Ah, winter. Snow, frigid temps, dark days—you might not feel like your most adventurous self during the cozy-making time of year, but winter is actually an amazing time to travel. Winter trips are (usually) less crowded and more affordable than in summer time. Plus, it’s the perfect time to go on a hygge holiday.
Hygge, for the uninitiated, is a Danish word that roughly translates to a feeling of coziness, wellbeing and joy. Think snuggling up with a pet in front of a fire, or sipping hot coffee in your warmest wooly slippers. Beyond cozy comfort, the hygge lifestyle also means living in a stress-free, decluttered environment; spending time with loved ones; and embracing simplicity and nature. Sounds like the making of a wonderful winter escape if you ask me.
If there’s any destination that fits the picture of a true winter wonderland it has to be Banff in Alberta, Canada. Ski the slopes, explore the resort town and soak in hot springs with mountain views. Or you could just nestle into a nook of your chalet-style lodge with a hot tea and good book. Either way, unplugging, tuning into nature and getting cozy with the Canadian Rockies as your backdrop will surely heat up your hygge situation.
Lake Minnewanka captured by Brian Doyle.
There are so many things to do in Vienna in winter. Drink weihnachtspunsch, a hot wine punch, while shopping the famous Christmas markets. Go ice skating or skiing. Snuggle up with furry friends at a cat cafe. (Yes, Vienna has a cat cafe!) Catch a classical concert or get lost in the charming streets. When it’s time to warm up, head to a pub for a beer or cocktail, or indulge in an apple strudel in a cozy cafe. Hygge heaven.
Vienna captured by Ömer Kavala.
Japan might not be first to come to mind when you think of winter destinations, but Hokkaido, the country’s northernmost island, has winter wonderland written all over it. Known for epic skiing and onsen (natural volcanic hot springs), it’s the perfect place to spend the day outdoors then warm up with hot, steaming bowls of ramen. Don’t miss the Sapporo Snow Festival featuring intricate sculptures made out of, you guessed it, snow. And make sure to stop by the Lake Shikaribetsu Kotan (village) made completely out of ice.
Otaru Canal in Otaru, Hokkaido, Japan captured by Sherikurea.
Nestled north of the Arctic Circle, the small city of Tromsø is said to be one of the best places to see the northern lights. While you may come for a spectacular glimpse of the aurora borealis, you’ll stay for the university town’s culture and pub scene. Once you’ve had enough outdoor adventures, cozy up with a movie at Norway’s oldest cinema, relax in a fishing vessel turned spa, or simply let mother nature mesmerize you while sipping on something warm.
Northern lights in Tromsø, Norway captured by Lina Kayser.
Perhaps the ultimate fairytale city, Tallinn’s charm only heats up when the snow starts to fall. After a day of exploring the picturesque views of the medieval Old Town, stroll the quaint streets until you find the perfect spot to stop for some fresh, hot Estonian black bread and soup. Whether within the old city walls or the hipster Kalamaja neighborhood, you’re sure to find someplace to cozy up with a hot coffee and good friends to watch the snowfall.
Tallinn Old Town captured by Daniele Antoniol.
Which winter destination would you choose for your hygge holiday? Have any other suggestions that should be on this list? Drop them in the comments.