Beauty is, famously, in the eye of the beholder. For some it can be found in carpets of flowers or trees laden with cherry blossom. For others it’s in sweeping white beaches and jewel-bright seas. There’s no denying that these things are beautiful, but some people think that the most spectacular landscapes are those found in winter. Whether that’s because of frost making everything sparkle, or the bright clear skies that only appear when it’s cold, we’ve picked out our top 5 most breathtaking wintry destinations.
Endless steppes, sparkling cities and golden domes… Russia is a winter-lover’s dream. Skate the ice rinks of Moscow, admire the domes of St Basil’s Cathedral in the snow like sweets covered in icing sugar, or set off on a Trans-Siberian adventure to walk on frozen lakes and admire the many landscapes of Russia as you cross them on one of the world’s most famous train journeys.
Crunch through snow as you wander lengths of the Great Wall, or head to the Huangshan mountain range to see the towering pillars of stone and flat topped trees sparkling with frost. China is beautiful in winter, and lesser visited by tourists meaning you get a lot more of it to yourself. It’s also a great time to stroll around the shores of Hangzhou’s West Lake - usually crowded in the warmer months - to experience true peace and tranquillity.
Georgia is a nation worthy of fairytales. Ancient villages tucked into steep-sided valleys are watched over by crumbling watchtowers and monasteries perched on hilltops are dwarfed by the surrounding mountains. Spend some time exploring the delights of Tbilisi (don't forget to try the wine!) before heading to the rural areas for more of a wintry adventure.
The aurora borealis dance in the nights’ skies and a low sun casts a gentle half-light during the short days which are well spent exploring picturesque villages or going on bracing walks through the scenic landscapes to spot waterfalls and glaciers. Duck into cafes to enjoy warm up over a coffee, snuggle down in front of fires in the evenings, then set out to enjoy the colourful display as the night’s at its darkest.
5. Central Asia: Kazakhstan & Kyrgyzstan
Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan are linked together in many ways, including sharing a nomadic culture and the Tien Shan mountain range. They are bitterly cold in the winter months, but also lovely to look at. Waterfalls freeze into cascades of crystals, the blue of the lakes is emphasised by the white mountain slopes, and there is surprisingly good skiing to be found in both countries.
Make it happen
If you'd like to visit any of these winter wonderlands, then click on the links in each section header to get in touch with our local partner company based in that country. They are all experts at planning tailor-made trips and can make your perfect winter break. To speak to someone in the TravelLocal office, please call +44 (0) 117 325 7898.