After the snows fall, some places are transformed into sparkling winter paradises. Getting the best out of the season means finding an idyllic town that offers the most pleasant combination of natural, cultural and healthy experiences to recharge your senses.
1. Queenstown, New Zealand
Queenstown’s stunning scenery, huge range of activities and renowned warm welcome cement its reputation as New Zealand’s favourite visitor destination. The resort town in Otago in the southwest of New Zealand's South Island is surrounded by majestic mountains like the Walter Peak and The Remarkables and set on the shores of the long, Z-shaped, crystal clear Lake Wakatipu. The natural beauty and the unique energy of the region create the perfect backdrop for a visit full of adventure, exploration or relaxation.
2. Štramberk, Czech Republic
Štramberk lies on the slope of a forested lime hill, dominated by the magnificent medieval Trúba castle tower that still looks over the picturesque little town. Found in the centre of the Štramberk Highlands in the Moravian-Silesian region, you will see the beautiful timbered houses from the 18th and 19th centuries that keep the lucky residents toasty during the colder months. The Sipka cave, a national monument, is set at the south border of the town.
3. Shirakawa-go, Japan
Shirakawa-go is a small, traditional village at the foot of Mt. Haku-san in Ōno District, Gifu Prefecture. The quiet, mountain hamlet is known for its gasshō-zukuri style farmhouses. They have incredibly steep roofs that were made to withstand some of the heaviest snowfall in the world. The UNESCO World Heritage Site, which has rice fields and a river running through it, also became famous via the Japanese game series, 'Higurashi no Naku Koro ni' and the anime series that followed.
4. Damüls, Austria
This beautiful destination receives an average of 9.30 metres of snowfall per year, earning it the “World’s Snowiest Town” title in 2006. Unsurprisingly, this town of 300 is a popular winter getaway for sports junkies. Located in Bregenz, Vorarlberg, the most western part of Austria, at an elevation of 1,430 metres, it offers top skiing conditions and plenty of warm hospitality. The region’s majestic mountains and outstanding natural beauty attract visitors from all over the world.
5. Funes, Italy
Val di Funes//Villnöss Valley in South Tyrol is simply picture-perfect. The enchanting and secluded Dolomite valley ’s main landmark is the unmistakable Odle/Geisler Dolomitic massif, with its striking, pale towers of rock and mountain peaks. The valley’s many hiking trails, set against a unique backdrop, make it a true paradise for anyone who loves the mountains. The 20 communities in the “Pearls of the Alps” are dedicated to sustainable tourism and preserving traditions and old customs.
6. Zermatt, Switzerland
Zermatt, in the district of Visp in the German-speaking section of the canton of Valais, is a tiny village in the Swiss Alps with approximately 6,000 inhabitants. The ‘auto-free’ resort lies at the foot of the Matterhorn, and the town's touristic development is closely linked to what is most probably the world's most famous mountain. At an elevation of 1,608 metres, Zermatt is considered to be one of Europe's premier ski resorts.
7. Breckenridge, Colorado
Situated along the Tenmile Range in the heart of the Colorado Rocky Mountains, Breckenridge is a sleepy, rural town. The small houses of this ski town are dominated by their landscape, especially during winter. A climb to the peaks offer an incredible panorama of the town below. Breckenridge Ski Resort is continually one of the most visited ski resorts in the Western hemisphere as it offers world-class skiing and riding and the charms of an authentic mining town.