The ultimate winter bucket list: things to do and places to visit

Estimated reading time: 11 minutes

Are you a winter enthusiast looking for a thrilling snowy adventure? Or maybe you’re a sun seeker wanting to escape the cold? Whatever your preference may be, we’ve got you covered with our top picks for winter travel destinations and activities.

Embrace the chilly season and embark on thrilling excursions. Image credit: Clay Banks/ Unsplash

Winter is here, and it’s time to break out of the everyday routine and plan your next adventure. The cold weather, snow-covered landscapes, and crisp air are the perfect ingredients for an exciting and unforgettable experience. Whether you’re a thrill-seeker looking for an adrenaline rush or just looking for a quiet and warm getaway, we have curated the ultimate winter bucket list filled with a variety of activities and destinations to suit all interests and preferences. So, pack your bags, bundle up, and let’s embark on an adventure of a lifetime!

Winter wonderlands

Winter transforms the world into a magical wonderland, with snow and ice creating endless possibilities for adventure and excitement. Embrace the chill and head outdoors for a winter experience like no other. 

Skiing and snowboarding

Winter is the perfect season to hit the slopes and enjoy the thrill of skiing and snowboarding. No matter if you’re a beginner or an experienced pro, there are plenty of activities to choose from in the mountains. Here are some popular destinations for skiing and snowboarding:

Aspen, Colorado, United States

Known for its world-class ski resorts, Aspen offers a variety of terrain for skiers and snowboarders of all skill levels. The four ski areas – Aspen Mountain, Aspen Highlands, Buttermilk, and Snowmass – offer a combined total of more than 5,300 skiable acres.

Experience unparalleled beauty and adventure at Aspen Highlands. Image credit: Adam Rinehart/ Unsplash

Whistler Blackcomb, British Columbia, Canada

With 8,100 skiable acres, Whistler Blackcomb is the largest ski resort in North America. The resort offers a wide range of terrain, from beginner-friendly runs to challenging backcountry terrain.

Chamonix, France

Chamonix is a historic ski resort town in the French Alps. It’s known for its challenging terrain and stunning views of Mont Blanc, the highest peak in the Alps. It’s a popular destination for serious skiers and snowboarders.

St. Moritz, Switzerland

 St. Moritz is a luxury ski resort in the Swiss Alps. It offers high-end shops, fine dining, and challenging ski terrain. The resort has a wide range of slopes for skiers of all levels.

Niseko, Japan

Niseko, Japan is a winter paradise offering endless opportunities for adventure and breathtaking scenery. With an abundance of light powder snow, unparalleled backcountry access, and four world-class ski areas, it is a must-visit destination for any winter sports enthusiast.

Ice fishing

Ice fishing is a unique and exciting way to experience the winter season. It involves drilling holes in frozen lakes or rivers and catching fish through the ice. This activity is quite popular among winter enthusiasts as it provides a chance to enjoy the outdoors, while also satisfying the thrill of the catch. You can go out on your own or hire a guide to take you out on the frozen lakes and rivers. 

Brave the cold and reel in a catch at the ultimate winter pastime: ice fishing. Image credit: Hert Niks/ Unsplash

There are different ice fishing destinations around the world. Some popular destinations in Canada include Ontario, Quebec, and Manitoba. In the United States, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Michigan are known for their excellent ice fishing opportunities. If you’re looking for some European destinations, Stockholm in Sweden and Oulu in Finland are definitely worth checking out. 

When ice fishing, it’s important to be prepared for cold weather, and to wear appropriate clothing and gear. Some anglers also use portable shelters, such as pop-up tents, to protect themselves from the elements. It’s also important to check the ice thickness and make sure it’s safe. The thickness should be at least 4 inches (10 cm)  for walking and 8 inches (20 cm) for fishing.

Ice fishing can be a fun and rewarding experience, but it’s also important to be safe and respect the environment. Some of the best ice fishing spots are remote and pristine locations, and it’s important to take care to preserve them. It’s also a good idea to check local fishing regulations and obtain the necessary licenses.

