Planning a Winter Trip? Consider These 7 Noteworthy Places.

Whether you’re bookending 2023 or kicking off 2024, here are appealing places for a trip.

People on a pier underneath shelter, with someone jumping off at right

Sick of shivering in a knitted cap as the snow won’t stop falling? Consider destinations like Hawai‘i, where winter traditions have a tropical twist.

Photo by Kyle Johnson

Summer might be peak travel season, but smarter tourists can dodge those crowds—and high prices—by considering a winter trip. instead. Indeed, some destinations shine as brightly in the colder season, albeit for different reasons, so we’ve rounded up seven of the best around the world to tempt you into traveling in the next few months.

Here are the seven best places to travel this winter.

1. Hawai‘i

This winter is a fine time to travel to Hawai’i, when tourism dollars can have a true impact helping the state bounce back from Maui’s devastating wildfires. Governor Josh Green has encouraged visits to the parts of the island that were untouched (though the Banyan Tree, in Lahaina, which was once a core part of the celebrations, is off limits this year).

Elsewhere in the state, Honolulu hosts a City Lights celebration that runs through the end of the year, with a kickoff on December 2, while the Kapolei City Lights runs from December 9 through January 2, with the theme of a Westside Wonderland on the leeward part of the island. If you want to work up a sweat before Christmas indulgences, join the marathon on December 10: the fourth-largest in the country.

Where to stay

The just opened, 368-room boutique hotel is a reimagining of the rather workaday hotel formerly known as the Ambassador after a $44 million overhaul. The four-star property now has loft bunk bed rooms as well as several locally focused touches, from Big Island–roasted coffee in room to a custom-fit lava rock wall.

How to get there

Southwest is the smart bet to reach the islands. It first launched low-cost flights in 2019, before ramping up to expand to several more destinations on the mainland later, including Phoenix and San Diego.

Lit up white buildings in central city at night

Festivities for the 66th Vienna Opera Ball will take place at the Vienna State Opera.

Photo by Kateryna Synelnyk/Shutterstock

2. Vienna, Austria

The Wien Museum network comprises 20 different sites across the city, but the best known, on Karlsplatz, is reopening December 2023 after four years of in-depth renovations. The new exhibition space, spanning all three of the building’s floors, will feature a permanent installation on the city’s history, from Roman times on, and a new, “floating” top floor constructed of exposed concrete.

If you opt for a visit around that time, you’ll have the chance to attend one of Vienna’s balls. The headline-grabber, of course, is the Opera Ball on February 8 (unfortunately, ticket orders are now being put on a waiting list), the highlight of the city’s social calendar. But there are other, equally appealing bashes, too: The Kreativball takes place on February 10 and is an evening for the LGBTQ+ community and its allies to celebrate. Or pack a costume for Rudolfina Redoute on February 12, which always has a frisson of mystery, since the dress code requires masks.

Where to stay

The 52-room boutique hotel opened in late 2022, offering a refreshingly modern option with contemporary decor heavy on wood, marble, and textile; the Presidential Suite has its own music system and DJ booth for VIP EDM.

How to get there

National carrier Austrian Airlines connects Vienna with Los Angeles, New York, and Chicago. There’s also service from Atlanta on Delta Airlines.

Cabanas with empty lounge chairs on the beach, with cruise ship in background

Arrive before the end of 2023 to savor the final few frissons of the yearlong bash that’s been marking the 50th anniversary of the country’s independence from the British.

Courtesy of Getty Images/Unsplash

3. The Bahamas

This winter, this island cluster has been unlocked as an easy getaway for West Coast residents, thanks to a pair of new nonstop flights. First, there’s service from Seattle and Los Angeles on Alaska Airlines, with up to a four-time weekly frequency; JetBlue will operate on the latter route too, with an added appeal—aircraft equipped with its standout Mint class.

On Boxing Day (December 26) and New Year’s Day, the island throws its biggest bashes for Junkaroo, the African-inflected carnival that’s a riot of color, noise, and energy. Downtown Nassau’s Bay Street is the epicenter of celebrations across the country—while you’re there, stop in at the Educulture Junkanoo Museum, where you can see past examples of the elaborate costumes and make your own Junkanoo-style mask (masquerades have been a hallmark since the slavery era).

Where to stay

Those who wouldn’t usually opt for resort-style complexes like this should reconsider, as this is an innovative exception, thanks to the rooms (book an oversize two-bedroom suite at the Grand Hyatt), more than 20 dining options (try the Middle Eastern food at Cleo), and amenities like the near-vertical Thunderball slide at the on-site water park.

How to get there

Other than those new routes, the main airport in Nassau has an extensive, nonstop network around the East Coast, including Silver Airways from TPA and Delta from BOS.

View of Tartu town hall square at twilight from Toome hill

Tartu’s program of events will nod to its longtime reputation as an academic and cultural hub.

Photo by yegorovnick/Shutterstock

4. Estonia

Thirteen years after the capital, Tallinn, earned the accolade of European Capital of Culture, this tiny Baltic country’s second city, Tartu, will follow, beginning its year-long celebration with a show on the banks of the River Emajoĩgi on January 26.

