7 Ideal Winter Holiday Destinations in India
In India, winters mark the beginning of quiet misty mornings, light haze and crispy nights, when all you want to do is cuddle in your blanket with a good book.
However, winter months are also a great time to travel across the country, especially those areas that cannot be visited during sweltering summers.
From snow capped mountains in Gulmarg to golden sand dunes in Jaisalmer to the fragrant tea gardens in Munnar, there are many places you can visit in India during winters once you adorn several layers of clothes.
From the breathtaking Himalayas, frozen lakes, skiing expeditions, panoramic views and winter festivals in the North to beautiful golden beaches, mesmerizing waterfalls and lush greenery in the South, India is filled with places one van visit during chilly winters.
Here are the most popular winter destinations in the country:
A perfect blend of colors, tradition, culture, royalty and history, Rajasthan is very popular among tourists, especially foreigners, as a winter holiday destination. During winters, Rajasthan experiences extreme weather change, which is considered very pleasant among tourists.
There is something magical about the culture and tradition of the maharajas in Rajasthan, which can be seen from the numerous majestic forts, dazzling palaces, traditional folk songs and puppet shows in the state.
The capital city of Jaipur
is probably one of the most visited cities in Rajasthan, especially during winters. Udaipur, Jaisalmer, Ranthambore, Jodhpur and Bikaner
are other popular places to visit in the state.
Mount Abu is the only hill station in Rajasthan, which is very popular among honeymooners, who prefer solitude. For pilgrims, Pushkar and Ajmer prove to be a perfect place to escape from reality.
If you love discovering the heritage and royalty of Rajasthan, then do visit cities like Bikaner and Bundi.
The royal palace of Maharaja’s of Yore in Bikaner – Gajner Palace is a must visit in Rajasthan. A part of the eccentric Thar desert, Jodhpur (a paradise for architect lovers) and Jaisalmer (famous for dessert camping and camel rides) are two cities that are known for providing a magical experience to its visitors.
Make sure you do not miss out the experience of staying in one of the gorgeous heritage hotels of Rajasthan. Some popular ones include Umaid Bhawan Palace
(Jodhpur), Taj Lake Palace
(Udaipur), Laxmi Vilas Palace (Bikaner), Samode Palace
(Jaipur) and Sariska Palace (Alwar).
When we think about where to visit this winter, the first place that comes into everybody’s mind is Goa. It is the ultimate beach and party capital of India. While there is no best time to visit this small state, winters are the time when Goa is filled with tourists.
Its vibrant festivals, golden beaches, exciting water sports, eclectic cuisine, energetic nightlife and Portuguese culture
, make it one of the most ideal winter holiday destinations in India.
With the onset of winters, this place becomes alive and vibrant with exciting music festivals, unique beach parties and some seriously crazy throng of tourists.
The atmosphere around here is highly energetic, especially around Christmas and New Years. For party lovers, Goa is the ultimate place to be this winter. Do not miss the electrifying Sunburn Festival
, held in Goa every year during this time.
For families too there is a lot to do in Goa during the winter season. From beaches, spectacular waterfalls, majestic forts, exciting wildlife to World Heritage churches, temples, mosques and relaxing river cruises, one can never get bored over here.
For honeymooners and tourists who want to spend time away from the crowd, they can visit South Goa. Not as lively as North Goa, South Goa is known for its pristine beaches, luxury hotels and a noise-free environment, perfect for those who want to stay away from the hustle bustle.
Since winters are the peak season in Goa, many hotels and flights fill up in advance and get sold out, especially during the months of December and January. Therefore, if you are planning a trip during this time, it is best to book accommodation
and transport months in advance to avoid any inconvenience.
It is when the rains depart that one can truly view the splendid beauty of Kerala. The Western Ghats and the serene backwaters or lagoons over here add quite a unique charm to this enchanting place.
Kerala has something for everyone, beautiful hill stations for nature enthusiasts, golden beaches for ocean lovers, exotic wildlife for animal lovers, serene backwaters for leisure seekers and relaxing Ayurveda massages and yoga for rejuvenation of body, mind and soul.
Visitors can customize their holiday in Kerala depending upon their preferences without compromising on anything.
For tourists who want to spend their days relaxing under the sun with the ocean splashing next to them, they can visit Kovalam. For visitors, who want to take quiet boat rides on the serene backwaters of Kerala, they can visit Vembanad, Alapuzza and Thekaddy.
For wildlife enthusiasts, there is the Periyar Tiger Reserve
, Kumarakom Bird Sanctuary
and Silent Valley National Park, known for having a large number of Lion-Tailed macaque. Nature lovers can visit Wayanad, located between Kannur
and Kozhikode districts
in Kerala. It is known for its emerald landscapes along with magnificent archeological sites, tea gardens and dense forests.
Andaman is completely the opposite of Goa during winters. While Goa is vibrant with an electric atmosphere, Andaman is secluded and perfect for those who want to spend some quiet time with their loved ones.
