Five Reasons Why Travelling In Winter Totally Rules
Days in the snow and nights by the fire could be just what the doctor ordered.
Summer in Australia is rough. With 40-plus degree days, total fire bans, and broken air conditioners, who needs it?
Instead, there’s a strong case for visiting your favourite place when the temperature drops. Days in the snow and nights by the fire could be just what the doctor ordered for your next trip. Here’s five reasons why travelling in winter totally rules.
#1 It’s not all doom and gloom
While we often associate winter with grey skies and early nights, travelling in winter can mean seeing a different type of winter: not a cloud in sight, even when the temperature plummets. Enjoying the wintry landscape means you get some very Insta-worthy photos of scenery that isn’t available year-round. When else can you see snow-capped mountains, lakes frozen solid and rooftops dusted with snow?
In places like Iceland, the winter sun doesn’t rise very high over the horizon, meaning you get a soft glow for most of the day.
#2 You can go out
Venturing into the Great Outdoors in the middle of winter is an unrivalled experience. Snow sports are some of the best adrenaline sources, so you need to hit the piste when it’s at its best. Seek dry powder in Japan, Canada or New Zealand, or cross-country trails in the US, Finland or Switzerland.
Or, if you really want to test your tolerance, you can even get a jet boat from the airport in Queenstown, New Zealand.
Geothermal wonders like hot springs are often open year-round, but will probably do you the most good after a day on the slopes. Iceland, Budapest, Istanbul, Japan and New Zealand all have excellent sources of warm groundwater from the depths of the earth.
And, even if you’re not an outdoorsy person, how great is a brisk walk in sparkling winter scenery, with the snow crunching beneath your boots? You just can’t beat that.
#3 … Or stay in
When the weather outside gets a little too frightful, don’t feel like you have to force yourself to go out or else be confined to your hostel common room. There are plenty of indoor activities on offer in places prone to heavy sleet and snow.
Museums are a great indoor activity. If you’re interested in the culture or history of a place, try to find a historical museum – these can provide context for the things you’re seeing as a tourist. But if you want to look at something more modern, there’s plenty of options. Browse the websites beforehand to see if any exhibitions tickle your fancy, and keep in mind any specials – for example, Hong Kong museums are free every Wednesday.
Shopping also helps you avoid blizzard-y days. Even if you’re a bit low on funds, browsing the shops in a new place can be a cultural experience in itself. Spend some time people watching, seeing new trends, checking out the prices and comparing it all to back home.
And at the end of it all, save cocktails on the beach for summertime at home – instead, opt for a pint of warm Guinness or buttered rum at a pub in Europe, or a sakazuki (shallow cup) of hot sake at an Izakaya in Japan.
#4 Some things you can only do in winter
Winter holds many events – both natural and man-made – that cannot be seen or experienced at any other time of year. For example, the aurora borealis (aka the Northern Lights) is only visible during the winter months in northern Europe, while all over Europe cities are alive and bustling with Christmas markets.
Speaking of, a wintry festive season is a real gem for Aussies who we grew up with carols like ‘Winter Wonderland’ and ‘Let It Snow’, but missed out on the real deal. Now it’s time to cash in on that White Christmas.
But if Christmas isn’t really your thing, there are plenty of other festivals happening in winter around the globe. Snow Festivals in Sapporo, Japan, and Harbin, China, showcase intricate works of art made from snow and ice. Chinese New Year also takes place in the colder months of north Asian countries, and is bigger than Christmas. Matariki is like a New Zealand equivalent to Thanksgiving, taking place in late May or early June.
#5 It’s cheaper and less crowded
Sub-zero temperatures tend to deter most tourists, resulting in that whole “low season” thing winter is known for. However, this works in your favour when travelling in the colder months, as you’ll spend less on flights and accommodation. (Keep in mind travel can get a little expensive around Christmas if you plan on travelling then.)
By travelling in winter, you avoid the peak-season tourist glut and enjoy having sights and streets to yourself. You’ll have first dibs on all the best food and you won’t have to deal with other people photo-bombing you while you work on getting the perfect shot of that glacier/fjord/snow-covered city.