These wonderful cities under the snow will make you want to sing the famous song: “My country, it’s not a country, it’s winter”!
The magic of snow
Some see snow as a calamity: it has to be shoveled, it sometimes makes driving almost impossible, the ice is full of traps, and finally it is synonymous with extreme cold!
But others see only beauty and poetry in it: the sparkling crystals, the warm glow of the Christmas lights reflected in it, its appearance of marshmallows resting on the roofs. And the snow becomes even more magical when paired with fairytale villages, charming chalets and postcard towns.
The hills resonate with the muffled sound of footsteps in the snowy lanes of this gleaming lakeside village, about an hour southeast of Salzburg. Looking like something straight out of Frozen, this traditional UNESCO-listed Alpine village offers charming shops and restaurants on its Marketplatz. This is also where the municipal Christmas tree is installed.
Imagine climbing the city stairs and scaling the trails to the mountains for magnificent vistas. While snowfall amounts can vary in December, the city is much more likely to be blanketed in white in January and February.
Much like the fabulous ski slopes of Stowe Resort, this little 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 its shops, restaurants, snow-capped church steeple, not to mention its covered bridge.
The winter season begins in December, but it is in February that the skiing conditions are ideal.
Surrounded by mountains and fjords, this maritime port imbued with Scandinavian charm lines up in the district of Bryggen, along the old wharf, colorful houses which contrast strongly against the white snow. Explore the narrow – and almost hidden – passageways that wind between historic buildings and are home to jewellers, artists’ studios and boutiques.
In less than ten minutes, the funicular will take you to the top of Mount Fløyen from where you will have breathtaking views; a visit to the fjords is also a must. Sunsets can be beautiful, even if they occur at 3 p.m. in winter. Snowfall is not guaranteed, but it often begins in December.
Recognized as one of Canada‘s most beautiful snow towns, Banff, Alberta is sure to charm you. In the shadow of Cascade Mountain, you’ll love strolling its wide main avenue when the snowflakes are falling – and if it’s too cold, hurry in to warm up in a store, gallery or restaurant.
To fully appreciate the beauty of the region, visit Banff National Park and admire the beautiful ice-blue lakes, frozen waterfalls and take an “ice walk” on snow-covered steel walkways . The skiing is also top notch in the area. The season starts at the end of November.
Located on the shores of Lake Bled, the city of the same name is one of the most picturesque sites in Europe, which owes much of its beauty to the Church of Saint Mary of the Assumption, located on the small island of Lake Bled. When you visit the church, if you ring the bell you can then make a wish: legend says it will be granted.
You can then 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 seeing snowfall is in January.
Far from the lush beauty of southern Italy, Canazei offers an unexpected sight: nestled in the Italian Dolomites, this ski resort has an architecture that is more akin to that of its Swiss or Austrian neighbors. As you might expect, the main winter activities are skiing and snowboarding – there are four resorts near the town. People who don’t ski can observe the majestic mountains by climbing by cable car to the top of the very impressive rock walls of Pordoi Pass.
Shirakawa-go et Gokayama, Japon
These UNESCO World Heritage sites are made up of several villages with traditional gassho-zukuri style farmhouses, or “building with palms together”. Due to the massive snowfalls that begin to accumulate in this mountainous region in the center of the country as early as December, thatched houses have been built with steeply pitched roofs so that the snow slides off rather than falling. accumulate there.
Today, some houses offer cultural exhibitions; visitors who spend the night there can enjoy the magic of the illuminated houses.
Bearing the same name as the magician in Fantastic Beasts – The Crimes of Grindelwald – with snowfalls 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, sledding, snowshoeing and winter hiking activities.
Here you can have fun on the winter zipline – the First Flyer – or try a Velogemel, a kind of bicycle mounted on skis that the 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 side of the mountain.
This well-preserved medieval town may not see much daylight in winter, but the lights of the old town on the snow create plenty 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 really is one of the best snow towns in the world to live the holiday experience. Snow begins to fall in late November in Estonia, which sits directly across from Finland.
No, it’s not a mirage: you are really in front of a city entirely sculpted in ice: ice castles, ice temples, ice stairs and, of course, ice sculptures. It is the biggest festival of its kind in the world and is (normally) held every year in Harbin, in the most northeastern region of China. It is created from scratch from blocks of ice cut from the frozen Songhua River.
At night, the creations are illuminated with a rainbow of colors; you can also indulge in winter sports, winter fishing, and visit an ice lantern market (candles placed in a sculpted block of ice).
Although not a ‘town’ in the traditional sense, it is a must-see for snow lovers. The festival begins at the end of December and continues until the beginning of February.
There are so many snow-capped German villages that look like something 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 – as early as December. Stroll through the cobbled old town and market square, warm up with some Bavarian food, then venture to Veste, the medieval fortress.
Coburg has more than its fair 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.
No need to know how to ski to appreciate the charm of this quintessential ski village, nestled in the Rockies. If the streets feel warm under our feet, it’s because they really are heated. Stroll through the many shops, take in the après-ski scene, and listen to the sound of the creek beyond the town.
You can even visit the highest botanical garden in the United States, the Betty Ford Alpine Garden, open all year round and covered in snow in winter. And of course, the region offers countless opportunities 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 looks like something out of a Disney movie. With its cobbled streets, half-timbered houses and winding canals, it’s the perfect place to walk hand-in-hand with a loved one under the snowflakes.
If that’s not enough, stop off at medieval churches, specialist shops or a wine bar, as Colmar is the regional capital of viticulture. Snow, however, is uncertain in December; we are more likely to enjoy it in January.
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