As we travel around Iceland, I can’t help but get excited at the idea of sharing the best winter destinations you should try to visit…. especially if you like snow! These four spots I am about to share happen to be the most magical in the snow, thus making them the ideal winter escapes if that’s what you’re hoping for.
I go back and forth on snow. After spending 3 straight winters in a row in Toronto, I found myself beginning to hate snow. Toronto was brutally, brutally cold when we were there. When you added a daily snowfall into the mix, it started to become less magical and more of a nuisance. There came a time when whenever we opened the curtains in the morning and saw it snowing, we’d roll our eyes. My husband found this hilarious because for YEARS all I kept complaining about was how I no longer got to experience snow after moving to Los Angeles from New Jersey. Well, I definitely got more than I wished for in Canada! But then last year, I began to feel that yearning for snow again, specifically during our Austria visit. So we plotted a trip to Iceland in January to get some of that winter desire I had. Below are our 4 spots that are perfect for that snowy escape.
I know I complained about Toronto, but I am not talking about Toronto here. I’m talking about Whistler and Quebec City. Back in 2011. Tor and I spent our first Valentine’s Day in Whistler. He knew I was going to love being surrounded by a blanket of white while walking through a ski village in between mountains and the woods. It snowed on our drive up, but then it never snowed again during our 3 day visit there. Tor could see I was disappointed not to get to enjoy a snowfall, but then suddenly on our last day there, the clouds rolled in and it began to snow quite heavily! Patience was a virtue, for sure! Whistler in the winter is extremely picturesque and everything I pictured it would be and more. I recommend Four Seasons Whistler for the ultimate winter experience, but if you want to stay closer in the village, we recommend Mountainside Lodge, Sundial Hotel, and Nita Lake Lodge over in Whistler Creekside. Another Canadian city that’s beautiful in the snow is on the east coast – Quebec City. The city’s Old Town is just stunning during and after a snowfall, especially around the holidays. It certainly looks and feels like a Christmas market from Europe.
Check out our British Columbia travel guide here.
This one is a given. I know it seems like I have become Iceland’s unofficial spokesperson, but it really is the most incredible country to visit. While most people tend to visit in the summer, which is why summer is their high season, my husband and I both agree that the most incredible time to visit Iceland is in the winter. Of course there’s snow and ice all around, but since we come from Los Angeles, these sights are magnificent to us. Most hotels are in the log cabin style, which makes it all the more perfect to stay in when it’s snowing outside. Plus, Iceland is much cheaper in the winter. It’s still expensive, but way less expensive that trips through June-August. And before you complain that it might be too cold to visit Iceland in the winter, let’s just say Toronto winters are WORSE. In Toronto, there would pretty much be a lockdown on the city because if you spent more than 5 minutes outside, you’d get frostbite. That doesn’t happen in Iceland. The only bummer about Iceland as one of your winter destinations is the short amount of daylight. When we visited in January, the sun rose at 11 am and set at 3:30 pm. Currently here in Iceland, the sun rises at 9 am and sets at 4 pm. But don’t let that deter you because it’s such a minor negative. We recommend staying at Silica Hotel at the Blue Lagoon, Hotel Húsafell, and Hotel Rangá in the south and west, and Deplar Farm in the north.
Check out our Iceland travel guide here.
There are 3 cities that need to be considered as possibles for your winter destinations – Salzburg, Hallstatt, and Vienna. We were lucky to have gotten to visit Austria in November last year. Tor knew I was in search of Christmas markets, and since he was living in Spain, it wasn’t far for us to travel to. Austria at Christmastime was everything I had dreamed of. If you don’t already know, the Christmas season is my favorite time of year. Don’t get me wrong, I am loving autumn, but once Halloween is over with, I start prepping for Christmas. Austria’s Christmas markets are so quaint and fun! I wanted to buy all the Christmas decorations and we bought a lot of food in the markets. Plus when everything is surrounded by snow, it makes the holiday season feel even more cozy and magical. I recommend starting in Vienna (you must visit the royal palace in the snow!), then take the train to Hallstatt, and then head to Salzburg. We recommend Sans Souci Wien in Vienna and Hotel Sacher Salzburg in Salzburg.
Check out our Salzburg travel guide here.
My final stop in my list of winter destinations for snow would be my family’s home country of Denmark. Copenhagen is absolutely beautiful in the snow, especially when walking the streets near Nyhavn, Amalienborg Palace, and Rosenborg Castle. But there’s more to Denmark than Copenhagen. If you haven’t seen pictures of Kronborg Castle in Helsingør in the snow (yes, Hamlet’s castle), then I suggest you Google it and let that be enough to convince you. If not, if you’re looking for a fairytale-in-the-snow experience (cough I am cough cough), then I highly recommend Ribe, Ærøskøbing, and Ebeltoft. Those three quaint Danish villages are absolutely incredible in the snow and are worth a visit. With that said, I am really hoping to make our way back to Denmark soon! Our hotel recommendations in Copenhagen are D’Angleterre and Babette Guldsmeden.
Check out our Copenhagen travel guide here.
After January, we hope to add a 5th location to this list: Finland! What are some of your favorite winter destinations?