Kakslauttanen Artic Resort, Lapland, Finland

Some people spend the year dreaming of beaches and drooling over their palm tree screensavers. However, with so many amazing icy wonderlands, who’s to say that we shouldn’t choose snow over sand? To give you a little inspiration, we’ve put together a list of the best winter getaways around the world. Take a look at these seven awesome destinations and decide for yourself.

Whistler, BC

Skiing on Whistler Blackcomb.

Skiing on Whistler Blackcomb. Photo: Mike Crane – Tourism Whistler

Consistently rated a top winter destination, Whistler is one of the most well-known names in skiing. The charming village will be sure to win you over too with its huge variety of winter activities, large festival and event list, and overall charismatic appeal.

Kick up your feet at Nita Lake Lodge, named one of the top 25 hotels in Canada by TripAdvisor. You’re bound to enjoy the VIP access to one of the hottest skiing spots in the world. With excellent views and even better service, Nita Lake Lodge could be your new favorite getaway.

Even though Whistler is best known for its skiing, don’t think that they’re lacking in other categories. Named the number one resort in North America for off-hill activities, this town was made to keep you busy. Zip lining, sleigh rides, and winter bungee jumping don’t even begin to cover it. It’s no wonder that Whistler is at the top of everyone’s list for best winter getaways.

Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival, China

Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival

Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival. Photo: Brian Jeffery Beggerly CC BY 2.0

You haven’t seen a true winter wonderland until you’ve set eyes on the Harbin International Ice and Snow Sculpture Festival located in Harbin, Heilongjiang, China. Currently known as the world’s largest ice and snow festival, it’s also known to exhibit the most intricate sculptures around. In just one tour you may visit ice renditions of the world’s most famous architecture, elaborate mazes, and fairy tale castles. At night, multicolored lights fill the sculptures, giving the festival a magical feel.

Established in 1985, the festival begins with a spectacular fireworks show on January 5th and lasts over a month. The festival itself covers roughly 750,000 square meters and uses over 100,000 cubic meters of ice.

The festival doesn’t stop at sculptures, though. Watch swimmers take a dive into the frozen Songhua River, stay in an ice hotel, or try out dog sledding. Check out the Siberian Tiger Park and, if you’re lucky, you just might spot the endangered “Liger.”  If you’re feeling more traditional, top-rated ski resorts surround the area, providing great skiing opportunities and an active après-ski life.

Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort, Finland

Kakslauttanen Artic Resort, Lapland, Finland

Kakslauttanen, Finland. Photo: Greenland Travel CC BY 2.0

Bring out your inner-Eskimo for this next pick of our best winter getaways around the world. Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort is the home of a famous igloo village in the middle of the wilderness. These cozy, glass-roofed igloos offer some of the best views available of the Northern Lights during the winter. The igloos are well heated, but if you’re feeling a bit more adventurous you can check out the non-heated igloos, and try your hand at a sleeping bag and an ice bed.

When you’re not enjoying the amazing views from the comfort of your own room, venture out to a reindeer safari, go midnight snowmobiling, or why not take a refreshing dip in an ice-hole? Don’t worry, you can heat up in the world’s largest smoke sauna.

Like a well-kept secret, Kakslauttanen Arctic Resort is bound to entice you. Although it’s no luxury escape, it’s reviewed by many as a “once in a lifetime opportunity” and it’s easy to see why.

Beaver Creek, Colorado

Fresh Snow at Beaver Creek

Fresh Snow at Beaver Creek Photo: Snow Snow CC BY-ND 2.0

After working your tail off and counting down the days until vacation, sometimes a little luxury is just what you need. With a handful of 5 star hotels and four on-mountain gourmet restaurants, Beaver Creek is determined to meet your needs.

The resort’s breathtaking views and world-class skiing have been described as nothing less than “a little piece of heaven on earth.” It’s easy to leave your everyday world behind to enjoy being pampered in a place like Beaver Creek. Without a doubt, you’ll leave feeling content and refreshed.

Lake Louise, Alberta

Lake Louise

Lake Louise. Photo: jyl4032 CC BY-ND 2.0

Referred to as Canada’s “diamond in the wilderness,” Lake Louise is one of the most photographed landscapes in the Canadian Rockies. As you might have guessed from the name, the most popular attraction is the lake which is a stunning turquoise, when not covered by ice and snow.

Another gem of the area is the Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise. Naturally beginning as a base for outdoor enthusiasts, the hotel has evolved into a luxury mountain resort. Enjoy skiing, ice-skating, snowshoeing, or the world-class spa. Surrounded by mountain peaks and the lake for which it was named, the resort manages to perfectly combine extravagance with an outdoorsy flair.

Lake Baikal, Russia

Olkhon island on Lake Baikal.

Olkhon Island on Lake Baikal. Photo: Anton Petukhov CC BY 2.0

Lake Baikal, known to be the world’s oldest and deepest lake, proves to also be an ideal winter getaway. It goes without saying that many activities revolve around the lake, and it’s not hard to see why. Known as the “Galapagos of Russia,” Lake Baikal houses more water than all of the North American Great Lakes combined. The area is also home to more than 1,700 different species of plants and animals. Of these, two-thirds can’t be found anywhere else in the world.

In the winter the tourist season slows down, making it less crowded for those that remain. Don’t let this deter you, as Lake Baikal has an impressive winter atmosphere. Find yourself at the ski resorts, sightseeing the frozen lake, or, better yet, hover boarding over it. One of the world’s greatest natural treasures, Lake Baikal should definitely be on your bucket list.

Zermatt, Switzerland

Zermatt panorama

Zermatt Panorama. Photo: flamouroux CC BY-SA 2.0

At the foot of the Matterhorn, the crown jewel of the Swiss Alps, lies Zermatt. The town itself is small, lovely, and car-free. That’s right, getting around means renting an electric vehicle or taking a horse-drawn cab. The skiing here speaks for itself, but don’t forget about the views. Particularly, don’t limit yourself to the ground. Enjoy the landscape from a helicopter tour or get dropped off on the untouched slopes reachable only by air.

This year there’s even more reason to go, as the mountain is celebrating the 150th anniversary of the first time people stood on its summit. At 4,478 meters, that’s no small task. Jutting from the earth like a crooked tooth and described as the “mountain of mountains,” the Matterhorn has all but given the tiny town of Zermatt it’s dazzling reputation as a world-class destination and one of the best winter getaways.

Gibbons Whistler

Gibbons has been celebrating with people since 1979. We operate venues, run festivals, brew beer, talk travel and throw parties.