If you’re smitten enough by these efforts to consider a longer stay, you’re in luck: Estonia’s cannily embraced the global nomad era, via its almost decade-old e-residency program and the new digital nomad-focused visa, which grants permission to live and work there for a year, albeit with a few provisos.

Where to stay

Hotel Tartu, in the heart of downtown, includes 112 modernist rooms housed in a recently spiffed-up 1960s building.

How to get there

There are no direct, nonstop flights to Tallinn (or Tartu) from outside Europe. The handiest long-haul hub is likely in a neighboring country, Finland: Finnair connects Helsinki with New York, Dallas, and Los Angeles. Take a puddle jumper to Tallinn and then use one of the local trains.

White mosque dwarfed by five skyscrapers beside water

Come to Dubai in the winter and expect endlessly sunny days, with daytime temperatures in the upper 70s.

Courtesy of Getty Images/Unsplash

5. Dubai, UAE

December 2 is UAE National Day—this year, it will mark 52 years since the cluster of emirates, including Dubai, was established after the withdrawal of British colonial forces. Learn more about the complicated modern negotiations, and the cultures that thrived here long before that, via a trip to the Etihad Museum, an eight-building complex sitting on the site where the first constitution was signed. From December 15 to January 4, travelers can visit the Madinat Jumeirah Festive Market, which features gingerbread house decorating and a train to the “North Pole"—visiting Santa, though, involves a trip on a traditional Arabic boat, or abra.

Take a day trip to another emirate, too, Sharjah, which we recommended as a must-see spot in 2023: the art- and architecture-obsessed rulers here have made it a cutting-edge cultural hub.

Where to stay

There are more than 700 hotels to choose from for a stay in Dubai. For travelers coming in the later part of winter, the Lana is now accepting bookings from February after several abortive attempts at opening. The 30-story tower on the waterfront canal will be a gleaming landmark with 225 rooms—more than a third will be suites, starting in size at just under 540 square feet. There will be seven different restaurants on site plus a rooftop pool.

How to get there

Dubai’s national carrier Emirates has one of the most extensive long-haul networks in the world, serving a dozen destinations in the United States, including Orlando and Seattle.

Walkway with palm trees near water with a few small boats

This little island is often overshadowed by the wealthier Mustique next door, but Bequia has distinctive charms of its own.

Photo by Nancy Pauwels/Shutterstock

6. Bequia, St. Vincent and Grenadines

Bequia is best known among yachties, a legacy of the pirate-driven era in the region, when its harbor lured the likes of Blackbeard. The first tourists here in the 1960s had a creative vibe, including Bob Dylan (who arrived keen to buy one of the handmade boats for which it was long known).

It retains that off-kilter appeal even now: Take Grenadine Sea Salt, run by erstwhile commercial photographer Jerry Simpson, who designed his own pans to improve on age-old production methods and now offers everything from tasting dinners to tours of his operation on the island. And make sure to take a dip in the waters off Princess Margaret Beach, where the late British royal would come to escape the socially constricting confines of Mustique.

Where to stay

Swedish entrepreneur Bengt Morstedt operates the Bequia Beach Hotel, an upscale, laid-back option. He’s opening a series of luxury villa rentals now, too, under the Grenadine Hills banner, including one addition set to debut in early 2024.

How to get there

If you stay at Bequia Beach Hotel, the property can arrange transfers. Otherwise, there are two options: head to AIA airport in St. Vincent, then hop a ferry for about an hour, or connect on SVG Air from Barbados.

Downtown Park City with ski resort and ski lift on snowy hill in background

Consider a trip to Park City, especially if the forecasts for above-average snowfall prove accurate.

Photo by Benjamin R./Unsplash

7. Park City, Utah

The Sundance Film Festival officially hits middle age this winter, as it celebrates the 40th edition since it was founded by Robert Redford. The new director, Eugene Hernandez, makes his debut with this edition and will bring his touch to the programming. This year’s opening night gala will honor alums, including blockbuster auteur Christopher Nolan, though the focus of the 10-day bash is always the awards show, which takes place on January 26.

If you’re square-eyed from too much screen time, consider a trip to the slopes nearby. Per the NOAA, there’s a greater than 50 percent chance of the El Niño phenom emerging as very strong, a rarity that’s happened only a fistful of times since 1950. The impact on Park City of that proving true? Ample powder on slopes nearby, including Deer Valley and Park City Mountain, which have a combined 7,300 acres of ski-focused terrain.

Where to stay

The 153-room boutique hotel was a splashy addition to the landscape here when it opened in Canyons Village early in 2022. It has its own on-site outfitter for outdoor activities, as well as a raft of see-and-be-seen spots like the lobby bar Après Pendry.

How to get there

Salt Lake City, Delta’s western hub, is a 30-minute drive away and offers ample direct flights around the country.

More winter travel ideas

British-born, New York–based Mark Ellwood has lived out of a suitcase for most of his life. He is editor-at-large for luxury bible Robb Report and columnist for Bloomberg Luxury. Recent stories have led him to hang out with China’s trendsetters in Chengdu and learn fireside raps from cowboy poets in Wyoming.
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