Invented by the Danish, “hygge” means coziness and it seems to have taken over winter. Unless you’re looking to avoid the cold weather and head somewhere warm, people are gravitating towards vacations and decor in their own homes that resemble a cozy, comfy…hygge...vibe. It makes sense too! Who doesn’t love a hot cup of cocoa by a roaring fireplace while wearing yoga pants and chunky sweaters? I could forget every other season if everyday could be cozy and comfortable and well...the perfect hygge experience. While recreating the lifestyle is easy at home, nothing beats going away and experiencing it somewhere else where you don’t have to clean up the cocoa dishes or sweep the fireplace at the end of the night.
The mother of all hygge, Denmark is responsible for this lifestyle so it seems silly to not have it leading the list. According to Visit Copenhagen’s website, “you don’t know what hygge is until you’ve experienced it yourself.” I have no reason to disagree with that statement so why not give Copenhagen in the heart of winter a try. For your first truly hygge experience, you’d want a destination where you felt welcome and comfortable. What’s the point in embracing comfy, cozy bliss when you’re anxious or uncomfortable around the people? Denmark has long been considered one of the happiest countries so it’s only natural that they have some of the friendliest people when it comes to visitors. In case all your travel boxes have not been checked, you might also want to consider it’s unbeatable culinary scene. There are plenty of sites to see from the Tivoli Gardens to the colorfully lined canals the city is famous for. There are a variety of different palaces to walk through and admire with centuries worth of history and detail in the artistry that’s unlike anything you’ve ever seen.
Edinburgh might seem a little misplaced on this list but give it a chance. The Scottish city starts to let go of winter in February but the chill remains so it’s a great location to still embrace hygge but avoid losing your fingers and toes to bitter cold. I’m also a new fan of Outlander so expect some part of Scotland to pop up more often around these parts. There’s plenty of things to fill your time with from museums to galleries and my top pick, Edinburgh Castle. Potter fans can indulge themselves in Harry Potter locations and activities, especially checking out the spots where JK Rowling was inspired and wrote the first few books. Warm up with a traditional afternoon tea...the Scottish version of hygge I guess you could say. Don’t miss out on plenty of whiskey though too. Order a Hot Toddy to really heat things up.
Here’s a secret about Newport...it’s more of a summer destination so visiting in winter cuts the traffic down tremendously and you have this small Northeastern town all to yourself. Newport, Rhode Island is one of those small town USA destinations that remind me of Gilmore Girls. Anyone who knows me knows that my long-term dream is to find a small town like in Gilmore Girls where I can settle down with my cottage-like house and open a cafe. The downtown area is what small town dreams are made of and I think I might have just added Newport to my 2019 travel list. If you start getting a little antsy and need to get out of the hotel (or inn), head to one of several mansions that Newport is famous for. The Breakers, The Marble house, and The Elms are all open for winter tours and since there isn’t a summer crowd, you’ll be able to enjoy your visit leisurely.
One of the more expensive places to travel, Oslo can be a splurge vacation but traveling in the winter gives a small break in spending. You can often find sales on flights which is a huge part of the budget for travel and there are a surprising number of free things to do. If you’re looking for budget travel though, maybe pass on this one but keep it in mind for future trips. So...why is Oslo on a list of destinations to embrace hygge? One word - coffee. Part of hygge is being cozy with a hot beverage and you all know that my favorite hot beverage is coffee. Oslo has an impressive coffee scene with cozy cafes and delightful pastries to indulge in. Oslo embraces winter, especially the amount of snow they get, with an abundance of winter activities and sports. Even if skiing and spending a day in the snow doesn’t sound like your cup of tea, there are plenty of lodges and resorts to take advantage of with roaring fireplaces, spas, saunas, and everything you could possibly need for a truly hygge experience.
If you can handle the cold, Tallinn would make a magical winter getaway. The city finds itself low on tourists through the colder months making it a quiet city but a gorgeous one when blanketed with snow. Enjoy a cozy retreat to the historic city and explore in your own time. Lucky for us night owls, the sun doesn’t rise until the 8am hour during the winter in Tallinn so waking up to see the sunrise is a realistic bucket list item! Enjoy crowd-free museums to learn about the culture and take mini walks around Old Town. I say “mini” because you’ll need to warm up quite often. It’s a good thing there’s plenty to do! Estonia has many churches and cathedrals to wonder at, all of which have accessible bell towers so you can take jaw dropping 360 degree photos of the city. Could you imagine being able to do this while there’s snow everywhere?
A popular ski destination on the East coast, Woodstock seems to have one of the most popular and most cozy resorts. Believe it or not, Woodstock Inn & Resort is how this small Northeastern town got on my radar. With wood-burning fireplaces in rooms and suites, this might be the first destination I visit for the hotel stay alone! I’ll skip the winter sports and instead keep myself nice and cozy near all the toasty fireplaces. It’s a good opportunity to get your fill of breakfast since you’re in the state known for producing maple syrup. I also recommend treating yourself to a little TLC with a spa day...or two. Woodstock is a few hours drive from several east coast cities and not a terrible flight from everywhere else. For picturesque views and plenty of coziness, it’s hard to say no to this quaint small town.