Life Travel Why we should all love a bit of northern hemisphere chill
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Why we should all love a bit of northern hemisphere chill

Europe-winter
There are many reasons to head to Europe in winter – snowy vistas and few queues being just two. Photo: Getty
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Australian travellers tend to head overseas when the weather gets cold here. Here are six good reasons why you should consider travelling to the northern hemisphere in winter instead.

Cheaper airfares and accommodation

Except for the Christmas and New Year period, lower demand means excellent airfares from Australia to Europe, Asia and the US throughout the northern winter.

As a bonus, you have far more chance of scoring the long-haul travellers’ holy grail – an empty neighbouring seat.

Apart from ski resorts in high season, there are accommodation bargains aplenty too.

Consider: San Francisco, Tokyo, Dublin

Lack of crowds

One of the joys of travelling off-peak is that queues for major sites are vastly reduced or even nonexistent once the tourist masses have taken their selfie sticks and gone home.

You can get up close and personal with the Mona Lisa, admire the Sistine Chapel, wander the colosseum or explore the Acropolis in peace at a far more leisurely pace in winter.

Consider: Venice, Paris, Rome

Europe-winter
Just you and the new day … a winter sunrise in Venice. Photo: Getty

Winter scenery

Landscapes and architecture are a photographer’s (or Instagrammer’s) dream in winter; from the majesty of the Swiss alps to Norway’s fjords, snow-dusted turreted castles and chateaus and charming traditional Christmas markets.

Nature’s incomparable light show, the aurora borealis, appears in Scandinavia, Iceland and parts of northern Canada from late autumn to late winter.

Consider: Budapest, Tromso, Salzburg

Winter-Europe
Lakeside Hallstatt, in the Austrian Alps, turns on a picture-postcard winter view. Photo: Getty

Culture

As Australian TV takes a hiatus from regular programming during our summer, so do European cultural events during their warmer weather.

But winter turns everything up to full, from a packed opera program in Vienna to the launch of new shows in London’s West End and the New York ballet season hitting stride. Then there are art exhibitions and museums to discover.

Consider: Berlin, London, New York

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All the delights of galleries such as the Louvre, without the crowds. Photo: Getty

Food

Winter offers a major bonus for food lovers, especially in food-obsessed countries such as Italy, France and Spain.

Wild game, mushrooms and truffles are all in season and restaurant menus offer comfort foods such braises and daubes, pasta and polenta with meaty ragus and heartwarming soups. Sweet tooths will find pleasure in thick hot chocolate, as well as rich puddings and flaky pastries.

Consider: Lyon, Turin, Barcelona

Winter activities

The days might be shorter but it’s easy to pack them with outdoor action. Skiing is a given if you head for a resort, but there are plenty of other winter activities for non-skiers, too.

Lace up some skates and take to the ice on a frozen lake, go dog-sledding, ride a snowmobile or hike a glacier. Or just stay inside by the fire with a glass of something warming. Salut!

Consider: Whistler, Kiruna (Sweden) Jackson Hole

Europe-winter
Enjoy the delights of northern hemisphere ski resorts, including Whistler. Photo: Getty