Charming Villages in Austria for a Cozy Winter Vacation

A charming village in Austria.

Austria is known for its idyllic landscapes, beautiful architecture, and enchanting Christmas markets. In addition, this beautiful country is also a haven for those who like to practice winter sports in Europe. Massive snowfalls, however, transform practically all Austrian villages into fairytale settings right out of the movie Frozen from November to March. Unfortunately, most tourists visit only popular cities like Vienna, Salzburg, or Innsbruck. For this reason, we have prepared an article about those charming villages in Austria where you can go for a cozy winter vacation whether you want to practice winter sports or not. By visiting these villages, you will discover the authentic Austrian spirit and realize just how beautiful this country truly is. So let us proceed in our journey to discover the charming villages that you have to visit when in Austria.

Hallstatt

This tiny village, found on the shores of the lake with the same name, is one of the most beautiful villages in Austria. The Salzkammergut mountains surround Hallstatt and give it a picturesque view that you would never believe to be true. Moreover, this village is so unique and valuable that it became a UNESCO World Heritage site. Over 2000 prehistoric graves were found near Hallstatt village, suggesting that this area might be the cradle of Austrian civilization. In addition, the many 16th century buildings around the local market square will make you take an architectural trip back in time. However, besides admiring the beautiful surroundings, you can also have some fun. For instance, you can go hiking, cycling, or cruising on the lake. And, you can have a taste of the famous Austrian pastry, Schaumrollen.

Picture of the village of Hallstatt.
Hallstatt is one of the most charming villages in Austria for a cozy winter vacation.

St. Gilgen

If you want to visit one of the most charming villages in Austria for a cozy winter vacation, you should visit St. Gilgen. This village, located 20 minutes from Salzburg, is bordered by Wolfgangsee Lake and the Zwölferhorn mountain. And, even if this village is small, there are lots of attractions to be seen here. For example, “The Sound of Music” was filmed here, so you can visit some places that appear in the film. In addition, you can take a cable cart ride to the top of the Zwölferhorn mountain or visit the Mozart house. The Mozart house is not, as one might imagine, where Mozart resided, but rather where his mother was born. Nonetheless, the Mozart house is worth a visit, as is a Wolfgangsee Lake cruise or experiencing the local food. The famous Austrian spaetzle noodles are a must when you come to St. Gilgen.

Mayrhofen

Mayrhofen is another pretty village that is close to a big city. It is located in the Zillertal Valley, just around one hour away from Innsbruck by car or train. The village becomes a ski resort during the winter, but the good part is that it is not very popular among tourists. So, if you like to practice skiing, you can do so here and avoid the crowds. In addition, you can take the cable car to the top of the mountain Ahornbahn and see the Ahorn Lake that sits at 2000m. Also, you can swim in an outdoor swimming pool or take a steam train ride to nearby Zell am Ziller, where you can slide down the alpine toboggan Arena Coaster. Or, you can explore the valley further and visit Hintertux Glacier. There, you can explore an incredible ice cave known as the Ice Palace, or you can ski some more at the local resort where skiing is possible all year round.

Sunset over a mountain in Austria.
The mountain villages in Austria offer breathtaking views.

Durnstein

This village of Lower Austria is said to be the jewel of the Wachau Valley. Durnstein is a historical village alongside the Danube river that will enchant you with its beautiful architecture. For example, the Blue Baroque tower of Durnstein Abbey. This abbey is a former Augustine monastery from the 15th-century, restored in the 18th-century in the Baroque style. In addition, you can also visit the ruins of a 10th-century castle where Richard Lionheart was imprisoned. And, if you decide to visit this beautiful Austrian village, you don’t need to pack a lot of items with you. In the narrow, cobblestoned streets, there are many modern stores where you can get anything you need. As a result, it is best to keep your valuables at home and ensure their safety by renting a storage space for them. It will help you travel lighter and more comfortably

St. Wolfgang

St. Wolfgang is another of the charming villages in Austria that you can visit for a cozy winter vacation. You can find this typical Austrian village on the banks of lake Wolfganesse, surrounded by breathtaking mountains. It has beautiful streets, flower-decorated buildings, and a magnificent 14th-century church that adds to the picturesque setting. This church is famous for being the site of a former church built in 976 by Saint Wolfgang, Bishop of Regensburg. Also, the church serves as a destination for a pilgrimage that takes place every year from St. Wolfgang’s grave. Besides viewing historic buildings in the village, you can go on a train ride. The Schafbergbahn train will take you up the mountain for more than 1700 meters, from where you can admire the beautiful view of the village. Or, you can take a boat ride along the Wolfgangsee and admire the village from the lake.

Church tower and lake in St. Wolfgang, Austria.
The charming villages in Austria are just as beautiful in summer as they are during winter.

Final words

Austria is more than simply the birthplace of the Viennese waltz and the home of the famed Habsburg emperors. It is one of the most beautiful countries in the world that becomes more and more beautiful when you take the time to explore it. And, the best way to get to the true heart and soul of Austria is to visit its little villages. There, you can meet friendly locals, taste delicious Austrian cuisine, and learn about the country’s history. Austria is an ideal winter holiday destination, whether you want to explore it on your own or have a memorable family trip. So make sure to visit the charming villages in Austria for a cozy winter vacation.

