14 Underrated Winter Getaways Around The World, According To Travelers

When travelers think of winter getaways, they might picture mounds of snow, cozy fireplaces, and ski slopes. On the flip side, the cold weather may bother some travelers enough that they look for warm escapes for their winter vacations. No matter which type of traveler you are, our list of the most underrated winter getaways around the world is sure to please both parties. We chose our destinations based on a multitude of factors, including using our own experience and reading articles from other travel experts. 

We have visited some of the destinations ourselves, and we believe those destinations are best experienced in winter due to lower travel costs, fewer crowds, and overall value. For locales we have not been to yet, we researched commentary from expert travel writers who have "been there and done that." Between our experience and our expert research, you will feel confident exploring these underrated winter getaways around the world.

Banff National Park, Canada

Known for the majestic Canadian Rockies, Alberta is a stunning winter destination. The scenic Icefields Parkway connects Banff and Jasper National Parks, home to beautiful snow-capped peaks, evergreen forests, frozen waterfalls, and amazing wildlife. A great way to see all that Banff has to offer is with a tour company. Open Top Touring features factual storytelling by guides in period costumes as well as picturesque stops around the town and through the Rocky Mountains.

The quaint mountain town of Banff is ideal for strolling, shopping, and enjoying charming cafes and restaurants. Travelers simply must take in the view from the summit of Sulphur Mountain. Ride the Banff Gondola to the top to see breathtaking beauty and learn about the history of "Canada's first national park." During the winter months, the summit experience includes Nightrise, an interactive art installation that enhances the natural beauty of the mountain. Banff National Park is also home to three tremendous skiing resorts and, thanks to its climate, has one of the longest ski seasons, which usually lasts from December through March. 

Branson, Missouri

Despite being widely recognized for its vibrant entertainment scene, Branson, Missouri, takes on a more tranquil and cozy atmosphere in winter. We visited the city during the early winter months and found it to be less crowded when visiting before Christmas. The city's theaters, renowned for their live shows and musical performances, continue to operate during the winter season, offering a warm indoor activity for those looking to escape the chilly weather. 

Beyond the stages, Branson offers families an incredible holiday experience at Silver Dollar City, America's No. 1 theme park, according to USA Today readers who voted in their 2023 10Best Readers' Choice Awards. When the theme park closes at the end of December, there are still plenty of entertainment opportunities to get you through the winter months. Indoor experiences like the Titanic Museum and Beyond the Lens! engage travelers, young and old, while providing a break from the cold. Branson's affordability compared to other winter destinations also positions it as an attractive option for budget-conscious travelers.

Bavaria, Germany

Bavaria is a winter wonderland, inviting travelers to embrace the magic of the season. Located in the heart of Europe, this region boasts snow-covered alpine peaks, charming villages, and historic castles, one of which inspired the castles of Disneyland Park. As a perfect destination for a winter vacation, the region becomes uniquely charming during the colder months. Visitors can enjoy the beauty of the Bavarian Alps or indulge in winter sports like skiing and snowboarding. The cozy villages, adorned with snow-draped roofs and cobblestone streets, offer a quintessential winter experience.

Beyond the scenic landscapes, Bavaria's vibrant culture adds to its allure. Traditional Bavarian cuisine, including hearty dishes like pretzels, sausages, and mulled wine, provides the ultimate comfort food to help visitors bear with the less-than-ideal temperatures. The region's festive Christmas markets, overflowing with handmade crafts and seasonal treats, draw visitors in and encourage them to partake in the joyous holiday spirit. Munich is the region's capital, while Nuremberg, Rothenburg ob der Tauber, and the stunning Neuschwanstein Castle are all worth some winter attention. 

Kiruna, Sweden

Kiruna offers a unique and immersive experience for cold winter vacations. It is an ideal location to witness the mesmerizing Northern Lights, and the vast expanses of snow-covered landscapes and pristine wilderness contribute to the town's magical ambiance during the winter months. Not only is its landscape stunning, but Kiruna is also home to the iconic Ice Hotel, a unique establishment sculpted entirely from ice and snow. This architectural marvel provides visitors with a truly immersive and unforgettable stay, complementing the town's extraordinary winter atmosphere. 

More adventurous souls can also engage in activities such as dog sledding and snowmobiling, further enhancing the winter wonderland experience. Kiruna's indigenous Sami culture adds a layer of richness to the destination, with opportunities to learn about traditional practices and encounter reindeer herds. The town's unique setting, surrounded by Arctic beauty and cultural authenticity, positions Kiruna as an alluring destination for those seeking a winter getaway like no other.

Kyoto, Japan

Kyoto, Japan, known for its enchanting cherry blossoms in spring and vibrant fall foliage, deserves recognition as an underrated winter getaway. While the city may not be the first to come to mind for a winter retreat, its serene beauty and cultural allure make it a less crowded destination during the colder months. Kyoto's tourist visits dwindle in the winter, allowing other travelers to travelerblog its iconic temples and historic sites with a sense of peaceful solitude.

