When someone tells you that you “have to go to Amsterdam” in winter you don’t moan about how cold and windy it’s going to be, instead you pack all the warm clothes you possibly have and make the most of a winter vacation. I’ve always despised the cold, I mean who doesn’t love Margaritas on a beach but skiing on a mountain or sipping on mulled wine in a quaint little town in Switzerland is equally (or more) impressive. Each vacation, whatever the weather may be relies on what you do and how you experience it and a little tip, once you’re in the minuses example -1 and survived; all the minuses are endurable.
Our list encompasses all the winter vacations we’ve experienced till date and why you should head there now!
Pangong Tso & Tso Moriri, Ladakh
If you live in India, you’ve probably heard or already been to this one. These lakes are unique, perched so high that they freeze in winter and even though they might be inaccessible in the cooler seasons, their summer is our winter. In summer, the lakes are ice cold, surrounded by snowcapped mountains and freezing tourists trying to snap photos all while praying their fingers don’t fall off. The arduous terrain that leads to the endless calm blue waters are exhilarating even if you have ear muffs, thermals, gloves, two sets of clothes and a jacket on (we’re always cold fyi) to keep warm. If you’re feeling brave, strip down to a T shirt and shorts and take a speedy dip in the icy waters of Pangong Tso or find a spot on the shore from where you can watch the various species of birds play in the blue sky or be left fascinated by the ever changing colors of the lake.
Best time to visit: Summer to feel like you’re in winter (follow our tailormade itinerary here).
Months – June – September
Switzerland really is a winter wonderland with its pine tree landscape, little children playing in the snow and those drop dead gorgeous ski slopes. So if you’re looking for a white Christmas, this is the best place on earth despite the freezing temperatures after all who doesn’t want to see the mighty Swiss Alps sparkle right before your eyes. This is the best time to practice some ice skating or take a ski course at any of the popular ski slopes such as Jungfrau or Engelberg. The popular ski slopes not only present you with the opportunity to fall flat on your rear but once you’ve accomplished the art of standing on skis without falling, you can sip on some hot coffee or mulled wine on the stylish sun deck/restaurant high above the regular people.
If you aren’t as coordinated as we are (joking, we not only tripped every 5 metres of standing on skis), find yourself a good hot spring to bask in amidst the snowy mountains and winter temperatures. Switzerland has many noteworthy outdoor spa centres for you to enjoy various therapies and indulge in one of the most relaxing experiences you might ever encounter.
Best time to visit: December – March
Sale! Les Soldes! Did someone say sale….in PARIS?
Wouldn’t it just be divine to stroll along Champs-Élysées and buy whatever your poor heart desires? While this is virtually impossible in summer, most shops slash prices January onward in order to attract tourists and locals. Shops are buzzing with tourists hastily buying whatever fits and though this might sound dreadful, it’s not the worst thing buying what you probably couldn’t afford earlier. Always remember, to make the most of winter sales, arrive early to avoid the crowd, carry only a small sling bag so you can keep your hands free and if you know your exact size I’d recommend not trying on clothes so you don’t spend your entire day shopping. All you need to do is survive the throngs of people and you can go home with shiny new gifts for everyone.
After you’ve survived the above, sip on some vin chaud (hot wine) and munch on a croissant (they taste better in Paris for some reason) to comfort your insides. Post this little treat, walk over to the Eiffel Tower to witness it sparkle in all its glory in the winter. Having a special loved one to hold your shopping bags doesn’t hurt; after all it is known to be the most romantic city in the world!
Best time to visit: December – February
Straight out of a fairy tale is picture-perfect Amsterdam with it fancy canal houses, perfectly manicured gardens, iconic windmills and drawbridges that seem to come alive even in winter. To tempt you further, Amsterdam hosts an annual light festival between December – January where familiar monuments are illuminated in a magical way representing the true spirit of Amsterdam. The winter festival can be enjoyed over land by taking a walking tour or over water by the very many tour companies that arrange for this. Be sure to wear warm clothes and a cap if necessary as the wind can be chilling.
Let’s get right to it, Amsterdam’s famed “coffee shops” are a crowd pleaser and while it’s hard to point out the best, you can quite easily find a great one while strolling in the city. Tourists can buy and relish weed and hash at an alcohol-free “coffee shop” all while gulping a chocolate milkshake or muffin. Speaking of muffins, feel free to grab one such treat or a space cake on your way out for the long winter walk (or so it will seem) back to your hotel.
It’s true, the cold makes you hungry (post smokey munchies be like) and the city has the coziest bars and restaurants with great food and even better dessert. Stamppot being my new favorite winter dish is basically mash potato mixed with veggies and a beautiful sausage to compliment it. However if you are on the go and craving a quick fix, indulge in the delicious thick dutch fries served with a topping of your choice. For dessert (munchies remember?), Amsterdam doesn’t disappoint! Hot poffertjes sprinkled with sugar, Stroopwafels from a street market, warm apple pie or some simple hot chocolate hits all the right spots on a cold winter’s day.
Best time to visit: November – March
Blizzard Shmizzard, it’s winter wonderland in London
It’s actual winter wonderland in London and they take this stuff very seriously so in order to be a part of the festivities, it’s imperative to buy tickets to the biggest celebration well in advance especially if you are a first timer. First, wear your warmest cutest clothes so you can enjoy walking in the mind numbingly cold streets or cram yourself in to what seems like the freezer of a bar for a drink that you can only pray keeps you warm for a few minutes. However the absolute highlight is The Nutcracker on Ice, an award winning spectacle where world championship skaters perform the enchanting festive tale with acrobats, lifts, throws and bewitching special effects that will leave you enthralled.
Hyde Park is definitely all about the festive fun bringing out the inner child in you. Other activities include the Giant Observation wheel from where you can view the stunning city or those looking for a gift inspiration, can stroll the Christmas Markets for unique trinkets and hand crafted goodies for the peeps back home!
Best time to visit: November – March
Hope we’ve inspired you to beat the winter blues and head to one of the aforementioned holiday destinations! Stay tuned for our January 2018 winter paradise, coming very soon!