Forget the Beach—These Off-Season Winter Vacations Are So Much Better

Updated 04/19/19
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While some have visions of jetting off to a tropical destination in a bid to escape dropping winter temperatures, others are inclined to embrace the cold. In fact, Darshika Jones, director of North America for travel site Intrepid Travel, indicates that more and more people are looking to visit winter destinations to make the most of off-season prices and avoid crowds. "Without the crowds, travelers can spend time immersing in a culture, talking with local people, and marveling at surrounding sites," she tells MyDomaine.

Not only is traveling in the off-season beneficial to you as a traveler, but it's also the responsible thing to do, according to Jones, as it combats excess tourism and puts less stress on a country or region. Because peak travel times will vary depending on your destination, you may have to do some research to learn when exactly is the best time to go. Luckily, Intrepid Travel recently launched a range of winter itineraries specifically designed for alternative travel. Here are the seven off-season winter vacations Jones recommends for travelers unafraid to brave the cold. 


Cappadocia, Turkey
Daniela Cuevas/Unsplash

One of Intrepid Travel's fastest-growing destinations (it jumped 215% in 2018), Turkey is the perfect place to explore during the off-season this winter. See the snow-capped mountains of Cappadocia by hot air balloon, visit the Greco-Roman ruins, and enjoy all the country has to offer without those pesky crowds.

When to Go: November

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Tatra Mountains in Poland
Katarzyna Pe/Unsplash

Poland's Tatra Mountains are a great alternative to the more popular Alps during the wintertime. Truly a winter wonderland, there are plenty of opportunities for classic winter activities. You can go snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, or for a sleigh ride in the snow-covered nature whether you journey to Zakopane, Jasna, or Krakow.

When to Go: December to March

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The Middle East

Stacie Flinner

Commonly thought of as a summer destination, the Middle East makes for a fantastic off-season winter vacation destination. Brimming with ancient history, Israel and Palestine are ideal spots to visit over the holidays. Venture out to the Christmas markets and experience the holiday season like a local.

When to Go: December 

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Redd Angelo/Unsplash

With vast national parks and a myriad of winter-friendly activities, Canada deserves a place on your winter travel bucket list. The country's west coast is perfect for travelers looking to hike, skate, and site-see through beautiful winter landscapes all without excessive crowds.

When to Go: November to March

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Saint Basil's Cathedral

Coming off of an impressive World Cup run, Russia has seen a spike in tourism, according to Jones. Despite being known for its harsh winter weather, she recommends visiting the country in the off-season. Once there, you can spot reindeer and experience the best of the local culture and traditions (just be sure to make room for some serious winter coats in your suitcase).

When to Go: December to January

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Beijing, China
Stacie Flinner

If you're willing to brave the cold, China makes for a stunning winter getaway. You can explore the famous Harbin Ice Festival and see the Great Wall of China with the least amount of crowds all year—a truly rare and special site.

When to Go: November to March 

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Jaanus Jagomägi/Unsplash

Finland in the wintertime is about as cold as it gets, but if you're ready to take on the weather, you'll be treated to an arctic escape. Picture snowy mountain peaks and white woodlands with unbeatable sunsets.

When to Go: November to March

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