Escape the summer crowds and visit some of the UK’s best staycations in winter. From the beautiful neverending landscapes of the Cairngorms National Park to quintessentially British villages in the Cotswolds, these are our top picks for the best winter staycations.
Lake District National Park
Crisp frost on the ground, snowy mountains and tranquil lakes, there’s something extra magical about the Lake District National Park in winter. Brave the winter chill and head out on a hike up its breathtaking fells for the most amazing views, or cosy up in a country pub in front of an open fire. However you spend a winter getaway in the Lakes, it won’t be one you’ll forget in a hurry.
Best beach: Stroll along the sand beach at Haverigg Beach and enjoy panoramic views of the Lake’s magnificent fells.
Best winter walk: If you don’t have the proper gear for winter hiking, this easy Buttermere circular walk still rewards you with plenty of amazing scenery.
Best thing to do in winter: With some of the darkest skies in the whole country, spend your evening stargazing from a cottage with a bubbling hot tub.
This charming, typically quintessential village in the Cotswolds is arguably one of the prettiest in England. If you can tear yourself away from the cosy tearooms and village pubs, Bibury has lots to offer for a winter staycation. Wander down the row of 17th-century weaver’s cottages, or head out to explore other trails in this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).
Best beach: If you’re looking for tranquillity, Portishead Beach is great for a wintery coastal walk.
Best winter walk: Meander around the Dyrham Park National Trust gardens, at this time of year the plants and trees burst into colour.
Best thing to do in winter: If it snows, the slope at Broadway Tower is perfect for tobogganing!
Lying on the border between England and Wales, Hay-on-Wye is best-known for being “the town of books” – with over 20 bookshops lining its quaint streets. But this pretty market town has so much more to offer. Its eclectic mix of shops, restaurants and pubs means there’s something for every kind of traveller.
Best beach: You’ll need to drive to get to Aberavon Beach, but its sandy beaches stretch for miles and it’s known to be one of the best places to watch the sunset.
Best winter walk: Nestled right on the border of the Brecon Beacons National Park, this Hay-on-Wye circular walk takes you through the magnificent Black Mountains.
Best thing to do in winter: Attend the Hay Festival Winter Weekend, where you can immerse yourself in a huge selection of comedy, music and entertainment that takes place across various venues.
One of the best winter staycations is a trip to the coast, and the seaside town of Falmouth has it all. The summer crowds have disappeared, and what’s left is a blissfully quiet, windswept landscape. It never gets too cold either, the temperature rarely drops below freezing. And if you’re not a fan of the snow, you’re in luck because it’s basically unheard of!
Best beach: Gyllyngvase Beach is one of the most popular beaches in Falmouth, but on a wintry day you’re more than likely to have the whole beach to yourself.
Best winter walk: Explore the Cornish coastline on the Pendennis Head Walk and take in the amazing views of Falmouth Harbour.
Best thing to do in winter: Choppy seas make it the prime time to get out onto the water with a surfboard.
Dorchester may be one of the smallest county towns in England, but it’s brimming with history and culture dating right back to the Iron Age. Plus it’s a great base for exploring Dorset’s coastline and the nearby Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB). Spend your winter staycation in museums, shops and independent restaurants or exploring the beautiful countryside and coastline.
Best beach: Take a trip down to Weymouth Beach and see the spectacular Jurassic Coastline.
Best winter walk: Walk the South Dorset Ridgeway and discover the impressive Valley of Stones – a natural rock feature formed in the last ice age.
Best thing to do in winter: Cosy up in front of the open fire at the Summer Lodge Country House Hotel.
Cairngorms National Park
Whether you love walking, watersports, spotting wildlife, historic attractions or family-friendly fun, as UK’s largest national park, Cairngorms has it all. Located in the Scottish Highlands, this majestic national park is twice the size of the Lake District and is home to five of the UK’s highest mountains. So whether you’re a thrill-seeker or just want to reset and recharge, the Cairngorms National Park just keeps on giving.
Best beach: Loch Morlich is a lake in the heart of the national park surrounded by beaches with stunning backdrops.
Best walk: The dramatic waterfalls of The Falls of Bruar are best seen in wintery & wet conditions.
Best thing to do in winter: This national park is well known for being one of the best places to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights.
Robin Hood’s Bay
Nestled in the North York Moors, Robin Hood’s Bay is a picturesque fishing village is the perfect winter getaway. It’s a great staycation destination for walkers and cyclists, with a Coast to Coast trail and other popular routes where you can take in the breathtaking Yorkshire scenery. Once known as a smugglers haven, travel back in time on a guided tour as you uncover the secrets of the bay.
Best beach: Discover the Jurassic Coast and hunt for fossils at Robin Hood’s Bay Beach.
Best winter walk: The 4-mile circular Howdale Moor and Brow Moor walk takes you through two contrasting landscapes of the North York Moors National Park.
Best thing to do in winter: Book a boutique hotel with a roll-top bath and soak away the day.
Home to a 13th-century castle and surrounded by impressive stone walls, Conwy is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This bustling market town overlooks the beautiful River Conwy and is the perfect base for exploring the Welsh coastline and the mighty Snowdonia. In the colder months, Conwy turns into a stunning winter wonderland and it’s perfect for admiring this grand architectural town without the usual summer crowds.
Best beach: Walk the long promenade at the Blue Flag award winner, Colwyn Bay Beach. The three-mile bay is popular for cycling, coastal walks and fishing.
Best winter walk: The Pwllycrochan Woods Nature Reserve has four short circular walks to enjoy as you take in the views of the pretty woodland.
Best thing to do in winter: Located right on the promenade of Colwyn Bay Beach, the Michelin starred restaurant Bryn Williams at Porth Eirias is a must visit.