Prague is at its best in the winter. The snow falling on the 13th-century buildings is as photogenic as it gets, and the Christmas markets in Old Town Square and Wenceslas Square are unreal. At the markets, try the traditional Christmas dish of Český kapr (fried carp); svařák, the Czech take on mulled wine; and becherovka, a herbal liqueur that tastes amazing mixed with coffee. And since you’re in the place for beer, head to Zlý Časy bar where you’ll find a brilliant selection of local craft brews. n
New York City in the winter doesn’t just mean ice-skating under the tree at the Rockefeller Center; it also means Winter Jazzfest, Brooklyn Flea + Smorgasburg, seeing a Knicks game, and taking a dip in the Atlantic with the Coney Island Polar Bear Club. You game?n
Tivoli Gardens, Copenhagen’s 19th-century fairground in the heart of the city, couldn’t be more charming in the winter. But to really experience the city, you need to try the smørrebrød at Schønnemann—it’s one of the oldest and most venerable restaurants in the city—or head to the alternative Christmas market in the self-proclaimed autonomous neighborhood of Christiania. When you’re ready for a hot glass of mulled wine, check out Hviids Vinstue tavern. nn
(The acclaimed Copenhagen restaurant Noma closes and relocates to Sydney for five months at the start of 2016, so get in there quick.) n
The city of Bergen hosts a ton of free events during the holiday season, including the Lysfest Bergen light festival. Less than two hours from the city, there are epic slopes worth skiing at Voss Resort. Closer to town, Mount Fløyen is where the locals go sledding.
7. Reykjavík, Iceland
The days may be dark during the winter in Reykjavík, but that just means more opportunities to see the aurora borealis. The city has a special Advent calendar during December with different events each day, and in February, the Icelandic capital hosts the Winter Lights Festival and the Food and Fun Festival.
8. Chicago, USA
Chicago is pretty cold during the winter months (the winds of Lake Michigan really have a kick to them), but the city still knows how to give good game. We’re talking Donut Fest, the Chicago Sketch Comedy Festival, BrewLights (a combination of tasting seasonal beers and walking around Lincoln Park Zoo while it’s all decorated for the holidays), and there’s Winter WonderFest, complete with a 15-foot snow-tubing hill.
9. Quebec City, Canada
Quebec Cityn really brings its A game during winter. There’s Le Carnaval de Québec, which can get pretty wild (picture a bikini snow-bath event), and Red Bull Crashed Ice—an extreme ice-skating competition that takes place along the steepest streets in the city. You can escape from town and spend the night at Hôtel de Glace, a hotel made entirely of ice, where the bar’s temperatures hover around -5°C. Follow that with snowmobiling, dogsledding, or a hot outdoor bath. Back in the city, you can go ice-skating for free at Place D’Youville or on the Plains of Abraham, and then go on a food tour in St. Roch. n
10. Vienna, Austria
The classic winter experience in Vienna is its Christmas markets, but there’s also a month’s worth of musical events during December. Discover the Viennese folk music scene at local venues like Tanzcafe Jenseits, Konzertcafé Schmid Hansl, and Palais Kabelwerk. Visit the alternative market at the MuseumsQuartier Wien, where installations include live street art, remote-control car races, curling competitions, and light projections. But to really understand the city, join in the Vienna Coffeehouse Conversations where you get to dine with locals. n
11. Tokyo, Japan
Start off your trip in Tokyo with a tuna auction at 5 a.m. at Tsukiji Market: Bid for your fish, then have it for breakfast. Afterward, visit the massive Imperial Palace East Gardens—surrounded by moats and stone walls, it’s even more beautiful covered in snow. To warm up, go to a public bathhouse (called a sento). If it’s raining, maybe head to a pachinko parlor. Pachinkos are a cross between an arcade game and a slot machine. The aim of the game is to catch as many balls from the machine as possible. Simple!
Author Alice Latham’s love for travel stems from an international background that led her to Mexico. She is a blogger and freelance writer specializing in all things Mexican with a real love for street food. Alice is the founder of Soy Poblana, a Puebla-based blog that aims to increase awareness of a city and state that is often overlooked by people wishing to visit Mexico.
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