Winter inspires many travelers to pack up their bags in search of a tropical paradise. But even though you may need to bundle up, winter holidays in the snow can be just as magical! Travel bloggers share their best winter wonderland and tropical paradise destinations to persuade you to visit some of their favorite places… So what’s it going to be? Will you search for a sunny slice or paradise – or will you find yourself in a cute Alpine town?
Winter Wonderland: Mount Cook National Park, New Zealand
Nature lovers and photographers alike will delight in the stunning snow-capped peaks of New Zealand’s Mount Cook National Park. The perfect day trip from Christchurch or Wanaka, Mount Cook National Park is named for it’s star attraction: New Zealand’s tallest mountain. Also known as Aoraki in Maori, Mt. Cook is a popular spot for hikers, mountaineers, glacial kayakers, and helicopter tours. But you don’t have be a thrill-seeker or trained mountaineer to enjoy the park in winter. On the contrary, there are numerous easy day treks that will reward you with incredible views and are doable by hikers and walkers of any skill level. Crunch through the icy paths of the Hooker Valley Track while kea squawk overhead and the distant rumble of an avalanche murmurs through the valley. Then you will discover that truly nothing says “winter wonderland” better than the snow-dusted fairytale views of New Zealand’s tallest peak.
Travel blogger: Savannah of Savvy Dispatches. See more on her Instagram feed.
Tropical Paradise: Bocas del Toro, Panama
Bocas del Toro, Panama is without a doubt the best tropical getaway if you’re looking for somewhere cheap and off the beaten path. This small chain of islands is located just a hop, skip, and a jump away from the Costa Rican border on the Caribbean, and since Panama is one of the lesser-known countries in Central America, it’s perfect for escaping the crowds.
Thanks to it being Panama’s dry season, winter is the perfect time to visit — especially in January and February. It doesn’t hurt that the beaches of Bocas del Toro are out of this world, either. My personal favorites are Wizard Beach and Red Frog Beach, both on Isla Bastimentos and connected by a beautiful (if muddy) hour-long hike! In addition to lazing around on the beach, you can take boat tours of the surrounding islands, indulge yourself at a chocolate farm tour at Up in the Hill on Isla Bastimentos, or go scuba diving with the PADI 5 Star Dive Center, La Buga Dive & Surf.
Travel blogger: Addie of Addie Abroad. See more on her Instagram feed.
Winter Wonderland: La Plagne, France
As the new year starts, most people are excited because it’s a new year and therefore a new start. But for me it’s because it’s a new chance to hit the slopes. Mainly, the French ones!
The ski season in Europe typically runs between November to March and France is one of my absolute favourites because it’s so close to England (my home country). Between the flight and the coach trip, the journey takes just a few scenic hours and therefore the time between my doorstep and that of the ski-lift is minimal. Plus the powder is pretty dang good too. I’d say my favourite place thus far is La Plagne/Les Arcs, as you have two mountains to play on… Plus there’s an ice-cave at the top of Bellecote Glacier and an abundance of places to get fondue. It’s the perfect winter getaway!
Travel blogger: Amy of Toothbrush Travels. See more on her Facebook page.
Tropical Paradise: The Maldives
The Maldives are the ultimate tropical getaway, even more so during the cold winter months. While the Northern hemisphere is cold and miserable, the Maldives enjoy wonderful, sunny and warm days that are just perfect to relax. The best things to do in the Maldives include snorkeling and diving in the sea to admire the incredible marine life. But the Maldives also have incredible waves, which are perfect for surfing. Yet, there’s more: the fabulous luxury resorts of the Maldives are the ultimate places to be pampered with spa treatments, or to enjoy romantic sunset dinners and delicious cocktails.
Travel blogger: Claudia of My Adventures Across the World. See more on her Instagram feed.
Winter Wonderland: Sapporo, Japan
Sapporo is the capital of the Hokkaido Island, at the Northern part of Japan. It is undoubtedly one of the best winter destinations in South East Asian because of its famed powder snow. Many travellers head to Sapporo and the mountains nearby for skiing and snowboarding. In February, when winter is at its peak, Sapporo is host to the Snow Festival. Located at Odori Park, with a great view of Sapporo TV Tower and Mt Okurayama Ski Jump Stadium at both ends, the Snow Festival is an exhibition of snow and ice sculptures. You can also find snow slides close to the Tsu Dome where children and adults can have a ball of fun! The Tsu Dome also houses several foods and souvenirs stands. Otherwise, take a walk in the large and snow-covered Maruyama Park that is home to the Hokkaido Shrine and the zoo. There’s just so much to do in Sapporo, especially during winter, that you have to put it on your list!
