Does your ideal winter vacation include gliding over the smooth ice of an outdoor skating rink? Or observing polar bear migration? Maybe you’d trade sandy beaches for snow-covered mountains and a chance to see the Northern Lights. We have your travel inspiration covered for all those who love the cold.
Whistler, British Columbia
Whistler is a skier’s paradise, with more than 200 ski trails, 37 lifts, and five terrain parks. There is something for skiers of all levels. The mountain town is home to some of the most challenging double black diamonds in the world but also offers kids lessons and beginner-friendly hills.
Plus, Whistler has a ski season of nearly six months, going from November to May and gets more than 11 metres of snow during the season, meaning there is plenty of time for you to enjoy the Whistler slopes
Not into skiing? You can choose to snowboard, ice skate, snowmobile, snowshoe, or even zip-lining over the snow. And if you’re more the type to enjoy a hot chocolate by the fireplace of a cozy chalet, then Whistler is the perfect getaway. The village has spas, boutiques, and all delicious warm beverages to sip near a fire.
Or you can head to the Whistler Olympic Plaza, a legacy of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games. The Olympic Plaza has something for everyone, including an ice rink, park and playground set against the beautiful mountains.
The Icelandic capital is the perfect spot to experience Iceland’s culture, history, and beauty. Located on the southern coast of Iceland, Reykjavik is a unique northern getaway filled with museums, natural pools, and amazing northern adventures.
The capital is home to the National and Saga museums, which trace the Viking history of Iceland. Another top attraction is the Perlan Museum, featuring nature exhibits, an indoor ice cave, a 4k planetarium, and 360⁰ views of Reykjavik.
Do you hope to see whales? Then book a tour with the environmentally responsible Elding Whale Watching, where you’ll learn about Iceland’s marine life.
Although the Icelandic capital is known to be dark in the winter, you’ll get a fantastic view of the Northern Lights. In fact, Reykjavik is one of two capitals in the world where you can view the Northern Lights.
Reykjavik is a short-day trip away from surrounding mountains, glaciers, volcanoes, and hot springs. You can get away from the city and enjoy hiking Mount Esja. This volcanic mountain range is just 10 kilometres north of Reykjavik and features trails and paths for all skill levels.
Located on the cusp of the artic, Churchill is the perfect spot for the cold-loving adventurer.
This remote town on the shores of Hudson Bay is only accessible by plane or train and is known as the polar bear capital of the world. Every October and November, polar bears begin moving toward the shoreline of Hudson Bay, waiting for the water to freeze to start hunting for seals. As a result, worldwide travellers come to see polar bears safely on tours like Frontier North Adventures.
Or you can stay at Lazy Bear Lodge and enjoy polar bear and whale watching. Lazy Bear’s whale-watching tour takes you around Hudson Bay, which is home to 60,000 belugas! Plus, keep your eye out for arctic foxes and hares.
Beyond the amazing wildlife in Churchill, you can explore the three biomes: marine, boreal forest, and tundra. The unique landscape makes the city a popular eco-tourism destination.
Churchill is another excellent spot to catch the northern lights. The auroras are visible almost 300 nights a year, with the best chance to see them in the winter.
Yukon capital, Whitehorse may be quieter from November to March, there is still plenty to explore. From seeing hidden lakes, glaciers, and peaks to seeing migrating caribou herds, you won’t regret this trip.
Whitehorse and the surrounding area are home to over 700 kilometres of marked trails, making it the perfect spot for adventurers. You can strap on skis and glide over the 85 kilometres of groomed cross-country ski trails.
Just 25 kilometres north of Whitehorse, you’ll find the Yukon Wildlife Preserve. Open year-round; it allows you to experience the wildlife of Canada’s north up close and personal. While here, you can enjoy a guided bus tour or explore on your own and view the over 11 species of wildlife that call the Yukon Wildlife Preserve home safely and responsibly. Plus, the preserve is BYOB (bring your own bike). Explore the five-kilometre loop through the preserve and the over 750-acre ecosystem by bike, foot or snowshoe at your own pace.
The winter is a wonderful time to visit Svalbard and escape the crowds. This Norwegian archipelago is between Norway and the North Pole.
The area is known for its polar night. In November 24-hour darkness settles over Svalbard and doesn’t lighten until mid-February. The polar night is the best time to see the Northern lights, as they are viewable during the day and at night if the sky is clear.
For a fun way to discover Svalbard, take a dog sled tour with Husky Slider. Husky Slider comes to your accommodation and supplies snowsuits to keep you warm while you glide over the Svalbard Tundra. You’ll get to chase the Aurors as you dogsled under the twinkling stars.
Or spend a few hours exploring ice caves that go 8-metres underground. Svalbard glaciers are home to passages carved into the ice by moving water. Here you can head deep into these passageways and experience the quiet serenity of exploring ancient ice.
Then head to Longyearbyen, a small Svalbard town near the North Pole known for its hospitality and nature-loving residents. The area is home to many festivals like PolarJazz in February, the world’s northernmost jazz festival.
Did you know Alaska’s largest city is famous for frosty events and festivals? The Fur Rendezvous, known locally as Fur Rondy, in February is a modern-day interpretation of mid-winter re-supply meetings that began in 1935 and celebrates the pioneering spirit of Alaskans. During Fur Rondy, you can watch teams race through the Anchorage streets or suit up for the Running of the Reindeer and try your luck at outrunning herds of reindeer.
Anchorage is also well-known as a prime spot to view the northern lights that dance across the sky at night.
Head to Alyeska Resort in Girdwood during daylight, a short drive from Anchorage to ski or snowboard. The resort has 76 mountain runs and 1,610 skiable acres! Then relax in the Alyeska Resort’s spa, the only Nordic spa in Alaska.
Do you love Christmas? If so, add Salzburg, Austria, to your travel plans. The festive city has Christmas markets sprinkled all over, and it feels like stepping into a Hallmark movie.
Salzburg is transformed with colourful twinkling lights everywhere you look, and there is the world-famous Salzburger Christkindlmarkt.
The magical market embodies the Christmas spirit and happens next to a palace. Salzburger Christkindlmarkt is full of booths selling delicious food and handmade gifts that you can explore while sipping mulled wine.
Or you can go on a day trip to Salzach, a UNESCO World Heritage city, to bask in the Baroque beauty of sacred buildings and immerse yourself in Austrian history and culture.
While in the Salzburg region, you’ll also want to warm up and unwind in an Austrian spa. Visit Alpentherme Gastein in Bad Hofgastein. There you can relax in the geothermal pools, saunas, and so much more while taking in the spectacular alpine views.