Nagano, Japan

About two hours outside Tokyo, Nagano is an absolute gem in the wintertime. Visit Shibu Onsen, a famous hot spring resort where locals believe you can gain healing and luck from soaking in the nine pools. Or visit the pride and joy of Nagano: Jigokudani Monkey Park, where macaque monkeys chill out in the snow and take dips in the hot springs.

5 /12: Patagonía, Argentina

5/12 :Patagonía, Argentina

If you’d like to turn your vacation into an adventure, Patagonía is the perfect place for you. Ice hike on the most famous — and luckily for you, most accessible — glacier in Los Glaciares National Park, Perito Moreno. You’ll get stunning photos of mountains few will ever travel to see and be up close and personal with one of the few areas where glaciers are still actually growing. 

6 /12: Telluride, Colorado

6/12 :Telluride, Colorado

Telluride prides itself on being a skier’s dream thanks to its relatively uncrowded runs and excellent snow conditions. But if skiing isn’t your jam, you could also try your hand at fly-fishing, snowshoeing, sledding or just walking around the adorable downtown strip to shop and grab some coffee with views of the snow-covered mountains.

7 /12: Tromsø, Norway

7/12 :Tromsø, Norway

When in Norway, do as the Norwegians do… and go dogsledding or reindeer-sledding.  If you’d prefer something more stationary, winter is an excellent time to try to catch a view of the northern lights or visit the bearded seals at the northernmost aquarium, Polaria

8 /12: Yosemite National Park, California

8/12 :Yosemite National Park, California

Maybe the only thing better than climbing Half Dome (which you won’t be able to do in the winter anyway) is to ice skate beneath a stunning view of it, which you can do thanks to Yosemite’s outdoor rink. If you’re feeling particularly brave, you can apply for a backcountry permit and hike into the backcountry to camp in the fresh snow.

9 /12: Québec City, Canada

9/12 :Québec City, Canada

Although it’s cold as heck, one of the things that makes Québec City so worth visiting in the winter is their Winter Carnival. Play hockey, visit an ice palace, walk through incredible ice sculptures made by artists from around the world, watch an epic canoe race or ride a mechanical moose, all while being surrounded by a fairy tale-esque winter city. 

10 /12: Samoëns, France

10/12 :Samoëns, France

Love to ski? Samoëns, France, will absolutely capture your powder-seeking heart, as it's home to some of the best ski resorts in the country. A quaint village an hour outside Geneva, Switzerland, Samoëns has its fair share of markets full of all the best French food, not to mention you’ll be surrounded by stunning views of the Alps.

11 /12: Prague, Czech Republic

11/12 :Prague, Czech Republic

The best thing about winter in Prague is that snow makes the architecture even more stunning. Take a tour of Prague Castle, learn how to make traditional Czech meals or go on a sunrise photo tour so you can capture stunning pictures of the city without crowds of people or traffic. 

12 /12: Banff, Canada

12/12 :Banff, Canada

Banff looks more like somewhere in Narnia than a real-life location. Check out some of the stunning scenery at Lake Louise or Lake Minnewanka and, of course, the breathtaking mountains that surround the city. Downtown Banff has lots of fun boutiques and restaurants to check out. If you're looking for some winter activities, you can pretty much do them all in Banff. Try snowshoeing, dogsledding, skiing, snowmobiling, ice-skating or even ice fishing.