Those who like to escape the cold temperatures during the winter and jet off to warmer climes should probably check out our list of winter sun destinations for 2017/2018. However, if you’re looking to embrace the chill, throw on the woolly clothing and enjoy a cosy atmosphere, we have some great alternatives.
This can often be the best time to travel to popular destinations. Not only do you avoid the large crowds and save some of your hard-earned cash, you also get the chance to see a different side to some of the world’s most iconic destinations. Here are just a few to consider.
Thanks to cheaper flights and faster, more efficient aircraft, New York has become a viable destination for a short city break. And whilst you should definitely visit during the summer too, winter can be the best time to explore one of the world’s favourite cities. As if it wasn’t magical enough, a liberal dusting of snow turns the City That Never Sleeps into something from a fairytale.
With Thanksgiving taking place in November, the festive celebrations kick off earlier than in the UK and the shops along 5th Avenue go all out to lure you in with elaborate window displays. There are also plenty of chances to get your skates on in Central Park, as the lakes freeze over and manmade rinks arrive.
Germany may have some fantastic Christmas markets, but Vienna is a true Christmas city. Even if you are planning to visit before or after the festive period, Austria’s capital offers a beautiful backdrop for your winter break. With stunning palaces to explore, plenty of culture to discover and numerous city parks that are perfect for a romantic stroll, the scene is set for an enchanting holiday.
Plus, when it’s time to go inside and warm up, Vienna’s café culture will ensure there is no shortage of places in which to wrap your hands around a hot cup of coffee. With Sachertorte and strudel also on offer, there are so many ways to indulge.
With low-cost airline Norwegian offering more and more flights from the UK to its homeland, it’s become a lot cheaper to visit what is often considered an expensive country.
Whilst Norway’s capital isn’t particularly warm all year-round, winter is when the snow comes. And when the snow comes, locals and visitors alike delight in some exciting winter sports. From the city centre, you can take the metro north to the thrilling Korketrekkeren toboggan run. With 2km of slopes to race down and toboggans available to rent, this is Oslo’s favourite pastime on a lazy Sunday.
When you’re done playing in the snow, the local cuisine of hearty comfort food will warm you up. Plus, if you travel at the end of February or beginning of March, there’s a chance you will get to witness the extraordinary Northern Lights.
A sharp drop of the mercury will see Amsterdam’s famous canals freeze over but, even if this does not happen, the city is magical during the winter months. Ice skating rinks still pop up on the squares and there’s a good chance you will see snow at some point. A packed schedule of events includes the captivating Amsterdam Light Festival and the city has a wide array of museums to take you out of the cold.
Just like Vienna, café culture is a big thing in the Netherlands but, unless you’re looking for a certain kind of buzz, we are not talking about the ‘coffee shops’. Cosy, pub-like ‘brown cafés’ can be found around every corner and it’s here where you can enjoy a warming brew, something stronger and a big dose of Dutch culture.
Another city in which you may catch a glimpse of nature’s most impressive light show, Reykjavik is perfect for a short break from the UK. With a flight time of just three hours and a city centre that is small enough to be explored in just a couple of days, it’s a great option to consider.
And winter is an excellent time to visit. The summer crowds that seem to grow every year will have dissipated and snow will cover the ground. The long period of darkness is lit-up physically by the Reykjavik Winter Lights Festival at the beginning of February and metaphorically by the performances during the Dark Music Days festival at the striking Harpa concert hall. Perhaps the best reason to visit at this time of year, though, is the chance to let the geothermal waters of the Blue Lagoon and other natural swimming holes warm your body and your soul.
If you are looking for more of an extended winter break, why not hop over the pond to the Canadian capital of Ottawa. There is plenty to do all year round but this season brings a host of fantastic events and activities. None more enjoyable than the Winterlude festival, where impressive ice sculptures are showcased and everyone enjoys the open-air music concerts.
At Christmas, many of the city’s monuments are lit-up beautifully in aid of the Christmas Lights Across Canada scheme, whilst the New Year sees the UNESCO-listed Rideau Canal turn into the world’s largest skating rink. When you need to warm up, you can do so with delicious maple syrup-ladened pancakes and a traditional Beavertail pastry.
For more advice and recommendations about where to go on your winter break, speak to the team at TravelQuest. We are well travelled and love sharing our stories to help you plan your perfect holiday. Drop by our stores in Ipswich and Woodbridge or call us on 0800 021 3237.