Travel during the cold months to marvel at magical landscapes in all their glacial glory.
Visitors to Russia during the harsh winter months will be wise to invest in a few thermal layers. Fortunately, with over 40 ice rinks plus dozens of ski tracks and walking paths in Moscow alone, there are plenty of opportunities to have fun and stay warm. A river cruise is always a good way to glimpse the main attractions in any capital city, but a trip along the frozen Moskva River in an icebreaker yacht offers a unique way to take in many of the city’s iconic sights. The Moscow Winter Festival, running from mid-December to mid-January, is a major cultural event. The festival encompasses Christmas and New Year’s celebrations with illuminations, ice sculptures, troika rides and charming markets offering a range of traditional foods and crafts.
One of the benefits of an off-season trip to Istanbul is the fact that fewer tourists means shorter queues for all the must-see attractions. Plus, the Blue Mosque in the snow is a sight to behold. It’s also worth venturing out of the city to explore some of the surrounding areas. The historical region of Cappadocia, for example, is famous for its geological formations, including the quirky “fairy chimneys.” The snow-covered terrain is even more breathtaking when viewed from a hot-air balloon floating at 500 meters. After a day of sightseeing, escape the freezing temperatures with a relaxing afternoon in a traditional Turkish hammam (a public bath house), such as the historic Kilic Ali Pasa, followed by a refreshing quince sherbet.
Winter is arguably the best time to visit Japan. Tokyo lights up this time of year, with carefully choreographed digital displays featuring millions of LED lights, projection mapping, and music drawing crowds from far and wide. A trip to Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park is worth the three-hour train ride from the capital to see the famous, and very photogenic, macaque monkeys as they soak in the hot springs. Another worthwhile excursion is a trip to Hakkaido for the Sapporo Snow Festival in early February, during which roughly 2 million visitors will turn out to enjoy the extravaganza of ice sculptures on display.
The splendor of Canada’s great outdoors is further enhanced every winter by a blanket of heavy snow. Of course, where there’s snow, there are ski resorts, with several of them close enough to Toronto for an easy weekend trip. If skiing is too pedestrian, climbing up a frozen waterfall will certainly guarantee an adrenaline rush. Adventurous spirits can also try skating through frozen forests, ice fishing or camping out in a cozy yurt. Toronto’s thriving arts-and-culture scene also embraces the winter season. The city’s light festival illuminates the historic distillery district while foodies can enjoy the annual Winterlicious event, where over 200 restaurants offer special menus and presentations for the hungry hordes