Kyoto also hosts winter festivals and events highlighting the city's lively cultural scene during this season. Visitors can enjoy unique experiences, such as viewing illuminated temples and participating in traditional ceremonies. Kyoto's culinary delights, including hot pots and seasonal specialties, provide warmth and comfort. The city's well-preserved traditions and the chance to witness snowfall against the backdrop of historic landmarks make Kyoto a fabulous winter destination. The old Japanese capital also happens to be one of the most romantic cities in the country, and who doesn't love a bit of winter romance?

Lapland, Finland

Another underrated winter getaway can be yours in the northern region of Lapland, Finland. It offers a magical experience that goes beyond conventional destinations. The Arctic wonderland is often overshadowed by mainstream winter retreats, but its unique blend of natural beauty and cultural richness sets it apart. Lapland is all about pristine landscapes, where snow-covered forests and frozen lakes create a picturesque backdrop for winter activities. From husky sledding and reindeer safari rides to witnessing the awe-inspiring Northern Lights, Lapland offers a range of immersive experiences that capture the essence of a true winter paradise.

Lapland's authentic Sami culture adds a distinctive charm, allowing visitors to engage with indigenous traditions and even stay in traditional reindeer herder cabins. The region's commitment to sustainability and eco-friendly practices contributes to its appeal for environmentally conscious travelers seeking an ethically sound winter escape. Lapland maintains a serene and unspoiled atmosphere, avoiding the crowds that often accompany more mainstream destinations. This combination of natural beauty, cultural authenticity, and tranquility positions Lapland as a hidden gem for those seeking an unforgettable winter adventure off the beaten path.

Helen, Georgia

We recently returned from a visit to the quaint town of Helen, Georgia, and it is truly an unsung hero of winter vacations. It offers a unique blend of Bavarian charm and Southern hospitality. Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, this quaint town transforms into a winter wonderland, with its cobblestone streets and alpine-style architecture dusted in snow. While Helen is celebrated for its Oktoberfest festivities, its winter allure often goes unnoticed. The town's festive ambiance during the holiday season, complete with twinkling lights and seasonal decorations, creates a cozy and intimate atmosphere.

Helen's location along the Chattahoochee River adds to its appeal, providing a picturesque setting for winter strolls. Travelers can partake in winter activities like tubing, exploring the nearby state parks, or simply unwinding in the warm embrace of the town's charming inns and lodges. Wineries abound in the region, with over 70 options for sampling local vintages, and its authentic German food scene might just be the best this side of the Atlantic. With a quieter atmosphere and unique seasonal charm, Helen is a hidden gem for those seeking a laid-back and underrated winter escape.

Maui, Hawaii

Kicking off our list of warm-weather escapes is Maui, Hawaii. It provides a tropical paradise with a unique blend of relaxation and adventure. While winter is considered the island's low season, it presents an ideal time for savvy travelers to escape the crowds and enjoy Maui's natural beauty without the summer hustle. The island's warm temperatures, pristine beaches, and lush landscapes provide a refreshing contrast to the winter chill experienced elsewhere. We visited in January and can attest to the island's comfortable weather and low crowds.

Maui's winter months also coincide with the whale-watching season, as humpback whales migrate to the warm Hawaiian waters to birth their young. Witnessing these majestic creatures in their natural habitat adds an extraordinary dimension to a winter escape. Moreover, the island's diverse microclimates allow for a range of activities, from exploring Haleakalā National Park's dormant volcano to embarking on scenic road trips along the Hana Highway. If relaxation is of utmost importance, visiting during the winter reduces the chance you'll have to fight for that oceanside lounger in the afternoons.

Sedona, Arizona

While Sedona, Arizona, is best known for its stunning red rock formations and vibrant energy, its winter charm often goes overlooked. Many visitors emphasize the town's tranquil ambiance during the colder months, its mild weather, and a daytime temperature that isn't oppressively hot. For those who fear the heat Arizona is known for, the winter months are a pleasant surprise, making exploring its many charms that little bit easier.

Sedona's mild winter climate makes it an ideal escape for those seeking a break from harsher winter conditions. Winter is a great time to enjoy the outdoors in Sedona, including hiking, helicopter tours, and camping if you're feeling adventurous, although don't forget to pack accordingly for your time in the wilderness. It is worth it — the red rock formations, adorned with a dusting of snow, create a striking contrast and a unique visual spectacle. The town's renowned spiritual and wellness offerings, including spa retreats and healing centers, add an extra layer of relaxation to the winter experience. 

