Can’t get enough snow? Check out the world’s best snowy destinations, and prepare to be up to your neck in it.
Snowiest Destinations: Greenland
This frosty getaway is a wonderland like no other. Have you heard the tale that Viking explorers named Iceland and Greenland in order to discourage others from the former so they could keep the discovery of a relatively temperate land to themselves? Whether the legend is true or not, the difference in climate is – while Iceland offers many wintry activities, Greenland is the place for true ice-and-snow adventures, like a three-day, 160-km Arctic Circle Race for skiers; hunting by dog sledge; ice fishing in a fjord; or a camping trip to the Greenland ice cap, the world’s second-largest body of ice.
Snowiest Destinations: Whistler, B.C.
In terms of snowy travel destinations, Whistler offers more than just downhill fun. For the adventurous, active tours include heli-skiing, bungee jumping and dog sledding; mellower travellers will want to check out sleigh rides complete with blankets and hot chocolate and the Scandinave Spa, providing a full water treatment with outdoor hot pools, a eucalyptus steam room, wood-burning sauna and Nordic waterfalls to cool down.
Snowiest Destinations: Sapporo, Japan
This wintertime haven calls itself “blessed by snow” and it’s no wonder – with an average annual snowfall of 630 cm (248 inches), you’d have to find a way to love it. Visit during the February Snow Festival to view snow and ice sculptures and play snow games; the city’s White Illuminationbrightens dark winter nights with an artistic light display around such themes as Christmas and the starry skies.
Snowiest Destinations: Quebec City, Quebec
This winter wonderland has an average of 316 cm (124 inches) of snow every year – and average temperatures low enough that it tends to stick around. Quebec City residents are used to giant snowbanks and lots of shovelling and plowing. Dress warm and drop by during the Quebec Winter Carnival in January and February for snow-related activities including sledding and snow rafting, snow sculpture workshops, a 400-foot ice slide and maple taffy on snow, and to watch 75 brave (some might say crazy) volunteers bathe in the snow in nothing but swimming suits.
Snowiest Destinations: Tallinn, Estonia
Travel back to the Europe of fairy tales in this snowscape dreamland. When snow falls on the medieval old town of Estonia’s capital city, where the continent’s first public Christmas tree was erected in 1441. Go skating in the outdoor ice rink followed by a cup of hot cocoa in the rinkside cafe, enjoy winter snow sports on the city’s festival grounds or rent skis and try nighttime cross-country skiing on the well-lit trails in the Pirita and Nõmme districts.
Snowiest Destinations: Flagstaff, Arizona
Wintertime and vacations might not be the first things that comes to mind when you think of Arizona, but Flagstaff, in the northern part of the state and at over 2,000 metres of elevation, boasts an average of 255 cm every year. Just a few miles north of the city, the Wing Mountain Snow Play Area offers facilities and gear for snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, sledding and simply playing in the snow – plus hot beverages and other concessions; head back to down for cultural events, nightlife and more than 200 restaurants.
Snowiest Destinations: Anchorage, Alaska
Guides to the snowiest parts of the United States often leave out Alaska, as it would dominate the list, otherwise. Anchorage is far from the snowiest part of the state, with an average of just 179 cm (70.6 inches) of snow per year, but as Alaska’s biggest city it offers the most activities for visitors. Try winter itineraries such as the Cozy Winter Day, combining a morning sleigh ride with gallery hopping and a local sports game; Winter Octane, a day of backcountry skiing plus an evening at a local pub; or Snow Fun for Kids, offering family-friendly outdoor activities including building snowmen and snow angels, playing in the Children’s Ice Park and barrelling down sledding hills rated from novice to advanced.
Snowiest Destinations: Minneapolis-St.Paul, Minnesota
This snowy paradise was named one of the top 10 winter towns by readers of National Geographic Traveler, the Twin Cities receive an average of 115 cm (45.3 inches) of snow annually, and spend an average of 100 days per year with at least an inch of snow on the ground. You’ll find skiing, ice skating and snowshoeing, of course, along with ice fishing and winter trail running, but also more-creative winter activities such as skijoring – skiing with your dog on a harness, pulling you along (learning from a club is recommended). Sledding afficionadoes will want to head to Suicide Hill at Kenwood Park, which the local CityPages describes as “a treacherous and steep course stippled with formidable trees, man-made moguls, and the bodies of other sledders gasping for breath after a particularly good wipeout.”
Snowiest Destinations: Oslo, Norway
Oslo is a winter dream, as you’ll notice at every Winter Olympics, where Norway turns out its fair share of athletes in snow sports. The country nabbed a total of 23 medals in Vancouver, for a rank of fourth overall – and facilities for recreational skiing, skating and tobogganing are as good as you’d expect. To really discover the city, though, sign up for a guided Winter Walk with themes including artist Edvard Munch and playwright Henrik Ibsen, the Oslo Cathedral and, for the history buffs, 1,000 years of Oslo. Come before Christmas to experience the classic European markets, such as the famous open air market at the Folk Museum, held the first two weekends in December.