Winter Vacation Ideas – Best Places To Visit In Winter (Warm and Cold)
Every winter, from December to March, I look to get away from my house and visit new places either to bask in some warm sunlight or to huddle up in a cozy cabin in a ski location. So, I asked my fellow bloggers to give me some winter vacation ideas for both warm destinations and cold snowy destinations. Here’s what they suggest.
Tropical Colombia is divided into five regions, each with its own climate depending on the altitude. Temperate Medellin, otherwise known as La Ciudad de la Eterna Primavera (‘The City of Eternal Spring’), is one of the best places to visit in winter.
The winter months in Colombia’s second-largest city (December through February) present fairly low rainfall and warm temperatures in the mid to high-20s.
Medellin’s climate is perfect for growing flowers, coffee and fruit all year round—fresh produce never goes out of season, so you’ll always be able to find orange juice carts and overflowing stalls at the Minorista Market. Sunny winter mornings are perfect for walking around downtown, exploring Comuna 13, the city’s street art hub, and hanging out in the many outdoor plazas. If you get caught in a winter shower, make a beeline for the Museo de Antioquia or Casa de la Memoria, two of Medellin’s finest museums.
Winter is also a great time to venture into the hills for more outdoor activities, including paragliding, hiking and birdwatching in Parque Arvi, and visiting nearby coffee farms. During the winter months, tourists can participate in local religious festivals, including the day of little candles (Medellin Christmas Light Festival) and Christmas itself.
Winter vacation idea and photo submitted by: Emily Lush from Wander-Lush
2. Winter Vacation Ideas (Warm Destination) – Sao Paulo, Brazil
Hearty food, cultural hub, and warm weather, Sao Paulo is the perfect escape for this winter. The city isn’t the capital of Brazil, but here is where everything happens. From renowned and unique museums to lively beer cafes, Sao Paulo has a lot to keep you entertained.
Well, you might have heard that Sao Paulo is the largest city in the Southern Hemisphere, and in the middle of this massive concrete jungle, you can still find lovely parks to relax and enjoy a picnic, such as the Ibirapuera Park.
If you’re a foodie, know that Sao Paulo has excellent eateries from diverse cuisines around the world. I’m not exaggerating. Japanese, Italian, French, you name it! You can even find some trendy places for delicious desserts, such as ice cream burgers or churros with mouthwatering toppings.
Sao Paulo is a world on its own, so if you’re looking for an offbeat destination to visit this winter and escape the cold, be sure to learn some words in Portuguese.
Winter vacation idea and photo submitted by: Bruna from Maps ‘N Bags
3. Winter Vacation Ideas (Warm Destination) – Muscat, Oman
Oman in the Middle East is one of the most naturally diverse countries in the region. Due to its versatile topography, the country witnesses all the four kinds of weather in the year, which is very unlikely to happen anywhere else in the Middle East.
Muscat, the capital city of Oman is a coastal city, which gets extremely hot during the summers but moderately chilled and pleasant during winters. The best thing about winters in Muscat is that the temperature does not drop insanely low to make life inconvenient. Rather, winter is the most loved weather in Muscat.
As the winter days in Oman witnesses a temperature of 15-25°C, it is perhaps the best time to enjoy all the outdoor activities in the city. The best thing to do during the winter in Muscat is to enjoy a day at the beach! Yes, in Oman you can totally enjoy an afternoon at the beach in winter as the extreme summer heat can adversely affect your health if stayed out for a long time. You can easily get a nice tan in a pleasant but not cold breeze at the beach.
4. Winter Vacation Ideas (Warm Destination) – Las Terrazas, Cuba
While many people go to Cuba in colder months to escape the snow for a warm beach, they are missing out on some of the best parts of the county.
Las Terrazas Cuba is a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve that has an amazing story. Located in the Sierra del Rosario mountains, the land was ravaged after years of deforestation to build coffee plantations and then what was left was destroyed by hurricanes.
In the late 1960s Fidel Castro decided to rebuild the land and give countrymen somewhere prosperous to live. They planted 7 million trees over ten years and completely changed the landscape.
Today, it is a small community where many Cubans come to spend weekends along the river. There are many hiking trails, a 6-line canopy tour, horseback riding and row boats for the lakes. It’s a tranquil spot far from Spring Break and only 90 minutes from Havana.
Travelers rave about this off the beaten track spot, with a range of accommodation from camping to homestays to the local hotel. It’s an experience not to be missed.
Winter vacation idea and photo submitted by: Ayngelina from BaconisMagic.ca
5. Winter Vacation Ideas (Warm Destination) – Gran Canaria, Spain
Gran Canaria is one of the best places to recharge our batteries in winter.