Antigua and Barbuda

Antigua and Barbuda offer an enticing combination of affordability and warm weather. These Caribbean islands boast pristine beaches, turquoise waters, and a laid-back atmosphere, providing an idyllic escape from winter's chill. Antigua and Barbuda are separate islands, but they are one country that became independent of British rule in 1981. 

The islands' diverse range of accommodations, from charming guesthouses to beachfront resorts, caters to various budgets without compromising on the serene and tropical experience. Antigua has over 365 beaches that are a paradise for sun-seekers and water enthusiasts, with opportunities for snorkeling, sailing, and relaxation. Yes, that is a beach for every single day of the year.

Meanwhile, Barbuda's unspoiled pink sand beaches and the Frigate Bird Sanctuary add a touch of natural wonder to the escape. With a distinct lack of crowds, these islands provide an intimate and tranquil winter retreat, making Antigua and Barbuda truly hidden gems in the realm of warm weather destinations.

Singapore

Singapore is the place to be in the winter. After the city-state became independent from Malaysia in 1965, it has consistently grown and kept up with the advancements of the modern world, even leading the way in some. Located near the equator, Singapore enjoys a tropical climate with consistently warm temperatures and a refreshing lack of extreme winter conditions. Although you may experience some rain and thrilling thunderstorms, the weather makes for a comfortable trip that's not sweltering hot or cold — but just right. 

Singapore has many diverse attractions, from its futuristic skyline to its lush gardens and vibrant cultural districts. Winter in Singapore gives visitors an opportunity to travelerblog outdoor spaces comfortably. Indulge in the city's renowned street food and experience the unique blend of modernity and tradition that defines this Southeast Asian metropolis. If you can plan a longer stay, consider adding the nearby island of Sentosa to your itinerary. Not only does it contain more beautiful beaches, but it also has a plethora of theme parks, including Universal Studios Singapore, which boasts both thrilling and family-friendly attractions. 

Auckland, New Zealand

Flip the script in winter and visit New Zealand during the country's summer. Situated in the Southern Hemisphere, Auckland enjoys mild temperatures during the Northern Hemisphere's winter months, providing a welcome escape for those seeking sunshine. Auckland's vibrant cultural scene, evident in its museums, galleries, and Maori heritage, offers a rich tapestry of experiences. The city's iconic Sky Tower provides panoramic views, while the Waiheke Island vineyards invite relaxation amidst stunning scenery.

In a blog post, travel expert Samantha Brown notes the variety of outdoor activities New Zealand offers, along with its delicious food and stunning landscapes. Brown suggests starting with Auckland, "but don't be afraid to rent a car and head around on a road trip, especially around South Island and North Island." With a diverse culinary scene showcasing fresh Pacific Rim cuisine, Auckland is a destination where winter visitors can bask in the warmth, travelerblog natural wonders, and immerse themselves in a unique cultural experience, making it an appealing antidote to the winter blues. It isn't a coincidence that New Zealand finds itself on many a traveler's bucket list

New Orleans, Louisiana

Another typically humid and hot locale, New Orleans, Louisiana, becomes downright pleasant during the winter. Cooler temperatures don't mean the city slows down for the season — in fact, it might just become more active in winter! During the winter months, New Orleans hosts a variety of events, from jazz festivals to holiday markets, adding to the city's festive charm. The absence of large crowds in comparison to peak tourist seasons ensures a more relaxed and enjoyable exploration of iconic sites like Jackson Square and the Garden District.

The annual carnival season opening in January also kicks off King Cake season. The first month of the year also sees the lively Joan of Arc Parade, a medieval-themed spectacle through the French Quarter. February brings the iconic Mardi Gras festivities, marked by parades, masquerade balls, and the spirited celebrations leading up to Fat Tuesday. The city's rich cultural heritage comes alive during these months, making New Orleans an exciting destination for those seeking a dose of music, revelry, and traditional Southern charm.

Buenos Aires, Argentina

Buenos Aires, Argentina, combines affordability and sunshine, making it a perfect warm-weather winter destination. The city's Southern Hemisphere location means that while much of the Northern Hemisphere experiences winter, Buenos Aires enjoys mild temperatures and pleasant weather from November to March. In addition to the comfortable climate, Buenos Aires is a great place for travelers who have an interest in the arts, as the public murals across the city are top-notch — especially in the Palermo neighborhood, where street art runs wild. You can even book a graffiti tour to take it all in. 

While flights to this South American city can be pricy — between $1,000 and $1,700 round trip, the hotels make up for that sticker shock with prices between $30 and $130 per night. The city offers a delightful range of cultural experiences, from exploring historic neighborhoods like San Telmo to immersing oneself in the vibrant tango scene. The lush green spaces provide a refreshing break, while the renowned Argentine cuisine adds a delicious touch to the winter sojourn. The so-called "Paris of South America" is also a fantastic option for solo travelers.