The Best of Winter Travel: 10 Destinations for Your Bucket List
Depending on where your coordinates fall on a map, the winter months can range from mild to downright frigid. Then there are holidays to celebrate, hot tea to sip, and movie marathons to watch—all of which bring you indoors.
Choose to get outside this winter no matter where you are or what the weather. Remember the sentiment: there’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing. Start planning (or dreaming) of your next big adventure with these 10 bucket-list worthy winter travel destinations:
Head to the Mountains
The mountains are calling, and you should answer. Explore the majestic mountains at home or abroad and you’ll find yourself filled with awe and wonder.
- Park City, Utah
This ski town tucked off the Wasatch Mountains is a snow lover’s paradise, offering three world-class ski resorts to choose from, including America’s largest.
Must do: try a new snow sport. Skiing (downhill and cross country), snowboarding, ice skating, snowshoeing—there are lots of activities to choose from and plenty of rental shops to help you get started.
Must pack: hand warmers for on and off the slopes.
- Lucerne, Switzerland
In Lucerne, breathtaking natural landscapes collide with modern amenities and rich history.
Must do: Christmas markets are the main attraction in the months leading up to the winter holidays. Charming booths are filled with artisan foods, handmade crafts, and Christmas décor. After the holidays, the Lilu Light Festival Lucerne keeps the city aglow with the festive spirit.
Must pack: Alpine boots and thick socks to help you easily transition from a mountain hike to a Christmas market in the same day.
Live Your Big City Life
It’s thrilling to spend time tucked between soaring skyscrapers and rushing pedestrians. The winter months only add to the charm and romance of living out your big city dreams, at least for a little while.
- Paris, France
Paris’ cobblestoned streets are waiting to be explored any time of the year, but take on a soft glow during the winter months. You’ll find culture and style in abundance and temperatures that are just cold enough to bundle up.
Must do: explore the side streets away from the hustle of main attractions like the Eiffel Tower, and Louvre. You’ll be rewarded with a glimpse at the true heart of the city.
Must pack: a warm hat is always nice, so why not make it a wool beret?
- New York, New York
The City That Never Sleeps. The Melting Pot. The Big Apple. It doesn’t get much bigger or better than New York.
Central Park truly can’t be missed. Be sure to wander through the park and visit some of the iconic Hollywood movie sites. For starters, there’s the snowball fight bridge from “Elf,” the Bow Bridge featured in “Enchanted,” and Bethesda Terrace seen in “Marathon Man.”
Must pack: a chunky knit sweater to give off the truest “When Harry Met Sally” vibes.
Cozy Up With Hygge
Hygge is derived from a Norwegian term meaning “to comfort.” It’s become a cultural movement encouraging coziness and simplicity.
- Oslo, Norway
Norwegians are known for being some of the happiest people in the world with their strong outdoor culture and access to meaningful work and relationships.
Must do: enjoy a spa-like experience in a steaming sauna. Go solo or bring a friend along to sweat it out. Among many benefits, you’ll strengthen your immune system, increase blood circulation, and improve your sleep.
Must pack: a reusable bottled water to rehydrate after your sauna soak.
- Copenhagen, Denmark
When you’re in the heart of Copenhagen, it’s hard to remember that you’re really on an island.
Must do: Take advantage of your proximity to the sea and take a cold plunge. There are several public baths, adjacent to harbors, that have a swimming pool feel that won’t be quite as busy with Danes during the winter as they are in the summer.
Must pack: a thick, fuzzy towel to dry off with after you brave the plunge.
Hit the Beach
There’s no place better to catch some rays than someplace beachside. In the winter, it’s the break from the cold our bodies and minds crave.
- Costa Rica
The tropical forests seem to almost tumble onto the beaches and into the ocean in this wild and beautiful part of Central America.
Must do: get out your snorkel, goggles, and fins for an up-close look at some of the earth’s most beautiful coral reefs. When you’re not in the water, enjoy pristine beaches, especially up and down the Pacific coastline.
Must pack: Costa Rica is serious about preserving its beaches and oceans, be sure to lather up with coral safe sunscreen.
This surprising country is an archipelago that lies in the Indian Ocean. It’s made up of 1,192 islands, 187 of which are inhabited and ready to welcome you to their beaches and resorts.
Must do: don’t stay in one place. Take a catamaran and hop to different islands to explore the variety of colorful reefs and exclusive accommodations.
Must pack: a broad brimmed sunhat to block too much sun from reaching your winter-conditioned skin. You’ll look glamorous and stay protected. Win-win!
Find Adventure Close to Home
It’s no secret that the winter months can feel dreary. Fresh air and new surroundings can energize you, so don’t let the chilly weather keep you from finding daily adventures close to home.
- Your neighborhood
No matter how long you’ve lived in one place, there are still surprises to find and secrets to uncover. Perhaps it’s the way the sun hits your face on a mid-day walk, or meeting a neighbor’s new dog. Let the small things in life bring glimmers of joy.
Must do: plan a walk somewhere new to you within a five-mile radius of your home. You’ll be surprised at the places and people you discover.
Must pack: warm gloves to keep your fingers toasty as you explore the outdoors close to home.
- Specialty food shop
Good food can solve so many of life’s problems. But don’t get stuck in a rut of the same soups and pastas this winter. Bring adventure home with a brand-new recipe and new must-have ingredients.
Must do: explore a new-to-you specialty food shop or winter farmer’s market. Buy a few novel items and challenge yourself to make something fresh and new.
Must pack: a smile and a friendly hello to meet someone new as you wander the aisles.