Winter wonderlands only exist in fiction or in the Christmas song of the same name where you laugh and you play the Eskimo way, right? Think again, pal! The world is full of incredible winter paradises that you need to put on your travel list. Because we want your holiday season to be festive and jolly, here is a list of eight places around the world that feel like a real winter wonderland.
1. Harbin, China
When most people are feeling festive about wintertime, they build a snowman. But Harbin, China takes it to entirely different level. This city of more than 5 million, located in the frigid northern end of the country, hosts an annual ice and snow sculpture festival, an event that attracts talented artists from all over the world who show off their mad ice sculpture skills. We don’t mean a quaint sculpture of a life-size penguin or whatever either. They go all out and create these huge ice castles, towers, trains and basically anything that would make you feel like you’ve entered a fantasy world.
2. Grindelwald, Switzerland
The village of Grindelwald in the Bernese Oberland is nestled between the mountains of Eiger and Wetterhorn. The breathtaking mountainscape makes for an unforgettable winter holiday experience. Going for walks in the village or renting a car and visiting the quaint surrounding villages are just a few ways to keep yourself occupied. As a bonus, if you’re into snowboarding, this is the perfect place to show off your McTwist maneuver or whatever it’s called.
3. Hallstatt, Austria
Part of a UNESCO World Heritage region, Hallstatt is the oldest village in Austria, having been settled around 100 BC. In the winter time you can enjoy the powder snow, dog sledding, and skiing activities. In the evenings you can go on a leisurely walk through the village by torch light. In addition, you can take the Skywalk up the mountain and get a panoramic view of this wintery paradise.
4. Lapland, Finland
When it comes to winter wonderlands, it is difficult to think of a place that encompasses this idea more than Lapland. This place located in northern Finland might as well have come from the pages of a children’s fairytale. When you take in the vast amounts of snow, the enchanting buildings and the forests totally covered in white, it almost makes you feel like it was created on a fake Hollywood set. Just wait until evening though. That’s when the Northern Lights appear and create magic in the sky.
5. Blue Ice Caves, Iceland
The Blue Ice Caves of Iceland are natural phenomena that are formed in glaciers during winter. The blue color occurs when snow falls on the glacier, is compressed and becomes part of it. Air bubbles form and are squeezed out, which results in enlarged ice crystals that create the blue appearance.
6. Tromsø, Norway
While this town of around 70,000 is popular all year round because of the mountains and its unspoiled wilderness of fjords, winter is the best time to go because of the Northern Lights. There are also plenty of shops, cafes and restaurants on Storgata, the town’s main pedestrian street. You can also cuddle with the calm and friendly reindeer!
7. Moraine Lake, Canada
If you’re looking for a winter fairytale destination without the huge crowds of tourists, head over to Moraine Lake on the Canadian side of the Rocky Mountains. During the wintertime, the lake freezes over, making it a perfect place to enjoy a walk. The small also home to an ice sculpture festival.
8. North Pole, Alaska
When a city names itself North Pole, what would you expect? If you answered, “Tropic island?” then you’re obviously being sarcastic as hell. This small Alaskan village of 2,000 residents just outside of Fairbanks takes the Christmas season extremely seriously. When you walk around, you’ll find street names such as Kris Kringle, Mistletoe and Snowman Lane. Of course, Santa Claus also has a house there, and you can totally visit it!