Where in Scotland Should Londoners Head This Winter?

Are you itching to get out of London? By all accounts, everyone is. But where would you go? Well, we have the best idea for a staycation and it’s a few hours drive or train away.

From the Central Belt to the Highlands and Isles, Scotland offers an experience like no other, and it’s only best experienced in the snow. Take a look at our winter holiday guide to prove there’s something for everyone in Scotland.

For a Christmas city break

Have you ever seen Edinburgh at Christmas? Its ancient buildings and dark academic, gothic atmosphere are dialled up to 11 with a fresh blanket of snow – and it’s an aesthetic that is only improved by its wet weather.

national monument calton hill

But at Christmas, the city comes alive. The lights are draped all over the buildings that you imagine when you’re reading a fantasy novel, and the Christmas market arrives. This sprawling European-style Christmas market in Edinburgh alone draws over 2 million people. Shop gifts while enjoying festive drinks, food, an ice skating rink and carnival rides against Edinburgh Castle's spectacular backdrop illuminated at night.

Stick around until January to get a chorus of Auld Lang Syne by people who understand the lyrics. The Hogmanay Street Party is one of the world’s biggest New Year’s Eve celebrations for Hogmanay and regularly attracts over 30,000 revellers for bands, DJs and fireworks on Princess Street.

For a slope holiday, head to Glencoe

If you’re looking for a home alternative to hitting the ski slopes, consider travelling up to Glencoe. Glencoe boasts some of Scotland's most rugged, pristine, and dramatically beautiful highland scenery with the valley and surrounding mountains, all housing a world-class ski and snow sports resort. It offers access to over 2500 acres of skiable terrain spread across 20 runs ranging from green to black-diamond.

glencoe sunrise

With an 850 ft vertical drop, it's ideal for skiers and snowboarders of all abilities and boasts one of Scotland's longest ski seasons from late autumn through early spring most years thanks to its northerly position in the Highlands. The area gets exceptionally beautiful winter views of Glencoe blanketed in snow. Between the slopes and mountainous landscape, it's a winter adventurer's paradise.

If you’re looking to get away from the crowds of the resort, try the Paps of Glencoe for a challenging hike that gives way to a beautiful pyramid peak giving 360-degree panoramic highland views, or venture to Glencoe Lochan for a short roughly 1-mile circuit hike through forest trails leading to an idyllic scenic blue "hidden lake" backed by towering mountains and often beautifully reflective.

The best part of Glencoe is the small town at the bottom of the resort. Spend your days skiing on the slopes or hire a motorhome in Scotland and wander the wilderness, then park up in the town to enjoy a meal in one of Glencoe’s many beautiful restaurants or a pint and a song in the local pub.

For a film buff on tour

It’s no secret that Scotland is absolutely loaded with recognisable filming locations. The Harry Potter series alone owes a lot to the Scottish landscape and architecture, not to mention the Jacobite Steam Train that fans will recognise as the Hogwarts Express. You can even book a ride on the scenic route through the picturesque Highlands, complete with a meal. However, any slamming into walls between the 9th and 10th platforms won’t be liable to the Jacobite operators or ScotRail.

hogwarts express

Outlander fans will recognise castles like Blackness Castle, where Jamie was incarcerated, Game of Thrones fans will spot Winterfell, here known as Doune Castle, and Batman fans might see Robert Pattison and Zoe Kravitz motorbike away from not Gotham’s, but Glasgow’s Necropolis graveyard.

For an exhilarating night out

If all of that is too twee for you, come to Glasgow. Glasgow is the music capital of the country. There are gigs at legendary venues like King Tuts Wah Wah Hut where bands like Oasis first performed. Catch local indie bands or major acts in concert halls and arenas like the Barrowland Ballroom, Hydro, and more.

university of glasgow

Our iconic gathering spots offer regular folk music sessions and an outstanding selection of beverages. Ashton Lane and nearby Finnieston are vibrant hubs for nighttime entertainment, boasting chic cafes and eateries. We're proud to house Scotland's finest late-night venues, including the Cathouse, the country's sole rock club, and the Merchant City area, which features various stylish clubs.

But there’s more to do at night than dance. Take in comedy, cabaret, or theatre with a late show in the city centre. Venues like Oran Mor, CCA, and Tron Theatre have diverse arts programming at night, where you’re likely to see something you’d never see elsewhere.

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