Winter travel destinations can be tricky. Often, you feel as if you’re either picking a very specific winter destination – such as a place to ski – or avoiding the season altogether by heading somewhere tropical, or south of the equator. Both options are perfectly valid, but they really don’t narrow things down too much, and they also leave out plenty of cities and countries that are a blast to visit even when it’s cold outside. Naturally, there are hundreds of places you could find a reason to visit in the winter if you really thought about it. But the following should be a nice sampling of different destinations for different purposes.
While the idea here is that there’s a variety of different types of destinations that make for nice winter getaways, we’ll start off with a more traditional option. Categorized as one of Europe’s most Christmassy cities and frequently cited for its gorgeous winter scenery, Vienna, Austria just about has to make any list like this. It’s one of the more striking cities in Europe regardless, thanks to its palaces, concert halls, wide open squares, and the general grandeur of a lingering Habsburg influence. Even so, the city comes alive in a different way for the winter holidays. Festive Christmas markets, decorations adorning old and beautiful buildings, cool weather and a deep-set charm that’s become something of a tradition work together to establish an air of magic.
Washington, D.C., United States
Washington, D.C. is a remarkable place to visit not just because it’s the capital of the U.S., but because its district of monuments and government buildings may be the closest thing in the world to a modern version of Ancient Rome. It’s a fascinating city to learn about as well. The aforementioned monuments were actually inspired by Rome in some cases, and in others have masonic elements and almost mysterious histories. They were designed to intimidate and inspire, and according to one site they only exists because of a Grand National Lottery, which seems almost unbelievable. At any rate, these monuments and the rest of D.C. are best explored in the winter when the oppressive heat of D.C. takes a break and it’s more appealing (if somewhat chilly) to wander between attractions. Another plus is that many of the main attractions are near street level and fairly wide open, making it one of the more accessible cities for tourism.
Auckland, New Zealand
Here we’re getting to the idea of getting south of the equator – in this case, well south of the equator – to enjoy some warm weather during the winter season. The idea is basically that a lot of people want to go to Oceania but have trouble making the time or finding the inspiration to make it happen. If you set aside some time during the holidays however you might be able to make a winter getaway at what happens to be the best time of year to visit New Zealand. Auckland is a beautiful, bustling city, and a natural point to start at, but this sort of trip is really about exploring the country more broadly. And while parts of the country and its more adventurous attractions may be less accessible to those with handicaps or trouble seeing, you can still experience a new culture, relax on world-famous beaches, and enjoy the legendary New Zealand wines, at the least.
Breckenridge, Colorado, United States
Heading back to the U.S., we’ll simply note that Breckenridge appears to be on the up as one of the more charming ski destinations around. There are plenty of other places in the American West that can also compete as top-notch winter destinations: Aspen and Vail in Colorado, Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Lake Tahoe, etc. Breckenridge is at least a little bit less discovered though, with all the same ski town charms, excellent slopes for those who are able, and a little bit less of the exclusivity that is almost palpable in places like Aspen, or many of Europe’s top ski spots for that matter.
South of the equator once more, Colombia is one of the trendier tropical destinations you could aim for if you’re looking for a warm weather option this winter. Accounts from those who have visited Cartagena specifically in recent years as the city has risen up the tourism ranks paint a picture of an irresistible town with boutique hotels, horse-drawn carriage rides, boating and swimming opportunities, island excursions, and even natural mud baths. There may not be too many over-the-top attractions in Cartagena, but it’s a place you can simply hang out and recharge for a week or however long you may have to get away this winter.