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14 Cities That Look Their Best in the Wintertime

The summer months are usually considered the peak season for travel, but it’s not entirely true. Some places look much better after a light dusting of snow, and we’re not talking about ski resorts. Even though many of the cities listed in this article are beautiful year-round, their beauty and atmosphere really rise to a crescendo in the wintertime. Bundle up and join us on a frosty winter tour through 14 beautiful cities around the world.

1. Strasbourg, France

Cities That Are Best Visited in the Winter Strasbourg, France
Welcome to ‘the European capital of Christmas’ - Strasbourg. The French city is home to one of the oldest Christmas markets in the world. The “Christkindelsmärik,” or the market of the baby Jesus, dates back to 1570.
Today, there are dozens of markets around Strasbourg, and the entire city is adorned with twinkling lights as early as the end of November and until the end of December. To get the most of the festive atmosphere, visit Petite France, the oldest area in the historic part of the city, where dozens of market stalls crop up among the old half-timbered houses.

2. New York City, USA

Cities That Are Best Visited in the Winter New York City, USA
December is the time when New York City transforms into a festive extravaganza, so it’s certainly one of the best times to visit the Big Apple.
Twinkling Christmas trees, jaw-dropping light displays, fun-filled ice skating rinks, and open-air holiday markets are seemingly everywhere you go, so you’re sure to have a great time if you visit the city in late November and December. If you’re planning a trip, don’t miss the glamorous light displays along Fifth Avenue, the iconic Rockefeller Tree, the ice skating rink in Central Park, and the family-friendly Radio City Christmas Spectacular.

3. Harbin, China

Cities That Are Best Visited in the Winter Harbin, China
Harbin is the capital of China’s northernmost province called Heilongjiang. Curiously, the city has plenty of 19th-century Russian architecture, but these Russian buildings are just a fun bonus, as is the Siberian Tiger Park, a big cat sanctuary. The main reason why you should plan a winter trip to Harbin lies across the Songhua river in Sun Island Park.
Every year from the 5th of January until the end of February, the park transforms into a world of magnificent ice sculptures. Held since 1963, the International Ice and Snow Festival is the biggest festival of its kind. It’s an entire world made of ice and snow! Learn more about the Harbin Ice and Snow Festival in our article titled A City of Ice: Harbin Ice Sculpture Festival on Camera.

4. Salzburg, Austria

Cities That Are Best Visited in the Winter Salzburg, Austria
Winter is the prime time to take a trip to Salzburg, the birthplace of Mozart, the famous classical composer. Surrounded by the snow-covered Alps, the city certainly looks its best during the cold months.
The Altstadt, which is the pedestrian part of Old City located on the left bank of the Salzach river, is a must-see part of town. As is expected from Mozart’s provenance, there are many classical concerts you can book during your stay. We also recommend sipping some hot chocolate at Cafe Tomaselli, Mozart’s favorite cafe in town.

5. Nagano, Japan

Cities That Are Best Visited in the Winter Nagano, Japan
Springtime is when all international tourists flock to Japan. And we get it - seeing the sakura bloom is an experience of a lifetime. However, there’s plenty of things to be admired in Japan in the winter too. The city of Nagano is surrounded by mountains and is considered one of the best ski destinations in Japan. It is also close to the Jigokudani Monkey Park, the place where you can see the famous water-bathing snow monkeys.
Nagano is a historical city that dates back to the 8th century or the Nara period. To this day, there are ancient shrines preserved from that time in Nagano, along with many later historical buildings. After a day of sightseeing or skiing, soak away the stress and tension at one of the many onsens - traditional Japanese bathhouses with mineral-rich water.

6. Moscow, Russia

Cities That Are Best Visited in the Winter Moscow, Russia
Don’t be deterred by the infamous Russian winters. We assure you, the coldest time is also the best time to visit Moscow.
Like its sisters in Western Europe and the Americas, the Russian capital is adorned by twinkling Christmas lights in the winter, which makes the experience of marveling at the city’s vast squares, numerous museums, beautiful churches, and elaborate department stores the more special! The Kremlin Museums, St. Basil's Cathedral, the Red Square, and the GUM department store are just a few of the many top-rated tourist destinations in Moscow.

