Destination Guides

Cosy up with the family for the holidays in these 8 winter wonderland cities

Recently updated on December 4th, 2023 at 03:46 pm

We can’t think of a better way to celebrate the holiday season than cozying up with the family in these gorgeous winter wonderland cities. From alpine retreats blanketed in snow to dazzling winter events and fairytale Christmas markets, these are holiday memories you (and the little ones) will cherish for a lifetime. So put your warm socks on, fetch a hot drink, and get cozy: here are 8 winter wonderland cities that will make this holiday season one to remember.

Rovaniemi, Finland

Husky-drawn sled ride through a beautiful and snowy forest near Rovaniemi, Santa Claus Village. The alpine trees blanketed with fluffy snow looks like a winter wonderland

The capital of Lapland and the official hometown of Santa Claus, could there be a more iconic winter wonderland than Rovaniemi? It’s pretty hard to beat the snow-covered landscapes, husky-drawn sleigh rides, roaming reindeer, and the chance to meet Santa Claus himself. To top it all off, you may be lucky enough to see the mesmerizing Northern Lights dancing across the Arctic sky, adding a touch of magic to your winter holiday.

Discover Rovaniemi on Nordic Adventure

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Salzburg, Austria

Salzburg during the winter, covered in snow with a slightly frozen river, reflecting the golden lights on the streets. A beautiful place to spend a Christmas holiday

You may know Salzburg as the birthplace of Mozart and the home of the Von Trapp family from “The Sound of Music”. It’s a beautiful city, and becomes even more wonderful during the Christmas holiday. Delicate layers of glittering snow cover the Baroque rooftops, reflecting the glow of twinkling fairy lights hung along the streets. You’ll feel the magic as you wander into the historic Old Town square, where locals erect rustic wooden huts for the Salzburg Christkindlmarkt: one of the oldest Christmas markets in the world. As you get lost in the cozy market, munching on roasted chestnuts and browsing handcrafted gifts, you’ll see for yourself what an authentic European winter wonderland really looks like.

Discover Austria on Sound of Music

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Quebec City, Canada

Quebec City at winter, overlooking a cobbled street with winter fairy lights and snow covering the rooftops.

Looking for an authentic European winter wonderland experience in North America? Look no further than Quebec City. The city’s famous French charm, found in its stony architecture and characteristic shops, becomes even more magical during the Christmas holiday. The center stage for all the winter fun is the UNESCO-listed historic district. Expect beautiful winter wonderland lights and a German-inspired Christmas Market, packed with quaint stalls, free events and tasty German snacks.

Discover Quebec City on Best of Eastern Canada

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Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Germany

A corner of the German town of Rothenburg ob der Tauber. Medieval houses covered in snow look like a fairytale winter wonderland

On any day, the small town of Rothenburg ob der Tauber looks like something out of a storybook. But during the holiday season, this medieval town gives a warm, wholesome winter wonderland vibe that is like a fairytale come true. You can see this best, of course, in the town’s iconic Reiterlesmarkt, one of Germany’s oldest Christmas markets. Like Salzburg, this is a truly authentic European winter wonderland, with cobblestone streets, pretty rainbow-colored houses, timber facades, and gothic rooftops.

Discover Rothenburg ob der Tauber on Best of Germany

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Bruges, Belgium

The back of a horse-drawn carriage going down a cobblestone path in Bruges.

Another beautiful medieval city, Bruges, or the “Venice of the North”, combines picturesque canals, cobblestone alleys and European charm to create a perfect winter wonderland. This Christmas market is a little different from the others, where you’ll have a delectable range of Belgian chocolates to fuel your explorations. For a real fairytale experience, take a horse-drawn carriage through the charming stone streets.

Discover Bruges on Best of Holland, Belgium and Luxembourg

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Sapporo, Japan

A mansion made of snow in Sapporo Snow Festival.

On the northern island of Hokkaido, you can find Sapporo, famous for its annual snow festival in February. Here, you can expect a different kind of winter wonderland, one of enormous snow and ice sculptures that boggle the imagination. Marvel at these intricate creations, from fun Disney characters to full-blown royal palaces. Held in February, the festival lands right at the peak of the winter season, so you could combine your visit with a trip to Hokkaido’s mountains for some action on the slopes. As well as the incredible sculptures, there’s also dancing on ice, dogsled races, movie events, and delicious Japanese cuisine sold from winter stalls.

Discover Japan on: Splendours of Japan

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Banff, Canada

A snowy mountain range in Banff, Canada, at golden hour. The sky is pink and violet, and the ice on the floor reflects these beautiful colors.

Nestled in the Canadian Rockies, Banff is an alpine resort that provides the perfect winter wonderland for any outdoor enthusiast. Hit the slopes at world-renowned resorts and explore stunning frozen lakes, making nature your ultimate playground. With ice skating, ice hockey, and tranquil snow-covered trails in Banff National Park, you’ll never get bored in this serene winter wonderland. The sight of majestic mountains, frozen waterfalls and wildlife in their winter habitats is sure to make your family holiday that little bit more magical.

Discover this on Canada’s Rockies

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