Best Winter Destinations in 2022
Wintertime is always much anticipated in the UAE. And as pleasant a winter it gets in UAE, there certainly are more places where you can bask in the winter sun. Adding to it the UAE is endowed with an easily-accessible geographical location from the surrounding continents, it gets immensely easier to fly in and out of the country.
So, if you’re looking to frolic in the snow and engage in winter sports this wintertide, here are 6 places you should be in this Winter.
Georgia abounds with natural hot springs and wine bars, making it a travel destination not just during the winter but all-year round. And the best part for UAE residents is that you will be granted a visa-on-arrival completely gratis!
Tbilisi is nestled in a valley with gushing winds and blue skies that very seldom see rain in the colder months. Hence, rain shouldn’t be a problem during any of the following winter activities you can engage in.
Thaw in Sulphur baths: What better a time and what better a place to warm up in hot springs than in Georgia in Winter? In the Abanotubani district, you will be able to unwind in Sulphur baths under brick domes. A traditional kisi scrub by a professional therapist will ensure that you exfoliate enough to protect your skin for the rest of the dry winter.
Georgian Wine Tasting: Georgia is renowned worldwide for its exquisite wines, and Tbilisi is the place to taste the earthy wines. When you visit Tbilisi in Winter, you will be just in time to degust the Rtveli, Saperavi sweet reds and amber whites.
Climb a Mountain: To see the beauty of Tbilisi in its full glory, you will have to get atop one of the many mountains in areas such as Mtatsminda. You can either walk your way up or choose to take a cable car.
Discover Sololaki Architecture: The damp weather in winter makes Tbilisi one of the best times to photograph. Two of the most prominent architectural styles that are prevalent in Georgia are Sololaki and Old Alvabari. Don’t forget to check out Women’s Georgian Gymnasium #3, which has been given a Harry Potter reference and is called “The Hogwarts Building;’
Switzerland really needs no introduction, but on the shore of Lake Zurich and flanked by the Alpine Mountains sits the largest city of Switzerland — Zurich. One of the best times to visit the city happens to be during the colder months, as the city isn’t plagued with biting windchills like the rest of Europe. December and January witness a minimum of -3°C.
And because of a winter so favourable, you can do the following activities:
Gallivant the old town streets: A lot of the essence of Zurich hides in narrow streets and medieval architecture. If you’re a fan of superlatives, you will happen upon a church, Peterskirche, which holds Europe’s largest clock face. Grab your camera and visit Fraumunster, a structure which exhibits resplendent stained glass windows.
Continue further down and find yourself lost in Augustinergasse, a street where you’ll find colorful buildings, making it a good spot for Instagram.
Play in Swiss snow: On the outskirts of Zurich, you’ll find yourself the guest to a host of different winter activities including Winter Hiking, skiing, snowboarding, and sledding. If you’re bringing along kids, Hochstuckli is a winter resort you should be sojourning at.
One of the best place to indulge in winter sports is at Amden, which has over 20 km of downhill slopes and six lifts. But if you choose to hike on the algid mountains, you can follow a snowshoe trail on the Stoos-Fronalpstock region.
Binge on Winter Dishes: No winter swiss cuisine in complete without Rösti, Wiener schnitzel, Älplermagronen, and cheese fondue. The latter isn’t hard to find, as many fondue tents are scattered all over the city. But no visit to Switzerland is complete without tasting what the country is renowned for — Swiss chocolate. If you happen to be in Old Town, look out for Max Chocolatier for some traditional Swiss chocolate and pastries. And you could probably also squeeze into your schedule a Chocolate Tour at Lindt.
Cruise on Lake Zurich: One of the Big Five lakes, Lake Zurich is your perfect excursion to familiarize yourself with the air and ambience in Switzerland. The lake is lined with trees on both the sides, offering majestic views of the city. Relax on board as you take in the lakeside villages and picturesque hills. Worthy of noting are St. Peter and Paul parish churches on the islets of Lützelau and Ufenau.
Winter in Sofia can be forbidding, as temperatures can steep all the way to -20° C. But be that as it may, Sofia adapts the winter in ways that would make you fall in love with the city. Many visitors have tried otherwise and conceded to making Sofia their home. Wintertime in Sofia has a separate fanbase, as there are a few things that you can enjoy only in the winters. So, when visiting the beautiful snow-clad city in winter, try out the following activities.
Explore Sofia on a double-decker bus: The best way to start your journey in Sofia is to assimilate yourself with the city and its culture on a double-decker bus. A one-hour ride will ensure that you will get the general idea of the major attractions and landmarks in Sofia.
Ice Skate at the Yunak Stadium: There are quite a few good rinks where you can skate in the winter, but a well-known one is the Yunak Stadium, which is by the Levski Metro Station. Another popular spot is Ariana Lake, which transforms into the biggest ice rink in the Balkans.
Get in touch with Bulgarian History: If you’re looking for a cozy spot in your chilly winter itinerary, then there are a few museums in Sofia that hold the country’s culture, history, and traditions. Here are a couple of museums worth visiting:
- Sofia History Museum: This museum showcases the country’s history from the 6th century. It exhibits a host of traditional costumes, vehicles, and even certain aspects of entertainment.
- Muzeiko: If you’re bringing along kids, this is a good place to visit. The museum features more than 130 interactive games that aim to inspire children in various disciplines.
Ski and Snowboard on Mt. Vitosha: The advantage of Mt. Vitosha over other mountains in different cities is that Mt. Vitosha lies within the city limits, and is easily accessible in just 30-40 minutes from the city center. You will be able to rent skiing equipment and start skiing and snowboarding from atop Mt. Vitosha.