The weather on this Spanish island is perfect in winter months. The possibility of sunbathing on the beach while it is minus 10 degrees in our home country is one of the best feelings on vacation!
It is especially pleasant in the south – the temperature is about 20 degrees Celsius and there is no unbearable heat. It is just perfect! If you are sun lover, choose Playa del Ingles, Maspalomas, San Augustin, Puerto Rico or Puerto de Mogan as your destination.
The biggest attraction in the south of the island are dunes in Maspalomas. It is ideal place both for beach goers and those who love long walks. We can really break a sweat walking on the high dunes!
If you are up to long walks you can hike from Maspalomas to Faro lighthouse. It is one of the oldest lighthouses on Canary Islands – it started working in 1890! If you still feel like walking, there is Paseo de las Meloneras promenade which is one of the most beautiful sidewalks I have ever seen.
Gran Canaria is also a hiker’s paradise. There are many picturesque trails suitable for all levels of experience. The most popular place in the mountains is Roque Nublo. Majestic 80-metre high rock is considered the most important natural monument in Parque Rural del Nublo.
Winter vacation idea and photo submitted by: Joanna from overhere.eu
Madrid lies further south than a lot of Europe, so during the winter months it’s still blessed with some half decent weather. The skies can still be blue, and the sun is still bright.
Being the nation’s capital, you will find a plethora of top class museums, Centro/Centro or the Palacio de Cibles as well as the Telefonica Building. Both museums have a mix of standard exhibitions – check out the vintage phones in Telefonica as well as the architecture and original fixtures and fitting from the Centro/Centro when it was the hub for all things communication – think telegrams and postal service.
You could spend weeks in Madrid just visiting the eateries – one of the more notable places to hang out on a chilly winters day is San Anton Market, you’ll find this little gem of a place in the Chuecca District.
If you want to venture a little way out of the Madrid, then catch the regular train to nearby Toledo. Toledo was the old capital of Spain, you’ll find the ancient city sat upon a hill surrounded by moats and thick walls. Its picturesque cobbled streets are great to submerse yourself in a bit of Spanish history. In December Toledo is heaving with locals, city dwellers and tourists visiting the Christmas Markets. If you come outside of this time during the winter, you’ll have the luxury of pretty much having the place to yourself.
Winter vacation idea and photo submitted by: Becki Rendell aka Backpack Becki
7. Winter Vacation Ideas (Warm Destination) – Porto, Portugal
Actually, Porto is a city to visit all year round. Elected last year (2017) Best European Destination by the European Consumers Choice, the city is a charming place.
Porto is an old city with a true genuine identity, capable to seduce every traveller. There are a lot of things you can do, for couples, solo travellers or even families. In winter time there are seasonal events.
The winter in Porto is not so cold as many others European cities so, don’t even expect snow. Some others reasons are the prices are cheaper, fewer crowds, good food, good wine plus incredible architecture.
In winter time you can enjoy a visit to Port wine caves and have a tasting tour. Don’t forget to go shopping, please use and abuse of local retail shops. There are so many good products you can buy, search for the Portuguese ones at A Vida Portuguesa.
Porto is also known for the comfort food, like francesinha, a must try sandwich. Another good dish for winter warmer is bacalhau, typical Portuguese, with lots of different recipes.
There are plenty of things to do indoor in Porto, like visiting museums like Serralves or Soares dos Reis; go for the old churches like Porto cathedral, Clérigos Church or St. Francis Church and watch a concert at Casa da Música.
At winter everyone in Porto goes for the brunch. Seasonal markets are a crescent reality in the city, you can shop handmade products or even Christmas gifts. There is always something for everyone in the city of Porto. It’s definitely one of the best European city for a winter break.
Costa Rica is incredible anytime of the year but becomes just that extra little bit more special in winter. Especially since the beautiful beaches along the Pacific Coast, in the Guanacaste Region, boast excellent weather at this time of year. Blue sunny skies and temperatures hovering in the high twenties are the norm.
Our favourite among these beaches is Playa Avellanas. It is a little slice of paradise. There is very little infrastructure in the neighborhood, just a handful of accommodation and dining options and lots of ocean, coast and jungle to explore.
The first thing you’ll need to do in Playa Avellanas is enjoy some much needed beach time. The beach is long, quiet, and never crowded. It is perfect for a day of swimming, sunbathing, and relaxing. There is a restaurant right on the beach too. It is named Lola’s after its famous pet pig you’ll find lounging around the property.
If you want to be a little bit more active there is great surf just offshore and at nearby beach Playa Negra. There are stand up paddle boards for rent in the area, kayak tours available to the nearby Estero Venado Junquilla, and lots of places to practice yoga. Otherwise take a horseback ride of the beach, visit the bustling town of Tamarindo nearby, or take a canopy tour. You will never run of things to do in Playa Avellanas in the winter!
