India’s diverse topography with high mountains in the north and a large peninsular region tapering towards the Indian Ocean in the south, allows tourists to experience a multitude of seasons. As we move further towards the colder months of the year, we give you an opportunity to explore the best places in India in winter. Don’t worry! These Indian winter destinations aren’t just hill stations, and instead include beach towns, historic cities, and backwaters. Some of these are enhanced by a blanket of glistening white snow, whilst others boast a blend of pleasant and fresh weather accompanied by mild sunshine. Check out the top places to visit in India in winters.
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Best Places To Visit In India In Winters For A Perfect Holiday
The Lake City Of India: Nainital
This beautiful tourist destination in Uttarakhand is built around a uniquely shaped lake known as the Naini Lake. One of the most beautiful tourist destinations in Uttarakhand, Nainital is the perfect place to enjoy the chilly weather of Uttarakhand as winter sets in. During winter, the cold of the Himalayas envelops Nainital and offers mesmerizing views of the mountain ranges. The lakes are full and surrounded by an ice-cold chill but still, the weather isn’t as harsh as what’s found further north. So even on the coldest days you can go out and enjoy the snow without worrying about freezing or frostbites. Set amidst the Kumaon Hills at an altitude of 1,938 kms above sea level, Nainital is where most Indians go for winter vacations in India. Nainital also features water sports activities, rock-climbing, and stupendous slopes, making it a picturesque paradise for all.
Valley Of The Gods: Manali
This popular tourist destination in Himachal Pradesh is filled with numerous emblematic elements like snow valleys, Himalayan peaks drenched in snow, and a long list of adventure activities. While it is a much sought after tourist destination for all seasons, it is particularly beautiful during winter. This snow paradise is nestled between the snow-capped slopes of Pir Panjal and the Dhauladhar mountain range, and offers you special winter adventure activities such as zorbing, skiing, tobogganing, paragliding and more. You can also enjoy mountain treks that are exceptionally picturesque in winter. At Manali, one of the best places to visit in India in winters, you’ll get to enjoy slopes powdered with snow and icy peaks of mountains. Make sure to visit the Chandertal Lake, Hampta pass, and take the sulfur baths at Manikaran, a retreat from the snow.
Asia’s Largest Cable Car: Gulmarg
When it comes to winter in India, Gulmarg is at the top of the list since it appears to be like a dream in winter. This stunning winter destination in Kashmir is enchanting all year round, but the coming of winter further heightens its allure. Gulmarg provides guests with immersive travel experiences, whether it’s peace, winter sports, a cable car ride, nature treks, or just a snow destination. The village is completely covered in a thick layer of snow throughout the winter. In winter the entire place is covered in snow, hence transformed into a skiing area. One can try skiing from two locations (Kongdori and Apharwat Ridge), and both of these points are connected by a cable car called Gulmarg Gondola (Asia’s largest cable car). Altitude sickness in Gulmarg is high as the air up high in the Himalayas is a bit thin.
Summer Capital Of British India: Shimla
Another entry from Himachal Pradesh, Shimla is the capital of the state and also known as the Queen of Hills by the British. Shimla is amongst the most well-known of India’s winter destinations and thus our list would seem incomplete without it. Featuring classic snow-capped mountains, beautiful deodar trees and marvelous colonial structures are just a bit of what Shimla offers. From December till February, Shimla is converted into a winter spectacle where crowds flock to enjoy the snow, ice skate at the open-air rink, walk amidst pine trees, and hike up the Shivalik range amid apple orchards. While visiting this winter paradise, don’t forget to try the strong coffee with delicious Himachali delicacies such as chaa gosht (Himachali style mutton curry), patore (taro leaves fritters) and khoru (thin buttermilk based soup).
White Salty Desert Sand: Rann Of Kutch
This unique region in the state of Gujarat is a large area of salt marshland, located in the district of Kutch. Stretching over 7,500 square kilometers in the Thar Desert, Rann of Kutch is reputed to be one of the largest salt deserts in the world. The region is divided into two parts, the Great Rann of Kutch, extending east and west, with the Thar Desert to the north and the low hills of Kutch to the south. Little Rann of Kutch lies southeast of the Great Rann, and extends southwards to the Gulf of Kutch. The salt deposits of the region make up a surreal landscape when the sun sets, and on full moon nights, the salt glints like silver. During winter (November to February), Gujarat celebrates the ‘Rann Mahotsav’ which attracts lakhs of tourists from all over India and abroad.
