Five Cozy and Stimulating Winter Destinations

I kid you not, this photo is actually Vancouver in February 2019….

I kid you not, this photo is actually Vancouver in February 2019….

There seems to be a serious chill in the air, even in my normally winter-free home of Vancouver. As I prepare for a quick trip for my 9-5 job to the bone-chilling Canadian Prairies, it got me thinking about the ultimate winter spots. Where are the top five places to escape to that will still keep you cozy and stimulated by the activities, scenery and overall experience?

Because Saskatchewan ain’t going to cut it…

Well, I got you covered. Here are my top five destinations based on research and my personal whims.

Iceland

Photo from Unsplash, Jonathan Pie.

Photo from Unsplash, Jonathan Pie.

Fly to and collect yourself in Reykjavik, but don’t let the city be all you see. You’ve got to get out to some of the more remote and natural settings. Even though daylight hours are limited in the winter and depending when you go, you can still make it out to: the Gullfoss or Seljalandsfoss waterfall, Kirkjufel mountain and take a drive along the iconic Golden Circle route. These places are stunning year-round, but there is something to see a massive waterfall completely frozen in action!

After all this sightseeing, I think it is time to take a cozy dip into the Blue Lagoon, which is a healing hot-spring. Don’t put your camera away just yet, as the stunning turquoise water set against a backdrop of charcoal volcanic rock is so stimulating!

But you’re not done yet.

The best show is at night with the Northern Lights! In the darkest of nights, you are more likely (though not guaranteed) to see this natural phenomenon. Some sites say you should stick close to Reykjavik such as Seltjarnarnes. But if your budget allows, it would be worth it to go to the West Fjords. According to Guide to Iceland, this is where you have the highest chance to see the Lights!

Quebec City, Canada

One of the coziest places on this list, Quebec City is where you dream of a cute European city in North America blanketed in snow. Cobbled stone streets, plenty of history and old world charm, you will not be bored. To hit the mega load fitting this description, you have to explore Old Quebec.

For added adventure, stay or visit the world famous Ice Hotel (Hôtel de Glace), skate on the many open-air ice rinks, and enjoy Quebec comfort food such as poutine.

The cozy factor gets turned up with a visit to a traditional sugar shack, such as at Érablière le Chemin du Roy, a short 20 minute drive from Quebec City. Here you are welcomed in an enchanted woodland setting for a sleigh ride to where the maple syrup gets collected and return to a warm and inviting restaurant for a hearty and delicious meal.

Patagonia, Argentina. From Unsplash, Margo Brodowicz.

Patagonia, Argentina. From Unsplash, Margo Brodowicz.

Patagonia, Argentina

For the more adventurous in us, travel to the remote southern part of Argentina a truly unique winter scenic experience. Patagonia is home to penguins (PENGUINS!!), a National Park with a glacier as a centre piece (Perito Moreno), and the city of Ushuaia that seems like the end of the world.

Banff, Canada

Banff is truly a diamond tucked into the stunning Canadian Rockies. It too has a cozy vibe, and has plenty of snow-shoeing and skiing trails, if that’s your thing.

For us more relaxed types, you can take in the incredible sights of nearby Lake Louise, Moraine Lake and explore the centre of town with tons of cafes, restaurants, and all sorts of shops. Don’t forget to take some stunning winter pictures of the frozen turquoise water against the snowy mountain! For a little adventure but not too much effort, go dog-sledding in nearby Canmore!

Salzburg, Austria

For a truly European and homely experience, visit the charming city of Salzburg in Austria. Yes the city is a music haven - having been the location of A Sound of Music and a historic composers such as Mozart.

If that’s not your thing, you can eat and drink your way around the Christmas and regular season markets, wander through the narrow streets of Altstadt, explore the numerous museums, and have some hot chocolate and desert at one of Mozart’s favourite cafes.

The city is a wonderful example of a picturesque winter-wonderland! High on the cozy factor!

I think this list of places will help take the sting from the shivers we feel from the current winter!

Next post is all about the best summer destination.