Mulled wine, blazing fires and cozy inns – the chilly season definitely has its merits. And there’s no better time to cuddle up than when you’re walking in these winter wonderlands on your honeymoon. Stay close to home or venture further afield – there’s a world of icy destinations that will make an unforgettably enchanting backdrop to the most romantic escape of your lives.
Quebec City, Canada
With its cobblestone lanes, lamp-lit cafés, rich history and intriguing architecture, Quebec City has always been a magnet for lovers. But during its coldest months, the bustling Canadian city becomes even more alluring. The metropolis is entirely French, from the language right through to the cuisine, and as one would expect, it oozes l’amour.
Fortress walls surround the oldest part of the city, and this is where newlyweds will find winter romance to rival Quebec’s French counterpart, Paris. Narrow stairways weave through the old town’s 18th-century stone walls, allowing access to the cliff-side ramparts and magnificent views of the twinkling city lights.
Carrying a blanket and a bottle of red, board a horse-drawn carriage and cosy up as you take in the sights while listening to the clip-clop of hooves.
A must-see spot is Le Château Frontenac. Book a night in one of its lavishly decorated rooms, or perhaps enjoy a nightcap in its splendid piano bar. Directly below the hotel is the Terrasse Dufferin boardwalk – stroll arm in arm along this historic walkway, which affords pedestrians stunning views of the St Lawrence River.
A charming way to while away an afternoon is a visit to the open-air alley Rue du Trésor, where the city’s artists gather to sell their work. Later, choose one of the many quality restaurants in which to share a romantic dinner à deux or opt for a night on the town at the Grande Allée – the Champs Élysées of the city. The street is packed with great bars and eateries.
This densely populated destination is ideal for those who love the buzz of a big city and all its temptations.
Chill factor: Temperatures can fall as low as -25ºC.
Something to warm your heart: Share a bottle of the best French red at Le Château Frontenac.
Sapporo is the largest city on Hokkaido, the northernmost island of Japan. The metropolis made its name as a winter getaway after hosting the 1972 Winter Olympics, and since then thousands have flocked here during the chilly season to enjoy the renowned Sapporo Snow Festival.
The seven-day extravaganza held annually in February sees one of the city’s parks filled with elaborate snow and ice sculptures. Visit these at night and meander through the sparkling creations that draw snow-sculpting teams from as far as afield as India and Hawaii.
Undoubtedly your hubby will love you even more if you make time to visit Sapporo Brewery. Beer brewing is celebrated in this city, which is among the sites producing the oldest and most popular beer brand in the country, Sapporo. And don’t forget to nibble on the brewery’s famous white chocolate biscuits, called shiroi koibito (lovers in white). A trip to Sapporo isn’t complete without partaking in the Japanese pastime of bathing in hot pools (onsen). In a beautiful gorge southwest of the city is Jozankei Onsen. You’ll find your bliss soaking in the therapeutic waters of the hot spring while gazing down to the forested valley below. It’s traditional for men and women to bathe separately, so we recommend that you ask for the kashikiri (private) bath. Skiers will be happy to hear that just three hours drive from Sapporo is one of Japan’s top five ski resorts, Niseko, which boasts some of the best powder in the world, fantastic tree runs and exhilarating back-country skiing.
Visiting Japan is a cultural buzz, so this trip is a little more exciting than relaxing.
Chill factor: Temperatures reach an average low of -7°C.
Something to warm your heart: Indulge in some warm sake after a long soak in the hot spring.
Hanmer Springs, New Zealand
A couple of hours from Christchurch, you’ll find the tranquil mountain getaway of Hanmer Springs. Blanketed in snow during the winter months, the beautiful town is renowned for its thermal pools. In the past, local Maori used the area as a rest stop on their journeys to collect greenstone from the West Coast, and the springs have since helped weary travellers soak away their aches and pains for more than 100 years.
Don’t let a snowfall keep you from donning your bikini and boardies to appreciate this alpine spa. The feel of gently falling snowflakes on your skin while you’re soaking in healing hot water is marvellous. There are plenty of scenic walks that newlyweds can take to keep up that pre-wedding fitness. A must is the hike up Conical Hill, which will fill your nose with the wonderful fragrance of mature exotic plantations of Lawson’s cypress, Japanese cypress, giant fir, Atlantic cedar and laburnum. The trail leads you to a lookout that provides magnificent views. Honeymooners looking for adventure will find it here. Go mountain biking, jet boating or bungy jumping, or carve up the slopes on the nearby ski fields. And after a day of action, book a massage for you and your man at one of Hanmer’s spas. It’s sure to set the mood for a romantic night ahead.
Kick back and relax, or get your adrenaline going with adventure tourism activities.
Chill factor: The temperature often falls below 0°C.
Something to warm your heart: Melt away your cares in a private pool at Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools & Spa.
Visit:hanmersprings.co.nz and heritagehotels.co.nz/hanmer-springs/.