Close to home: where to stay in the UK this winter

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Planning a winter break? Why not forgo far off travel destinations in favour of somewhere closer to home? From money savings to avoiding lengthy travel times, there are plenty of reasons to opt for a winter break at home. With no need for passports, visas, and airport dashes, a holiday here is often a much more relaxed affair. While adventurous holidays in exotic locations are tempting, sometimes there's just nothing that beats a cosy sense of familiarity while exploring a new place. 

Of course, there are plenty of superb cities, towns and villages to explore right here in the UK. From fresh coastal walks to more cosmopolitan weekends spent wining and dining, the country offers getaway options to suit every taste. What's more, with all of the incredible scenery, fascinating history and marvellous architecture here, a UK break never feels like a compromise. With so much beauty and heritage on our doorstep it makes sense to take full advantage of it whenever possible - at any time of the year!

Many of the UK's towns and cities are at their very best during the run up to Christmas. With traditional Christmas markets, twinkling lights, and decorations galore, it's impossible to not feel the warm glow of festive spirit. The early months of the new year are also a great time to get out and explore, with refreshing winter walks, fewer crowds at sights and attractions and low season prices. Naturally the weather can be a little brisk... but there's always a cosy local pub to warm up in! Here are some of our favourite places to visit in UK in winter time.

 

The Cotswolds

 

For traditional winter cosiness, there are few places better than the Cotswolds. The area is full of picturesque little villages, ideal for scenic walks and pleasant pub lunches. The run up to Christmas is extra special here, too. From the festive tree that is placed into the river at Bourton-on-the-Water each year, to the pretty lights adorning the likes of Kingham and Chipping Camden, it is truly a magical time to be here. 

On the western edge of the Cotswolds, Blenheim Palace is certainly worthy of a winter visit. You'll find a cheery Christmas market, Victorian-style fair rides and festive lights galore along the spectacular Tunnel of Light. Of course, a tour of the house and grounds is

unmissable, and as one of the UK's largest stately homes and the birthplace of Winston Churchill, there is ample history to explore.

 

Cairngorms National Park

 

When it comes to the most scenic places to go, winter UK style has a lot to offer. The Cairngorms National Park is one of the finest examples of this. A winter break here not only offers some fantastic skiing opportunities, there are also plenty of wonderful walks with breathtaking views to enjoy. There is also the chance to become well acquainted with the region's herd of wild reindeer. Throughout most of the winter season, daily trips leave from the Glenmore Centre to locate and feed the herd, who are a rather tame bunch. 

There are lots of other activities to partake in during winter time here; everything from distillery tours to a visit to the historic Dunnottar Castle. The wider Scottish Highlands region is bursting with gorgeous wintry scenes and attractions; take a look at our Christmas in the Highlands holiday for proof.

 

Wells

 

As the smallest city in England, Wells is bustling and well-connected, whilst still being full of local charm. It's a superb place to visit at any time of the year, thanks to its beautiful architecture and rich heritage, but in winter the tastefully-decorated streets and fascinating historic sights become even more romantic. A visit to the stunning cathedral is always a must, and the Bishop's Palace and Mendip Museum also provide plenty of intrigue. 

If you're here in the lead up to Christmas, you'll find plenty of opportunities for present buying. From traditional carefully-crafted toys to delicious artisan chutneys, the local shops and delis are sure to fill you with inspiration. There's also a Christmas market on for a few days over the festive period - a perfect excuse to browse for gifts while sipping on warming mulled cider.

 

Belfast

 

Another of the best places to visit in UK in winter time is Belfast. There's plenty to see and do here all year round, and winter is no exception. Learn about 'The Troubles' through the politically-charged murals that are scattered around the city in a taxi tour, watch a performance at the spectacular Grand Opera House, and view the exhibits on display in the magnificent City Hall. No trip to Belfast would be complete without a visit to the Titanic Quarter; it's an incredibly important part of the city's identity, which is why we added it to our Belfast and the Titanic Experience tour holiday.

Outside of the city centre there are also a range of refreshing walks to enjoy. Set out on the Belfast Hills and be rewarded with lovely views. Here you'll also find Colin Glen Forest Park, featuring a variety of trails across the beautiful river glen with its woodland, waterfalls and ponds.

 

Oxford

 

Surely no list of the must see places in UK in winter would be complete without mentioning Oxford. The crisp wintry air and foggy mornings suit the historic city perfectly, and the crowds of tourists are nowhere to be seen. As well as photo opportunities galore, there's plenty to do in the city during the colder months. Explore the iconic colleges, wander through the Botanical Garden or see some art at the Modern Art Oxford gallery. 

There are some lovely walks to do at this time of the year, too. The views of the city from Christ Church Meadows are exquisite, and Magdalen College Deer Park with its beautifully landscaped gardens is fantastic for a fresh afternoon stroll.

 

Bath

 

Beautiful Bath makes for a wonderful winter escape. From walks along the canal to cosying up in a coffee shop with a good book, it's perfect for exploring at a slower pace. Take a look inside the stunning abbey, dine in one of the many excellent restaurants, or wander around the famous Christmas market, with its 170 traditional wooden huts. 

The Roman Baths are another big draw - and once you've explored the historic sights be sure to book in some time at the Thermae Spa. Even in the winter, the bubbling water is warm enough to make full use of the open air rooftop pool, complete with gorgeous views over the city.

 

 

From the hustle and bustle of vibrant cities to the dramatic scenery of stunning national parks, there are plenty of superb sights in our own back garden.Take a look at our selection of escorted tours in the UK for some inspiration for your next trip.

 

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