Winter getaways are often divided into two camps: hitting the slopes or sun worshipping. And while we're big fans of both vacation styles, there are plenty of other getaways that are perfect for the winter months. Here, some clever escapes from winter doldrums—think a soul-searching trip to Sedona and a city break in Lisbon, one of Europe's best under-the-radar gems.
Why Go Now: Escape dreary winter days with a sun-drenched getaway to South America's premier wine region, which further beckons with affordable rates on hotels and restaurants and as much world-renowned Malbec as you can throw back. Mendoza City draws urbanites with an easily navigable geography and impressive culinary scene. The vineyard-rich countryside is as much an appeal for outdoor-lovers as it is oenophiles, with mountain biking, hiking, and horseback riding against the dramatic backdrop of the Andes Mountains.
Where to Stay: The 11-room Bohemia Hotel Boutique in Mendoza Cityoffers superb value, with artsy décor, and free WiFi and breakfast included, from about $110 a night. For an indulgent splurge in the heart of wine country, Cavas Wine Lodge is the place, with 14 white-adobe cottages that feature private plunge pools and outdoor fireplaces.
Where to Eat: A mix of gourmet grocery store, upscale-homey restaurant, and beautiful wine cellar bursting with selections, Azafran is a Mendoza mainstay and a must-do for at least one dinner. Take advantage of the on-site wine concierge, who will graciously help you plan your meal—think local favorites like sweetbread and mushroom empanadas and petit filet in an airy blue cheese and phyllo crust—around your wine.
Insider Tip: Argentines are notoriously nocturnal, though not quite as much in areas beyond Buenos Aires. Still, don't head to dinner before 8 pm, unless you don't mind being the only ones in the place.
Why Go Now: The geography of Portugal's capital—nestled on the far west coast of the Iberian Peninsula—provides a bit of respite from the well-worn paths of Europe's tourist circuit. And that's not a bad thing, especially for travelers who visit in the offseason, as they can discover the charms of this grand old city, from friendly locals and antique trams rumbling through quaint neighborhoods to lively cafes and bars pulsing with local music called fado, with blessedly minimal tourist crowds.
Where to Stay: Opened in 2009, the Internacional Design Hotel offers a fresh, fun home-away-from home, if home resembles a funky design showroom, that is, in the bustling Baixa neighborhood. The stark-white façade and décor is punctuated with vibrant bursts of color; some rooms feature balconies that open onto Rossio Square for excellent people-watching.
Where to Eat: A newish addition to the city's culinary scene is Pedro e Lobo, an upscale, modern bar and restaurant that serves creative takes on traditional Portuguese fare—opt for the tasting menu for the full appreciation of the chefs' talents. An English-speaking staff makes for a pleasant experience for travelers with minimal (or nonexistent) Portuguese. For an authentic meal minus any trace of fusion, head toCafe de Sao Bento, one of the city's oldest steak restaurants. It's everything a good steakhouse should be: a bit dark, a bit dated, and they do meats just right; the specialty here is the famous Lisbon steak, served with egg.
Insider Tip: Lisbon is spread out over seven hills—great for dramatic photos, but not so great for uncomfortable shoes. This is not the city for stilettos, ladies. Opt for cute and comfy flats with, frankly, some traction.