Winter vacation idea and photo submitted by: Oksana & Max from DrinkTeaTravel.com
9. Winter Vacation Ideas (Warm Destination) – Cape Town, South Africa
A great destination to visit in winter is Cape Town, South Africa. Being a country in the southern hemisphere the summer season falls during a northern winter, making it an ideal escape for a winter break.
The city attracts sun, sea and adventure seekers like bees to honey during summer months and it’s easy to see why. With an average temperature of 26C it has amazing wildlife, spectacular scenery, rich culture and history, and above all friendly people.
There’s plenty to see and do in the Mother City; wine tasting, endless beaches, hiking, cage diving with great whites, visiting the Instagram-able Bo Kaap district and listening to Acapella singers at the V&A Waterfront.
A must-do is Table Mountain. A five-minute cable car ride will take you to the 1,089m summit for sweeping views of the city below. Cape Town also has an exciting and delectable food scene that can be easily explored through a multitude of food markets and restaurants that suits all tastes and budgets – it’s foodie heaven. This photogenic, English-speaking and Uber-friendly city is perfect for a winter getaway.
The Lofoten Islands in northern Norway are easily one of the most spectacular places in the world in winter. Many people think to visit only during the warmer months when the sun doesn’t set and the landscape is colorful and green, but there is something simply magical about the dark winter days and snow covering this dramatic and raw landscape that just leaves me captivated.
Most tourists in Norway flock to Tromso during the winter for activities and northern lights, but you can actually do the same stuff in Lofoten, and it is slightly warmer. In Lofoten, I was able to go on a RIB safari, go snowshoeing, and enjoy delicious, winter food all without heaps of tourists surrounding me.
I saw the northern lights while there, too, and it was one of the most incredible experiences of my life. While I would never say to skip Tromso and places north of it, I highly recommend adding Lofoten to the list of places to visit in winter as it will definitely not leave you disappointed!
Winter vacation idea and photo submitted by: Megan Starr from meganstarr.com
Banff is a gorgeous mountain town in Alberta, Canada. Located in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, Banff is a incredible place to explore during the wintertime. Known for its world-class ski and snowboarding conditions, you can count on a long season with lots of fresh powder.
If skiings not your thing, opt for a dog-sled ride through the mountains all the way to the border of British Colombia, or take a winter hike through Johnston canyon to the magical frozen waterfalls. Nearby you may see ice climbers, and you can even try it yourself!
Banff is also home to the world famous Lake Louise, which becomes even more picturesque as the snow falls over the mountain and the water freezes, offering visitors a chance to skate around the lake. After all the fun in the snow, warm up and relax in the Banff hot springs or by a fire in one of the cozy chalets in the town of Banff. There is no shortage of amazing activities to do in Banff during the wintertime.
While looking for the perfect winter holiday most of us start by considering somewhere warm, tropical even. Likely your mind won’t go straight to the frozen landscapes of Iceland. However, not giving the land of fire and ice a chance is a big mistake!
The hip & happening capital city of Reykjavík comes alive in the winter. Stargazers and hearty tourists get to enjoy the sites without the lines & waits they’d experience in the summer and the Christmas and new year cheer flows freely amongst the locals and tourists alike.
From seeking out the northern lights near Reykjavík to exploring the ice crusted waterfalls or even soaking in Icelands Hot Springs, Winter in Iceland makes for an amazing European escape you won’t soon forget!
Winter vacation idea and photo submitted by: Patrick Horsfield from Adventographer Travel & Photo Blog
3. Winter Vacation Ideas (Cold Destination) – Stockholm, Sweden
Bitterly cold temperatures aside, we had a fantastic time visiting Stockholm in winter.
Stockholm is built on 14 islands, meaning that walking through the city you will enjoy stunning views of the canals. Stockholm is very well connected, with bridges, viaducts and footpaths everywhere, meaning you can explore the whole city centre on foot. We would definitely recommend this, as the architecture is stunning. Just make sure you wrap up warm!
Despite being cold, we experienced clear blue skies and winter sun. The reflections on the water made for some awesome Instagram shots!
After a few hours exploring on foot, it will probably be time to head inside and warm up a little! Check out one of the many different museums on offer. Our favourites were by far the Vasa Museum, and the ABBA museum:
Vasamuseet – This was a great experience. Today the museum has the entire Vasa warship on display. The ship is almost completely well-preserved, despite spending over 300 years at the bottom of Stockholm Bay! It’s quite a sight!
