While your first thought of winter travel might be to jet off to somewhere warm, with white sandy beaches, however, cold weather destinations bring another element of adventure to a holiday.
From snow-capped slopes, glass-ceiling igloo for northern lights gazing, and sulfur-rich thermal springs to warm up in, once you get a taste of the soul-warming magic of a cold weather holiday, you’ll be trading your PTO for more and more cozy cold weather getaways.
If you’re new to the idea of spending your precious time away in a cold environment and don’t want to risk heading to the wrong place, don’t worry, I’ve got you covered with the best cold-weather destinations that conscious travelers are heading to this year. Here are the top spots:
As you may have already guessed Finland has no shortage of chilly weather. Rather than heading to the very hipster capital city, you should go north– very north. Lapland is Finland’s most northern region in the arctic circle.
You’ll want to head to Rovaniemi, which is the home of Santa Claus. Here you’ll be able to warm up in world-class saunas, they were invented in Finland after all. Watch as the northern lights dance across the sky from your hotel room and ski through snow-covered evergreens.
To be able to fully take in the beauty of the nature around you, I recommend staying at the Arctic TreeHouse Suits which have a nest-like atmosphere, huge windows for stargazing, and a private sauna.
Black Sand Beaches might not sound like a winter activity but in Iceland, you’ll have more luck getting up close and personal with chunks of broken icebergs washed upon shore than getting a tan. Iceland is the ultimate cold-weather destination for adventure lovers.
The small Iceland country has a moonlike landscape carved by volcanic rock and geothermal springs. There’s no shortage of things to do, from driving around the entire country on “the ring” road to puffin spotting or exploring caves and waterfalls via Iceland’s vast network of hiking trails.
Get off the grid while you’re in Iceland to experience the true Icelandic experience. Head to the north, to find one of the most sought-after stays for 2023. Nestled in the Fljót Valley on the Troll Peninsula, there’s a sheep farm turned luxury hotel.
Deplar Farm is the best home base for your daily adventures. Think whale watching, sea kayaking, or hiking the Fjords during the day and watching the Northern lights from the geothermal pool at night– or from the comfort of your bed thanks to the floor-to-ceiling windows.
Alta Badia, Italian Alps
Forget the Swiss Alps, Alta Badia is putting the Italian Alps on the map. The Northern Italian town is a dream vacation for anyone who loves to carve their way down slopes, avid hikers, and even those who are happy gazing at the mountains from a cozy mountain lodge.
Located in South Tyrol, Alta Badia is a cozy little ski town that is surrounded by the rugged peaks of the Dolomites Mountains. While you’re technically in Italy, don’t be surprised if you hear both German and Italian being spoken. What it lacks in the cliche Italian culture it makes up for in quaint mountain culture– think wooden chalets, soul-warming food, and smiling rosy cheeks of the locals.
For a unique stay experience head to Ütia de Börz, which was once a shelter for mountain hikers. Now it’s a picturesque lodge that is in the ideal location for hikes, cycling tours, and skiing. You’ll be surrounded by the best of everything the mountains have to offer with alpine meadows and stone pine forests on one side, and the face of Sas De Püta on the other.
It’s no surprise that somewhere in Alaska made the list– but Fairbanks is the perfect cold-weather destination for a conscious traveler. As any slow traveler knows, the journey is one of the best parts of the trip– and that’s why you should take advantage of the train from Anchorage to Fairbanks. Not only is it a more eco-friendly travel option, but it’s also one of the most stunning winter train rides in the world. You’ll pass snow-dusted forests, and if the weather is in your favor, Denali, which is the tallest mountain in North America.
Once you get to Fairbanks prepare to enter a winter wonderland. Thrill seekers can hop on a snowmobile and head out into the white abyss while holidayers looking for some wellness time can head to the hot springs. To soak in the Alaskan culture, make sure to take a dog-sled tour that doubles as a once-in-a-lifetime experience and an educational excursion.
Just outside of Fairbanks you can stay in Alaska’s only glass-ceiling igloo hotel. The bubble igloos are the perfect place to gaze at the northern lights without having to freeze while doing it.
If you fancy the winter and all that comes with it, Sapporo Japan should be on your radar. It’s the fifth largest city in Japan nestled in a valley surrounded by snow-capped mountains. The city comes to life during its annual Snow Festival. The city is overtaken by larger-than-life snow sculptures and ski bums heading to the slopes.
While there’s no shortage of snow-related things to do (think sledding, snow slides, and more) the city also boasts all the amenities of an urban city. With a thriving gastronomy scene, a recent influx of craft breweries popping up, and no shortage of dimly lit cocktail bars and nightclubs to dance to until morning in. Sapporo is really the best of both worlds.
While the city is great– my top pick of where to stay is up in the mountains. A little 9-room boutique ski lodge that you will never want to leave. Hotel Kimamaya is in the heart of the ski haven– surrounded by thick powder ready to be carved. Coming back to Kimamaya after a hard day on the mountain is pure luxury. You’ll defrost by the fire and refuel in “The Barn” which is no regular barn. With floor-to-ceiling windows you can gaze out at the slopes you conquered just a few hours earlier.