While most people tend to travel during warmer months, we have found a real passion for visiting new places in the winter. There truly is nothing like a real winter wonderland, and the cities on this list feel like they belong in a fairytale when you visit them in December and January. Ranging from the Americas, to Southern Europe, to Scandinavia, to Asia, there are cities all over the globe that make up my list of the best winter wonderland cities in the world. This list does not include rural areas or getaways, but rather big cities that retain their hustle and bustle while gaining a polar charm.
5. New York City, United States
New York City is a place that is on almost everyone’s bucket list around the world, and I felt it just had to make this list of the best cities to visit in the winter as well. It was a no brainer to include on my list of the 10 best cities to visit on the East Coast. New York City is its own species, and there really aren’t many places in the world like it. While it is a fantastic place to visit in the summer, it is an entirely different thing in the winter.
New York City takes Christmas hardcore, and it’s very evident based off of the wreaths, decorations, banners, giant Christmas trees, and ice skating rinks. However, it really goes a step beyond that. When it snows in New York, it is ten times prettier than when it doesn’t. Maybe that is because New York is very dirty (you didn’t hear that from me) and the snow covers that up. Anyway, there is so much to see and do, from the Rockefeller Christmas tree and ice rink, to the New Years celebration in Times Square, to holiday markets all throughout the city. Visiting New York City in the winter is something you need to do at least once; personally I don’t think there is a better time to visit.
4. Montreal, Canada
Montreal is possibly the most charming place on this list. As it is located in the French-speaking state of Quebec, Montreal feels like it is a city in the heart of France. This city is an incredible place to visit any time of the year, and is a tourist favorite for countless reasons. A trip to Montreal means great food, beautiful architecture, a lively culture, and endless adorable corners to explore.
Montreal made this list because of other reasons, though. While it is an awesome city to visit at any time of the year, Montreal is at its best in the winter. Christmas markets are everywhere, there is ice skating galore, the climate and geography lead to consistent snowfall, and the tourist crowds are at their lowest. Be sure to have some French fries with poutine, some mulled wine, and whatever other delicious treats you can find.
3. Ljubljana, Slovenia
Ljubljana is a place that many people may have never thought about visiting. Most people don’t even know where Slovenia is! Honestly, though, Ljubljana in the winter is absolutely magical. I visited in the middle of a snowy week, and the streets, trees, bridges, and buildings were all lightly powered in snow. It was absolutely stunning, and the word that kept coming to my mind was “Narnia.” It literally felt like an imaginary fairytale land, and the local Christmas spirit only enhanced that further.
Slovenia is located to the northeast of Italy, and Ljubljana is just a few hours away from Venice by train. As Slovenia’s capital city, Ljubljana always has fun things going on and is extremely friendly to foreigners. You can expect great holiday markets, fantastic restaurants, beautiful buildings lining the streets, and a very rustic feel. The city has a big castle on a mountain overlooking everything below and tons of gorgeous bridges covering the river that flows through the heart of town. Ljubljana is actually somewhere I am dying to go back to soon, and I plan to do it again during the winter! For more details on planning a trip to Slovenia’s capital, be sure to read my Ljubljana travel guide.
2. Copenhagen, Denmark
Denmark is a really under-traveled country, in my opinion. There is so much to do, so many great histories to explore, and some really great cuisine on top of that. Copenhagen is actually one of the most unique cities we have ever visited, simply because of its blend of Scandinavian and Western European practices and ideals. The city is very advanced and new-age, but the architecture is a preserved work of art from the past.
Copenhagen has endless things to do all year round, and while the winter is very cold, it is very worth the trip. The city’s main Opera House is a can’t miss venue with shows all year, and the main streets are just lined with things to do. To save money on accommodation, consider staying across the border in Malmö, Sweden, which has a much lower cost of living and provides many affordable hotel options. There is a train that connects the two cities, and while the train can get expensive, it still usually winds up cheaper than staying in Copenhagen! For more information about visiting Copenhagen, be sure to read my Copenhagen travel guide.
1. Moscow, Russia
Moscow is the absolute epitome of a winter wonderland destination, and I am convinced that it doesn’t get any better. We visited Moscow right before Christmas, and it was one of the most magical places that we have ever been. There were little Christmas villages set up all throughout the city, pop-up ice skating rinks everywhere, gorgeous Christmas decorations lining the most important areas of the city, and endless Christmas spirit. Some people think of Russia as cold and barren, but our trip to Moscow was nothing but gorgeous, welcoming, and magical.
Russia can be a tricky country to visit, as there are relatively strict visa requirements to enter. If you are wondering how you even start to get a tourist visa to another country, be sure to check out my post on getting tourist visas.As far as we saw and witnessed, Moscow was a perfectly safe place to visit as Americans, and we had an absolute blast. Moscow is filled with iconic buildings and places, and it is one of the most historically significant cities in the world. For the ultimate winter wonderland experience in the world, get a visa and book a flight to Moscow.
Thanks for reading my post on the top 5 best cities to visit in winter around the world. Hopefully this list helps you plan the perfect winter wonderland vacation in 2022! Each city on this list is very unique and offers its own advantages, but you can’t go wrong with any of them!
What do you think of our list? Did we miss any? Tell us your thoughts in the comments below!