Trying to narrow down the options for your family’s winter getaway?
Here are 8 winter travel destinations that all of you will no doubt love.
Do you know the famous Christmas carol Silent Night?
Well, Salzburg was where this tune was born, and this Austrian city is still known for its holiday cheer. For those who want to learn more about the carol itself, the Silent Night Museum, as well as the spot where the carol was first performed in public, are both worth visiting.
Christmas markets can be found throughout the season, with traditional gingerbread and mulled Austrian wine, known as Gluhwein, being especially popular. The shopping is also fantastic at this time of the year, with so many local handicrafts to choose from.
Another reason as to why Salzburg is so popular in the wintertime is because of its skiing. Some of the finest ski regions of the Alps can be found in Salzburg, and there are 23 resorts located nearby to the city that are easy to access.
Don’t want to ski?
There are plenty of other winter sports that you can take part in instead, such as:
- Snowshoe walking
- Ice skating on frozen lakes
- After-dark skiing
- Hot air balloon rides
- Glacier skating or skiing
When you want some respite from the cold, head to one of the local spas in Salzburg. This city loves their spa-culture, and you will find hundreds of spas around Salzburg, with most of them being home to their very own hot springs.
If you and your family love the chill of winter, embrace the cold in Quebec. Although the city may be blanketed in white for pretty much the entire season, it boasts so many winter-friendly activities that this really is the best time of year to visit.
To begin with, a visit to Hotel de Glace, meaning The Ice Hotel in English, is a must. This is something that everyone in your family will marvel at, no matter their age or interests.
Because it is the first hotel in the world to be made entirely from ice and snow.
Yes, even the bedrooms are made of ice! The hotel itself is rebuilt every year, providing a truly one-of-a-kind experience.
Whether you choose to stay the night or just take a day tour, this hotel really is a must when in Quebec in the winter.
There are several Christmas activities going on in Quebec in the winter too. The German Christmas Market is held in Old Quebec each year, a quaint area that looks like a winter wonderland well into March. The Quebec Winter Carnival also offers plenty of family-friendly fun, with night parades, games, competitions, food and drink and more.
Of course, some fun in the snow needs to be had too…
Snow tubing is a popular winter tradition in Quebec, while night skiing is another activity that the whole family will enjoy as well.
The Atlas Mountains, Morocco
Extending about 2500 kilometers across the north west of Africa, the Atlas Mountains span Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia, with the highest peak in the range standing at 4167 meters.
Why would you want to visit the Atlas Mountains?
If your family loves the outdoors, and would enjoy exploring a destination that makes it feel as though you have stepped back in time, then this is the place to head to.
While there are three countries that provide access to this magnificent mountain range, the Atlas Mountains are the easiest to explore from Morocco. Just 90 minutes from Marrakesh will take you right to the range, where you and your family can choose from a number of different treks.
For active families who love a challenge, the trek up to the top of Mount Toubkal, which is the highest peak in the range, takes about three days. Although the walk is tough, it doesn’t require any special climbing knowledge.
While you’re in the area, book yourselves in for a stay at Kasbah du Toukbal, an atmospheric hotel located in the Toukbal National Park. This luxury eco lodge has been featured by multiple publications, including the National Geographic, for the incredibly scenic and peaceful experience that it provides.
Big Island, Hawaii
Trying to get away from the cold?
If so, the tropical heat of Hawaii will definitely not disappoint. No matter what age the youngest and oldest members of your family are, you will definitely find activities in Hawaii that you will all enjoy.
Each of the Hawaiian islands have their own distinct highlights, but Big Island tends to be the most popular among families due to its wide range of attractions.
Here are just a few of the things that you can do on Big Island this winter:
- Visit the summit of Mauna Kea – this dormant volcano is the tallest mountain in the world, with its summit providing some incredible views
- Spend the day at the Hapuna Beach State Recreation Area – with its smooth white sand and shallow water, this beach is known for being the most family-friendly of Hawaiian beaches
- Visit the Pana’ewa Rainforest Zoo and Gardens – this is the only facility of its kind in the USA, providing a unique glimpse at over 80 species that live in tropical rainforests
- Adventures at Parker Ranch – one of the oldest and largest ranches in the USA, Parker Ranch offers everything from horseback riding to ATV riding
- Explore the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park – with a dramatic landscape and active volcanoes, this national park will definitely have everyone’s attention
There are so many other beaches and exquisite natural areas worth exploring on Big Island, making this the perfect destination for nature-loving families.
Swedish Lapland, Sweden
Home to the last area of untouched nature and wilderness in Europe, Swedish Lapland is located in the Arctic north of Sweden.