Dog sledding

For those looking for an even more unique winter experience, dog sledding in the Arctic is an unforgettable adventure. It’s a traditional mode of transportation in the Arctic region, and it’s a great way to explore the snowy wilderness. You’ll be led by a team of sled dogs through the snowy landscape, and you’ll experience the beauty and serenity of an Arctic winter. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity that combines adventure, tradition, and the beauty of nature. Some of the best places for dog sledding include:

Experience the thrill of gliding through the snowy wilderness with a team of loyal canines by your side. Image credit: Fredrik Solli Wandem/ Unsplash

Alaska, USA

Alaska is known for its vast, snowy wilderness and is home to many professional dog mushing teams. Visitors can go on guided tours through the beautiful Alaskan landscape and experience the thrill of dog sledding in one of the most rugged and remote places in the world.

Lapland, Finland

Lapland is home to the Sami people, an indigenous group that has been dog sledding for centuries. Here you can experience the rush of dog sledding while also gaining insight into the traditional way of life in the Arctic. You can also stay in a traditional Sami tent and learn about Sami culture. It’s a unique opportunity to combine adventure and culture.


In Norway, you can go dog sledding in every region of the country, especially at skiing destinations in Southern and Eastern Norway. Drive your own sled and take in breathtaking views of mountains and ice-covered lakes. For an extra adventure, consider an overnight stay by camping in the wilderness.


Sweden has one of the longest dog sledding seasons, running from mid-November to early May. It’s the ultimate destination to take in the stunning northern lights, glittering snow-covered forests, and bare mountains while embarking on true wilderness adventures.

European charm

Winter in Europe is a magical experience, every destination has its unique way of embracing the season, making it feel like a new and exciting place to explore. Whether it’s the charming towns with festive holiday markets, the crisp air and snow-covered landscapes, or the warm hospitality of the locals, a winter visit to Europe is sure to leave a lasting impression. Here are some of the unique European destinations that we suggest:

Abisko, Sweden

Winter is the ideal time to witness one of nature’s most mesmerizing displays, the Northern Lights. For an unparalleled viewing experience, Abisko, a small village in Swedish Lapland, is an ideal destination. Located north of the Arctic Circle, Abisko offers the perfect conditions for observing the Aurora Borealis, thanks to its proximity to the poles and long winter nights. To fully immerse yourself in the experience, it’s important to avoid light pollution and cloudy weather. The Abisko Aurora Sky Station, built specifically for this purpose, provides the perfect vantage point to witness the natural wonder of the Northern Lights. All you have to do is look up and hope to catch a glimpse of the magic unfolding before your eyes.

Northern Lights, Abisko, Sweden. Image credit: Dylan Shaw/ Unsplash

Hallstatt, Austria

The alpine town of Hallstatt, nestled in the Austrian Alps, is a winter wonderland. Surrounded by a glistening lake and towering peaks blanketed in snow, the town exudes a natural beauty that is truly breathtaking. The charming alpine houses and quaint streets add to the beauty, making it a delight to explore. The town is small and easy to navigate, but the views are so mesmerizing that you will find yourself pausing every few steps to take it all in. For an even more awe-inspiring experience, consider a hike up to the Hallstatt Skywalk, located high above the town, for panoramic views of the surrounding landscape. While Hallstatt is picturesque year-round, wintertime brings out its natural beauty in a way that is not to be missed.

Reykjavik, Iceland

Visiting somewhere called Iceland in winter seems quite fitting, right? The capital city of Reykjavik, located near the Arctic Circle, offers a perfect blend of embracing and celebrating the winter season with the Reykjavik Winter Lights Festival, an annual event in February that illuminates the city with striking light displays. But if you are looking to warm up, Iceland’s geothermal pools, such as the popular Blue Lagoon Spa, provide the perfect opportunity to soak in the outdoors while being enveloped in toasty mineral waters. Iceland’s winter offers not just a survival but a celebration of the season, and Reykjavik is the perfect place to experience it.

Lake Bled, Slovenia

Slovenia is a country of breathtaking beauty, and one of its most popular destinations is the picturesque Lake Bled. During the winter season, this alpine lake transforms into a fairy-tale wonderland, with its crystal clear water, surrounding forest, clifftop castle and island church creating a postcard-worthy scene. Staying in the small town of Bled, known for its famous Bled Cream cake, puts you right at the lake’s edge. Take a walk or drive along the lakefront to reach Bled Castle or Mala Osojnica hilltop for some spectacular views, or even venture to the island Church of the Assumption of Maria by either taking a Pletna boat or, if the lake has frozen over, by foot. While it can be debated whether Lake Bled is at its best during winter, it’s hard to argue that it’s not magical when the lake is draped in the winter colors of blue and white.

