As they say on Game of Thrones… “Winter is coming”
I am a summer girl. I love hot weather and sunny days. I would take a beach vacation over just about anything. Just the thought of winter sends chills through me. With summer fading fast and the cold months on the horizon, I can’t help but start to dream of winter getaways. I wondered “Where are the best winter travel destinations?” and so my research began. I do realize that not everyone is as addicted to the sun as I am so I have also included top spots for those of you that just want to get out and explore, no matter the temperature, and also those of you that live for snow and all the winter activities that it brings with it. If you enjoy this post please share. If you have recommendations for great places to go this winter please leave a comment below, I would love to hear from you.
Destinations for people that love tourism and site seeing
If you don’t want to have to deal with the summer crowds and long lines, then the winter months are an ideal time to visit the Eternal City. There is still plenty to do and see in the winter months like the indoor market in Testaccio, museums, shopping. Plus, with the Vatican so near you can imagine that Christmas is a pretty big deal in Rome. Decorations and lights are everywhere and on New Year’s Eve fireworks go off over the Colosseum. At the end of February Rome celebrates Carnevale. Expect to see parades, concerts, and fireworks in the city center.
Locals will tell you the city is at its prettiest with a dusting of snow over the city. With temperatures averaging in the mid 40’s from December – February you will need to bundle up, but you will be able to find much better deals and far less crowds in the winter months. If you plan a trip between January 23 – February 9th you can visit the Carnevale di Venezia festival, one of the most famous carnivals in Europe. The gondolas still run year-round and the gondoliers will even give you a blanket to cuddle under while you enjoy the sites
Warmer than Italy, Barcelona’s average temperature high 50’s to low 60’s during December – February. Prices on hotels are much lower in the winter months and you can still find tons of things to do. Fira do Santa Lucia is the biggest Christmas market in Barcelona and is held on the square outside Barcelona’s impressive Gothic cathedral in the Old Town. You can also enjoy some ice skating in the La Fonda shopping mall, the ice-rink has areas for sports such as curling and ice-hockey as well as a kids’ play area and a café. Be sure to also check out La Boqueria, one of the best markets in Europe.
Winters in Southern Spain are generally mild and pleasant, which means fantastic opportunities for sightseeing and outdoor activities. An average winter temperature of 70 degrees still allows for walks along the shore, although the water may be too cold for swimming. If you enjoy hiking the area has many natural parks and the beauty of this area is absolutely breathtaking. Take a scenic drive along the coast to Malaga and see an unbelievable light display all along and above the center of the city.
Sin City in the winter is a perfect time to visit. You can usually find pretty good deals on the resorts and the crowds are not nearly as bad. The average temperature is in the low 60’s and you can still enjoy a large variety of shows and attractions. If you are a foodie you will LOVE Vegas, plus the buffet lines will not be nearly as bad as in the peak travel months. If you like Christmas light displays visit the LINQ and listen to carolers as you view the giant Christmas tree from the Linq Ferris wheel.
Destinations for the sun lovers
You probably won’t pay any less in the winter months (possibly more) but December – February are ideal months to visit Hawaii. Average temperatures of low 80’s in December and 70’s in January. You will still find plenty of sunshine to soak up while strolling down the beach or whale watching.
So many choices here. If you are a beach person you might want to read my post The 10 Best Beaches in Florida. The weather throughout the state is generally pretty warm in the winter months but for real beach lovers, you will want to stick to the southern portion of the state. Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and the Keys are all ideal winter destinations. If you want some thrills and entertainment head to Orlando and Kissimmee, home of Disney World and Universal Studios. Keep in mind that the parks will be at their busiest during the weeks around Christmas and New Year if want the best deals on accommodations and want to avoid the crowds choose January or February.
Rivera Maya, Mexico
You can get some of the best rates of the year in November and December at this area’s many all-inclusive resorts. Rates rise over the holidays of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year. Other than that, you can find some amazing prices. The weather is warm and sunny with an average temperature of low 80”s all winter long. In January rates will start to increase so if you can, book your trip for December.
Not far down the coast from the Rivera Maya is another popular tourist destination for winter months. January tends to be a busy month, but you can still find some pretty good deals on flights and rooms in February and March. If you get tired of soaking up the sun you can visit some of the ancient Mayan ruins or explore some of the picture-perfect beaches that are home to many giant sea turtles.
Located about an hour’s boat ride from Long Beach, CA you will find Catalina Island. If you like snorkeling you will want to visit Lover’s Cove, ranked one of the top 10 best snorkeling spots in the world! Frequently visited by sea lions and dolphins you are sure to encounter all kinds of amazing sea life here. You can find some really good rates her during the winter months.
Known for its perfect weather year-round San Diego has the best rates during winter months. While you can still expect mostly sunny skies and mid 70’s temperatures it may not be ideal for swimming. This is a great destination for animal lovers since it is home to the world-famous San Diego Zoo Safari Park. Enjoy a hands-on safari experience, you can choose from touring the park in a truck, cart, or even zip-line over parts of it!!
Montego Bay, Jamaica
One of the few Caribbean destinations that have lower prices from mid-January through early April. Home to several all-inclusive resorts, you should be able to find some good deals. Crystal blue Caribbean waters are great for all types of water activities.
Punta Cana, Dominican Republic
Another great beach destination in the winter months. Punta Cana has been steadily growing as a tourist destination and it is home to many all-inclusive resorts. Aside from all of the traditional beach activities, you may also want to take a day trip to Indigenous Eyes Park, a private nature reserve and jungle park with waterfalls and lagoons for swimming,
For the snowbirds and ski lovers
Listed as one of the top 20 best winter vacation destinations, Park City is home to some amazing ski resorts. February is the area’s best month for skiing because of the abundance of soft powdery snow but if you are a movie lover you may want to go in January when the city hosts the annual Sundance Film Festival.
The best of both worlds. World famous skiing and scenic drives surround Lake Tahoe, only a short drive from Reno. “The Biggest Little City In The World” will keep your nights hopping with casinos and nightly entertainment. You can usually find pretty good deals on flights to Reno during the winter months.
If money if not a factor and you want to ski, then Breckenridge is a must for you. Voted the #1 best ski destination in America, this city offers nearly 3,000 acres of skiable terrain with 187 trails. An average snowfall of 30 feet every winter will give you plenty of places to practice those snow angels you used to make as a kid. Really Colorado, in general, is a great place for ski lovers. Boasting 5 out of the top 10 cities on the list of best winter destinations. Aspen, Vail, Telluride all offer amazing ski resorts.
The birthplace of skiing, Hannes Schneider opened the first ever ski school here in the 1920’s. With 7 villages, 88 lifts, 210 miles of trails, and up to 400 inches of snow this has got to be a ski lovers paradise. In addition to the awesome skiing, you will find world-class shopping and a vibrant nightlife. Foodies won’t be disappointed either with mountain huts turned restaurants and 5 star dining in the local resorts.
If you are looking for something really different this remote village is ideal. Accessible only by train or cable car, a visit to this pedestrian-only village is like going back in time. Perched on top of a nearly 2,000-foot cliff, you may recognize Mürren from the James Bond movie “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service”. This village may give you the most impressive views of the Swiss Alps you can find anywhere
Home to Whistler Blackcomb this massive ski resort offers more than 200 marked runs. Voted the #1 ski resort in all of Canada the area still offers more than just skiing. Dog sledding, tubing, Snowcat tours, and a zip trek are just a few of the fun things to do around town. You will also find some great shopping and delicious restaurants in Whistler Village.
Where are you going this winter? I would love to hear about your favorite winter getaways, leave a comment below.