Frozen Fun: The Top 5 Cold Destinations In The World

Nothing says adventure like a trip in a freezing, snowy region. What cold, snow-capped destinations lack in tropical glamour, they certainly they make up for in pristine wintry beauty and the sheer multitude of adventures on offer. Unlike the humble, laidback beach holiday, trips to freezing cold places – be they ski resorts or icy wildernesses – present some physical and even mental challenges, but they promise unforgettable experiences unmatched by easier, warmer destinations.

If you’re looking to take a cold turn on your next vacation, you can’t go past our round-up of these five ultimate cold destinations for frozen fun, covering the world’s best ski resorts, iciest isles and the elusive South Pole itself. Rug up and enjoy!

5. Niseko, Japan

Situated in East Asia, far from the northern and southern poles, Japan may not be the first destination that comes to mind when you hear ‘cold’. But the premier Japanese ski resort region of Niseko tops the bucket list of many travellers’ ultimate ski and snowboarding destinations – and with good reason.

The powder here is fresh and high quality, regarded as amongst the best in the world. Niseko also offers the chance to try your hand at night skiing so you can hit the slopes by moonlight. Best yet, the fine Japanese tradition of indulging in hot springs or onsen makes for the perfect way to wrap up a long day on the snow.

4. Whistler, Canada

Chances are you’ve heard of Whistler, the immensely popular resort in British Columbia. Although Whistler is a year-round destination that can hold its own in summer, thank you very much, the colder months are when this Coast Mountains village really peaks (pun intended).

Just two hours north of Vancouver, Whistler offers one of the world’s best alpine skiing and snowboarding opportunities, not to mention an array of spas, hiking trails, restaurants, shops and golf courses. As the host of many ski events of the 2010 Winter Olympics, Whistler even gives you the chance to try your hand at Olympic-quality runs. This resort is an adventure-seeker’s dream.

Frozen Fun: The Top 5 Cold Destinations In The World

3. Iceland

Although Iceland isn’t as freezing as its northerly location may suggest, narrowing down just one destination in Iceland for frozen fun travel is impossible; just about every kilometre of this northern European country boasts some sort of scenic waterfall, geyser, lagoon or mountain to gaze in awe at. A vast array of adventure activities is on offer throughout the island, from glacier hiking to caving to snowmobile tours to diving. Then there are the legendary Northern Lights.

Iceland’s cosmopolitan party capital Reykjavik is a great place to top off your night. After enjoying its unique cuisine – fancy trying the surprisingly delicious local staple, harðfiskur (dried fish)? – you can sample some of the world-class nightlife of this loud, crazy city. And, if you visit from mid May to mid August, the lingering midnight sun means you might even have the bizarre experience of stumbling out of a club at 3am and having to put your sunglasses on!

2. Svalbard, Norway

The islands of Svalbard – right at the northernmost tip of Europe – are expensive, difficult to reach and utterly remote. In fact, the largest island and unofficial capital of Svalbard, Longyearbyen, is home to the largest population on the islands, of just 1,800. The other islands, hosting military settlements, research stations and some remote communities, have just hundreds.

For that reason, this Norwegan archipelago is markedly pristine. Along with the reindeer, arctic foxes, seals and walruses of Svalbard, floating sheets of ice in the region have been known to host that most elusive character of Arctic wildlife: the polar bear. The untouched wilderness of these icy isles makes for the ideal Arctic trip.

1. Antarctica

Where else to round off the top cold destinations on earth than the Frozen Continent itself? Antarctica remains a largely untravelled frontier and, a smattering of scientific research stations aside, its vast interior has been scarcely touched by humans.

Why make the long, rough (and, yes, expensive) sea crossing to the southern edge of the globe? For its unparalleled scenery, unique birdlife, and one-of-a-kind experiences. And, during its accessible tourist season from November to March, there are 24 hours of daylight and temperatures as high as 14 degrees Celsius. Even for those who don’t like snow and hate the cold, Antarctica remains one of the ultimate bucket list destinations.

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Caitlin Fisher is a freelance writer and avid traveller from Sydney, who is currently daydreaming and planning her next trip to the ski fields of NPC.