9 Unexpected Places Where Winter Will Take Your Breath Away

Winter onderland destination Austria

Image: Valerii Tkachenko

Holiday in winter – or at least to wintry destinations – definitely has its perks. These 9 unexpected holiday spots are perfectly transformed by snow and ice each winter. Which most takes your breath away?

1. Lake Heron, New Zealand

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Image: Jon Sullivan

Canterbury, New Zealand, is home to some incredible scenery and in winter, Lake Heron will make you melt with holiday longing. Snow-capped mountains overlooking the basin make this the perfect wintry escape, especially with activities like hiking, heli-skiing and even ice skating.

2. Michigan, U.S.

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You’ll love how the snow transforms the ‘Great Lakes’ state of Michigan into a winter wonderland. It can begin snowing here as early as October, paving the way for a wealth of snow sports, including skiing, snowboarding, sledding and snow mobiling. Head to Tahquamenon Falls State Park for amazing winter-scapes.

3. Patagonia, Argentina/Chile

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Most people flock to Patagonia in the summertime, particularly for the chance for some stunning whale encounters. But in winter, the region can be just as spectacular. Tours are recommended here unless you’re a highly experienced winter explorer. Expect snowy white mountains, beautiful blue glaciers and luminescent lakes.

4. Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany 

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Image: Gliwi

If you think this place is a fairy tale dream already, wait until you see it in winter! Around 1.4 million people visit this castle every year, with most going in the summer. In winter, though, the place is an amazing sight to be seen. If weather permits, hike the adjacent Pöllat Gorge for some truly inspiring Bavarian scenery.

5. Ice Canyon, Greenland 

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Image: Henry Patton

You just know from the name that this one is going to be a winter winner! Greenland’s infamous ice canyon has survived for millions of years and is totally covered by ice. In the less-freezing months, some of the ice melts, giving way to magnificent rivers of blue that seem to flow through the ice into the great beyond.

6. Tadami River, Japan

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Image: Kounosu

This famed spot can be found at the point where the Tadami train line passes 174 metres across the Tadami River in Fukushima. While it looks quaintly gorgeous in summer, in winter the mountains are covered in snow, turning it into a mind-blowing wintry destination. If you’re planning a trip here, aim for February when the Tadami Snow Festival takes place.

7. Mount Errigal, Ireland

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Image: Liam Moloney

The tallest (at 751 metres) of Ireland’s Seven Sisters Mountains is Mount Errigal – sought out for its ability to glow in pinks and reds at sunset, thanks to its quartzite. In winter, you can still catch the changing colours at its base while white snow descends over its peak. Mount Errigal makes up part of the greater Derryveagh Mountains.

8. Plitvice Lakes, Croatia

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Image: Guido Menato

While they’re a lush green swimming haven in summer, the Plitvice Lakes become truly magical in the winter months. Its waterfalls turn to ice, yet its waters remain a dazzling green and blue. The surrounding national park generally remains open throughout the winter, and crowds are few and far between, too.

9. Jilin City, China

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Image: 阳之下光

Cityscapes in winter often rival their wilderness counterparts and Jilin City, in the country’s northeast, is filled with magical rime ice scenery. Rime ice forms when water droplets freeze on the surface of objects, and in Jilin City this means glistening white trees along the river. While it’s wonderful throughout the entire winter, the Jilin Ice and Snow Festival in January marks the ideal time to visit.