Put These Picture-Perfect Destinations On Your Winter Travel List ASAP

Leaving your house in the dead of winter can feel like an herculean task, especially when the weather is gloomy and there's black ice on the ground. But getting out of town sounds like the perfect antidote for our mounting seasonal affective disorder: We want a vacation, and we want it now.
While we would normally recommend a beach break as a nice way to deal with the weather, there's something to be said about destinations that pull off the winter wonderland look spectacularly. We're talking about places that offer impressive holiday decorations, lively Christmas markets, and readily available fireplaces. If a city looks quaint enough to be featured in a holiday card, we can (maybe) overlook the frostbites.
From a quaint ski town to a snowy wonderland, we've rounded up five postcard-perfect trips you should take while there's still snow on the ground. And, just so you'll know what to do should you decide to make an impulsive visit, we've also included the coziest hotels in the area, plus the insider intel you need to know.
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Photo: Getty Images.
Paris, France

Paris is always a good idea, but the city comes to life during the wintertime in a truly spectacular fashion. The French capital channels its chicness into a stunning display of lights: Many of its iconic monuments, shopfronts, and streets — including the Avenue des Champs Elysées — are all adorned in full-on festive illuminations. The holiday decorations at Galeries Lafayette are a sight to behold: The legacy department store suspends a different multi-storey Christmas tree from its magnificent Art Nouveau glass ceiling each year.

Even though the wildly popular Champs Elysées Christmas market is not happening this year, you'll be equally satisfied with a walk through the little shops in Montmarte, a romantic neighborhood with a cozy, village-y vibe. And, you can't possibly visit the most fashionable city in the world without stocking up on your winter wardrobe: Kiliwatch and Vintage Désir are two of our favorites to hunt for vintage treasures.
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Photo: Courtesy of Amastan.
Paris, France (Continued)

Where To Stay: Within walking distance from Champs Elysées, Arc de Trimophe, and Faubourg Saint-Honoré, Amastan Hotel feels more like an intimate pied-à-terre than a boutique hotel. Design touches such as industrial-style lighting fixtures, custom-made rattan chairs, and navy herringbone wooden walls give the rooms a lush yet understated look. The ground-floor bar, Anouk, is another Instagram haven in and of itself, outfitted with designer lighting, a glass roof, and leafy plants. The small garden offers a peaceful respite from the city. With these cozy amenities, you might never actually want to leave.
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Photo: Courtesy of Chateau Vaux-le-vicomte.
Paris, France (Continued)

Insider Tip: Forget Versailles: Skip the long lines and head to Chateau Vaux-le-Vicomte, a stunning, privately-owned property an hour outside of Paris. Its Baroque ceilings, stately chandeliers, and rich tapestries are said to have inspired the interior design of the Palace of Versailles. The castle is putting on an incredible spectacle for Christmas, with more than two dozen of its rooms filled with thousands of themed holiday installations, including trees made out of confectionery and an indoor enchanted forest.
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Park City, Utah

There's way to more Park City than the Sundance Film Festival. For one, it's a great destination for skiing, thanks to the crisp mountain air and powdery peaks. The ski town's Main Street has an old-world charm, thanks to the well-maintained 19th-century facades.

The Deer Valley region should be on any foodie's radar due to its emerging culinary scene: High West Distillery & Saloon offers a unique pairing menu for its blended whiskies, while The Deer Valley Grocery Cafe will give your the best comfort food fix after a day of hitting the slopes.
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Photo: Courtesy of Silver King.
Park City, Utah (Continued)

Where To Stay: Silver King Hotel combines sweeping mountain views with the rustic decor of a traditional ski lodge. It's just a short walk from the PayDay ski lift, but still close enough to the Main Street. After admiring the snow-capped surrounds, guests can warm up in front of a wood-burning fireplace, which can be found in every room.
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Photo: Courtesy of The Montage.
Park City, Utah (Continued)

Insider Tip: If you're feeling sore from a day of skiing, Spa Montage at Deer Valley offers offers massage treatments customized according to your body's pains and needs. Unwinding in the hot tub overlooking the mountains sounds like the ultimate way to unwind.
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Photo: Getty Images.
Edinburgh, Scotland

There's no better season than the winter to retrace J.K. Rowling's footsteps in Edinburgh, the place where she wrote the majority of the Harry Potter series. The city looks extra magical when covered in snow, like a Hogsmeade came to life. Grab a drink at The Balmoral, the grand dame hotel where Rowling finished the last chapters of the final book. After than, have a wander on Victoria Street and peruse wizardry merchandise at Diagon House, a shop dedicated to the franchise. AHA HA HA Jokes & Novelties, a prank shop with a look that rivals Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes, is just a few doors down.

