Reader Recs: Best Winter Destinations

Don’t let the cold temperatures in the Northern Hemisphere take the pep out of your travel step. The winter months can offer up some of the best travel opportunities, often at a lower price point—and you can always head south if you’re in need of some Vitamin D.

To get you inspired, we asked our Nat Geo Travel Facebook fans to share with us their favorite places to visit in winter.

Take a look at what they said:

Crystal S. kicks things off in Dubai, which she describes as “the perfect winter getaway.” Between the shopping, winter festivals, and beautiful sunsets, you can’t go wrong with a trip to the most popular destination in the United Arab Emirates this season. Plus, she says, “winter is the right time to go to the desert without getting sunburn.” Thanks for the tip, Crystal.

Oslo, Norway, gets Guy S.’s vote because of its incredible northern lights display. He suggests hitting the ice for a skating session before taking in the night sky. If that’s not reason enough to start packing, he proudly reminds readers that Norway often tops the list of the happiest countries in the world.

Trade snow for sun and sand by heading to Queensland, Australia. Karen T. encourages travelers to snorkel the Great Barrier Reef before trying some authentic Outback barbecue, followed by a surfing session on the Sunshine Coast. This “heavenly escape from the northern winter” is one you won’t want to miss.

If you’re looking to get into the holiday season, Chelsea E. recommends a trip to Edinburgh, which she describes as magical at this time of year. Enjoy the Scottish capital’s famous Christmas markets, where you can sample decadent desserts, delicious sausages, and mulled wine in addition to picking up some unique finds for the people you hold dear. “For any history lover (or Harry Potter fanatic) this city feels like a step back in time, where one can truly delight in the spirit of Christmas,” she says.

Yellowstone National Park was a popular suggestion for a winter getaway. Dhana B. writes: “The summer crowds are replaced by pristine snowscapes, the wildlife is more readily seen, and the geothermals are even more breathtaking against the frosty backdrop.” Our very own Andy Coleman agreed, adding: “You get all the majesty of this park with a whole different perspective.”

If you enjoy a good national park, Amy J. cheerfully endorses Kruger National Park in South Africa as a must-visit destination for its incredible Lowveld landscapes and wildlife-viewing opportunities (Kruger is one of the biggest game preserves in all of Africa). “Nothing beats going there to escape the winter,” she says.

For those of you looking for small-town charm, Ellicottville, New York, has you covered. The village was added to our list by Chris C., who likens Ellicottville to a Norman Rockwell painting with world-class skiing and wonderful outdoor adventure tourism. It’s the “gem of southwestern New York,” he writes.
Amarjeet S. nominates Shimla as the best place to visit this season because the snowy weather makes the Northern Indian city so beautiful. Have a cup of coffee and “enjoy the moment” in the capital of Himachal Pradesh while you make some lasting memories there, she suggests.
While some people head south for warmer climes, Katy R. embraces the cold, preferring instead wintery wonderlands such as Alaska and Canada. Both of these places “give you the chance to truly immerse yourself in the natural beauty and wilderness of the planet,” she says. If you’re ready to embrace the season at its best, look no further!

There was no question as to which destination would get Marion G.’s vote: “Malta, of course.” With enjoyable winter temperatures, friendly people, and lots of things to see and do, this island in the Mediterranean should be at the top of your list any time of year.

To round out our list, Catherine L. suggests a trip to Niagara Falls in Ontario this season. “The mist from the falls coats everything in a layer of ice,” she writes. If you decide to make the trek, be sure to wear warm clothes and sturdy boots, as conditions can get a bit slippery. But the ice-encased spectacle makes the extra effort worthwhile. 

Megan Heltzel is an associate producer on National Geographic Travel’s digital team. Follow her on Twitter @MeganHeltzel.
What destination do you recommend visiting this winter? Leave your answer in the comments section for a chance to appear on Intelligent Travel.

Comments

  1. Megan Haines
    United States
    December 17, 2014, 10:20 am

    The one thing to remember when traveling is to notify your bank of your plans so that your card doesn’t get declined! How embarrassing! I know of a start-up company in Cincy, OH that will notify your bank for you! Visit their site at http://www.travelnotes.io to stay connected with them for when they launch their product! Awesome idea for frequent travelers!

  2. Judy Chappell
    Auckland, NZ
    December 9, 2014, 3:23 pm

    New Zealand has got to be the place to be if you want to get away from a northern hemisphere winter, but still have all the trappings of a holiday season. Our scenery is incredible, with gorgeous mountains, stunning plains, modern cities, beautiful beaches and islands that take your breath away. Add to that world-class wines, coffee to die for and food to salivate over, and you have everything you need for a magical break away from the frozen north!