These wonderful cities under the snow will make you want to sing the famous song: “My country is not a country, it is winter”! We are offering a virtual tour to all those who need to get away from it all during this pandemic winter.
The magic of snow
Some see snow as a calamity: it must be shoveled, it sometimes makes driving almost impossible, the ice is full of traps, and finally, it is synonymous with the extreme cold!
But others see it as beauty and poetry: the sparkling crystals, the warm glow of the Christmas lights reflected there, its marshmallow appearances on the rooftops. And snow becomes even more magical when paired with fairy-tale villages, charming cabins, and postcard towns.
The hills echo the muffled sound of footsteps in the snow-capped alleys of this sparkling lakeside village, about an hour south-east of Salzburg. Seeming straight out of Frozen, this traditional UNESCO World Heritage-listed Alpine village offers charming shops and restaurants on its Marketplatz. This is where the municipal Christmas tree is installed.
Imagine climbing the city stairs and climbing the trails to the mountains for magnificent panoramas. While the amounts of snow can vary in December, it is much more likely that the city will be covered with a white blanket in January and February.
Much like the fabulous ski slopes of Stowe Resort, this small snow town in northern Vermont is perfect when covered in a layer of fresh powder. Although a popular winter destination, Stowe retains its small town charm, with its old-fashioned main street and shops, restaurants, snow-capped church, and covered bridge.
The winter season begins in December, but the skiing conditions are ideal in February.
Surrounded by mountains and fjords, this maritime port full of Scandinavian charm lines up in the Bryggen district, along the old quay, colorful houses that contrast sharply against the white snow. Explore the narrow – and almost hidden – passages that wind between historic buildings and nestle jewelers, artist studios and boutiques.
In less than ten minutes, the funicular will take you to the top of Mount Fløyen from where you will have a breathtaking view; a visit to the fjords is also a must. Sunsets can be beautiful, even if they happen at 3 p.m. in winter. Snowfall is not guaranteed, but it often starts in December.
Known as one of the most beautiful snow towns in Canada, Banff, Alberta is sure to charm you. In the shade of Cascade Mountain, you’ll love strolling down its grand main avenue when the snowflakes are falling – and if it’s too cold, head quickly into a store, gallery, or restaurant to warm up.
To fully appreciate the beauty of the area, visit Banff National Park and admire the beautiful ice-blue lakes, frozen waterfalls and take an “ice walk” on snow-covered steel walkways. . Skiing is also top-notch in the area. The season starts at the end of November.
Located on the shores of Lake Bled, the town of the same name is one of the most picturesque sites in Europe which owes much of its beauty to the Church of St. Mary of the Assumption, located on the small island of Lake Bled. When you visit the church, if you ring the bell there you can then make a wish: the legend says it will be granted.
Then you can visit the imposing Bled Castle, dating from 1011 (the oldest in the country). Other winter activities in the area include skiing and sledding. The best chance of snowfall is in January.
Far from the lush beauty of southern Italy, Canazei offers an unexpected spectacle: nestled in the Italian Dolomites, this ski resort has an architecture that is more similar to that of its Swiss or Austrian neighbors. As you would expect, the main winter activities are skiing and snowboarding – there are four resorts near town. Those who do not ski can observe the majestic mountains as they climb by cable car to the top of the very impressive rock faces of the Pordoi Pass.
Shirakawa-go and Gokayama, Japan
These UNESCO World Heritage sites are made up of several villages with traditional farms in the gassho-zukuri style, or “construction with the palms of the hands clasped”. Due to the massive snowfall that begins to accumulate in this mountainous region in the center of the country as early as December, the thatched houses have been built with steeply pitched roofs so that the snow slides rather than sinks. accumulate there.
Today, some houses offer cultural exhibitions; overnight visitors can enjoy the magic of the illuminated houses.
Bearing the same name as the magician in Fantastic Beasts – The Crimes of Grindelwald – with snowfall starting in December and sometimes even earlier Grindelwald is simply magical. This village in the Swiss Alps is an idyllic place. Here you can explore the Jungfrau region and discover its many skiing, tobogganing, snowshoeing and winter hiking activities.
You can have fun on the Winter Zipline – the First Flyer – or try out a Velogemel, a kind of bicycle mounted on skis that locals use to get around. The bravest can take the gondola up to Tissot’s “First Cliff Walk”, a terrifying metal footbridge suspended from the mountainside.
This well-preserved medieval town may not see much daylight in winter, but the old town lights on the snow create a lot of warmth. We walk in the historic district and we can visit the fortifications.
In December, you can discover the spectacular Christmas market here – it truly is one of the best snowy cities in the world for the holiday experience. Snow begins to fall at the end of November in Estonia, which is directly opposite Finland.
No, it’s not a mirage: you really are in front of a city carved entirely from ice: ice castles, ice temples, ice stairs and, of course, ice sculptures. It is the largest such festival in the world and is held (normally) every year in Harbin, in the most northeastern region of China. It is created from A to Z from blocks of ice carved from the frozen Songhua River.
At night, creations are illuminated with a rainbow of colors; one can also indulge in winter sports, winter fishing, and visit an ice lantern market (candles placed in a carved block of ice).
Although not a “town” in the traditional sense, it is a must-see for snow enthusiasts. The festival begins at the end of December and continues until the beginning of February.
There are so many snowy German villages that seem to come out of a fairy tale that it’s hard to pick just one. But the Bavarian town of Coburg, with its traditional architecture, is particularly beautiful dressed in white – from December. Stroll through the cobbled old town and market square, warm up with tasty Bavarian food, then venture to the Veste, the medieval fortress.
Coburg has more than its share of castles: visitors can also visit Ehrenburg Castle; Callenburg Castle and Rosenau Castle, not far from the town, where Prince Albert, husband of Queen Victoria, was born.
You don’t need to know how to ski to appreciate the charm of this quintessential ski village; nestled in the Rockies. If the streets feel hot under our feet, it’s because they are really heated. We stroll through the many shops; admire the après-ski scene and listen to the sound of the stream beyond the city.
You can even visit the tallest botanical garden in the United States; the Betty Ford Alpine Garden, open year-round and covered in snow in winter. And of course, the region offers endless possibilities for winter activities: snow can start falling as early as November.
It’s hard to believe that the charming town of Colmar, in Alsace, could be even more beautiful; yet if you add snow to it, it feels like a Disney movie. With its cobbled streets; half-timbered houses; and winding canals, this is the perfect place to walk hand in hand with a loved one under the snowflakes.
If that is not enough, we stop in medieval churches, specialist shops; or a wine bar, because Colmar is the regional capital of viticulture. Snow, however, is uncertain in December; we have a better chance of enjoying it in January.
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