Reasons to visit New York over the holidays

Christmas in New York

‘New York’, you shout in disbelief. ‘I can go to New York any other time!’ Yes, that is true. New York City is not a mysterious, exclusive, or exotic place. However, let us tell you something – New York rarely looks better than it does during the holiday season. The Rockefeller Center glimmers and glitters, departments stores decorate their windows with ornaments worth traveling for, the streets are full of holiday lights, sights, sounds, etc. And, if you are lucky, it may even snow – and snow is something that makes Central Park mesmerizing and almost magical. But, if you are not persuaded yet, that is, if you are still looking for reasons to visit New York over the holidays, keep on reading. We prepared a list of reasons that will bring you to the Big Apple in November and December.

The Big Christmas Tree at Rockefeller Center

Okay, the Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center, a Norway spruce, is an all-American staple. This tree is what you have been seeing on New York City postcards for decades. Every year, right before the holiday season starts, a very large tree (standing just a little over 70-ft high) is brought into the plaza and decorated with the most beautiful lights and ornaments. Moreover, the tree is positioned right next to the enormous ice rink where you can skate, drink hot chocolate or mulled wine, and enjoy the most beautiful Christmas sights. You can pretend to be in one of those classic American movies. So, do not question whether now is the best time to visit New York – it is! Christmas vibes will make you fall in love with the city as soon as you step your foot on its streets.

The ice-skating rink in New York
One reason to visit New York over the holidays is that it will bring out your inner child

Christmas Displays in Manhattan

People usually associate Manhattan with either hard work or with excessive luxury. Yes, you can find both here. But, that is not all you can see, so do not avoid checking out this New York City’s borough, especially now, during the holiday season. In Manhattan, you will find decorated department stores that do not resemble anything you have seen before. Bloomingdale’s, Barneys, Macy’s, Saks, etc., all look like separate cities. It is as though they compete every year to see who is going to be more Christmas-looking. And, the smaller stores, both those high-end and more affordable ones, do not disappoint either. You will want to walk inside just to see the decorations. Do that! That is why those decorations are there. We strongly advise you to check out some of the toy stores in Manhattan, too – that is where you will awaken your inner child.

NYC Entertainment

Most people who come to New York come to hustle. They come to see whether this city will make or break them. But, during the holiday season, from Halloween in October till Chinese New Year in February, people come for entertainment. It does not matter what kind of entertainment you are looking for, you will find it here. Broadway shows, concerts, sporting events, etc., are just some of the things you can do here.

What is more, you will not have to spend much. It will take you just a couple of bucks to go ice skating at Rockefeller Center, to drink hot chocolate in the State Park, or to go stargazing on the High Line. Of course, if your pockets are deeper, there are plenty of options for that too!

Thus, do not worry about not being entertained in New York during the holiday season – that is simply not possible. It is not possible in any season here, to be honest. After all, New York did get the nickname “The city that never sleeps” for a reason. Trust us; once you come here, you will want to move here. Some people do – and that is why we have soo many people from different backgrounds here. If you want to move too, do it. You do not need much – just a room and a storage unit for your stuff. Consider temporary solutions for your items as you will be on the go all the time and try to soak up everything this city has to offer. 

Decorations, representing reasons to visit New York over the holidays.
There is not a city in the world that can treat you as well as New York.

Seasonal Food is a Reason to Visit New York Over the Holidays

When we say that New York is home to some of the most exceptional 5-star restaurants in the world, we mean it. You can find some of the best chefs and some of their best creations right here in the center of New York. But, be warned, some of these restaurants will cost you an arm and a leg. However, do not think that you have to break your budget to eat here. You can find some of the best food on the streets of New York! From Italian and French to Indian and Moroccan – delicacies will be all around you. And, all those delicacies will come with their own holiday spirit. You will see donuts with Christmas lights made of chocolate or even hotdogs wrapped in Christmas paper. But, let us give you a tip that will ensure safe travel – always eat where the crowd eats. There is a reason why empty stalls are empty!

A hotdog.
When in New York – eat where locals eat.

Amazing Lighting Displays all over New York

It is during the holiday season when New York starts to resemble a fairy tale. Those people who grew up watching Home Alone and other Christmas classics know what we are talking about. In December and January, every corner of New York will be decorated with lights – stores, trees, bushes, etc. People’s (local’s) houses will also be in full-Christmas spirit. Santa clauses, raindeers, and giant Christmas trees can be seen in almost all front yards. Just walking through the streets, main and those a bit off the beaten track, will give you the impression like you are in some kind of Santa’s village. New York City does this with every holiday! For instance, October is great for those Halloween Lovers, while November is one of the best months to visit New York if you enjoy Thanksgiving and all the parades. 

See, there are many reasons to visit New York over the holidays. It will undoubtedly give you a one-of-a-kind experience.