Even if you're not a fan of Harry Potter, Edinburgh is still well-worth a visit: Time your trip around the end of the year to catch Hogmanay, an outdoor festival of fireworks and concerts that ends with a dip in the freezing River Forth on New Year's Day.
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Photo: Courtesy of The Principal.
Edinburgh, Scotland (Continued)

Where To Stay: The recently-opened Principal Hotel on Charlotte Square, which overlooks the landmark National Archives building, is designed with a muse in mind: Hamish — a fictional character conjured up by the owners of the hotel — is a well-heeled Scottish gentleman with a love for books and travel. The rooms has a much more modern look in contrast, punctuated by a gallery wall above the beds and Scottish tartan wool blankets. The well-lit atrium of the hotel, with towering houseplants and a greenhouse-like ceiling, is one of the most stylish places in Edinburgh to eat breakfast.
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Photo: Getty Images.
Edinburgh, Scotland (Continued)

Insider Tip: If you can brace the cold winds, the one-hour hike up Arthur's Seat is truly worth it. There's no better place to take in the skyline of the whole city, and it's a great place to go sledding when covered in snow.
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Photo: Getty Images.
Nagano, Japan

Nagano is home to some of the most gorgeous landscapes in Japan. There's vibrant foliage in the autumn, cherry blossoms in the spring, but what you see in the winter is extra special: There are snow monkeys warming up alongside you in the outdoor hot springs, for one, and frosted expanse for skiing, sledding, and snowboarding. Our pick would be Nozawa Onsen Ski Resort in northern Nagano, where there are all-natural, powdery snow and over 13 free natural spring baths open to the public.

For an additional dose of culture, stick around for the Nozawa Onsen Dosojin Festival on January 15, the folk celebration to fete happy marriages and first-born children through a massive bonfire watched by a huge crowd.
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Photo: Courtesy Of Booking.com.
Nagano, Japan (Continued)

Where To Stay: You'd be remiss if you didn't experience a ryokan, a traditional Japanese guesthouse with tatamis (woven straw flooring) as beds. Oshi Ryokan is a traditional inn managed by a family and is within walking distance to three historic shrines in the area, including the famous Togakushi Shrine.
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Photo: Courtesy Of Ramen Zunpachi.
Nagano, Japan (Continued)

Insider Tip: If you leave Japan without having ramen at least once, did you ever actually go? Ramen Zunpachi stands out from the other ramen joints in town, thanks to its silky pork bone and soy sauce broth — a family recipe passed down for generations.
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Photo: Getty Images.
Prague, Czech Republic

The winters in Prague can be quite brutal, but since the rainy season is over by then, the snow actually enhances the storybook vibe of the city. The annual outdoor Christmas market, which takes place in the Old Town Square, is a stunning place to shop festive crafts and people watch — while imbibing a cup of mulled wine, of course. To warm yourself up after spending all that time outdoors, the city boasts a vast collection of highly-Instagrammable historic cafes, the most impressive being The Municipal House Cafe and Cafe Salvia.
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Photo: Courtesy of Hotel Sax.
Prague, Czech Republic (Continued)

Where To Stay: Got a soft spot for retro design? Vintage Design Hotel Sax will catch your eye with its candy-colored furniture and playful approach. Designed by a team of local architects, the rooms are covered in wall stylings with funky, psychedelic prints. The hotel is also a stone's throw away from famous sights such as the Prague Castle and Charles Bridge.
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Photo: Getty Images.
Prague, Czech Republic (Continued)

Insider Tip: While Christmas is a special time to visit Prague, the city also puts on an amazing show to celebrate the end of winter: Party with the locals at the Carnevale Praha at the end of January, a street parade where crazy and creative costumes are mandatory.
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