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
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
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
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
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