As you can imagine, the scenery here is rugged but magnificent, and there is also such a rich sense of culture in this region. The Sami people that live in this region are a part of the oldest indigenous peoples on the planet, with their language and culture being completely unique.
For those who want to immerse themselves in the local Sami culture, you will have the opportunity to try everything from dog sledding to camping in traditional canvas tents. This is a culture that loves the outdoors, meaning that you need to be prepared to really brave the cold when visiting Swedish Lapland in the winter. Jokkmokk is a town that you should definitely visit too, as this is the center of Sami culture in Sweden, with a fantastic museum along with plenty of local Sami shops.
While this region of Sweden may have plenty to offer, the highlight for many is the northern lights. This is what attracts tourists to the area from all over the world.
Where about in Swedish Lapland should you go to see the lights?
The very best spot is a place called Abisko, which is home to the Aurora Sky Station. This area has the least amount of cloud coverage in the region, and a three day stay here in the winter gives you a 100% chance of catching a light show.
Named as 2018’s best winter vacation destination, Rome not only experiences mild and comfortable winter temperatures, but also significantly fewer crowds in the colder season. This makes the winter the perfect time to explore the capital city of Italy, while soaking up its heritage, culture, and, of course, delicious food.
No matter when you visit Rome, a trip to the Vatican is essential, as this is where you will be able to see Saint Peter’s Basilica and the Sistine Chapel.
With the Vatican so nearby, it goes without saying that Christmas is a big deal in Rome. You will find Christmas markets hosted throughout the city, as well as street food vendors selling freshly roasted chestnuts and other seasonal snacks.
Since the locals of Rome tend to prefer the heat to the cold, the indoor trattorias and Osterias become quite busy in the winter months. Join the locals and spend your days eating, drinking and socializing.
Food is a huge part of the culture in Italy, and Rome is all about seasonal produce. While you may not find fresh tomatoes or strawberries around the city at this time of the year, there are plenty of other delicious seasonal foods to choose from, including mushrooms, artichokes and citrus fruits.
If you want to stay warm this winter, Hokkaido and all of its natural hot springs will help you to do just that. Hokkaido is the northernmost of Japan’s mainland islands, meaning that it experiences plenty of cold in the winter.
The region receives heavy snowfall each season, with snowball fights being an official sport. Skiing and ice diving are also available for those seeking an adrenaline rush.
If you’re visiting in February, the Sapporo Snow Festival is always fun, with over 250 snow and ice sculptures for you and your family to admire.
When it comes time to relax, there are plenty of hot springs to choose from, with the most popular including:
- Noboribetsu Onsen – temperatures of the water here range from 45 to 90 degrees Celsius, while the Jigokudani Valley, where you will find the hot springs, is a historic heritage site
- Yunokawa Onsen – located right next to the ocean, providing you with spectacular views to soak up while you bathe in the balmy water
- Tokachigawa Onsen – the water here is a dark shade of blue due to the incredibly high concentration of minerals within it
- Toyako Onsen – located at the foot of an active volcano, with water that is revered for its healing properties
- Yukichichibu Onsen – this hot spring allows guests to enjoy a beer while they bathe, and also features a small ski hill right next to the outdoor baths
Another fun way to warm up is with a steaming bowl of ramen. There are four different types of ramen that originated in Hokkaido, so be sure to try each one while you’re there. A taste of the local seafood is also a must, with everything from crabs to sea urchins to scallops being abundant in the seas that surround the island.
Serengeti National Park, Tanzania
This is another destination that is perfect for those who want to escape the cold, but the warm temperatures aren’t the only reason to visit Tanzania in the winter…
January and February are dry months, making this the ideal time of year for exploring the landscape and taking wildlife safaris.
Not only that, but the start of the year is also when the Great Migration first begins, when millions of wildebeests, along with several other animal species, begin their annual migration.
Of course, the park is vast, so where about should you go?
The central area tends to be the busiest, because this is where you will find the greatest variety of accommodation options. However, the southern plains are usually the best in the winter, because this is where so much wildlife tends to congregate, while the calving season also begins here in February. If you want isolation and luxury, head to the northern part of the park. This is quite a remote area but is home to some exquisite eco-lodges.
Visiting a Maasai Village is also a must, as this is where you will be able to learn so much more about local traditions and customs.
Planning a winter vacation is always fun, and this is usually a less busy, and slightly cheaper, time of the year to travel. Whether you decide to head to the wilderness of Sweden or to the tropics of Hawaii, these eight destinations will each provide a winter vacation that you and your family will never forget.