7. Prague, Czech Republic

Cities That Are Best Visited in the Winter Prague, Czech Republic
The Czech capital is full of tourists year-round, but the winter weather and a generous coating of snow turn the city’s historic architecture into a fairy-tale-like winter wonderland. Christmas markets, ice skating rinks, traditional Christmas treats like mulled wine and desserts, and the beautiful historical city architecture waiting to be explored are all legitimate reasons to visit Prague when the weather gets chilly.
The biggest Christmas markets in the city are located in Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square, which are a short walking distance apart.
Related Article: Prague! A Beautiful City

8. Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Cities That Are Best Visited in the Winter Boston, Massachusetts, USA
Going to Boston in the winter is a win-win situation, don’t let the 14-inch (35 cm) snow convince you otherwise. The city is not only at its most beautiful from December through February, but it’s also the cheapest and quietest during the frigid months.
From sledding at Boston Common to snowshoeing and even curling, the city is an excellent spot for winter sports. You can also walk the famous Freedom Trail, a long path through 16 of the greatest historic sites in Boston, go to a festive market, or visit one of the many museums. We highly recommend visiting one of the seasonal Festival of Lights exhibitions at the Museum of Fine Art, in particular.

9. Edinburgh, Scotland, UK

Cities That Are Best Visited in the Winter Edinburgh, Scotland, UK
Edinburgh is a prime tourist destination year-round, but we highly recommend visiting the Scottish capital just around Christmas. The Edinburgh Castle and the steep winding roads of the old city look particularly magnificent covered by a blanket of snow.
The Royal Botanic Garden is especially charming in the winter, as it gets a Christmas makeover with thousands of sparkling lights. From December, 30 to January, 1, the city celebrates Hogmanay or the Scottish New Year. The massive celebration includes many concerts, a Viking torchlight procession, fireworks, and lots of singing and attracts people from all around the world.

10. The North Pole, Alaska, USA

Cities That Are Best Visited in the Winter The North Pole, Alaska, USA
Nothing says Christmas like the North Pole, Alaska, so this one is a no-brainer! The Santa Claus House is certainly one of the most popular destinations here: it has a huge store full of toys and Christmas ornaments, a live Santa, and walls decorated with authentic Dear Santa letters that arrive at the North Pole annually from children the world over. December is the best time to visit the North Pole, as it’s the time of the yearly Winter Festival.
Besides all the festive attractions, you’ll also get to marvel at the beautiful frozen landscapes and the Northern Lights. Winter is the best time to view this rare natural phenomenon in Alaska.

11. Ottawa, Canada

Cities That Are Best Visited in the Winter Ottawa, Canada
Canada is fun in the wintertime as a whole, but if we were pressed to name just one city for you to visit, Ottawa is surely the best candidate. Every year, the city holds the Ottawa Winterlude Festival, which is actually one of the biggest winter festivals in the world. The festival is famous for its outdoor concerts, ice sculptures, and tobogganing.
The city also boasts of having the longest natural ice rink in the world, the Rideau Canal Skateway. The 4.8-mile (7.8 km) ice rink is open from January to February, and many locals actually use it to commute around the downtown area on ice skates.

12. Kaikoura, New Zealand

Cities That Are Best Visited in the Winter Kaikoura, New Zealand
New Zealand’s South Island is generally considered to be the top winter tourist destination in the country. The South Island is the best place to enjoy winter sports and thermal springs. But there’s one small town we’d like to bring to your attention, in particular.
Kaikoura is one of the best places in the world for whale watching, even though you’ll surely get to see other aquatic animals, such as dolphins and fur seals there as well. What makes this place really special is that it’s the only place on Earth where you can see giant sperm whales within an organized tour from a boat or plane. So for those who’ve always dreamt to go on a whale-watching adventure, Kaikoura is the place to be!

13. Stockholm, Sweden

Cities That Are Best Visited in the Winter Stockholm, Sweden
Stockholm lies on the shore of the Baltic Sea and consists of countless islands, bridges, harbors, and canals. While the city is certainly beautiful in the summer, it absolutely transforms in the winter when the Baltic Sea freezes and fresh snow falls on the many parks, buildings, and streets.
The snow-covered roofs of the colorful historical buildings in Gamla Stan, the old town, are an unforgettable sight! Although there is much to explore in Stockholm in the winter, the Drottningholm Palace is particularly magnificent in the snow.

14. Zermatt, Switzerland

Cities That Are Best Visited in the Winter Zermatt, Switzerland
Zermatt is an Alpine town surrounded by some of the highest peaks in the Alps. Needless to say, the town is a prime destination for ski lovers, but it also offers some of the most picturesque winter views in existence because Zermatt stands at the foot of Matterhorn, the most famous mountain in Switzerland.
Apart from skiing, paragliding, and other winter sports, Zermatt also has several luxurious spas, Matterhorn Glacier Paradise with ice sculpture, and the world’s longest hanging suspension bridge - the Europabrücke - that hangs at the height of 278 feet (85 m) above the Grabengufer ravine. Like all other towns and cities on this list, Zermatt truly flourishes in the wintertime!
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