There’s no denying that winter is the season most of us travellers hibernate at home. It’s all too easy to feel stuck, bored, and resigned to waiting out the months. Unless you’ve got the budget to get to the other hemisphere and enjoy some off-season summer, you’re pretty much stuck.
Fortunately, there’s far more to do in colder spots closer to home than you realize. So before you resign yourself to spending the next few cold months at home, check out these great reasons to give winter travel a try.
1. Smaller Crowds
If you’re just dying to experience some of your favorite destinations (think Rome, Paris, New York, etc.) without crushing tourist numbers, consider a winter trip. On my first trip to Paris in 2009, I remember standing in front of Notre Dame late one cold night completely by myself in the square. It was a hauntingly beautiful moment I’ll always remember and hardly one that would be possible at any other time of year.
Just be sure to avoid Christmas time, when big destinations tend to fill up nearly as much as in peak summer months. Although you can always try visiting in the weeks before Christmas for the perfect mixture of smaller crowds and delightful Christmas markets.
2. (Mostly) Lower Prices
This one holds the same caveat as the smaller crowds. Travel and accommodation prices will generally be lower unless you’re traveling during the holidays or going to a winter only destination like a skiing town. But, as long as you’re avoiding those downsides, you can enjoy a fantastic vacation for far less. I mean, just think of what you’ll save by not having to heat your place back home.
Plus, the amount of joy you get from something as simple as a cup of coffee or hot chocolate in a warm cafe after an afternoon wandering the city just can’t be beat. That first sip as you watch people walk by out of the snowy window is just priceless.
3. Outdoor Winter Activities
Of course it’s no shock that you can go skiing and snowboarding in the winter, I know. But as someone who refuses to learn either of those sports (too many family injuries from them), let me tell you there’s still plenty you can do outdoors.
A personal favorite is to go snowmobiling through a wintry forest. It’s exciting, epic, and the adrenaline alone will be enough to keep you warm. There’s also cross-country skiing in case the faster downhill variant is a bit too much for you and you still want to enjoy the great outdoors.
But honestly, there’s a reason I always say yes when friends invite me on a skiing trip (even though I don’t ski). That reason comes down to three simple letters: spa.
4. Spa, Spa, and More Spa
This is largely why I travel in the winter. Nothing beats sitting in a natural hot spring (a hot tub will also do in a pinch) staring out over the wintry landscape while snow gently falls all around me. Often, this happens while my friends are all hitting the slopes, but I don’t care because a few days at the spa are all I need.
If you need some ideas, just check out these 10 European spa towns. If your budget is a bit more limited, you can always try my personal favorite: Sapareva Banya Bulgaria. There, you can get daily access to outdoor mineral springs for 10 euros a day or less. Let’s be honest, what could be better?
5. Museums, Cooking Classes, Etc.
If outdoor activities in the depths of winter are an absolute deal-breaker for you, don’t worry, you still have plenty of options. Winter can be a great time to explore the indoor portions of the world’s great cities. Museums and restaurants will be less crowded, and so will clubs if that’s your thing. But one of my personal favorite travel activities is also ideal for this time: the cooking class.
It’s got everything: it’s indoors, you get to meet both locals and travellers, you can learn about the culture and cuisine of your destination, and you get to eat at the end. If that doesn’t do it for you then I just don’t know how I can help.
Feeling Inspired? Then Start Travelling!
Even if you didn’t remember to book an affordable flight months in advance, InterCity buses are shockingly affordable even at the last minute. So you don’t have any excuse not to get out there and experience somewhere new this winter.