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Chill and Thrill: 10 Enchanting Getaways to Embrace Winter 


Winter is the perfect time to travel. Whether you want to beat the icy winds and soak up some sun or you just want to skip the crowds during on an off-peak season, winter travel offers many benefits.  

However, with so many intriguing destinations around the globe, it can be hard to know where to begin. In this article, we look at the top 10 destinations for winter travel when you’re looking for a new adventure.    

1. Say Oui to Paris  


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Ah, the City of Light. It seems so cliché, but what better time to visit Paris, France, than when it is drenched in the lights of the season? Although it’s easy to get caught up in all the dazzle of the most iconic attractions, from the Eiffel Tower to the Louvre, it’s more the idea of sipping cafe au lait at a quaint café watching bustling holiday shoppers, exploring the streets and architecture, crossing the many bridges spanning the Sienne, and simply thinking to yourself, “I’m in Paris!” that makes this trip exceptional. 

Traveling in winter offers a more authentic Parisienne experience, allowing you to blend in with the locals. You can choose to take the less traveled path, whether winding your way through the cobblestone streets to discover a local pastry shop with shelves bursting with holiday delights, exploring hundreds of books at a bookstore for a rare find, enjoying a bottle of wine while warming up at a bustling bistro, or looking for streets captured on the canvases of Van Gogh, Caillebotte, and Chagall.  

It’s not just about what the city offers every day but getting a glimpse of the exciting holiday traditions filled with light, laughter, music, and holiday markets that tell the story of this historic city.  

2. Venture, Venture to Bora Bora 

What adds up to simply 12 square miles in the French Polynesian Islands is considered one of the most stunning tropical places on Earth. Imagine pristine beaches set against lush green jungles and private resorts on tiny islands, and you’ll understand why this exclusive travel experience is ever popular.  

Mount Otemanu, one of two peaks of an extinct volcano, is a hiker’s dream, while off-road excursions highlight the island’s beauty — with no hiking boots required. Matira Beach is known for its inviting crystal-clear waters and unbelievably white sand, while opulent accommodations cater to your every whim.  

3. Admire Florence’s Architecture and Art in Bella Italia 


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Instead of getting lost in the hustle and bustle of Rome, visit Florence, a lower-key Italian destination catering to art lovers and foodies. This is the city where you can appreciate the work of painters such as Andro Botticelli and sculptures, including Michelangelo’s David, at the Galleria dell’Accademia.  

Winter is the ideal time of year to avoid the crowds at the museums of Florence, including Palazzo Pitti’s five museums and the Uffizi Gallery, located in a stunning building constructed between 1560 and 1580. On property once owned by the Medici’s, one of Italy’s wealthiest families in history, the gallery features ancient sculptures and paintings, including well-known masterpieces painted by Botticelli, Raffaello, Michelangelo, and Caravaggio.    

The Piazza da Basso hosts the Florence Ice Village, where you can skate on the longest rink in Europe. Other attractions include the iconic Duomo Basilica and the stunning views at Piazzale Michelangelo. Florence is also a beacon for foodies looking for authentic dining experiences where they can indulge in succulent Tuscan food, sip glasses of wine, and stroll the many open-air markets and stalls open over the holidays.  

4. Yodel Your Way Through the Swiss Alps 

If the idea of a fairy tale destination appeals to you, then the Swiss Alps offers a unique storybook experience like no other. It might feel like a movie set, but this picturesque area known for its snow-covered mountains and undeniably charming towns is the real deal.  

Many would argue winter is the best time to visit the area known for its world-class skiing and the ultimate après-ski experience, sipping wine fireside while munching on chunks of bread dipped in cheese fondue. Bundle up to enjoy horse-drawn sleigh rides and shop the open-air holiday markets where you can warm yourself with a cup of mulled wine, enjoy grilled sausage for lunch, and finish your day with traditional gingerbread. 

5. Get Medieval in Bruges 

Belgium’s Bruges offers a wintery trip back in time where you won’t contend with crowds. Bruges is far from tourist sites and is awash in lights over the holidays, adding to its magical appeal. Many even swear the smell of chocolate is in the air. Its charming markets and canals are local favourites, making it ideal for travellers seeking something quaint. You can wander the cobblestone square, taking in the wonder of the delicate architecture covered in a soft blanket of snow, or bundle up for a horse-drawn carriage or canal ride. 

Wonder at the beauty of Minnewater Park, where you can cross Lover’s Bridge at the Lake of Love to feed the swans or climb the Belfry to admire the view 270 feet above the sleepy town. Enjoy dining on hearty Belgian food and indulge in treats in a city known for some of the best chocolate in the world. When visiting a country known for its beer, you’ll soon find it’s the perfect drink to enjoy beside a crackling fire.   

6. Check Phuket Off Your Bucket List 

If the whole idea of your winter vacation is to avoid snow, the island of Phuket in southern Thailand is an ideal choice, while also being beautiful and affordable. It has all you expect in a tropical destination, including luxurious spa treatments, water sports, and white sandy beaches. You can take boat tours of the surrounding islands, or visit the limestone cliffs at Phang Nga Bay where you can capture selfies in front of breathtaking scenery. 

If you’re all about relaxing, the white beaches await, offering the perfect place to lounge about without a care in the world. Once night falls, you can also find plenty to do with the lively Phuket nightlife. And be sure to fit in a visit to the Big Buddha and Wat Chalong Temple. 

