Keswick UK

The Best Places to Visit in the UK In Winter

Travel /


The ultimate C&TH guide to Winter: these are the best seasonal spots to visit in the UK

This post may contain affiliate links. Learn more

Planning for a last-minute winter staycation or hunting for the most beautiful places to visit in your local area? If you’re looking for the best things to do and places to visit in the UK during December, January and February, your search ends here. To keep the short days and frosty starts jolly, we’ve rounded up the best winter UK trips from every corner of the country…

Christmas Travel

The Best Places To Visit In Winter In The UK

*Please note that some events referenced may be subject to cancellation.

Photo 1 of
The Cridford Inn

Devon, Cornwall & The Isles of Scilly

Hole up in Hawksfield on the Atlantic Highway between Padstow and Wadebridge, where you’ll find vintage film posters at Goose Shed, proper coffee at Strong Adolfos and local produce at The Arc Food Store.

Grab a pint at The Cridford Inn. The longhouse dates back to 825AD, making it one of the UK’s oldest pubs.

Longleat Festival of Light

The West Country

The Roman Baths in Bath are the remains of one of the greatest religious spas of the ancient world and well worth a visit. The baths still flow with natural hot water from the thermal springs that lie beneath the city.

Longleat Safari Park‘s annual Festival of Light never disappoints at this time of year, so be sure to book ahead.

Bombay Sapphire Distillery

Hampshire & The Isle of Wight

You don’t need a sunny day to go back in time to 1545. In fact, a stormy, wintry day is much the best setting for a visit to the Mary Rose in Portsmouth, which sank that fateful year after 34 years’ service. This magnificent new museum will take you to a Tudor treasure trove and teach you a history lesson so much more exciting than one in the classroom.

Gin bunnies and design aficionados, take note. What could be more warming than a tour and tasting around the Thomas Heatherwick-designed Bombay Sapphire Distillery at Laverstoke Mill, which produces around 25 million litres of gin a year. Bottoms up!

Bedgebury Forest

The Home Counties

Blow away the holiday cobwebs with an invigorating walk around Bedgebury National Pinetum and Forest in Kent.

Retreat to the warmth of the artist’s studio at West Dean College and let the surrounding landscape inspire you on one of the college’s weekend creative courses.

Sketch

London

Afternoon tea at Fortnum and Mason is an art form. While its scones are a huge draw, here it’s all about the tea. With over 300-years’ experience, their on-hand ‘tearistas’ will help you find the perfect blend. See more of the best afternoon teas in London here.

Of course, there are dozens of options in the capital to keep you entertained during winter. Check out one of the best art exhibitions in London, get involved in the jazz scene with one of the best jazz bars or check out one of the of-the-moment culture events happening all over the city. (Our weekly newsletter should help.)

If you’re working on a tight budget, review our guide to the best free things to do in London (there are plenty).

Cotswolds Village Snow

The Cotswolds

Just as your typical Cotswolds villages are divine in summer, they’re just as compelling in winter even if you just stay in the car. Our favourites are Chipping Campden, a former wool trading centre, Bourton-on-the-Water, known for its model village and railway, and Bibury, said to be the most beautiful village in England by William Morris.

Hunker down in one of the area’s loveliest pubs. To order a pint next to Kate Moss, head to the Swan at Southrop; for Prue Leith’s favourite foodie pub, head to The Fox Inn at Lower Oddington and for Laurie Lee’s old haunt, choose The Woolpack in Slad.

Normanton Church

Mid Country

Witness a wildlife show like no other at Donna Nook nature reserve, Lincolnshire. Each year between November and December, a colony of grey Atlantic seals deliver their pups in the dunes.

Walk the shores of Rutland Water to Normanton church, which was saved from certain destruction by the community in 1970 when plans to flood the area were set into motion. Thankfully, the structure still stands, appearing to float on the water from a distance- it’s the stuff of fairytales in the winter.

Stratford-upon-Avon

Mid Country

Stratford-upon-Avon celebrates its esteemed literary heritage with a biannual festival full of debate, ideas, celebrity author events and workshops. stratfordliteraryfestival.co.uk

Photo by James Homans 

Norfolk Broads

East Anglia

The Norfolk Broads are busy throughout the summer but the world and his wife are missing a trick, this spot is undoubtedly at its most dramatic in winter, when only a handful of brave souls wind between the frost-covered banks. Keep your eyes peeled for the otters.

Pick up your Christmas turkey from Peele’s. The farm has reared the prized Norfolk Black breed since 1880, at about the time that turkey was overtaking goose as the yuletide dish of choice. Despite its name, the bird was introduced to the UK from South America by a Spanish explorer.

Chatsworth House Derbyshire

Derbyshire

The county calls for a whole week stay as there’s so much to see. You’ll want to spend a day or two traversing the Peak District National Park.

Reserve a day to explore Chatsworth House too. The estate that’s known as Mr Darcy’s abode in the Kiera Knightley adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, doesn’t disappoint. Meander around the gardens, marvel at the architecture and design, before settling into their fabulously grand afternoon tea.

 

 

 

 

Image: Chatsworth House

Pheasant

East Anglia

Want to get your eye in for the season? Anglia Sporting offers one of the biggest varieties of shooting across Norfolk and Suffolk, including game, rough, simulated, wildfowling and deer stalking. angliasporting.co.uk

Photo by June Gathercole 

Yorkshire Dales National Park Stazione Centrale

The North

Walk through the Yorkshire Dales to the ruins of Fountains Abbey, the largest monastic ruins in the country.

Castle Howard, recognisable from Brideshead Revisited, is spectacular both inside and out. At Christmas time the house is decorated with thousands of decorations and hosts a fantastic Christmas market.

The National Railway Museum in York is said to be one of Britain’s finest museums. View over a million objects spanning 300 years of railway history.

Brecon-Beacons-National-Park

Wales & The Marches

Cardiff is at the vanguard of a new Welsh foodie scene. Check out gems like 100 percent vegan Anna Loka, or the splendid Chapel 1877, where you might dine on roast rump of welsh lamb with parmentier potatoes.

This year the Brecon Beacons celebrates 60 years of National Park status. The move Jurrasic World 2 (released in 2018) will also be shot on location there, so get outside and discover it for yourselves especially at night (it has Dark Sky status and winter is the best time to see the brightest stars).

Arthurs Seat View

Scotland

Walk to the summit of Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh for spectacular views of the city and snow-capped mountains in the distance. Then head to the Sheep Heid Inn for a warming hot chocolate and a game of skittles.

Go for a ski at Glenshee where there are 22 lifts and 36 runs to take advantage of, with something to suit all abilities.

If you’re spending a while in Edinburgh, take an hour train to the medieval seaside town of St Andrews. Famously where St Andrews University students dwell, you won’t be short of things to do: blustery beach walks on West Sands and Castle Sands, plenty of indie cosy coffee shops, with smart hotels (Hotel Du Vin, The Old Course Hotel) and restaurants (The Seafood Restaurant, The Räv).

Edinburgh Hogmanay

Edinburgh

Head to the capital city for Burns Night, 25th January, one of Scotlands most cherished celebrations. Robert Burns is a famous scots poet, where silly speeches, haggis, whisky tasting is usually on the menu. visitscotland.com

 

Photo by Alana Harris

 

MORE SEASONAL GUIDES: Autumn | SpringSummer

Main photo: Keswick, UK, by Ian Cylkowski