It’s September and it’s the perfect month for people to start booking their snowy winter vacations. Most people love to escape the cold weather, especially if they live in a northern city, but sometimes a nice snowy winter retreat for the Christmas/Holiday season is just what you need.
What comes to mind is a chance to experience the holiday season at it’s best. I’m talking about lights, great foods, cities with excellent accommodations, good culture, outdoor activities likes skiing, as well as lots of snow and dramatic scenery. We usually associate the Christmas season as a snowy winter wonderland so I picked out fantastic cities that will be guaranteed to deliver.
Most are in Europe or in North America but I have one in Asia as well if you’re looking for something more exotic.
Snowfall: 5.24 inches in December
Although Bern is probably one of the least snowiest cities (at least in December) on this list, it’s still in Switzerland and one of the best snowy winter destinations. Bern is the perfect choice because it has a well-preserved Old Town to walk around for shopping, cozy Swiss cafes, and Christmas markets are set up during the Christmas/Holiday season. It is one of the few European cities to almost completely be kept intact from the medieval period and most of the city still has the original buildings. Bern borders the French and German-speaking part of Switzerland, easily be able to see both of these parts of Switzerland and the Alps are always close by.
image by: shawnvoyage
Montréal and Québec City, Québec, Canada
Snowfall: 22.76 inches and 30.59 inches in December
Montréal and Québec City are both in the Québec Region of Canada and are known to be one of the snowiest cities in Canada. Both cities are great for celebrating the Christmas Holiday because you’re almost guaranteed to have a snowy winter white Christmas plus both cities have awesome winter festivals. Practice your French though as most people in Québec speak French Canadian although you will find English widely spoken. In Québec City it’s recommended you stay in Old Québec and have a traditional white Christmas with lights, cozy bistros, and even tobogganing. In Montréal eat some yule log or Bûche de Noël, sip some wine, and enjoy everything French without the jet-lag.
Snowfall: 10.2 inches in December
Innsbruck, Austria has always been one of the snowiest cities in Europe and is renowned for its snowy winter sports. Like most European cities Austria will have a Christmas market in it’s own town that starts at the end of November. They will sell traditional food, drinks, souvenirs, Tyrolean handicrafts, and Christmas decorations. Meet new friends, warm up and refuel with some traditional delicacies such as Kiachln (doughnut speciality), Spatzln (small cheesy dumplings) and a mug of Glühwein (mulled wine). There are also four other Christmas Markets throughout Innsbruck. My recommendation is to see the sights of the city as well as hit the Austrian Alps that border the city in all directions.
image by: Michael
Banff, Alberta, Canada
Snowfall: 17.01 inches in December
Banff, in Alberta, Canada, is about an hour and half west of Calgary. Due to it’s location far north, Banff has a very long skiing season and snows in the city almost always by Christmas. Compared to other cities on this list it’s quite a small city but that doesn’t mean there isn’t lack of activities to do. My recommendation is to lodge yourself in one of the many resorts in Banff and drive yourself to one of the many ski resorts around the area. Drink up as much hot chocolate and after a long day of holiday skiing, workout your muscles in a steam room or sauna. One of the highlights would definitely be Lake Louise and the hotel that sits on top of it. Usually the lobby is decorated with a huge tree and the lake is frozen during the snowy winter.
image by: afagen
Snowfall: Around 15 inches although Lapland covers a huge area and it varies
In Lapland, Finland you’re guaranteed snow on the ground by Christmas time. Infact snow starts falling as early as October and usually stays on the ground until May. The reason Lapland is such a great Christmas destination is that the Finns claim Santa Claus to be their own and have a whole Santa Claus Village in Rovaniemi. It was the nordic countries that invented Christmas what was then a pagan holiday. Some other cool Christmasy ideas would be Riisitunturi National Park in Southern Lapland; home to the best Crown Snow Trees (they look all droopy due to the heavy snow). It’s also recommended to take a tour to the forests of Lapland, see the Northern Lights, and ski in the snowy winter landscape!
image by: timo
Vail, Colorado, USA
Snowfall: 71.9 inches in December
Vail is by far the snowiest city in December on this list and is a great USA city to spend Christmas/Holiday season. Only a couple of hours from Denver, Vail is at an elevation of 8,000 feet, one of the reasons it’s so cold and constantly has a snowy winter. The city is completely closed off to cars adding to the quaint and cozy atmosphere. There is lighting of Christmas trees, Christmas carolers, holiday parades, coffee shops and a lot of Christmas shopping. Of course the city is surrounded by one of the best skiing in North America, and some lifts can be taken right from the city. Vail also is a big enough city to have a great nightlife and will be busy during the winter months.
Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan
Snowfall: 52 inches in December
Sapporo, Japan doesn’t seem like a great Christmas destination because the Japanese don’t traditionally celebrate the Christmas season but that’s actually not true. Sapporo does have European style Christmas markets, thanks to globalization, and you will see Christmas lights, Santa Clauses, Christmas music, and decorations all around the city. Although Christmas is not a national holiday like it is in Europe and the States, it seems the Japanese embrace the holiday just like Europeans and Americans. Many Japanese spend Christmas going to fancy Christmas dinners, ice skating, looking at lights, sleigh rides, and etc. Sapporo has a snowy winter in Japan, receiving a whopping 52 inches of snow in December alone.
image by: yoppy
Fact: December is typically not the snowiest month for any of these cities. Usually the most snow comes in January and February.