An Insider’s Guide to Canada

Riding on a boat on a lake in Canada

Canada is a big country, and you will find a ton of information on it in blogs and articles, but sometimes you need a quick rundown to give you a rough idea of where to go and what to do. That’s the intention of this Insider’s guide to Canada. Since the summer is fast approaching and folks are starting to make their vacation plans, an insider’s guide can give you a reliable overview of the highlights to help your planning along. Here goes:

Niagara Falls

Most people have heard of Niagara Falls; they are regularly classed as one of the seven natural wonders of the world. And sometimes they are included in the official eight wonders of the world. That’s not surprising; they are the largest waterfalls in North America.

If you decide to visit this iconic natural wonder, fly into Toronto and take the 90 minute drive down the highway. Watch this wonder before you, or get closer with a Maid of the Mist boat tour. In addition to the falls, there’s lots to see and do in the Niagara Falls area.

Whistler Mountain

Canada is known for its Rocky Mountains, and no wonder, with such a special landscape spanning much of Western Canada. But perhaps, one of the most famous mountains is Whistler. Whistler Mountain is located 125km north of Vancouver and is well known for its winter skiing and outdoor activities.

But Whistler Mountain has much to offer in the summer months as well. The mountain is 2,182 meters high, and there is almost always snow at the higher elevations, even in the summer sun. You don’t have to hike the whole way to have an incredible experience; just do what feels comfortable.

Quebec City

Quebec City is the capital of French-speaking Canada. It was established in 1608, making it one of the oldest cities in Canada and North America. The original Old Quebec City is a walled city and is home to some amazing historical architecture.

If you decide to travel here this summer with your partner or your family, you are in for a magical experience. The city offers a wealth of culture and cuisine you won’t find anywhere else. Quebec City makes for a great short vacation in summer or winter. If you are visiting Canada, this is what happens after an eta application.

St. John’s

If historical cities are your thing, then take a visit to St. John’s in the northeast. St. John’s pre-dates Quebec City by around 100 years. It was established in 1497. It doesn’t have the same medieval feel as Quebec City; in fact, as a coastal city it has a distinct Maritime feel.

St. John’s is known as the San Francisco of the north because of its pastel-colored houses and artistic sensibility, but it has more to offer besides. Off the coast of St. John’s, there are Atlantic waters perfect for whale-watching, and you can take a trip to see icebergs as well.

Tofino

People don’t always realize how much Canada has to offer. It has the Rockies, of course, the wildlife, the cities, and the great lakes, but it also has something more exotic – an island paradise. Yes indeed.

Where is this island paradise then, you ask? The answer is Tofino on Vancouver Island off the west coast. Tofino is primarily a beach location that looks onto the pacific. It offers some incredible sunsets, excellent surfing, and much more besides.

Looking over the water in Tofino, British Columbia

Churchill

Canada is home to many famous places and landmarks that you could spend a lifetime visiting and getting value from, but it’s also how to some lesser-known places that can offer big wins in terms of value-adding, life-enhancing experiences.

Churchill is one of those places. It sounds a bit stuffy, like the top-hat wearing Prime Minister from the 1940s, but it’s way more interesting than that. This is polar bear country, and if you visit, there will definitely be a chance to see one of these towering giants – eat your heart out Churchill.

Old Montreal

If you love Quebec City, then you will also love Old Montreal. It dates back to around the same time as Quebec City, established in 1642. And like Quebec City, it can be found in the heart of the city. Montreal is a very culture rich and authentic place to visit.

Travel to Montreal if you want a continental experience within the Canadian borders. You will find plenty of historic buildings, nightlife, and seasonal events to keep you and your family entertained. There’s lots to see and do in Montreal. This is the cosmopolitan Canada that will appeal to everyone.

Banff National Park

Banff National Park is a gateway to the Rockies and perfect if you have all the gear but lack some experience of hiking. Banff National Park is located around some natural hot springs and gives you the best of both worlds.

Spend some time hiking in the surrounding wilderness, following the well-trodden paths to low summits where you get the best view of the landscape. Absorb it all, then return to the springs for a well-earned relaxer.

Stanley Park

Stanley Park in Vancouver is a bit like Central Park in New York. It’s an extensive city park that is in all seasons and is famous for all the right reasons. Stanley Park is where many of the romantic fall walks in TV shows and the movies are filmed, even ones set in NYC.

Stanley Park is a big place, and there are tons of things to keep you occupied and entertained. You can spend all day at the park and take a leisurely walk, going hiking, lay on the beach, visit native totem poles, and drop by the lively aquarium.

Okanagan Valley

If you’re in Western Canada, and you’re in Vancouver, then you are a short flight or 4-hour drive to the Okanagan. Take full advantage of this and head northeast to the Okanagan Valley. Here you will find the Okanagan Lake and plenty of sunshine and native wine.

Okanagan Valley has it all. Food highlights include chef prepared outdoor farm to table dining experiences for small groups. The lake is clear and sparkling, the sunshine is pretty much continuous, and you can visit many orchards and vineyards.

The mountains of British Columbia