Throw on your thickest cashmere and your best snow boots – winter is coming! Read on to find out which are the best winter retreats we recommend for a magical atmosphere.
Big Sky, Montana, USA
Looking for a snowy getaway? Big Sky will have you covered. This winter retreat is renowned for its skiing slopes and offers so many more activities so the whole family can have fun! Enjoy nature at its best by going bird watching or even wildflower spotting. Want something a little faster paced? Then dogsledding and snowmobiling will be the perfect activities for you! All in all, Big Sky has a laid back, family-friendly atmosphere, and you’ll not have to worry about crowds.
Want to wind down after a long day on the slopes? The resort offers spas for you to kick back and relax in. They offer salons, and massage therapies to help you feel at peace. If you’re looking for a unique evening experience, then take a trip to the Lone Mountain Ranch, be taken in a horse and carriage to the North Fork Cabin to experience authentic Montana, and enjoy a prime rib dinner!
Prague, Czech Republic
Via Just A Pack
Though Prague gets very cold in winter, don’t let that put you off visiting the Czech capital. Of course, it is quieter in the winter months, but there are plenty of reasons to travel here. In December, Prague is just magical, thanks to its beautiful light display and Christmas markets. Two markets take place – one at St George’s Square and the other in the Stables yard. St Nicholas Eve is on 5th December, and he gives out sweets and gifts to the children in the Old Town, like something straight out of a Christmas movie! In Czech folklore, he is accompanied by an angel and a demon, who help him give out the gifts. These Christmas markets are run by Prague Castle, which is a must-see in the winter time too!
Another thing you must do in Prague is make the most of Charles Bridge! Now there aren’t heaps of tourists taking a vacation selfie, you can admire the views and the lamplights dotted along either side of the bridge. If you happen to be in Prague in January, celebrate Masopust, which is the Carnival period. There are parades with people dressed up in masks, puppets and of course, dancing!
Stowe, Vermont, USA
Via Sugar and Charm
Stowe is the perfect place for outdoor adventurers! Why is Stowe one of the best winter retreats? Throughout the spring and summer months, you can enjoy mountain biking and rock climbing, but Stowe is even more exciting in the coldest time of the year. It is renowned for its winter sports, notably for Stowe Mountain Resort. Snowboarders and skiers far and wide flock here to make the most of the various trials for all levels – there is something for everyone, even beginners! Hop over to the resort’s Cross Country Ski Center for more challenging trails and some cross country skiing.
The area is so well-known for its winter sports, they even have a Ski and Snowboard Museum. While trying to unwind after a hard day on the slopes, check out the Stowe Mountain Resort’s museum. It has a collection of snowboards and skis past and present – perfect for anyone passionate about sports!
Via Life in Norway
It seems obvious that a Nordic country would make our countdown. But why Bergen in particular? Its wooden, multi-colored architecture gives the city charm, especially in the winter time. Just outside of Bergen, the amazing Mount Fløyen you can see from the city is just perfect for skiing! If you want to discover the mountains in a more relaxed fashion, we recommend Nærøyfjorden. It was voted the world’s most unspoiled tourist destination by National Geographic, and the views are spectacular. Get a guided tour and make a day of it!
If you want something short and sweet that allows you to admire Bergen, then do the Fløibanen Funicular, go from the city’s fish market to the top of Mount Fløyen in just 8 minutes! Note that the Fløibanen Funicular is closed up until 2022 for rebuilding, but it’s something you can always enjoy next winter!
If the cold does not scare you, explore Jökulsárlón in Iceland. If you’re feeling daring, then the Glacial Lagoon will be one of the best winter retreats out there. It’s an atmospheric place that is truly one of a kind, its blocks of ice date back over 1000 years. It is also the deepest natural lake in Iceland, around 248 meters deep, which is the lowest sea level in the country. Despite the amount of ice, you can still see wildlife – fish, seals and seabirds can be seen adventuring the glacial lagoon.
There are different ways to visit Jökulsárlón, by foot, or on a Zodiac. You can cruise along the lagoon and take in the aqua-blue hues of the ice. If you want to see more, we recommend also braving the Vatnajökull glacier and going inside its cave to be surrounded by bright blue ice.
Via Aye Wanderful
For those of you who are city people at heart, Salzburg is the destination for you! Its fairytale buildings and striking architecture are even more enchanting in the winter time. It becomes extremely Christmassy with dainty lights and of course, the Christmas markets, which have been around for over 500 years. They are one of the oldest Christmas markets in Europe – be sure to stop off and purchase a decoration for your Christmas tree!
Salzburg was also the home to Mozart, so you just have to do something in connection with the famous composer! Imagine being in the Mirabell Castle and listening to an orchestra playing Mozart’s compositions! Or, enjoy a hot chocolate at Mozart’s favorite café, Café Tomaselli. Be warned, there are crowds, and you have to find your own table!
Park City, Utah, USA
Via Men’s Journal
Park City is not just ideal for winter sports fanatics. Of course you’ve got ski slopes, you can snowboard, but there is so much more to do here! It is one of the best winter retreats because you can have fun in the snow by going ice skating at the Ice Arena and Sports Complex. And for those who want to unleash their inner child, tubing down the snowy hills is a fun activity for the whole family.
For a different experience, we recommend getting a hot air balloon ride. It’s a unique way of taking in the views of the park, and the hustle and bustle around it. Need to unwind after a long day in the great outdoors? Park City has plenty of amazing bars for you to choose from. Looking for a little bit of TLC? Opt for a more luxurious side to the resort and enjoy a jacuzzi while admiring the snowy mountain tops.
There are many reasons to visit Chamonix – the view of Mont Blanc, the snowy mountain tops, the luxurious lifestyle… need we say more? Located just an hour away from Geneva airport, it is very close to the Swiss border, and explains the reason why the landscape is magnificent. Why is it one of the best winter retreats out there? The ski slopes here really cater for everyone, not just advanced or expert skiers. In fact, they even have learner zones in every area, making sure that beginners learn safely.
The cuisine here is amazing – enjoy a meal at the wide variety of restaurants all over the different ski stations. Enjoy traditional savoyard cuisine at Les Vieilles Luges, or for something more exotic, opt for Argentinian food at La Tanière, both at Les Huches station. Other than the ski culture, there is plenty to see at Chamonix! You can even visit the largest glacier in France, the Mer de Glace.
St Moritz, Switzerland
Via CN Traveler
On your winter bucket list, St Moritz should appear! It is one of the world’s first winter resorts, and from here you can view the peaks of Piz Languard (east) to the peaks of Piz Julier (west). Despite its stunning alpine scenery and ski culture, it is a very urban destination, with plenty of events and activities to keep you entertained. If you are a winter sport fan, then start off your stay at the Corviglia Snow Park, the best skiing resort in St Moritz. And when we say winter sports, we don’t just mean skiing – here you can also ice skate, and partake in curling.
Go to the Suvretta Hotel and enjoy its British tea time tradition after a day on the slopes. Be surrounded by its luxurious atmosphere and snack on delicious patisseries. It is also a cultural hotspot. It has different museums and galleries for you to view. From the Forum Paracelsus to learn about St Moritz’s bathing culture to Mili Weber House, to learn all about the artist’s life, you will soon be immersed in the resort’s history.