If there is one specific feature that can make or break a vacation destination, it's the weather. While it's typically rare for a town to look just as beautiful under a thick layer of snow as it does during warmer months, there are a few places on the map that can make any season look magical. Take a look below and you'll see that come snow or sunshine, these alpine towns will make you feel as though you are peeking into a storybook.
Peacefully set in Switzerland's Bernese Alps you'll find the sleepy village of Grindelwald. This Neolithic era mountain town earned its reputation as a picturesque tourist destination more than 200 years ago. The scenic Jungfraubahn Mountain Railway runs through Kleine Scheidegg pass and connects Grindelwald to Lauterbrunnen.
Kitzbühel, Austria | The medieval town of Kitzbühel is one of Austria's (and the world's) renowned ski resort towns. Sitting on the Kitzbüheler Ache river in the Kitzbühel Alps, it features the dramatic St. Catherine's Church; its spire pierces the sky and serves as the town's most recognizable landmark.
Shirakawa-go, Japan | The thatch, slanting roofs resembling 'prayer hands' are signature to the Historic Villages of Shirakawa-go in the Ryohaku Mountains. These Gassho-zukuri-style buildings dot the Gokoyama area and have been listed as one of Japan's UNESCO World Heritage Sites. This type of traditional architecture can only be found in the secluded villages of the Shogawa river valley.
Val di Funes, Italy | The portrait-perfect Church of Saint Magdalena (Santa Maddalena) is a captivating symbol of Val di Funes (Villnoss Valley) in Italy's Dolomites
Mountain range. During the winter, outdoor enthusiasts travel to this German-speaking area for downhill and cross-country skiing.
Idrija, Slovenia | It's no surprise that Idrija was the recipient of the 2011 Alpine Town of the Year Award. This 15th-century mining town is known as one of the only places where mercury was found both in liquid and solid form. You can find this charming western Slovenian town in the Julian Alps.
Banff, Canada | One of Canada's most beautiful mountainous landscapes can be found in Banff National Park. The small town of Banff is set more than 4,500 feet above sea level in the Alberta Rockies. Here, you can enjoy the powdered peaks by ski or gaze at the panorama from natural hot springs.
Aspen, Colorado, U.S. | This Rocky Mountains locale grew from a small silver boom mining camp to one of America's beloved ski resort towns. At approximately 8,000 feet above sea level, Aspen is only 11 miles from the Continental Divide. Since the 1970s, the town has grown to be a snowy playground for celebrities and wealthy jetsetters.