The snow lay round about, deep and crisp and even, brightly shone the moon that night, though the frost was cruel – definitely the key ingredients for any of the gorgeous winter wonderlands around the world. Traveling to work through greying slush or slipping on black ice is certainly no fun, but when it comes time for vacations or scenic photography opportunities, winter wonderlands become something magical. But where do you go for the best oh and ah moments?
1. Neuschwanstein Castle, Germany
This gorgeous fairytale castle (said to be the inspiration for Disney) in Bavaria is a gloriously romantic sight at any time of the year, but when it is blanketed in glistening snow, it is one of the most magnificent winter wonderlands our world can boast of. It’s picture postcard perfect.
2. Golden Temple, Kyoto
Some of the most beautiful scenic photographs are of Japan and Japanese Temples – especially when the cherry blossom is in full bloom. These places also become beautiful in their winter coats – sometimes, if you’re lucky, you get the double whammy of cherry blossom and snow! The Golden Temple in Kyoto is a sight, anytime.
3. Blue Lagoon, Iceland
There’s something very special about the juxtaposition of fire and ice and hot and cold, and it’s rarely typified so well as Iceland’s Blue Lagoon. You could say that the whole of Iceland becomes one of the world’s best winter wonderlands but the Blue Lagoon is exceptional. People flock to the spa for the healing properties of the geothermic waters, while photographers are happy to spend hours perfecting the best shots of the frozen landscape and the oh so blue lagoon.
4. The Dolomites, Italy
When it comes to snow-clad Italian mountains we generally think of the Alps. The Dolomites is a mountain range that doesn’t seem to get mentioned as much, even though some of Italy’s best winter sports resorts are in The Dolomites. Part of the most southern Alps, The Dolomites are distinctively craggy compared to other alpine regions, with pointed rocky outcrops and peaks and ridges, and have less tree coverage than other alpine cousins. It doesn’t make them any less beautiful when dressed in their winter overcoat though.
5. Lake Louise, Canada
Very few countries can probably boast the wealth of stunning winter wonderlands as Canada. I could choose cities like Montreal or Quebec or Vancouver, but it is the rural areas and the mountains where winter really does itself proud. I think there’s something endlessly intriguing about a lake that can be clear blue in summer and turns to a sheet of ice in winter, and that’s why I’d love to visit Lake Louise. Sitting in a basin surrounded by the towering Rockies, it’s a sight for all.
6. Ekerö Island, Sweden
Could you ever get bored at looking at snowy scenes? I don’t, and certainly not when they are as pretty as those of Ekero, a small island off the Swedish coast, opposite the capital, Stockholm. (Incidentally, it is home to Agnetha Fältskog of ABBA fame.) Sweden knows how to do snow, and does it seriously. The island and those surrounding it are sparsely populated and nature is allowed to revel in its beauty, whatever the season.
7. Mount Hutt, New Zealand
Northern Hemisphere dwellers often don’t associate our Antipodean cousins experiencing extreme wintry conditions, but both Australia and New Zealand have mountainous areas where the scenery turns from picturesque alpine in summer to winter wonderlands – it just happens at the opposite time of year. Both countries also have plenty of locations for winter sports to rival the best elsewhere in the world. What I love however is how, like in the picture above, a mountain can be snow covered after a fresh fall, yet sit in a grassy plain.
Ok, so I’ll admit that this was a rather indulgent piece to share my love of snowy scenes, but I also hope that they have inspired you and maybe given you some ideas of where to visit if you, like me, love winter wonderlands?