7 Ways to Make the Most of Scotland in Winter
Foreign holidays may not be possible this year but there’s no need to miss out altogether. Why not start planning a 2021 winter staycation? We’ve suggested 7 ways to make the most of a Scottish holiday over the winter period.
If you enjoy adventure and winter landscapes, Scotland is the ideal place to spend your next holiday. Even though Scotland can be rainy during the winter months, it isn’t nearly as cold as some other areas – just one of the reasons for its popularity.
If you are planning to be in Scotland during winter, here are some top suggestions for things to do and see.
Winter in Scotland
Winter is from December to March, with the cold officially setting in from about October. Visitors can expect a daily average temperature of about 5 degrees. The weather is mild in comparison to some other countries but you will still need the right clothing and gear, especially if you plan to engage in outdoor activities. The weather can change in the space of 10 minutes, so it is best to be prepared.
If it’s snow you are after, you are most likely to see it towards March. However, if you plan to be in the mountains, snow is far more likely throughout winter.
7 Ways to Spend Winter in Scotland
1. Enjoy a Wintery Road Trip
There are so many amazing cities and towns to see that planning a road trip is one of the best things to do in Scotland in winter. A road trip will give you the most variety and quality time with the people you love. Edinburgh and Glasgow are always top choices, as are Kippford, Isle of Skye and Inverness. Pick and choose your stops based on what you most enjoy. History, art, wildlife, dining, shopping and outdoor activities are all options as you travel across the country.
Just keep in mind that the roads can be icy, there are fewer hours of daylight and attractions outside of major cities tend to close earlier in winter, so plan your trip accordingly.
2. Visit Cairngorms National Park
If you love the outdoors and being active, Cairngorm Mountain is the ideal place for skiing, snowboarding and taking in beautiful views. Then there’s the wildlife. While there, you definitely need to see the Cairngorm Reindeer Herd. They have been roaming feely since the 1950s, with the herd now 150-strong. You can even hand-feed them for an up-close encounter.
3. Capture the Northern Lights
If you have never seen the beauty of the northern lights, this is the perfect time to do so. Scotland’s northern lights activity is high during the winter months, especially in the northern areas. The catch is to find a spot that isn’t too badly affected by light pollution. Shetland, Harris and Orkney are some of the best areas to witness this natural wonder. Unexpectedly for many Dumfries and Galloway is also a fantastic area for this. Since November 2009 The Galloway Forest Park in Dumfries and Galloway (just a short drive from Coastal Kippford) has been home to the First Dark Sky in Europe. With some of the clearest night skies it is the perfect place to star gaze.
4. Partake in Some Winter Activities
If you aren’t too keen on skiing or snowboarding, why not give snowshoeing or hiking a try? Glencoe, Cairngorms, Assynt, Shetland and the Scottish National Trail are some of the top choices amongst locals and visitors. Just be sure to hike in groups and to take the right gear, depending on how extreme the weather and landscape is.
5. Book a Whisky Tasting Tour
Picture it: a roaring, warm fire, a glass of whisky and the company of friends and family. You can’t visit Scotland and not book at least one whisky tour. Even if you aren’t a big whisky fan, the tours are still very interesting. Plus, if you choose to see more than one distillery, you can make a road trip out of it. Every area boasts different varieties and flavour profiles, so there is always something new to taste. Islay, Edinburgh, Campbeltown and Highlands are some of the best areas for whisky tours. In the South West of the country in Dumfries and Galloway you’ll find the Annandale distillery which features Man O’ Word and Man O’ Sword varieties to pay homage to Rabbie Burns and Robert the Bruce.
6. Spend Christmas in a Castle
Turn your next Christmas into something out of a fairy tale by booking a stay in a magical castle. Scotland has a number of castles that offer Christmas packages spanning over two to three days in December. Consider Dalhousie Castle near Edinburgh, Inverlochy Castle near Fort William and Glenapp Castle in Ayrshire. There are also several traditional celebrations that take place over this period during the winter months.
7. Jumpy on a Husky Sledge
If you are heading to the Highlands, there is the option to schedule a husky sledge ride – great for if you are travelling with kids. There are several husky centres to choose from, including Huskyhaven in Aberdeenshire and Bowland Trails in Perthshire.
There are very few places that compare to Scotland in winter, so why not start planning your holiday? We all need something to look forward to in these difficult times.