Top 20 Most Beautiful Winter Towns
Almost all cities and natural landscapes look better in winter, when covered in snow. There are some places, however, which turn into something really special during the cold season, whether it’s thanks to the charming local architecture or the breathtaking surroundings – or both! The following is a list of some of the world’s most beautiful winter towns:
- 20. Ljubljana, Slovenia
- 19. Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany
- 18. Jackson, Wyoming, USA
- 17. Tegernsee, Germany
- 16. Brașov, Romania
- 15. Reykjavik, Iceland
- 14. Bern, Switzerland
- 13. Zakopane, Poland
- 12. Vyborg, Russia
- 11. Aosta, Italy
- 10. Bergen, Norway
- 9. Queenstown, New Zealand
- 8. Ifrane, Morocco
- 7. Banff, Alberta, Canada
- 6. Harbin, China
- 5. Bariloche, Argentina
- 4. Zermatt, Switzerland
- 3. Shirakawa-go, Japan
- 2. Salzburg, Austria
- 1. Naarden, The Netherlands
20. Ljubljana, Slovenia
The capital of Slovenia is one of the least famous among Europe’s important cities – which is quite a shame. Sitting at the heart of a country well regarded by wintersport enthusiasts, Ljubljana is a charming place and great stop along the way to ski slopes of the Julian Alps.
19. Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany
Most famous for hosting one of the events of the Four Hills Tournament (one of ski jumping’s most prestigious competitions), Garmisch-Partenkirchen is an interesting site even for those who aren’t necessarily interested in that particular sport. Overlooked by some of Germany’s highest mountains –most notably the very highest, Zugspitze –, it perfectly epitomizes the charming Bavarian valley town.
18. Jackson, Wyoming, USA
Located in the picturesque Jackson Hole valley, the town of Jackson, Wyoming is close to a number of national parks and ski resorts, features which make the place very popular with tourists. The majestic mountains of the Teton Range form a spectacular backdrop to the town, offering magnificent views both in summer and in winter.
17. Tegernsee, Germany
Another fascinating Bavarian mountain town, Tegernsee is set on the shores of a picturesque lake and boasts a number of old buildings forming what is called Schloss Tegernsee (Castle Tegernsee), as well as a range of charming historical houses.
16. Brașov, Romania
Set right in the center of Romania, Brasov is one of Europe’s hidden gems. It boasts that charming medieval vibe many towns in Transylvania are known for, most notably in the central square. Great vistas of the city are available from Tampa Mountain overlooking it.
15. Reykjavik, Iceland
The world’s northernmost capital, Reykjavik is a fascinating place. Beautiful without being in any way ostentatious, with elegant, if unremarkable structures (with some exceptions, of course), the Icelandic capital is a great destination for those who are comfortable in the cold, but also want to discover a city, as vibrant as one can be at below freezing, and not just a holiday resort.
14. Bern, Switzerland
Bern, the capital of Switzerland, is one of its most picturesque places. Located in the very heart of the country, the landscape is quite rugged, which comes in contrast with the beauty of the very well-preserved medieval city center.
13. Zakopane, Poland
A very popular tourist destination found near the country’s southern border, Zakopane is known as “the winter capital of Poland” – and for good reason. The town is surrounded by the Tatra Mountains (a mountain range within the Carpathians) and features its very own style of architecture specific to the region.
12. Vyborg, Russia
Vyborg is an enchanting town located near Russia’s border with Finland. Established seven hundred years ago by the as a Swedish castle, is has been a fiercely disputed site ever since. Its origin as a fortification can still be seen in its layout, with the central fortress surrounded by water.
11. Aosta, Italy
The city of Aosta is one of the most remarkable places in Italy. Located in the northwestern part of the country, near the border with both France and Switzerland, it’s great for those who want to admire the Alpine landscapes near Mont Blanc, but also boast quite a few fascinating ancient Roman and medieval structures.
10. Bergen, Norway
Built along Byfjorden fjord, Bergen is one of Norway’s most prominent cities. Known as The City of the Seven Mountains, it is not as cold you’d expect for a place located so far north (locals can thank the Gulf Stream for that), the landscape still makes a very beautiful place to see in winter.
9. Queenstown, New Zealand
New Zealand is known for its breathtaking landscapes, whether it’s summer or winter, and the city of Queenstown, located on the country’s Southern Island, is a great illustration of why that is. Set on the shores of Lake Wakatipu, the city is surrounded by majestic mountains, it is a stunning spot all year round, but it’s especially alluring when the landscape is covered in snow.
8. Ifrane, Morocco
Africa isn’t a place where you’d expect to find snow, except maybe atop Mount Kilimanjaro. Which is what makes Ifrane so remarkable. Located high up in the vast Atlas Mountains, this amazing Moroccan resort is the place where the lowest temperature was ever recorded in Africa: -24 °C (-11.2 °F). This, and its beautiful “garden city” design, makes it such a great place to visit in winter.
7. Banff, Alberta, Canada
The first incorporated municipality within a Canadian national park (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), Banff is a town of unparalleled beauty and tranquility. Surrounded by majestic mountains, it is especially famous for its hot springs, making it an all-round great winter destination.
6. Harbin, China
Harbin is a town in the northeastern part of China with the (unwanted) distinction of being the coldest major city in the country. But people there decided to make the most of it, so every year Harbin hosts a world-famous ice sculpture festival, which draws crowds from all over the world.
5. Bariloche, Argentina
Located at the foothills of the Andes, on the shores of Nahel Huapi Lake, Bariloche has all the elegance of a European-style Alpine city (there’s even a Neo-Gothic cathedral!) in a picturesque South American setting. It is probably the best city on the continent if you’re in the Southern Hemisphere and miss the winters of Europe.
4. Zermatt, Switzerland
Zermatt might just be the quintessential Alpine village. Small and peaceful, secluded, yet easily accessible, it is a very popular destination for discerning travelers all year round. It’s also located in the shadow of the majestic Matterhorn, the most significant landmark in the Swiss Alps, which makes Zermatt truly picture-perfect.
3. Shirakawa-go, Japan
Shirakawa-go is a small village on Japan’s Honshu Island, located in a place which receives some really heavy snowfall. This has prompted locals to build houses with distinctly-shaped thatched roofs, intended to deflect all that snow. The image of these quaint, elegant structures strewn across the valley covered in white powder is probably the best winter snapshot you could ever take.
2. Salzburg, Austria
Thanks to its well-preserved baroque Old Town, Salzburg is quite a sight even in the grayest of days. But in winter, especially when seen from above, using one of the nearby mountains as a vantage point, Salzburg reveals itself in all its beauty, with its majestic towers and churches covered in snow.
1. Naarden, The Netherlands
Naarden is a small Dutch town located east of Amsterdam. What makes the place so remarkable is its distinctive star shape, with fortified walls and moat, all restored and in great condition. Not a bad spot to visit during the holidays, is it?