Snowy Extreme

10 snowy wonderlands to visit during your winter vacations this year.

Whenever cold weather swings around, our travel daydreams tend to fluctuate between two very different types of winter vacation ideas: snowy wonderlands and big-city escapes. Some days, we envision a ski vacation or trip to a snow-covered European village, and other days we start planning an extravagant shopping spree with fine-dining in a high-rise metropolitan. Repeat that cycle about 50 times, and that pretty much sums up what our lives look like from December through March every year.

If you experience these dueling pangs of wanderlust, then you’re in luck – here are the best of both kinds of destinations for you to dream about – and to plan – visiting ASAP. Because who says you have to choose just one?

There are winter wonderlands, and then there is Antarctica. Lately, it seems everyone is going to the seventh continent, and the appeal isn’t hard to figure out: There are the otherworldly landscapes, the fearless and adorable penguins, and the opportunity to see one of humanity’s final frontiers. But tourism has an impact, positive or negative, wherever travellers go, and it’s important to learn more about how to take care of our planet as we bask in its glory.

Whistler Blackcomb, Canada
In recent years, Whistler has become a beloved spot for high-quality ski and snowboard hills. With 8,171 acres of skiable terrain, there’s easily enough ground to keep you on new trails throughout the six-month regular season. Runs offer a wide range of difficulty levels, making this the perfect place for beginners, adrenaline junkies and everyone in between.

Icy and mysterious Greenland is one of the most naturally beautiful places on earth. The world’s biggest non-continental island is so much more than glaciers (but yes, the glaciers are spectacular). Think magnificent fjords, colourful villages and fields of sheep. Throw in some northern lights appearances, and you have yourself one unbeatable winter destination.

Dolomites, Italy
If the Alps is the destination for glitzy ski towns then consider the Dolomites its chiller, cozier cousin. Also known as “the Pale Mountains”, its powdery slopes can be accessed via the 86-mile Great Dolomites Road, one of the world’s most beautiful alpine drives, offering beautiful views of Italy’s best wintery landscapes.

Finnish Lapland
Imagine the most idyllic winter scene you can dream up, and Finnish Lapland will absolutely deliver. There aren’t many places where you can visit Santa Claus, take a reindeer sleigh ride, or sleep under the Northern Lights in a bubble sled – but Lapland lets you do all three.

Yellowstone National Park
No matter the season, Yellowstone is always a good idea. Famous sites at the oldest of all US national parks (established in 1872) include the Old Faithful geyser and the Grand Prismatic Spring, but truly, every single acre of the park is worth seeing in person. Visiting in the winter is a good way to avoid the summer crowds; you'll be greeted by landscapes filled with steam from the thermal features.

Jackson Hole, Wyoming
This Teton-ringed valley is a true winter wonderland. Of course, it helps if you want to spend most of your time skiing – Jackson Hole is known for its 3,000 acres of both, accessible backcountry terrain and challenging vertical slopes. But even if you don’t want to hit the powder, you can still indulge in après-ski diversions in both, Teton Village and the town of Jackson. And let’s face it: Any excuse to cozy up in one of its luxury hotels is valid.

Hokkaido, Japan
The Japanese island of Hokkaido is blessed with myriad geological beauties (think volcanoes, national parks, and lakes) – most are even more stunning in winter. For example, the ethereal Shirogane Blue Pond wears ice beautifully, with its towering trees and azure waters coated in glimmering frost. Looking to ski? The slopes of Niseko are among the finest in the world.

Zermatt, Switzerland
Zermatt, surrounded by some of the Alps’ tallest peaks, has 223 miles of runs in four huge ski areas – some at an altitude of over 10,000 feet, meaning snow here lingers for a very long season. This enchanting Alpine village lies at the foot of the Matterhorn, Switzerland’s most famous mountain, and has plenty of modern touches, like its state-of-the-art lift system and swanky après-ski diversions.

Park City, Utah
The ski capital of Park City (and home to the Sundance Film Festival) is on our list of best places to go in the winters this year, with its iconic resorts offering comfy and chic digs for winter sports enthusiasts and those who love them. To see “The Greatest Snow on Earth” (the state of Utah itself has trademarked the phrase), swing by anytime between December and March.