The festival features cattle trading, desert safaris, local folk performances, desert biking, camping under the stars in the plains, handicraft workshops, and loads of traditional Gujarati, Kathiyawadi, Saurashtra and Kutch food. Rann of Kutch has become one of the best places to visit in India in winters. There are also luxury tents available at the seams of Dhoro village which is a unique experience.
Skiing Capital Of India: Auli
A winter wonderland, Auli in Uttarakhand, is set amidst the snow-capped Himalayas. During winter, this hill station is surrounded by oak trees, coniferous forests, and a snow blanket, making it a must-visit destination for a winter vacation in India. Auli is one of the best resort towns in the country and has also become the most visited holiday destination in north India in December. Its main draw is skiing, but the hill station also offers other activities, such as snow trekking to the Gurson Bugyal meadow or pristine Himalayas at Kwani Bugyal, riding the longest cable car of the continent, catching panoramic views of the snowy peaks of Himalayas, and so on. Auli has become one of the best ski destinations in the world and if you visit in January, you can take part in the National Championship of Skiing.
Land Of Monasteries: Gangtok
Due to the enormous number of monasteries it is home to, Gangtok is sometimes referred to as the “country of monasteries.” With some of the best monasteries in India, it has become a significant Buddhist pilgrimage site that you cannot afford to miss. Unquestionably one of the best monasteries in the nation is the Rumtek monastery. Plan for a winter vacation in December with family and friends and let them experience the subzero temperatures, shopping, and mesmerizing vistas of the majestic Kanchenjunga. Yumthang Valley, Gurudongmar Lake, Pelling, and Lachung receive the most snowfall. Layers of clothes, such as a sweater, jacket, muffler, thermal, socks, and caps, should be packed along with heavy wool apparel. Every type of traveler, from Buddhist pilgrims to hikers, honeymooners to tourists, will have an activity of their interest. Also do not miss a trip to Nathula Pass and Tsomgo Lake.
Land Of Maharajas: Rajasthan
Oozing age-old opulence and grandeur, the desert state Rajasthan is located in the northwest of India, adjacent to Pakistan. It is the largest state of India (area wise) and is one of the most colorful and vibrant states in the country. Popularly known to many as the Land of Maharajas, Rajasthan has a strong blend of culture, history, music and cuisine. If you visit the state in winter, you can relish the historical splendors that have been restored or lie dilapidated—either way they are spectacular, best enjoyed with the nip in the air.
During the winter months (October to March), you’ll find the desert sun in the state to be milder and more merciful, the winds are cooler, and there are numerous festivals that inject color into your travels. This would be an ideal time to explore Rajasthan and experience its regal culture and tradition. Known as one of the best places to visit in India in winters, Rajasthan offers you to explore its colorful gems such as the royal pink city of Jaipur, the blue city of Jodhpur, the golden city of Jaisalmer, the city of lakes Udaipur and the holy city of Ajmer.
Party Capital Of India: Goa
The smallest state of India, Goa is on the west coast of India. One of the most famous tourist destinations, Goa is also the best place to enjoy some warm sun in chilly winter. Other than its rave parties, numerous ancient sites, and undeniably delicious food, you get to explore some wildlife, unusual secret beaches, and unexpected natural attractions (such as waterfalls and islands) during this season. Known as India’s party hub, Goa welcomes winter from October when its high season starts.
December is the month where this state is filled with tourists due to festivals such as Goa Film Festival, the Goa Carnival, Sunburn Music Fest and beach parties for New Year’s Eve and Christmas everywhere. Tourists get to enjoy lazy moments in warm afternoons and cool evenings during winter. You can indulge in water sports without fearing cold temperatures, or can pick beach parties or nightclubs throbbing with music, or you can even opt for Ayurvedic treatments and spas to rejuvenate yourself. Goa has something for everyone!
Mini Switzerland: Dalhousie
As the temperature drops below freezing, the brisk breeze beckons you outside to have the time of your life. Dalhousie is rated as one best place to visit in winter in India as the winters bring out the finest in this location. Numerous trekkers descend on Dalhousie in December for the National Himalayan Winter Trekking Expedition. Think of taking a walk through the Deodar forest. If you enjoy being in nature, go for a walk through the wilds of Garam Sadak. True to its name, the location enjoys plenty of early sunlight, which makes it a perfect getaway from the bitter cold of winter. If you want to enjoy the vibrant cultural diversity, you must travel to the charming town of Chamba. Do not miss Khajjiar, another winter gem in Dalhousie, a location that can challenge Switzerland in terms of beauty.
