Say ‘holiday’ and the first thing that comes to mind are beaches, palm trees, and pina coladas.
I’ll be honest – I fell in love with colder destinations only after we started travelling extensively and I discovered heavy duty down jackets and insulated thermals. I urge you to invest in good outerwear if you’re contemplating a cold weather holiday! It’s only when you’re super warm even at sub-zero temperatures that you can truly enjoy these destinations 🙂
Once you’re snug, cold destinations have so much to offer – frozen lakes, snow clad landscapes, igloos, snowmen, reindeer sleighs, and THE Northern Lights 🙂 Here are 5 of our favourite cold weather experiences:
1) Northern Lights and Reindeer in Lapland, Finland
Our love for Lapland is no secret. So many of you have visited the Arctic Circle since we first wrote about it and loved it as much as we did. Finnish Lapland is a magical place that’s perfect for couples and families. Kids love visiting Santa’s hometown, going on a reindeer sleigh ride, and meeting the ‘real’ Santa Claus at his headquarters in Rovaniemi.
But that’s not all – you can also rent a cabin or heated igloo and marvel at the incredible Northern Lights dancing overhead. The lack of light pollution make Lapland one of the best places for spotting Aurora Borealis -it’s an experience you won’t forget for a long long time!
Suggested length of stay: 2 nights in an igloo, 2-3 nights in a log cabin near Ivalo
Best time to visit: December – February
Packing: Read The Ultimate Guide to Packing For Finnish Lapland
Further Reading: All our articles on Finnish Lapland
2) Staying in an igloo village in Zermatt, Switzerland
If a heated igloo isn’t for you and you want the real deal, then consider a cold weather holiday in Switzerland. We stayed in an igloo at Iglu Dorf – an igloo village that is build from scratch every winter. It’s so much fun to sleep on beds of ice, go for a midnight adventure in the snow, enjoy quiet surroundings and star-spangled skies while sipping on warm mulled wine in a bar carved entirely out of ice. Nom 🙂
Suggested length of stay: 1 day at igloo, 4 days in surrounding Swiss villages
Best time to go: November – March
Packing for Switzerland: Read our article on packing for winter sports
Further Reading: Read all our articles on Switzerland
3) Camping in Ladakh, India
If you love remote places and barren panoramas then there’s no better place than Ladakh. The northernmost region of India shares borders with Tibet. Expect stunning plateaux, azure skies, gorgeous night skies (The Milky Way frequently makes an appearance!), hidden lakes that will leave you speechless and scenic roads straight out of a National Geographic Documentary.
Glamping sites in Ladakh offer the rare opportunity to stay right next to some of the remote panoramas of the world in complete luxury-think four-poster beds, hot showers, and 24 hour butler service. If you enjoy basic camping, there are lots of budget-friendly camps in the area. It’s also possible to pitch your own tents in a number of places around Ladakh.
Suggested length of stay: 1 -2 weeks
Best time to go: June- September
Packing for Ladakh: Read our article on packing for Ladakh
Further Reading: Read our 5 part guide to planning a road trip to Ladakh
4) Christmas Markets in UK and Europe
Every single day we get loads of emails asking us about the best time to visit tourist hotspots like London, Paris, Vienna, Prague, or Munich. Summer month seem to be the favourite – but Christmas time is one of our favourite times to visit busy European cities. At this time, summer hordes have dissipated and there is magic in the air.
During the month of December, the cities come to life- little markets and stalls lit with fairy lights dominate the landscape and the smell of mulled wine lends a celebratory feel. Make yourself a Gourmesso coffee or grab a glass of warm mulled wine before you plunge headlong into the madness. The weather can be unpredictable and you can expect the occasional rain shower but who cares? Christmas is in the air and you’re in Europe – it doesn’t get more romantic than that does it?
Suggested length of stay: 4 days in 1 city of your choice
Best time to go: December
Packing for Europe’s winters: Read our article on packing for the European Winter
Further Reading: Read all our experiences from Europe
5) Cruising in Alaska, USA
Alaska – the remote region, jam-packed with glaciers, fjords, and lagoons laden with icebergs is well and truly special. Most remote panoramas in Alaska are accessible only by boat or plane, so a cruise is one of the best ways to explore the area. Watch entire schools of whales at close quarters in Juneau, stare at dozens of glaciers at the astounding Glacier Bay, or go hiking on a glacier in Skagway. Alaska is truly an experience of a lifetime!
Suggested length of stay: 1 week
Best time to go: May – October
Packing for an Alaskan Cruise: Carry a mix of black-tie outfits for gala nights, smart casuals for days on the cruise ship, and thermals and down jackets for excursions in Alaska
Those are some of our favourite winter holidays. What about yours? Do you enjoy winter holidays or beaches and sunshine?