The 13 Most Beautiful Snow-Covered Towns Around the World
These winter wonderlands will have you singing “Let It Snow!” all season long.
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You’re not seeing things: This is a real-life city made entirely of ice, complete with ice castles, ice temples, ice staircases, and ice sculptures. It’s the world’s largest ice festival, created with ice blocks from the frozen Songhua River, held in Harbin in the northeastern-most area of China. At night, the creations are lit up with a rainbow of colors; the festivities also include winter sports, winter fishing, and an art fair for ice lanterns (candles placed inside carved ice). Although not a “town” in the traditional sense, it’s a can’t-miss sight for snow lovers. The festival starts at the end of December and runs until the beginning of February. Stay at the Shangri-La Hotel for views over the city of ice. Here’s what it’s really like to sleep in an ice hotel.
Travelers can discover so many snowy German villages that seem to be out of a fairy tale that it’s hard to pick just one. But the Bavarian town of Coburg, filled with historic architecture, looks particularly lovely dressed in white, with snow starting in December. Wander through the cobbled Old Town and the market square, warm up with some traditional Bavarian fare, then venture up to the Veste, the fortified medieval castle. Coburg has more than its share of castles: Visitors can also visit Ehrenburg Palace, Callenburg Castle, and Rosenau Palace just outside town, where Prince Albert, Queen Victoria’s husband, was born. Stay in the center of the town at Hotel Goldener Anker. Daydream about these top bucket list hotel experiences in the world.
You don’t even need to ski to appreciate the charm of this quintessential ski village nestled in the Rocky Mountains: It’s one of America’s 12 prettiest winter towns. The streets may seem warm beneath your feet—and that’s because they are actually heated. Browse the many boutiques, take in the aprés ski scene, and listen to the creek babbling beyond the town. You can even visit the highest botanical garden in the United States, the Betty Ford Alpine Garden, open year-round and amazing covered in snow. And of course, the area offers endless opportunities for outdoor winter fun: Snow may begin as early as November. Stay right in the village at the boutique hotel Austria Haus.
It’s hard to believe the enchanting town of Colmar in France’s Alsace region can get any prettier, but just add snow and it looks like something out of a Disney movie. With cobbled streets, half-timbered houses, and winding canals, it’s the perfect place to walk hand-in-hand with a loved one as snowflakes fall. If you need something more to do, stop into medieval churches, specialty shops, or a wine bar, as Colmar is the capital of the region’s wine-making. Snow, though, is iffy in December; January may present a better chance. Stay right on the canal near the covered market at the splurge-worthy Hotel Colombier Suites. Read on to find out the best winter destination in every state.