The City Of Ruins: Hampi
The ancient village of Hampi is set in the beautiful boulder-strewn terrain, on the Tungabhadra River banks and is a historical delight for travelers. This World Heritage Site treasures the ruins of the erstwhile capital of the mighty Vijayanagara Empire and it’s surrounded by beautiful temples and ancient monuments. As you take a trip during winter (October-February), you will be blessed with pleasantly cool weather. You can explore its rich past through the remains of palaces, baths, pavilions, markets, aqueducts and temples. You can also try rock climbing that provides stunning views of the entire city and its geography. While visiting this UNESCO World Heritage city, don’t miss the beautiful Virupaksha temple, Matang hill, and Vitthala temple complex with its 56 musical pillars to experience the secrets of a kingdom lost to time.
Smallest Union Territory Of India: Lakshadweep
A lesser known paradise, Lakshadweep islands is a spectacular group of tropical islands off the western coast of India in the Arabian Sea. Formerly known as Laccadive Islands, Lakshadweep means ‘thousands of islands’ in Malayalam. Out of 36 exotic islands of this exotic destination, 17 are uninhabited, 10 are inhabited, while there are 5 coral reefs and 4 newly formed islets. Winter season might be the best time to explore the many islands of Lakshadweep as you get to enjoy white sandy beaches, a pleasant climate, and the serenity of the islands. Along with the scenic beauty, Lakshadweep also offers many top activities to try such as snorkeling, coral spotting, scuba diving, swimming, island hopping, parasailing, fishing, yacht sailing, and others. Enjoy a balmy tropical vacation during winters where you get to enjoy picture-perfect golden beaches, cerulean waters, with fresh coconut and delicious seafood.
Aromatic Coffee Plantations: Coorg
Karnataka’s Coorg district or Kodagu is a hilly area which is famous for the many coffee plantations, magnificent waterfalls, and misty environs. A winter vacation to this natural wonderland also popularly known as the “Scotland of India” is a perfect choice. Visitors looking for peace and quiet, frequently travel to this settlement in the Western Ghats.
The weather here is cold as the place is draped in layers of hazy fog. From wandering through the beautiful coffee farms to hiking along breathtaking paths, there is something for everyone here. Travelers looking for adventure can take things to the next level by embarking on an overnight trek or hike in the hills. For those who enjoy wildlife, Coorg has a number of national parks and animal sanctuaries, including the Talacauvery Wildlife Sanctuary and the Nagarhole National Park. It’s a great place to pick up some authentic Indian spices as Coorg is very popular for its spices.
Queen Of Hills: Ooty
Ooty, a popular hill town in Tamil Nadu is blessed with an abundance of natural beauty, including panoramic viewing areas, tea plantations, botanical gardens, and wildlife sanctuaries. People from all over the world come to Ootacamund or Ooty, one of India’s most popular hill stations to experience its breathtaking wonders. Here, nature sings to its own symphony while history and culture blend together in a delightful combination. Ancient temples, tribal museums and libraries brand the plains with stories and riddles. The town’s well-known coffee plantations, gleaming gardens and lush green vegetation are shrouded in mist in the winter, lending the area a beautiful and dreamlike atmosphere. The ideal time to visit Ooty is from October to June. Ooty, the poised and graceful “Queen of Hill Stations” is definitely one of the best places to visit in India in winters.
Most Romantic City: Shillong
Shillong, the capital of Meghalaya, is ideal to visit and explore in the winter. Because of its history as a colony, its natural beauty, and its agreeable climate, it is known as “The Scotland of the East.” One need not worry about becoming stranded in inclement weather because the city often does not receive snowfall during this time. The daytime temperature is also comfortable, around 16 degrees Celsius, making it ideal for touring and exploration. Mawylnnong, the cleanest village in Asia, Lady Hydari Park, the Don Bosco Centre for Indigenous Cultures, Ward’s Lake, and Elephant Falls are a few attractions in the city.
It’s just not the beauty of this place that attracts travelers, food is also a major reason to visit this heaven in the clouds. The prevalence of dumplings in food is known throughout the nation. Shillong is undoubtedly one of the best places to visit in india in winters.
