Winter in the Northern Hemisphere can be a tough time for single women when activities are limited. Sometimes you want to splurge on yourself, and have a holiday free of the hustles that come with backpacking across the world. Single (or otherwise attached) women traveling alone can still make the best of the cold season. Winter time doesn’t have to be about endless hours of shoveling and mind numbingly boring indoor activities.
The abundance of snow signals unique opportunities for exploration and adventure unparalleled at any other time of year.
For women looking for adventure, winter sports such as downhill skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, snowmobiling and Nordic skiing offer more than enough excitement for even the hardcore adrenaline junkies. For the less adventurous at heart, who had rather sit back and soak in the sights and sounds there are plenty more activities to look out for.
Women however have to be especially careful when traveling alone. There are more risks involved, and therefore planning a trip abroad will require a lot of extra caution. You therefore want to get a destination that is popular with tourists, and more importantly, where a woman traveling alone won’t look out of place. All the destinations mentioned here fit these criteria, and offer the perfect getaway for anyone venturing out alone looking for an adventure packed holiday in the winter time. With that in mind, below is the top 5 winter destinations worth visiting for the solo female traveler.
1. South Beach, Miami
If your idea of a real vacation is a no-expense-spared excursion, then South Beach, Miami is the perfect winter time vacation. The Setai hotel in particular is a hideaway for top celebrities, counting Jay-Z, Bono and Leonardo DiCaprio as just some of the high profile guests that frequent the hotel. It is easy to see why this is such a hotspot for the who is who; as the hotel perfectly blends Art Deco chick (this is south beach after all) with Zen Asian aesthetics. There are ponds, an alfresco court yard and a lobby finished in Antique bricks imported straight from Shanghai.
The real treat at The Setai of course is the penthouse that features four bedrooms, that includes two large coral encased Jacuzzi tabs and a private infinity pool at the roof top.
2. Ottawa, Canada
Home to one of the largest winter festivals in the world, Ottawa’s Winterlude is an experience in itself. The festival features toboggan courses, outdoor concerts and intricate ice sculptures running from January 31 to February 17.
Another great time of year to visit is between December 5 and January 7 to experience the Christmas Lights Across Canada scheme. Some of the largest buildings and monuments in the city are draped with Christmas lights, a real sight to see at night time.
The fun doesn’t stop here as January to February marks the world largest natural ice rink. Commute in style on the 4.8 mile (7.8km) Rideau Canal Skateway that gets you through the very heart of downtown Ottawa in skates. The Arc Hotel is popular with tourist during this time of year, and with a fire in the lobby, is a real winter retreat. Guests at the hotel also get complimentary champagne. A visit here is not complete without trying traditional Canadian cuisine with a modern twist at Restaurant 18 conveniently located on York Street.
3. Paris, France
If there is a perfect time to visit France, it would be December-March. Paris simply doesn’t get any more Parisian than in the winter time. The city is easy to navigate at this time of year, and even more intimate without the crowds. You can wonder through the Louvre or enjoy a morning treat at the Le Bar du Marché with more than enough space to linger. The Christmas markets stay open through to January 6 including the Montmarte, Saint Germain des Prés and Champs-Elysées.
November to February marks the low season in Paris, so you should easily be able to book accommodation at the coveted Hotel Relais-Saint Germain. The great thing about this hotel is the rooms, which are all styled and named after various authors with a Parisian connection including Joyce, Hemingway, Balzac and Proust. Another great thing about the hotel is its proximity to the Louvre which is only a short walk away.
4. The Amalfi Coast, Italy
If you are not up to the idea of spending your winter in the freezing cold, then the Amalfi Coast in Italy is the perfect destination. Granted you won’t be able to spend your lazy days in your bikini by the pool, but temperatures here almost never go below 50 degrees. The Amalfi Coast overlooks the Tyrrhenian Sea, and features a stunning rocky green coastline that you won’t be able to get enough for. Apart from the scenic views here, Pompeii, which is just nearby, is a must-visit for a quick and fascinating history lesson. This destination is especially intimate in the winter time when it is quieter.
While here, you must also see the sunlight stream into the Blue Grotto by taking the hydrofoil to Capri. No trip to the South of Italy is complete without trying limoncello, which is an Italian lemon liqueur.
5. Lake Baikal, Siberia
Located in Siberia, Russia, Lake Baikal is the oldest still existing fresh water lake believed to be between 20 and 25 million years old. The Lake is also the world’s deepest. The best time to visit Lake Baikal is between February and March because this is when the ice is thickest, thus more opportunities for ice-related activities and tours. This is a real hotspot for adventure lovers with activities such as ice diving, fishing and rafting in sections of the lake that don’t freeze. Baikal turns into a mind boggling ice rink in midwinter spanning roughly 12,200 square miles. There are organized tours across the icy surface done by local outfitters and include dog-sled, snowmobile and jeep tours.
Being a world Heritage site, the accommodation here feature lodges and locally owned hostels and homestays. The Proshly Vek Cafe is a great place to dine, featuring the best in local Siberian cuisine. Local whitefish is in abundance here and can be had dried, smoked, fresh or in a creamy soup. Affectionately called the “sacred sea” by the locals, Lake Baikal really is a must visit destination for winter travelers.
Bonus Destination: Greek Isles
If a vacation in the snow and ice is not your idea of a good time, the Greek Isles offer a great escape. Visitors here are spoiled for choice, with 227 different possibilities. Santorini however is a great destination for couples, offering some of the most breathtaking sunsets you could ever hope to experience. For pristine beaches and beautiful weather, Mykonos and Crete are equally great options. The Greek nightlife is legendary, so there is something for the party animals on any of the islands on offer.
Before setting off for a vacation
Because of the nature of the activities and destinations mentioned here, it is important for a solo traveler, man or woman, to look after their personal well being. Any number of accidents or illnesses can occur during a trip abroad. All travelers are advised to sign up for travel insurance. Healthcare abroad can be extremely expensive especially since you would have to visit a private hospital to get the right kind of medical care. With an insurance plan, you won’t have to dig into your pockets to pay for treatment, and most of all, have to spend large amounts of money in case of injury. Your insurance cover should take care of your expenses so that you have a safe and worry-free vacation.
Alex Pejak is our Guest Blogger – Tropical and beach vacations have been overplayed. Winter vacations on the other hand offer a unique and fascinating experience like no other. There are plenty more destinations to visit in the world during winter time, but these 5 stand out as some of the best anyone can expect to find.