Travel

Published on December 29th, 2017 | by Guest Contributor

Cool Worldwide Winter Hot Spots.

Many travellers are now looking for authentic experiences and adventures over just relaxing on a beach for their vacation. Increasingly, we want those adventures to make for dramatic and shareable photo ops too. Maybe that’s why more and more of us are embracing our northern spirit and traveling to cold weather hot spots to experience incredible skiing, dog sledding, snow covered landscapes and mountaintops and, of course, the Northern Lights.

For those looking for beautiful landscapes, natural wonders, and unique experiences, all signs point north. Here are some of the coolest hot spots right now.

Iceland.

Iceland continues to be one of the trendiest destinations to visit. Long popular for its natural beauty with glaciers and waterfalls, geothermal pools and hot springs, and breathtaking views of the Northern Lights, this small European country has reached new heights in popularity in recent years. This is at least in part due to the destination being prominently featured in the HBO hit “Game of Thrones.” Fans of the TV show might be flock to Iceland to see their favourite settings first hand, but beyond the pop-culture pilgrimage, they are treated to volcanic landscapes, fiords, lava fields, and a taste of the local culture in Reykjavik. The continued popularity of Iceland made our list of top travel predictions for 2018.

Breathtaking Reykjavik, the capital city of Iceland.

Lapland, Finland

Truly a winter wonderland, Lapland is the northernmost region of Finland. Bordering on the Arctic Circle, this area boasts beautiful landscapes of snow-covered evergreen forests, frozen lakes and vast expanses of rolling white tundra. It has become popular with those who take their sub-zero adventure travel seriously.

The resorts this far north are less crowded and luxurious than those in the Alps, but they offer unique experiences such as reindeer sleigh excursions, dog sledding treks, and snowmobile safaris to see the northern lights. The region is also great spot for all of your favourite winter activities including skiing, snowboarding, and tobogganing.

Whether it’s the holidays or not, you can always top off your Arctic trip with a visit to Santa Claus. Lapland’s capital city of Rovaniemi hosts a year-round Christmas Village.

The Aurora Borealis over a snowy landscape in Finnish Lapland.

The Alps.

The famous mountain range that runs through Switzerland, Austria, France, and Italy are collectively known as the Alps. These are popular with travellers all year round with quaint villages, resort towns, ample hiking and biking opportunities, and breathtaking views.

This mountain range also makes up some of Europe’s best spots for winter sports. The Alps are home of some of the world’s premiere ski destinations, with a greater concentration of resorts being here than anywhere else on the planet. Famous mountaintops include the legendary Mont Blanc and the Matterhorn.

Aerial view of Zermatt Valley and Matterhorn Peak.

Aspen.

For outdoor recreation, celebrity sightings, and fine dining and nightlife – all enjoyed under the crisp, clear mountain air – Aspen, Colorado is the place to be. There is a reason this resort town is a favourite for celebrities looking to escape to the hills. Four different mountains make up the slopes of this legendary ski destination. Buttermilk is for the novices, while Snowmass and Aspen offer experienced skiers more of a challenge.

After a day on the slopes (or cross-country skiing, skating, snowshoeing, or any of your other outdoor favourites), hit the town for the lively après-ski action. Aspen is home to microbreweries, a myriad of restaurants from fine dining to casual, and a thriving arts and music scene.

Family cross country outings in Aspen include the dog, obviously.

Whistler, B.C.   

Of course, Canada has its own world-class winter hot spots. Some of the most visited ski destinations in the world are right here in this country. The town of Whistler, B.C. nestled at the foot of the Whistler and Blackcomb mountains is home to one of North America’s largest ski spots.

The classic alpine village serves as a base for a range of outdoor adventures from epic skiing and boarding to snowshoeing, tubing, and ice climbing. It is also boasts a thriving dining and nightlife scene as well as diverse shopping options and an eclectic array of revitalizing spas. Whistler has something for everyone – all surrounded by some of the most stunning views the Rocky Mountains have to offer.

Chairlift surrounded by majestic evergreens in Whistler.

Ice hotel, Quebec City

Want to live a winter fairy tale experience without heading to the mountains? Every year, picturesque Quebec City is home to a hotel entirely made out of ice. The furniture, the fixtures, even the dishes are all made from ice. You can enjoy your favourite cocktail, ice cold, in a glass that is made of ice at the ice bar.

The Hotel de Glace is redesigned and rebuilt every winter (because it melts every spring) and is open from early January through late March. Local artists help in the décor and design, carving murals into walls of ice. The hotel offers 44 themed rooms and suites with ice beds in a variety of shapes and sizes. Guests don’t sleep directly on slabs of ice, beds are topped with mattresses and sleeping bags. Colourful LED lights illuminate the corridors and passageways throughout.

The site also offers outdoor hot tubs and a sauna as well as nearby skating and ice slides. The hotel is located just a short drive from historic Quebec City, North America’s only walled city, and a romantic winter destination to explore in its own right.

Embrace the cold, enjoy a one-of-a-kind experience, and get a taste of the legendary Quebecois joie de vivre with a stay in the ice hotel.

An illuminated icy hallway beckons you in at Quebec’s Ice Hotel.

Canadians don’t wither at the first hint of frost. We celebrate the beauty of snowy landscapes and icicles, and we love the adventure of getting outdoors in the sub-zero temperatures. Maybe more of the world is finally catching on to the appeal of vacationing in a winter wonderland. That could be why some of the hottest destinations to visit right now are actually cold.

Are you planning an escape from the cold weather to an equally cool or colder climate this winter? Tell us about it on Facebook or Twitter!

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