The serene and peaceful environment over here is what attracts majority of the tourists, especially those who are looking for relaxation while being surrounded by mother nature.
Bordered by tropical forests and covered with swaying coconut palm trees, Andaman Islands offer miles and miles of crescent shaped pristine beaches to its visitors. Winter months are also the best months to enjoy and explore the exotic marine life, found over here.
For those who love water sports, Andaman Islands are the best place to visit during winters. From scuba diving and snorkeling to swimming with elephants on Havelock Island, Andaman has it all. Moreover, there are many luxury and budget hotels, which offer the true Andaman experience to the visitors.
Andaman Islands have some of the most pristine beaches in the country. Furthermore, the tropical climate over here makes it one of the most ideal places to visit, especially if you want to escape the chilly winters up north.
Himachal Pradesh – Shimla, Manali, Dharamshala and Mcleodganj
Shimla and Manali are probably the most popular hill stations in Himachal Pradesh. They are known for their proximity to bigger cities and a wide variety of entertainment options. Both receive high amounts of rainfall during mid December and are covered with a white blanket of snow, making them a popular winter destination in India.
While Manali is more famous for its skiing expeditions, pine trees, river Beas, trekking, mountaineering and other adventure sports and a stunning view of the Himalayas, Shimla is more commercialized with its numerous beautiful tourist spots, Mall Road
for shopping and small cafes with delicious food. However, both are easily accessible from Delhi and Chandigarh and equally enchanting and mesmerizing.
If you are looking for a quiet winter vacation then Dharamsala and Mcleodganj are the places for you. Situated in the Dauladhar Range, Dharamsala is also known as the hometown of Dalai Lama.
On the other hand, Mcleodganj is located just a few kilometers higher than Dharamshala and is a completely different experience.
Strongly influenced by Tibetan and Buddhist culture, these two sister hill stations are a must visit during winters. They are very popular among foreigners for both vacation and volunteering.
As soon as you enter McLeodganj, you will feel a complete change in the environment. The crowd, weather, ambience and culture is very different than those at other hill stations in Himachal Pradesh.
Surrounded by snow-capped mountains, peaceful monasteries, serene lakes and challenging trekking trails, Dharamshala and McLeodganj are two of the few places in India that have not yet been touched by commercialization.
Tourists can stay at Dharamkot or Naddi for more proximity to nature. Alternatively, one can even trek to Triund from Dharamshala for an overnight camp and catch the breathtaking view of sunrise in Himachal Pradesh. It will truly be a memorable experience.
Uttarakhand – Auli, Mussoorie, Binsar and Nainital
This winter if you are more interested in elephant rides, jungle safaris and tiger spotting then Uttarakhand is the place for you. Home to the oldest national park – Jim Corbett National Park
Uttarakhand is a land filled with temples, lakes, rivers and beautiful landscapes. While summers are also a good time to visit this state, winters offer a completely different experience to its visitors.
Like all other hill stations in India, Mussoorie, Nainital and Auli receive high amounts of snowfall during winter months. Located just one hour from Dehradun, Mussoorie is very popular among tourists as a winter destination.
Covered in a thick blanket of snow during the month of December, Mussoorie offers dazzling views of snow-covered Himalayas and Doon Valley.
From October to January, an interesting phenomenon called ‘The Winter Line’ occurs over here, where each sunset is accompanied with multitude shades of red, orange, purple and yellow. The only other place on Earth where this phenomenon occurs is Switzerland.
If you are looking for an exciting skiing holiday, then one of the best places to ski in Uttarakhand is Auli. It has some of the best slopes – for both amateurs and skilled skiers, with excellent skiing facilities.
The breathtaking views of taller Himalayan peaks such as Kamet, Nanda Devi and Mana Parvat, heavy snowfall, enchanting temples and relaxing hot springs in Auli will make it one of your most memorable vacations.
Gulmarg and Sonamarg, Jammu & KashmirIf you love heavy snowfalls, hot chocolate and bonfires, Gulmarg is probably one of the best winter destinations for you. Located about 56 kilometers from Srinagar, Gulmarg receives some of the heaviest snowfalls in the Himalayan range.
That is why it is named as the best ski resort in the country with great facilities including Asia’s highest cable car called Gulmarg Gondola. It provides an excellent ski experience to both beginners and experience skiers.
However, if you are not into skiing, then do not worry, Gulmarg has much more to offer. From captivating tourist spots such as Gulmarg Biosphere Reserves, Baba Reshi shrine and frozen Alpine lake of Alpather to the highest golf course in the world, Gulmarg is indeed a perfect winter destination in India.
Gulmarg also has a variety of accommodation options for its tourists including state owned cottages and huts along with many midrange and luxury hotels. Other popular places one can visit during winters in Kashmir are Pahalgam, Srinagar and Sonamarg.
Other popular winter destinations are Great Rann of Kutch, Gujarat, Shillong, Meghalaya, Kohima, Nagaland, Orchha, Madhya Pradesh