And let’s not forget the food. Thailand is known for its spice — but it’s worth the heat when you taste the complex flavours of authentic Thai cuisine. Whether it’s a bowl of Tom yum goong with succulent shrimp, street Pad Thai, or steamed chicken rice at a local food stall, the foodie in you won’t go hungry 

8. Visit the Other Down Under in New Zealand 


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New Zealand’s South Island is in the summer months during our winter, making it another warm climate for those escaping the winter blahs. This country offers majestic landscapes ranging from mountains to fjords, providing the ideal destination for travellers seeking hiking in otherworldly settings. 

You can enjoy the views boating on Milford Sound/Piopiotahi or star gazing at the University of Canterbury’s Mount John Observatory. A visit to Rotorua provides ample opportunity to enjoy the thrills of water rafting to Redwoods Treewalk and learning about Māori culture. Bubbling mud pools and natural hot springs can complete your adventure. 

The Coromandel offers a stunning golden beach contrasting with the unbelievable turquoise waters, and you won’t be disappointed in the spectacular views and activities at Nelson & Marlborough Sounds. If you long for a city adventure, the holidays in New Zealand’s capital, Wellington, are alive with lights, dining, bars, and festivities, while Dunedin offers an entirely different experience with its Scottish history, castles, beaches, scrumptious food, local wildlife, and endless natural wonders.  

9. Si Barcelona 

This Spanish city is alive during the holiday season, while providing an opportunity to experience Barcelona with less competition from fellow tourists. Known for its medieval architecture in the Barri Gòtic, a stunning feat of craftmanship at the Basílica de la Sagrada Família, and the intricate designs of Antoni Gaudí’s work in Park Güell, this lovely Spanish city is buzzing with activity 24/7. 

Flamenco dancers play a significant part in holiday festivities, with dramatic choreography, traditional costumes, and the mesmerizing rhythm of guitars. A city known for its nightlife, Barcelona offers restaurants and bars along Las Ramblas Boulevard. Meanwhile, Barceloneta Beach and the Parc de la Ciutadella are beautiful on a sunny winter’s day. 

The squares and side alleys are dotted with endless dining possibilities in a city known for its rustic tapas bars where you can dine on traditional foods like fresh seafood laden paella, grilled shrimp and chorizo sausage, potato and ham croquettes, or wafer-thin slices of melt-in-your-mouth salty Iberian ham, which can all be enjoyed with your choice of wine, cocktails, or sherry. 

Barcelona isn’t as cold as many European destinations in the winter, but it still sees a decline in tourism compared to other holiday destinations in sunny climates. As a result, you can enjoy more elbow room and fewer lineups when visiting local museums such as Fundació Joan Miró, where you can stroll the galleries appreciating this iconic artist’s work, or Museu Nacional d’Art de Catalunya in the National Palace, where you’ll find the world’s best collection of Romanesque mural painting, artists of Catalan Modernism, Gothic art, Renaissance and Baroque painters, and a collection of intriguing photography. 

10. Ring in the New Year in Rio de Janeiro 

As one of the world’s most celebrated party towns, Rio de Janeiro is best known for its Carnival festivities in February. However, it also holds a raucous New Year’s Eve Party on the shores of Copacabana. With one of the most impressive fireworks displays in the world, Rio is the place to ring in the New Year if you don’t mind joining the other odd 2 million revellers. Be sure to wear white and dance the night away. 

Even if you don’t celebrate Christmas, you can’t help but show your respect for the world’s largest floating Christmas tree, standing 28 stories tall in the Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon featuring 3.3 million mini bulbs and 2,100 strobes. You can also learn to dance the Samba, listening to live music in the Lapa neighbourhood or shop in the heart of this bohemian community, where you’ll find vintage accessories, handmade gifts, and local cafes and bars. 

The repurposed colonial buildings and cobblestone streets speak to the city’s history, and commitment to evolving with the world around it. Stroll the lovely gardens, lounge on white sandy beaches, swim in the warm ocean waters, and enjoy endless activities to keep you as busy or lazy as you desire.  

The Best Way to Make Your Holiday Travel Dreams a Reality 

The AIR MILES Reward Program is the easiest way to make your holiday travel dreams come true. Collectors booking travel ca redeem Dream Miles, pay with a card, or use a combination of both. You also can earn up to 5x the Miles by bundling your flight with accommodation or a car rental.  

Where can you fly with AIR MILES? 

You can book regional or international AIR MILES Flights to and from Canada, the United States, Asia, Europe, and just about anywhere. AIR MILES is partnered with more airlines worldwide than ever to help you reach your ideal winter destination. 

Do I need to redeem Miles to book travel through AIR MILES Travel? 

AIR MILES offers flexible ways to pay, whether you use your credit card, Dream Miles, or a combination of both. Better yet, you’ll even earn Reward Miles on what you pay for with your card and can also find exciting packages 

How do I earn Reward Miles with Travel? 

Miles are earned for the portion of a booking that is paid for by credit card only and cannot be earned on the portion of bookings paid for with Dream Miles.

Wherever your wanderlust takes you, AIR MILES is ready to help you reach your winter and year-round destinations to take in the sights of each season. Join now and you’re steps away from taking flight. 


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