Wintertime isn’t when tourism is on the peak in Venice — and for all good reasons! The lesser the crowds, more the space for you to explore the city and lesser the prices for activities. Winters can dip to as low as 3° C in Venice, but that still shouldn’t delist Venice as an ideal winter destination. All you have to do is ensure that you’ve packed enough winter clothes.
Here are a few winter activities that you can indulge in Venice:
Take a ferry to Burano: Two things make the island of Burano a must-visit: the canals and the uniquely colourful houses. If you’re a shutterbug or even a travel photographer, this rainbow of an island would be a treat for your camera. The island consists of small canals lined with clusters of quaint houses in fast colours. One house — called Casa di Bepi — is notable for its multi-coloured walls. The island also has its own leaning tower that’s worth visiting.
Witness the art of glassblowing: Included in our tour is a visit to a master gaffer. You will be able to watch a master glassblower create a unique glass item while explaining the entire process that entails it. This method of glassblowing is known to have been passed down from the same ancient Romans who established Venice. While you watch the glassblowing with fascination, you’ll be able to feel the warmth, smell, and sound of the furnace.
Gondola Ride through Fog: A magical experience awaits you in Venice as you board the Gondolas (a traditional Italian rowboat) that would take you the fog in Venetian canals during the winter. As the cold mists descend onto the canals in winter, it adds to the allure and mystery of the city. A 30-minute ride on a Gondola will take you along the Grand Canal and minor canals that will portray the best of Venetian architecture.
Sparkling wine & Italian Prosecco tasting: Sparkling wine, also called Prosecco, is an alcohol that is often degusted usually during wine tasting tours. During the tour, the Sommelier (wine waiter) will lay out the entire process of wine tasting. He will also let on the secrets behind the manufacturing of the smoothness of the fine wine. While you’re wine tasting, you will be taken to a cozy wine bar by the Accademia Bridge, where you can relax for the day and retire for the night.
Famed around the world for its unearthly display of Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights), Rovaneimi is a sprawling tundra wilderness that’s you can use as a starting point into the Arctic. The Rovaneimi region falls in the “Aurora zone,” and is also the “official” home of Santa Claus. Some of the most common winter activities in Rovaniemi, Lapland are snowmobiling, dog sledding, and visiting a Reindeer Farm.
Snowmobile Safari in Rovaniemi: Drive through the snow-covered forests of Rovaniemi on a snowmobile. A 1-hour snowmobile safari through the Tundra across frozen lakes, swamps and snow-covered woods would give you the ultimate Finnish experience. If you are lucky, and catch a bright sky, you can maybe also see the Aurora Borealis – Northern Lights – showing you the way!
Northern Lights Sledge Ride Hunt: A sledge ride hunt for the ethereal Northern Lights display will start from the Santa Claus village. The guides will take you around to find the best locations to find Aurora Borealis in their full glory. The Northern Lights belt covers the whole of Lapland, and so, there is a very high chance that you’ll find the Northern Lights sooner than you think!
Ice Fishing in Frozen Lakes: Ice Fishing in Finland is a traditional practice that has been around for centuries. Nowadays, it has become more of a recreational activity in winters. If you’ve never tried ice fishing, Lapland happens to be the best place to do it! Learn the basics of Ice Fishing, drill the hole in a frozen lake or river, and Ice Fish like a local!
Visit a Reindeer Farm: One of the most iconic animals in the Northern pole, the reindeer is often associated with Santa Claus lores. No visit to the town of Santa Claus is complete without visiting a Reindeer farm. If you’re lucky, you might find reindeer herders offering Reindeer Safaris.
Check out this Winter Guide to Finland with more than 10 riveting activities!
If you’re looking for a quick break over the weekend, not too far away from home, you can always travel to Baku in Azerbaijan. In winter, the glorious Caucasian mountains are covered in a blanket of snow, opening many resorts and giving rise to winter activities. Here are some activities you can engage in while in Baku.
Baku Old City Walking Tour: The Old City, or as it’s popularly known Icherisheher, is located in the southern part of Baku and is an important cultural precinct of Azerbaijan. When you’re exploring the old city, be sure to check out the centuries-old Shirvanshahs palace, the city’s most important historical landmark. While you’re there, you could also visit the Maiden Tower, Bazaar Square, dine in one of Baku’s caravanserais, visit the museum of miniature books, and try the Azeri Pakhlava.
Mud Volcano in Gobustan National Park: As soon as you near Gobustan National Park, you’ll notice the azure blue sky matching the Caspian sea in the backdrop. More than half the world’s reserves of Mud volcanoes are found in Azerbaijan. Contrary to what they resemble, mud volcanoes are cold and do not erupt. If you’re a shutterbug, you’d definitely enjoy the landscape.
Guba Khinalug Group Tour: A 5000-year old village, Khinalug is the oldest village in Azerbaijan that has its own language and culture akin to none. The village sits on top of the Azeri mountains at an altitude of around 7000 ft., offering glorious views of the country. A full day tour in the mountains of Guba (including the Five-Fingered Mountain) would be the highlight of your trip, as you’d be able to get a panoramic view of the entire mountain range.
Baku Lights Night Tour: Perfect for those making a transit through Azerbaijan or for those on a business trip, the Baku Lights night tour is an after-hours relaxation tour that’ll focus on the city’s lustrous side. The tour will shed light on Azerbaijan’s rich and colourful history. Included in this tour is a visit to the seaside-facing Flag Square, which happens to be one of the tallest flagpoles in the world.