Travel blogger: Michelle of The Munching Traveller. See more on her Instagram feed.
Tropical Paradise: Koh Lanta, Thailand
Koh Lanta is one of my favourite islands in South East Asia, and one of my favourite tropical getaways worldwide. It’s a small island, with a population of just over 30,000, but even in the height of the season it doesn’t feel overcrowded. It tends to cater for a more laid-back crowd as well, typically older travellers in their 30s and 40s who aren’t looking for the party scene found in some of the nearby islands and Krabi. Instead visitors typically spend their time exploring the beautiful and unspoilt beaches, snorkelling, scuba diving, and enjoying the many great Thai and international restaurants on the island. If you’re looking for a tropical paradise that’s quiet and easy-going, Koh Lanta is the perfect place for you.
Winter Wonderland: Andorra
Andorra is a tiny country in Europe and a total Winter Wonderland. We spent a week skiing at the Grandvalira ski resort, which has slopes for people with all abilities. The 210 km of slopes in Andorra is a glorious dream for any skier! The whole area is very well connected. There is also plenty to do for the non-skiers. Hiking, mushing, snow tubing, paragliding, snowshoeing and cross-country skiing await any traveller who would enjoy an active holiday. If you prefer to have a quiet day or want to relax after an exhausting day on the slopes, you can visit one of the spas in the area. One thing is for certain, though… The snow kept Pyrenees mountains will impress any visitor to this gorgeous country!
Travel blogger: Enikő of Travel Hacker Girl. See more on her Instagram feed.
Tropical Paradise: Negril, Jamaica
We live in Wisconsin, which is known for it’s brutal cold and snowy winters that go on forever. You need a tropical escape at least once a winter. Our favorite tropical getaway Jamaica. It’s only a few hours away but oh so much warmer! Our first international trip together was to Negril Jamaica in 2007; we returned in 2011, freshly engaged and scoping out wedding venues; and in 2012 we got married on the Seven Mile Beach in Negril. We love everything about the Jamaica the weather, the people, white sandy beaches, sunsets, food, drinks, activities, and so much more. It’s the perfect escape for those needing a little sunshine in the winter. We just returned from our sixth visit to Jamaica, and we know we’ll be back again soon.
Travel blogger: Hannah of Getting Stamped. See more on her Instagram feed.
Winter Wonderland: Mont Blanc, France
The resort destination of Chamonix-Mont-Blanc is located in the area where France, Switzerland and Italy intersects. It is a famous ski resort area in France. Other than the winter sports, the main attraction in Chamonix is Aiguille du Midi, where the cable cars will take you up to the summit height of 3,842m. From the summit, you can have a panoramic view of Chamonix as well as Mont Blanc which is 4,808m, the tallest Mountains in the Alps. Or you can visit Mer de Glace, where you have a chance to tour the Ice Cave, and witness the majestic view of the glacier.
And due to global warming, every year the glacier will shrink. Be sure to visit them while they are still around.
Travel blogger: Donovan of Our Travel Voilà. See more on his Facebook page.
Tropical Paradise: Dubai
The best place to visit in winter is Dubai, the perfect tropical getaway… Forget the extreme heat, like in summer – or even in the fall and spring! Winter is a wonderful time to visit.
And there are many activities in Dubai during winter, such as Miracle Garden – the biggest flower show in the world. Travellers will enjoy strolling through beautiful areas like Dubai Marina or Madinat Jumeirah, too.
Hitting the beach is one of the best things to do in Dubai during the winter. The beaches are not crowded, and they are clean. Once on the beach, visitors can swim, try water sports or even fly over the beach in a helicopter. However, do note that only some of the beaches are free and open to the public.
Travel blogger: Arzo of Arzo Travels.
For more winter holiday inspiration, whether you prefer to bundle up in snowy scenery or sunbathe on beaches, see the first Winder Wonderland vs. Tropical Paradise post.
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