Strasbourg, France

When people think of France, they often think of destinations like Paris and the French Riviera, which are best visited in spring and summer. However, France is a country with diverse regions, one of which includes the city of Strasbourg, located on the German border, which offers a unique and enchanting winter experience. Strasbourg is a beautiful medieval-like city, with charming half-timbered houses, impressive historic churches, and scenic canals that are even more picturesque when dusted with snow.

Strasbourg is famous for its medieval theme. Image credit: Aurélien Dockwiller/ Unsplash

Strasbourg is home to one of the oldest and most popular Christmas markets in Europe, held within the Old Town. The market offers a variety of handcrafted items and warm drinks, all surrounded by a glittering Christmas tree. Visitors can also explore the city’s most photogenic area, the Petit France quarter, known for its typical Alsatian scenery. The combination of the charming medieval theme town and the Christmas market make Strasbourg a must-visit destination during the winter season.

Tropical escapes

 If you’re looking to escape the winter weather altogether, there are plenty of destinations with warm temperatures and sunny beaches. Here are a few examples of tropical destinations that you can consider visiting:


Hawaii is a truly unique destination that offers something for everyone. It is home to the world’s most active volcanoes, the only royal palace in the U.S., as well as the traditional Hula dance. Whether you’re hiking through lush rainforests to secluded waterfalls or watching the sunset over the Pacific from a traditional Hawaiian beachfront luau, this place offers countless opportunities to experience natural beauty and rich cultural traditions.

Hanalei Bay, Hawaii, USA. Image credit: tatonomusic/ Unsplash

The Caribbean

The Caribbean is an adventurer’s paradise, known for its idyllic beaches and crystal-clear turquoise seas that will take your breath away. From the moment you arrive, you’ll be swept away by the vibrant culture, the thrilling outdoor adventures, and the mesmerizing underwater world. Trek to hidden waterfalls that cascade into natural swimming pools, snorkel among schools of tropical fish in an underwater wonderland, catch a glimpse of an unforgettable sunset and be awestruck by expansive island vistas from the top of stunning natural peaks. The Caribbean is a destination that will ignite your senses and feed your soul.


Mexico evokes thoughts of ancient ruins, beautiful beaches, and vibrant cities. Its two extensive coastlines offer countless opportunities for fun in the sun. Aside from world-class scuba diving and an array of water activities, a trip to Mexico can include climbing Mayan ruins, exploring picturesque colonial towns, and indulging in delicious cuisine. It is packed with secret gems, you’ll want to keep coming back for more.

Mayan ruins, Mexico. Image credit: Raquel Moss/ Unsplash


Thailand is a top destination in Southeast Asia, and for good reason. With its breathtaking beaches, awe-inspiring temples, and bustling metropolis of Bangkok, this country offers endless options for travelers. Adventure-seekers can indulge in rock-climbing and cliff-jumping, while spiritual travelers can find peace on meditation retreats and temple tours. Foodies will love taking cooking classes and exploring night markets, and ocean enthusiasts can enjoy scuba diving and sea kayaking. In short, in Thailand boredom is not an option.

Bangkok, Thailand. Image credit: Evan Krause/ Unsplash

The Maldives

When people think of traveling to the Maldives, they envision relaxing on a beach with a cocktail in hand. While that’s one part of the Maldives, it is far from what this country is about. This remote archipelago in the Indian Ocean is characterized by its white sandy beaches, warm turquoise waters, and plenty of sunshine. You can experience the ultimate luxury by staying in one of the many overwater bungalows, or indulge in water activities such as snorkeling, scuba diving, and jet skiing. The Maldives is also home to some of the best surf spots in the world, making it a popular destination for surfers. If you’re looking for something more relaxed, take a sunset cruise on a traditional Maldivian boat or simply lay on the beach and soak up the sun. Moreover, the country offers many romantic destinations, which explains why many couples choose to spend their honeymoons here.

Beach resorts in The Maldives. Image credit: Mike Swigunski/ Unsplash

The Philippines

The Philippines is a tropical paradise in the Pacific Ocean that comprises over 7,000 islands, providing a natural playground for explorers. The diverse landscapes of the Philippines offer an array of natural wonders, including volcanoes, rice terraces, underwater rivers, limestone caves, and beautiful beaches. You can spend your days lounging on the beach, paddling through serene waterways, pampering yourself at a spa, or soaring over the ocean on a kiteboard. It is a destination with endless options for adventure and relaxation.