9 Places You Should Never See Snow But Do (Like Sligo!)

Most of Ireland only gets snow in a few times a winter and many places only see snow every few years, so when it snowed on January 13, 2015, it was understandable that videos and pictures of the event went viral.

While we can’t promise the snowfall on any given day, here are nine places that don’t generally see snow but would be simply amazing to be visiting during a rare snowstorm:

Gondolas in the snow [Venice, Italy]

Venice, Italy | Venetians are more accustomed to cold winter rain than cold winter snow. Even so, when the white stuff falls, they put on a brave face and pull out their umbrellas. During a winter snowstorm, Venice’s romantic passageways become clogged with umbrellas of all shapes and sizes. Umbrellas poke and prod through the crowds and sometimes have to be lifted high in the air to accommodate passersby. Take refuge from the mayhem by ducking into a café for some hot chocolate. The Italians serve their cocoa thick and syrupy – it’s the perfect drink for a cold winter’s day. 

Johannesburg, South Africa | Snow fell on Johannesburg four times during the 20th century and then again in 2007 and 2012. If you want to see snow in South Africa you’ll have to be very lucky. Despite its rarity, Johannesburg’s residents knew what to do when snow lightly coated the ground in 2012. Everyone from kids to office-workers poured outside to enjoy makeshift sleds, tiny snowballs and plenty of pictures. If you aren’t banking on your own snowfall when you visit Johannesburg, take heart. South Africa’s largest city has everything from great museums to renowned jazz bars and dance clubs to keep you busy. Be sure to visit the sobering Apartheid Museum to learn about South Africa’s past and the challenges still ahead. 

Snow falling at Luxor Hotel [Las Vegas, Nevada]

Las Vegas, Nev. | In December 2014, it snowed so much in Vegas that the city was forced to close public schools for the first time since 1979. Sin City doesn’t see snow every year and the snow it does get rarely sticks to the ground. Safe to say, it’s not every day you can frolic down The Strip with a dusting of snow covering famous landmarks. Grab your camera and head to the snow-covered Luxor for some truly bizarre winter-in-Vegas photography. If you get chilly, the hotel’s heated pool and the climate controlled casinos will help you come back up to temperature.

Buenos Aires, Argentina | Snowfall is a once or twice a century event in Buenos Aires, especially in the warm city center. You are more likely to experience bone-chilling winter fog or a nighttime frost. If you do happen to be in the city during the next snowfall, rest assured that sultry tango shows, packed bars and juicy steakhouses will do a roaring trade regardless of the weather. You can also let the cold weather inspire your winter wardrobe collection for back home. Upscale boutiques, busy market places and large shopping malls sell leather products, alpaca sweaters, shoes and other goods you might need to stay warm during a chilly winter. 

Snowfall at Golden Gate Bridge [San Francisco, California]

San Francisco, Calif. | Since the first weather recordings in 1856, there have only been 12 official days of snowfall in San Francisco. The last snowfall was in 2011, so the city isn’t due for another storm anytime soon. When snow falls in San Francisco, the normally foggy city takes on a totally different look. Imagine visiting Golden Gate Park while the bridge is frosted with white snow. If you have a car, you may want to wait on tackling San Francisco’s famously steep streets. Walk to the top of Telegraph Hill for fabulous views of the snowy city. 

New Orleans, La. | New Orleans is more famous for its hot, humid days, than it’s dustings of snow, but snowstorms have occurred including the most recent one in 2008.   If the snow falls, you’ll want to bundle up as you explore The French Quarter. Look up to see the lacy old pastel buildings graced with a light crown of snow. Nothing will warm you up faster than spicy-hot creole cuisine and lively New Orleans-style jazz.    

Prickly Pear under snow in Pima Canyon [Tucson, Arizona]

Tuscon, Ariz. | It’s not every day you see magnificent saguaro cacti holding out their arms to support snow, but Tucson gets at least one hard freeze per year and if the air is wet, snow will fall. Tucson is a college town home to 40,000 university of Arizona students. When the snow falls, you’ll see college kids making a valiant effort to collect enough snow for a snowman or a snowball fight. If you don’t want to join in their frolicking, the city has dozens of youthful bars, restaurants and coffee shops to check out. However, don’t leave town without a visit to the world class Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum or the Saguaro National Park. 

London, England | True snow seekers on the British Isles should head to mountainous portions of Scotland and Wales to see substantial snowfall. If you are looking for a rarer event, visit London during a mid-winter dusting. Most of the city’s roads, sidewalks and roofs retain too much heat for the snow to stick, but you can enjoy a romantic snowfall as you do your shopping, or experience an unusually chilly dip in the Hamstead Heath ladies’ or men’s pond.

Gentoo Penguins jumping off iceberg [Antarctica]

Antarctica | What? It doesn’t snow in Antarctica? You may be incredulous right now, but Antarctica is a desert that sees very little moisture of any kind including snow. The endless expanse of white that penguins like to flop and play on has taken years to accumulate. Scientists have studied Antarctica’s snow by boring down into the snowpack and measuring each tiny layer of yearly snowfall. Without enough moisture for new snow, Antarctica’s melting ice pack is a serious problem for the animals that rely on the ice and snow to survive. 

Trying to avoid snow, not seek it out? Here are 6 Winter Beaches That Put Snow to Shame.  


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Carmen Fifield

The delight of finding an unknown park, a captivating history museum or a fantastic desert means exploration is never far from Carmen Fifield’s mind. Carmen’s favorite travel memories include biking to historic sites on the island of Guernsey, huffing and puffing up the stairs to the Great Wall of China and eating the most delicious crab cake ever in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Carmen’s Favorite Travel Tip: Say goodbye to airplane food and tuck some fruit and your favorite sandwich into your carry-on.