It’s time to plan ahead for a season of fantastic UK winter staycations. Looking for the best things to do and places to visit in the UK during the winter? Your search ends here. To keep the short days and frosty starts jolly, we’ve rounded up the best seasonal sojourns from every corner of the country…
The Best Places to Visit in Winter in the UK
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
Turner’s wintry skies were some of his most dramatic. Bet you didn’t know you can flick through his sketchbooks and preparatory watercolours at Tate Britain Prints and Drawings Room? Just book in advance.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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).
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.
Head to the House of Bruar for a spot of Christmas shopping and a delicious lunch. The House of Bruar prides itself as leading Scottish country clothing provider in the UK, and is situated at the gateway to the Highlands.
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