Incredible Winter Destinations You Wouldn't Have Considered

Everybody needs a temporary escape in the winter even if the destination is not a cozy and warm retreat in the Caribbean. Even if your journey's end isn't tropical, a change of scenery in the middle of this gloomy season, especially if you live in a chaotic city, is always a good idea.


This beautiful country is not all rain and fog. Imagine the iconic peaks in every hue of green contrasted powdered mountains and frozen lakes. The best part may be that you won't see crowds at all – and that means great package deals. Walking in Ireland's world-famous countryside is an adventure that will take your breath away. The winter weather is mild compared to the rest of Europe. A lot of music events are organized – don't miss some great venues such as the Twisted Pepper, Whelan's and The Button Factory, and the award-winning New Year's Festival Dublin.

Lake Tahoe, California

Popular in the summer and typically considered a water sports haven, Lake Tahoe is one of the highest and best preserved alpine lakes in the country, but it also happens to be home to some incredible ski mountains. In fact, the whole area is full of outdoor recreation opportunities—from downhill skiing and snowboarding, to snowshoeing, ice skating, cross-country skiing, soaking in hot springs and even getting out on the water in the middle of winter—there's plenty to do year-round.

Zakopane, Poland

Most people will head to Krakow, which is worth a trip, but it is Zakopane that is known as the winter capital of the country. This is where you'd go if you lived in Poland and wanted to go skiing or snowboarding – you'll save money and enjoy beautiful winter vistas. The most popular are torchlight sleigh rides, snow scooter rides, husky dog sledding, ice skating and cross-country skiing. You can even go scuba diving under the ice. Finish the day with the famously delicious pierogi (Polish dumplings) and mulled wine.

Amalfi Coast, Italy

October to April is the off season in this beautiful coast perched over the Tyrrhenian Sea. You won't be relaxing by the pool catching rays all day, but the weather is perfect for hiking around the UNESCO World Heritage Site without bumping into other tourists. Sunny, crisp days when temperature rarely falls under 50F are plenty. History buffs will love the chance to visit nearby Pompeii. Go on a road trip along the coast's single and stunningly scenic road.

Tremblant, Quebec

When it comes to winter getaways in Canada, the destination that immediately comes to mind is Whistler, B.C. For a lesser-known Canadian ski destination, that's also less crowded, visit Tremblant. This quaint European-style town is built around an impressive ski mountain, but there's so much more to it than downhill. The village is famous for high-end shopping, top-rated dining and exciting nightlife options, all of which are steps from the base of the mountain.

Scenic Drive, Arches National Park, Utah

People usually go there in the summer, so that means more of this beautiful region just for you and your fellow-passengers. Have you seen arches and red rocks sparkle with ice and snow contrasting the clear blue sky? This natural phenomenon doesn't happen in a lot of places. The Scenic Drive passes many outstanding natural features. Don't miss the Windows Section and see some of the park's largest arches. Drive to the Delicate Arch Viewpoint and see the world's most famous arch.

Sedona, Arizona

No crowds, low prices, perfectly comfortable temperatures, and red rockes dusted with snow – the more you think about it, the more Sedona becomes an attractive winter destination. Now is the time to go hiking and wine tasting. Lots of festivals and fun events are scheduled in the winter, too. Make sure you visit one of the weirdest McDonald's locations on the planet – it may just be the only McDonald's in the U.S. (or the world) with a green logo. The venue itself looks like a huge rock.

Madeira, Portugal

Madeira offers a very wide range of incredible hiking opportunities, spectacular beaches and delicious food. The semitropical four-island archipelago is located off the coast of Africa. The winter is the most affordable time to go – smaller crowds and temperatures in the late 60s. Explore lush gardens, try delicious wine, and marvel the European-style parishes.

Marrakesh, Morocco

Gardens, markets and city squares—these are just a few of the conventional things that become extraordinary works of art in Marrakesh. Founded in 1062 A.D., the city has historical roots that run deep with slices of modern thrown in. Visit this incredible place in the late winter months—February or March—for the best weather and fewest numbers of tourists. The food, sights and, most of all, the experience, are unforgettable.

Tenerife, Spain

Want to see where part of Star Wars and Planet Of The Apes was filmed? Book a vacation in Tenerife. A popular attraction, the World Heritage Site of Mount Teide there is the third tallest volcano in the world. Of the seven Canary Islands, Tenerife is the largest. A flight from London is just four hours, the spectacular scenery and winter sun will energize you. Tourist crowds are fewer and different – no teens and wild, fun-seeking people in their 20's are there during this time of the year. Tenerife is duty-free and you can bargain everything.

Asheville, North Carolina

The most serene time to visit Asheville and the surrounding Blue Ridge Mountains are January, February and March. Winters there are mild and crowds are rare which makes the city ideal for a relaxing getaway. Visit the Pinball Museum to show the kids some fun and keep them occupied. Go on a ghost tour to learn more about the city's history. You'll find great winter packages, Biltmore specials, and food (and chocolate) tours. A favorite activity is hiking near the city to frozen and spectacular waterfalls.

Beijing, China

Beijing is a mega-city with air pollution levels that can kill you – except in the winter when there is much less smog. You can see the iconic Temple of Heaven and the Forbidden City crystal clear. The Great Wall, which is still very accessible in the low season, is absolutely magnificent in the winter. Tourists don't usually go to the city this time of year because it can get chilly (but no rain) and snowy, so you'll encounter smaller crowds.

Cheyenne, Wyoming

Cheyenne is the cleanest city in the U.S. in the year-round particle pollution category. The state's capital, which is famous for its mountains, has remained mostly untouched by drilling and fracking. Enjoy the fresh crisp air without paying the money you would at a ski resort. Go to the capital of Wyoming to try some delicious food, be part of unique heritage events, and see rodeos. There are also many steam engines and working dude ranches to check out.

Abisko, Sweden

This small village is an ideal place to visit to see the superb Northern Lights. Getting (traveling?) train by train is also an unforgettable experience. Sometimes in December and January it's dark for days or even weeks at a time. That makes cross-country skiing, hiking in the national park nearby and husky mushing all the more exciting. Don't miss the Ice Hotel in Kiruna, which is not far away. You may also find an ice-climbing trip to a frozen waterfall in the Abisko Canyon exhilarating.


Most people go to South Africa and ignore this beautiful scuba diving heaven. Explore the more than 1,500 miles or unspoiled rugged coastline and go snorkeling so you can see the remarkable coral reefs. People looking for a place for their honeymoon should consider the fairytale-like Flamingo Bay Water Lodge, a stunning overwater bungalow. All villas, which have their own private deck, face west so you never miss a sunset. Visit the largest protected marine area in all of Africa in the Quirimbas archipelago.