Incessant rain and gray skies make winter a trial. But hot drinks, snowy slopes, frozen lakes and a bright yellow sun? That’s the kind of winter we can all wrap our mittens around. The cities below aren’t necessarily the greatest in the world, but come winter they could just convince you that they are.
Cobbled streets, a beautiful castle and lovely public gardens make Edinburgh a beautiful city any time of year, but in winter it’s breathtaking.
The Rideau Canal Skateway receives, on average, one million visits each year. The world-famous ice surface becomes one of the official sites for Winterlude, the Capital’s winter celebration, which began today and runs to February 18, 2013.
If you’re arriving in Washington DC by rail, you shouldn’t miss the enormous, 30-foot Christmas tree that was given to Union Station by the Embassy of Norway. The White House and Lincoln Memorial look especially beautiful in the snow.
Christmas markets are the ideal destination for pre-Christmas retail therapy — Berlin has more than 60 of them. With a miniature train and puppeteers, the market at Mitte at the Rote Rathaus is ideal for children.
Prague, Czech Republic
With its snow-capped spires and cobbled, winding streets, Prague is a fairytale city that remains relatively tourist-free in the winter months. The stunning architecture looks even prettier under a sheet of snow, with one of the most beautiful areas being the old town, with its turrets and Romanesque vaults. Gas street lamps were recently reinstalled throughout the city center, adding a romantic hue to evenings.
There are several reasons Tromso, known as the capital of the Arctic, is great in winter. It’s widely regarded as Norway’s most beautiful city and is a base for spotting the northern lights.
Known internationally for producing the Japanese beer, Sapporo also draws two million tourists every year to its annual snow festival. The Yuki Matsuri takes place in Japan’s fifth largest city over a week in February and showcases amazing snow and ice sculptures. The snow festival has a long history but was restarted in its current format in 1950 after World War Two. In the unlikely event of there being insufficient powder, snow is shipped into Sapporo from other parts of Japan.
For fairytale European winter, it’s hard to beat the home of Hans Christian Andersen. Forget the over-hyped Little Mermaid and head to the city’s cosy bars and cafes to watch snow flurrying outside. In the heart of town, the 19th-century Tivoli amusement park is a romantic, kitsch delight around Christmastime, with heartwarming illuminations and body-warming mugs of glögg.
Although Iceland’s capital city is one of Europe’s coldest spots, it has plenty of natural hot springs to warm up in (some of the best can be found in the Nauthólsvík area of the city). The annual Winter Lights Festival, which takes place in February, is a spectacular celebration of winter.
Moscow experiences long cold winters where snow can be expected all the way from the beginning of November through to the end of March. In addition the city has a particularly bad traffic problem all year around which is only exacerbated during this winter snowfall. However due to a climactic quirk Moscow also gets very hot summers with sweeping heat waves.