9 Unforgettable Winter Escapes to Indulge Your Sense of Wanderlust

canada
Photo: Spondylolithesis
Whether you want to embrace the winter weather or escape it, these vacation spots are great for a seasonal getaway.

Feel a case of wanderlust setting in? Whether you're looking to escape to warmer climes or embrace all that winter brings, it's time to start planning your next big adventure. From Vienna to Cambodia and everywhere in between, here are our picks for an unforgettable winter getaway.

  1. Colchagua Valley, Chile

    chile
    Photo by Onfokus

    Napa Valley? Been there, done that. While Patagonia attracts tourists in droves, Chile's Colchagua Valley is often overlooked — but it's definitely worth the trip. Surrounded by picturesque mountains on all sides, the sun-drenched valley produces the country's finest red wines. Tourism in the region has truly blossomed over the years, with an abundance of tasting tours along the Colchagua Valley Wine Route, outdoor explorations, workshops and more.

  2. London

    london
    Photo by Ultraforma

    ​They say Paris is always a good idea, but when it comes to winter travel, we beg to differ. If a big city getaway is on your to-do list this season, London makes a great getaway. Cozy pubs, pints of locally brewed ale (sipped beside a roaring fire) and sticky toffee pudding are the perfect remedy for a severe case of the cold weather blues. During the holiday season the city is more vibrant than ever with its twinkling lights and festive flair, and activities like ice skating, Christmas markets and music abound. Another bonus? You won't have to worry about weather putting a damper on your trip. Many of London's best experiences (live music, markets, cultural events, museums, etc.) can be had indoors.

  3. Banff, Alberta, Canada

    alberta canada
    Photo by Spondylolithesis

    Winter sports enthusiasts, it's time to head north of the border. Banff National Park is like a little piece of winter paradise just waiting to be discovered. Hitting the slopes is a no-brainer, but there are plenty of other ways to explore all that Canada's Rocky Mountains have to offer. Rappel along an icy rock face, try your hand at dog sledding, kick back in the Upper Banff Hot Springs, or enjoy an evening icewalk and campfire along the shores of Lake Minnewanka.

  4. New Zealand

    new zealand
    Photo by Denizunlusu

    Fast forward to summer with a trip to New Zealand's sunny North Island. One of the best ways to explore the country's stunning landscape (which just so happened to serve as the backdrop for Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings)? By car. National Geographic's Auckland to Wellington route is definitely worth noting. The 460-mile trip will take you through the best that Kiwiland has to offer — volcanic fields, awe-inspiring mountain ranges, sparkling lakes, lush rainforest and more — and enough activities to satisfy even the most avid outdoor enthusiasts.

  5. Cambodia

    angkor wat
    Photo by Mlenny

    ​If you want to experience Southeast Asia at its best, Cambodia should be at the top of your bucket list. Go for the iconic temples, rich cultural history, delicious food, and breathtaking landscape, but also go for the unparalleled warmth and hospitality of the Cambodian people.

  6. Cuba

    havana
    Photo by Mbbirdy

    ICYMI: There are now direct flights to Cuba, which means that traveling to the formerly forbidden island is a lot easier. If mere curiosity doesn't inspire you take the plunge, the allure of Havana's colorful streets, lively salsa scene, culture and cuisine will.

  7. Swedish Lapland

    swedish lapland
    Photo by Eerik

    Sure — if you're in the mood for sunshine and swimsuits, a visit to Sweden is probably out of the question, but if you're looking for something a little different, consider this your destination. For an area as remote as Lapland, there's a surprising amount of things to do. In addition to traditional activities like skiing, ice fishing and snowmobiling, you can learn to build your own igloo, go on an elk safari or drive your own dog sled. There's also the ICEHOTEL to consider. Rebuilt every year with ice blocks from the Torne River and based on designs from various artists, the one-of-a-kind hotel is a must-see with its impressive chandelier (which boasts 1,000 hand-cut ice crystals), chic lounges, ice bar and long list of activities that allow you explore the surrounding area. Oh yeah — and there's also that little thing called the Northern Lights.

  8. Vienna

    vienna
    Photo by Arpad Benedek

    ​Vienna is the type of city that could make any cold weather phobe rejoice at the first sight of snow. Twinkling lights, freshly fallen snow and the city's innate old world charm combine to create an atmosphere that could only be described as magical. Though temperatures tend to dip well below zero, the city has a strong coffee culture and is well-equipped with cafés and bars in which to cozy up and catch a break from the cold. The holidays bring with them festive street markets (a great place to pick up souvenirs and sip hot wine) and ice skating, but the fairytale-like architecture, buzz-worthy breweries and world class art collections stick are musts all year round.

  9. New Orleans

    new orleans
    Photo by Arpad Benedek

    ​Mardi Gras might be the biggest draw to the Big Easy during wintertime, but there are plenty of other reasons to hit up New Orleans during the cold weather months. First, and perhaps foremost, there's no better way to combat chilly temps than with beignets and hot chocolate at Café du Monde, but the city's Christmas and New Year's celebrations are definitely worth making the trip down south for too. That and lower hotel rates and fewer tourists (read: more space to sprawl out at the city's top spots).