ABBA Museum – No visit to Stockholm is complete without a visit to the ABBA museum! The museum is extremely interactive, with karaoke booths, and even a stage where you can perform with holograms of the band! We had a blast here!
To warm up even further, head to a local café for Swedish ‘fika’. This is a very traditional concept – essentially a coffee break with family or friends, with an emphasis of taking time, slowing down and spending quality time catching up. And it’s not fika unless a sweet treat is included – usually a cinnamon bun, or the local ‘princess cake’!
Yes, it may be freezing, but don’t let that put you off! It’s one of the most beautiful cities we have visited, with so much on offer. Grab your hat, scarves and gloves, stick some ABBA on your iPod, and check out Stockholm in winter!
4. Winter Vacation Ideas (Cold Destination) – Central Oregon, USA
Central Oregon has some of the best winter weather in the Northwest. Whereas Portland and Seattle are often dreary and wet, the high desert climate keeps Central Oregon sunny and relatively dry. Nearby mountains with crisp snows are perfect for winter sports like skiing, snowboarding, sledding, and snowshoeing.
Bend, Oregon is a hot spot for families, vacationers, and outdoor adventurists. Its craft breweries, popular restaurants, and trendy shops draw crowds in both summer and winter. Nearby Redmond, Oregon is a bit more off-the-beaten-path with an up-and-coming revitalized historic town center. (Redmond is also home to the area’s one commercial airport, which cuts out a 3 hour drive if you were to fly into Portland instead.) Many visitors also enjoy staying in one of the area’s resorts, like Black Butte Ranch or Sunriver.
If you enjoy staying active and love a crisp, white winter, definitely check out Central Oregon for your next trip.
Maastricht is one of the most beautiful cities in The Netherlands and always a must visit. However, during winter Maastricht becomes even more charming. There’s a big Christmas market from mid- December until mid-January. There’s are choirs singing Christmas carols, plenty of stalls to find the best souvenirs and there’s even a Ferris wheel that will give you the best view of Maastricht. But that’s not all. Maastricht has more to offer than just that.
Maastricht is also very famous in The Netherlands for its charming streets, having a hilly surrounding, great cafes and incredible regional food. Exploring regional food is a great thing to do, no matter what time you are here. Wandering through this medieval city during winter, with the Christmas decorations is a true dream.
Drink a great coffee and observe the city and its people. One of my favourite things about Maastricht is people. They are warm and friendly. They will help you if you have questions and they are happy to share the best spots in the city with you. During winter you can find them usually in small coffee shops, museums and great boutiques. That’s another thing I love about Maastricht. It’s quaint, has great museums that are best to visit during winter and you can do some wonderful shopping.
All in all, that makes Maastricht a great city to visit during winter. But also, don’t forget to visit Maastricht no matter what time you are in The Netherlands.
6. Winter Vacation Ideas (Cold Destination) – London, UK
London is a great city to visit all year round but I especially love to visit London in the winter! The great thing about London in winter is that there aren’t the hordes of crowds that visit London in summer and there is a great mix of indoor and outdoor activities that you can do that suit winter weather!
In December you can experience of wealth of Christmas markets and winter wonderlands and see the beautiful lights of regents street! But my favourite December activity is to go skating outside London’s natural history museum!
After Christmas, away from peak season you can visit all of the main London sights uninhibited! Places like Buckingham palace, the changing of the guard and the Tower of London are virtually empty by comparison to in the summer season! And if it gets too cold or windy for you you can seek respite in one of London’s many world class museums or perhaps dip into a traditional London pub for a nice warming pie and pint! To me London Is the perfect winter city break!
6. Winter Vacation Ideas (Cold Destination) – Belgrade, Serbia
Belgrade is an amazing city to visit year-round, but there are many things to do in Belgrade that make it perfect to visit in winter. My favorite is to visit the Hotel Moskva. One of the most beautiful and famous buildings in the city, many tourists will walk by it during their time here. However, it’s a real treat to go inside and escape the cold. They have many great desserts to choose from, but I would suggest ordering the Moskva Schnitt, which is their namesake cake made from cherries and almonds. They will even suggest which wines to pair with it!
Belgrade is also a great museum city, with many great institutions to choose from. A visit to the Museum of Contemporary Art is a great idea any time, but especially on Wednesdays when it’s free. The National Museum in Belgrade just completed a major renovation and has reopened after being closed for years.
The city is also a great food city. You can dine at restaurants as nice and delicious as in western Europe, but for half the price. My personal favorites for a modern take on Balkan cuisine are Manufaktura and Ambar.
If you need to keep warm, start your night with some Serbian rakia. It will warm you right up! Winter vacation idea by : Stephanie Craig from Sofia Adventures.