Some LGBTQ+ travelers like to keep things fresh and mix things up when deciding where to travel in the winter. Not all vacations need to take place on a warm and sunny beach. So, this short list of winter travel ideas was created for queer vacationers who chase thrills on the slopes, seek serene snowy landscapes, or enjoy a cozy stroll with that special person at festive markets. Explore these captivating cold-weather paradises around the world; each offering a mix of outdoor adventures, cultural vibes, and the pure magic of winter wonder.
Tucked in Austria’s mountainous region, Hallstatt is bursting with winter charm. This lakeside village, often hailed as one of Austria’s most picturesque, boasts pastel houses overlooking a shimmering lake embraced by majestic, green peaks. Resembling a real-life Frozen town, it’s a postcard-perfect destination. In the UNESCO-listed Salzkammergut region, Hallstatt offers a fairytale escape for winter enthusiasts. Explore the Hallstatt Skywalk for breathtaking town vistas and relish traditional Austrian warmth in cozy cafes. With three ski slopes and snow-covered hiking trails for snowshoeing, it’s a paradise for winter sports. Embrace smaller crowds and picture-perfect snow-covered roofs with a short one or two-day visit.
Whistler, British Columbia, Canada
Located in Western Canada’s British Columbia, Whistler is a vibrant winter paradise for LGBTQ+ travelers. This year-round destination transforms into an active haven during the winter months. Whether hurtling down slopes on skis or snowboards, venturing into back-country trails on snowshoes, or indulging in winter zip-lining, Whistler offers more than just skiing. It’s a multifaceted experience. With tubing, snowshoeing, and winter zipline adventures on the mountain and attractions like the bobsled center and the luxurious Scandinave Spa in town. As one of the world’s largest ski resorts, Whistler Blackcomb boasts over 8,000 skiable acres, catering to all ability levels. The glass-bottomed Peak 2 Peak Gondola is a can’t-miss and offers breathtaking views. Additionally, the annual Whistler Pride and Ski Festival in January hosts one of the largest queer ski gatherings globally, featuring a Pride parade on skis.
Winter in Lapland, Finland, is a truly magical, experience in a snow-covered wonderland. Beyond the breathtaking snowy landscapes and the captivating Northern Lights, Finland stands as one of the most LGBTQ+-friendly countries globally. Embrace the Arctic charm with reindeer sleigh rides, husky safaris, and encounters with Santa Claus. Enjoy snowmobiling, ice fishing, and cross-country skiing in this welcoming winter wonderland. Stay in glass-roofed igloos or cozy log cabins for an unforgettable, inclusive experience. Lapland’s enchanting winter beauty, combined with Finland’s LGBTQ-friendly atmosphere, makes for a perfect destination for those seeking an Arctic adventure. Be sure to check out Vacationer’s Queer Scandinavia Travel Guide for more travel planning ideas!
As one of the snowiest cities in the world, Nagano, Japan, is a must on this list. Renowned for hosting the 1998 Winter Olympics, Nagano averages just over 157 inches of snow annually, setting the stage for tons of snow-related activities. Whether skiing in top-notch resorts like Hakuba or encountering snow monkeys at Jigokudani Snow Monkey Park, it’s an exhilarating winter paradise. Delve into the serenity of Zenkoji Temple amidst snow-laden landscapes and unwind in traditional hot springs like Shibu Onsen.
Aspen, Colorado, United States
Aspen is the place for an unforgettable winter adventure and an exceptional welcome to LGBTQ+ travelers. The glitzy resort town hosts the renowned Aspen Gay Ski Week, the largest and longest-running gay ski event in the Western Hemisphere. Celebrating its 45th anniversary, this vibrant week-long festival boasts diverse events like drag bingo, costume competitions, and a cowboy rave—all supporting the non-profit AspenOUT’s advocacy. This wintry haven features four mountains of varied skiing and snowboarding terrains as well as extensive trails for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing in the Elk Mountains. Aspen’s snowy landscapes provide an ideal backdrop for an inclusive and thrilling winter getaway.
Fairbanks, Alaska, United States
Experience the breathtaking allure of winter, including the Northern Lights, in Alaska. As the state’s second-largest city, Fairbanks offers unique winter experiences like the Chena Hot Springs Resort, featuring the adults-only natural Hot Springs Rock Lake—a serene escape at 106 degrees. Embrace Alaska’s cultural Alaska with dog mushing, not just a sport but a way of life. Delve into the vast winter wonderland, made famous by the Iditarod and Yukon Quest, perfect for exploring Alaska’s picturesque backcountry. Fairbanks invites travelers to witness nature’s grandeur and find solace in its inviting winter landscapes. Click here for more vacation ideas to help you plan your winter vacation in Fairbanks!
Discover the mesmerizing wonders of Antarctica during its summer, from late November to mid-February, the peak season for vibrant wildlife encounters. This pristine continent offers surreal experiences amidst active seals, penguins, and breathtaking icy landscapes. Notably, the presence of a Pride flag at Port Lockroy, known as the Penguin Post Office, signifies openness in this remote locale. Embrace the extraordinary, encountering unique wildlife and surreal vistas. Antarctica is full of adventure in the rawest form, but a true love of snowy cold is required to fully enjoy it.
Embrace the cozy charm of the Italian Dolomites in winter, a snowy paradise. Get ready for skiing, snowboarding, and snowshoeing in stunning alpine landscapes. Don’t miss the epic Sellaronda Ski Tour, circling the Sella Massif for an adrenaline-pumping winter adventure. Join the fun at the Trentino Sùl Pan festival, savoring local flavors, or dive into the Dolomiti Superski Winter Carnival for alpine traditions and folklore. Feel the magic of the snow-capped peaks, indulge in winter sports, and soak up the laid-back vibes of cultural celebrations that make the Dolomites the perfect winter escape.