400-Year Old Monastery: Tawang
Tawang is a unique highland town in the enchanted mountains of Arunachal Pradesh. Without a doubt, Tawang is the hardest destination on this list to get to in the winters, but the magnificent views of the snow capped Himalayas, valleys draped in colorful prayer flags, and the historic monasteries makes all the effort worthwhile. Visit Tawang during the Torgya Festival in January or Losar in February if you want to take part in cultural events. The Tawang War Memorial, Taktsang Gompa, Tawang Monastery, and Gorichen Peak are a few of the best places to visit in winter in India. There is also a wide range of adventure activities available for offbeat travelers like trekking, waterfall visits, meditation, photography and visit to Urgelling Monastery, the birthplace of Dalai Lama. Tawang is the place to go if you want to enjoy the cold winters.
Beach Paradise: Gokarna
Gokarna, a Hindu pilgrimage town in Karnataka, has recently emerged as a hotspot for tourists, hippies and beach bums. Honey Beach, Kudle Beach, Om Beach, Paradise Beach, Half Moon Beach, and Gokarna Beach are beaches that you cannot miss during your trip to Gokarna. The choice of many beautiful beaches makes it one of the best places to visit in India in December. Walking is the ideal method to discover this small coastal town in Karnataka and enjoy the stunning views of its beaches. However, what makes Gokarna’s winters so enjoyable is that all of the town’s attractions may be enjoyed without being hindered by the typical summer or monsoon inconveniences, such as the overbearing, sticky heat. This makes winter the peak season for tourists to visit the seaside town and to experience all that Gokarna has to offer to its various visitors.
God’s Own Country: Kerala
Located on the Malabar Coast of southern India nearly 600 kms of the Arabian Sea shoreline, Kerala is a blessing when visited in winter. The state is known for its glorious palm tree beaches, glistening backwaters, spice- and tea-covered hills of the Western Ghats and wildlife reserves. Popularly known as ‘God’s Own Country’, Kerala witnesses the lowest amount of rainfall during winter, making it one of the best places to visit in India in winters. The pleasant weather with an average temperature reaching up to 18°C, the state offers incredible opportunities to avail yourself experiences like that of a houseboat cruise in Alleppey, mesmerizing sunsets in Kochi, surfing at Varkala and Kovalam beaches, bird watching in the Kumarakom bird sanctuary and indulging in an Ayurvedic spa. How can one forget the famous two hill stations in Kerala, Wayanad and Munnar.
Wayanad: Go to Wayanad for a dream vacation in the Western Ghats, if you want to enjoy the winters in a hill station. This charming town has all the holiday essentials: good food, a rich culture, interesting history, and friendly locals. Numerous bird watching locations and hiking routes that draw visitors from throughout the nation add to the excitement. Visit the Edakkal Caves and the Wildlife Sanctuary as well. The heavenly landscapes and tranquility of the area makes this place one of the favorite winter destinations. For those who are looking for a village life experience, this place has some of the best things in store for them. You may go for outdoor picnics and hikes but be sure to keep them clean as Wayanad is rated as the one of the most untouched places by many tourists.
Munnar: One of the most popular winter travel destinations in Kerala is Munnar. Due to its breathtaking environment, Munnar is referred to as the “Kashmir of the South.” The favorable winters are also ideal for taking part in adventure pursuits like hiking, rappelling, and trekking. The city is especially lovely because of the numerous tea estates around, and it’s the ideal place to indulge your need for adventure. Additionally, you’ll come across beautiful rural locations, a sanctuary, and green areas that will make you feel at peace for all time. People from all over travel to Munnar to get their hands at some must do activities like Picnic at the Echo Point, climbing the surreal Anamudi Peak, to taste different tea flavors at the TATA Tea Museum and to shop for homemade chocolates.
So are you ready for India’s winter destinations? While some would like to curl up in a blanket, others like to explore the season in different places. If you are the latter, we hope our list of the best places to visit in India in winters helps to narrow down your next destination! Pick the one which best suits your needs, be it beaches, adventure sports or just some relaxing time in the hills. If you think we have missed any of your favorites, let us know in the comments below.
Generally South Indian states have pleasant winters compared to the north.
Gulmarg, Leh, Munnar, Ooty, Shillong and Dalhousie are few of the many amazing winter destinations ideal for couples.
Manali, Mussoorie, Shimla, Gulmarg, Zuluk, Nainital and Dhanaulti are great places to experience snowfall.
Kerala, Kerala and Goa are great places for tourists to escape the harsh winters.
Coorg, Gokarna, Darjeeling, Varkala, Manali, and Kanyakumari are great destinations to experience without spending much.