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One word: fjords.

Some places in the world have completely blown up in popularity in recent years, and perhaps none more so than Iceland. Thanks to the magic of the northern lights, geysers, stunningly blue lagoons, waterfalls and truly endless natural beauty, Iceland is the “it” destination. Even once remote stretches are now laced with tourists, and with winter approaching, it’s undoubtedly high on perhaps one too many bucket lists. If you’ve been dreaming of an Iceland trip this winter, but are a looking at alternatives, here are beautiful, highly compatible destinations that haven’t hit full, full pop culture… yet.

Northern Norway

Northern Norway is vast not only in size, but also in natural wonder and beauty that any traveler will instantly fall in love with. With easy flights to Bergen and Tromsø offering access to places like the Lofoten Islands, Svalbard, the Lyngenfjord region, Bodø and more, you’ll be guaranteed scenery like nowhere else, without too much hassle at all. And yes, you’ll also stand an extremely good chance of seeing the Northern Lights. Between fjords, glaciers, dramatic landscapes and wildlife, mixed with numerous activities such as dog sledding, snowshoeing and whale watching, you’ll be entertained for days. Iceland who?

Alberta, Canada

All you have to do is “Google” Banff, Lake Louise or any other parts of the Canadian Rockies to immediately get sucked in. Often overlooked for more exotic sounding choices, Alberta, Canada is a stunning part of the world and unlike some – wonderful all year long. The area is truly vast, so if you have the time, it’s worth exploring as many different parts as possible. After all, there are over 600 lakes in the region alone. If you’re into your winter activities, there’s top notch skiing, ice climbing, glacier walking and relaxing hot springs. In certain parts, you may even catch a glimpse of those northern lights too.

Shetland/Orkney, Scotland

These island groups lay north of mainland Scotland, with rich history, rugged cliffs, spectacular beaches and cool wildlife that can make for a seriously fun and adventurous holiday destination. Wondering how they tie into Iceland? These islands are one of the best places in the U.K. to watch the magic of Aurora Borealis, otherwise known as the Northern Lights. For such a cool and remote destination, getting there is not as hard as you may think, thanks to onward flights from many Scottish airports and ferry options as well. For fewer crowds and abundant natural beauty this really is a winner of a trip.

Lapland, Finland

Lapland has really managed to nail the whole “watching the northern lights in chic luxury” thing. If you’ve got serious money to blow, some might say it’s worth the trip to Lapland just to check out the ridiculously cool accommodation at Hotel Kakslauttanen featuring glass igloos, or other great options with tree houses and luxury teepees. Whatever your budget, Lapland offers fantastic ski resorts, saunas, scenery, Longeren and on top of all that – you can even ride with huskies and reindeer, just like you’re in a Christmas movie. You may even get to meet Santa Claus, though we make no promises!

Alaska, USA

Okay, we admit – getting to Iceland may be easier than making it to Alaska, but if you can, you’re in for a real treat. And Alaska, actually isn’t that hard to reach, especially if you’re using miles with Alaska Airlines, which can make otherwise expensive flights *almost* free. Alaska truly has it all, with one of the widest varieties of landscape found anywhere – full stop. With glaciers, fjords and more, it’s a great destination for any outdoor adventure seekers, and one of the coolest places if you happen to be obsessed with fishing. If you’re in search of the Aurora Borealis, Fairbanks is an ideal spot thanks to its location to the North Pole, and relatively accessible flights. Either way, Alaska is a gorgeous and unique part of the world that’s worth visiting any time of year.

Have you been to any of these fantastic, dramatic destinations?

Featured image courtesy of Banff and Lake Louise Tourism.

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