You could say these towns sort of hibernate during the warmer months of the year, and then come into full bloom during wintertime. Each offers something amazing to pull you out of your own hibernation to witness, experience, and write home about.
Located in the Swedish Lapland, the far Northwest corner of Sweden, Abisko is in perfect proximity to the magnetic north to provide a magnificent view of the Northern Lights. For the best viewing potential, hail a ride up the chairlift in Abisko National Park to the Aurora Sky Station viewing tower.
While you’re in Abisko, travel just one hour to Kiruna and stay a night at the Ice Hotel (I’ve got a photo of this place pinned to my refrigerator bucket list — it’s spectacular). First sculpted in 1989, this place has rooms for rent and art exhibitions on view, both of which were carved out of ice from the Torne River.
But don’t wait too long to visit; come spring, the rooms simply melt away.
While the surrounding mountains are snow-capped, the true winter beauty can be found in the millions of almond trees gushing with blush and white-colored blossoms during January and February. It’s kind of the best of both worlds: snow on the mountains, and “snow” on the ground. Son Servera also hosts a magnificent Almond Blossom Fair in February where you’ll find a huge variety of almond-inspired and infused products to the tune of traditional folk music.
Lake Baikal, Siberia, Russia
Siberia, Russia may not be on your “to-visit” list… yet. The reason why it might be added is because of Lake Baikal, the deepest, oldest lake in the world. Come wintertime, surrounded by the Baikal mountains and frolicking freshwater seals (one of only three freshwater seal populations in the world), this lake freezes with such clarity that you can see wildlife over three feet down.
The marbling effect with varying shades of lustrous blue have made locals dub this lake the Pearl of Siberia. It’s a thing of beauty.
If you visit this village in the wintertime, you might think you stumbled upon real life gingerbread homes with their steep roofs. In reality, this Gasshozukuri architectural style is perfect for dealing with one of the highest snowfall rates in the world. You’ll want to be around for the special illumination events on selected Saturday and Sunday evenings in January and February when each of the houses light up and the whole place looks like the tabletop Christmas village my grandmother sets up every year.
Walk the same cobblestone roads where carriages used to carry royals in this world heritage city in Northern Bavaria. Each of the seven hills features a prominent castle or cathedral that, when coated in snow, adds a picturesque beauty to this medieval town (which dates back to 902 AD).
Snap out of your winter doldrums and instead dream of these wonderlands.