Is it just me or did it feel like winter arrived extra early this year? As soon as the first snowfall arrives, my phone starts ringing with clients thinking about their next getaway somewhere warm and tropical to escape the cold weather in Canada. This year I received a surprising phone call from a regular client wanting a different kind of vacation. Instead of trying to escape from winter, they wanted to embrace it and travel to a cold weather destination instead. Winter themed escapes are becoming more popular, especially for those who are well traveled or those seeking a different kind of travel experience.
Here are three of my favourite winter themed vacation ideas to inspire you to try something different for your next getaway:
If you love Christmas, shopping or food (or all three) head over to Europe for their famous Christmas Markets. From the end of November until Christmas, many countries in Europe host Christmas Markets. Germany has markets dating all the way back to the middle ages. The weather is usually milder than back home making it comfortable to spend hours walking around the cobblestone street stalls decorated with Christmas lights and the aroma of mulled wine and gingerbread. If you want to visit more than one destination, a Christmas market river cruise will let you unpack once while visiting markets in a few different countries on the same trip. Just make sure to leave enough room in your suitcase to bring back all of the goodies that you will be tempted to buy while there.
For a once in a lifetime bucket list experience, head north to see the Northern Lights, also known as the Aurora Borealis. These bright, beautiful dancing lights are best seen in Finland, Sweden, Norway, Greenland, Iceland and Northern Canada from September to April when the skies are dark and clear. Most northern lights tours include other outdoor activities such as wildlife safaris, snowmobiling, ice cave tours, snowshoe hikes or visits to a hot springs (I can’t think of a better way to stay warm on a winter weather vacation). There is no guarantee that you will see the northern lights on your vacation, so it’s best to choose a destination with other activities that you are interested in seeing or doing to avoid disappointment if the northern lights aren’t visible during your stay. This happened to me a few years ago but the amazing scenery of Iceland itself more than made up for not being able to see them. Maybe next time.
If you want to fully embrace a winter theme vacation, why not stay overnight and sleep at an Ice Hotel or in an Igloo? We are fortunate to have our very own Canadian ice hotel “Hotel de Glace” located in Quebec so you don’t have to travel far for this one of a kind experience. The hotel de Glace is made of snow and ice and opens from January to March every year. Guests sleep on blocks of ice with a mattress and sleeping bags to keep warm throughout the night (I recommend booking one of their fireplace suites). You can also venture outside of Canada to the Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort (located 200 kilometers north of the Arctic Circle in Finnish, Lapland) and sleep under the stars in a glass igloo (you might just get the chance to see the northern lights from the comfort of your hotel bed). Or for the more adventurous traveler, sleep inside one of their igloos made from snow – with the temperature kept at a cozy minus three to minus six degrees.