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Winter Short Breaks Guide

Winter Short Breaks Guide

While many choose to go abroad in the colder months for some winter sun, there are so many fantastic locations to be discovered in the UK. From the bustling streets and verdant parks of London, to the historic city centre of Edinburgh and the mirrored waters of the Lake District, winter breaks in the UK are a brilliant way to unwind and explore a wonderful new location closer to home.

Here, we’ve put together everything possibly needed to know about the benefits of a winter escape in our Winter Short Breaks Guide, including what to take, suggested stunning locations, incredible experiences and hand-picked boutique hotels.

Why book a winter break?

After the last few years of lockdowns, remote working and change within our day-to-day lives, this winter, it’s high time to escape reality for a couple of days to be kind to our minds, recharge the batteries and relax.

And what's more, holidays aren’t just for the summer months. In fact, winter short breaks can be just as beautiful and relaxing in the UK, helping to beat those winter blues. Look forward to exploring stunning cities adorned with twinkling lights, walk over frost-covered cobbled streets in countryside villages and sleep in cosy hotel beds with cloud-like duvets – perfect for snuggling up in after a crisp winter’s walk around an exciting new location.

What to pack for a winter break

Wondering what to wear for a weekend away in winter? A lot will depend on the destination. But one factor is certain – the UK can get very cold. Be sure to pack a winter coat, some woolly jumpers and the warmest hats, scarves, gloves and socks possible. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to take an umbrella and some trusty waterproofs too.

Now the warm clothes are stowed safely in a suitcase, it’s time to think about the type of getaway needed. If packing for a winter weekend away on a chic city break, remember some comfy shoes for exploring busy streets, a securely fastened bag to keep belongings safe and, of course, a camera to capture all the cosmopolitan adventures.

Or, if a weekend spent walking in the wild on a wholesome countryside escape is more favoured, there are some essentials needed to bring along. As well as waterproofs and warm clothing, pack some walking boots or a pair of ankle-supporting trainers, a sturdy backpack and a water bottle to keep hydrated if hiking is on the cards.

Where to go for a winter short break

The UK has a multitude of breathtaking cities, coastal retreats and countryside locations that make for a fantastic short break in colder months. However, for the best weekends away in the UK winter, we have a few favourite places that are particularly magical in the run up to the festive season.

From the marvellous metropolis that is London, to the vibrant charm of Edinburgh, the historic beauty of York and the verdant views of the Lake District, explore our top picks for what to do and where to stay in these incredible winter-holiday hotspots below.

Visit London

London truly is a winter wonderland, with top-class museums, galleries, restaurants, theatres, pubs, bars, landmarks and parks on almost every corner.

Why not get into the festive spirit with a trip to Richmond Park for a glimpse of the reindeer, or venture out west to Kew Gardens to experience their world-famous Christmas light trail? Perhaps try ice skating at Somerset House or the Natural History Museum.

If staying toasty and warm is a deal-breaker, how about a trip to the theatre to catch an award-winning show? Maybe even indulge in a bone-warming beverage at one of London’s many historic pubs that boast roaring open fires, like The Holly Bush in Hampstead, The Pineapple in Kentish Town and Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese on Fleet Street – which was rebuilt in 1667 following the Great Fire of London.

No matter how chilly the temperature gets, London is one of the most incredible cities in the world come wintertime and a sure way to warm the heart in the run up to Christmas.

Where to stay in London

From chic Chelsea to the eccentric East End, the bustling Southbank and lively London Bridge, we’ve got the ideal London getaway to suit all. Here are some of our favourite luxury hotels and short breaks in London to enjoy this winter.

Visit Edinburgh

From historic landmarks to cultural hidden gems, Edinburgh's cobbled streets are heaving with things to do and places to see as the darker nights roll in.

Head to Edinburgh Castle – one of Britain's most besieged fortresses – for a history fix, before exploring the quaint Old Town and picturesque Royal Mile. For the adventurous, a climb to the top of Arthur's Seat awaits, with stunning views of Scotland's capital a just reward. Then, stroll over to the Palace of Holyroodhouse to see where The Queen makes her royal visits.

Once the sights are ticked off, indulge in Edinburgh's magnificent food scene. Sample Scottish street food at stylish Barnacles & Bones, cosy up in the epic gastropub, The Scran and Scallie and go all out at MICHELIN-starred Condita. And even with a full belly, there's always room to sample some of the best whiskies on offer across Edinburgh's vibrant bar scene or at a specialist tasting experience.

With Christmas markets adorning Edinburgh's streets and the magical winter fairground at Princes Street Gardens, the festive period is the perfect time to explore Scotland’s crowning jewel.

Where to stay in Edinburgh

Whether looking for a hotel that’s chic and contemporary, or something a little more luxurious and steeped in history, Scotland’s capital will not disappoint. Browse our top hotel picks for a short winter break in Edinburgh.

Visit York

Step back in time on a city getaway and drink in the rich history of York, a location which is renowned for its medieval roots and impeccable architecture.

Start with one of the world’s most remarkable cathedrals – York Minster. Home to the Archbishop of York, the gothic walls and a collection of intricately beautiful stained-glass windows. Continue to marvel at the architectural magnificence of the city and traverse the enveloping city walls, strolling past the iconic timber buildings of The Shambles, a street famous for inspiring the magical Diagon Alley of the Harry Potter novels.

For the history aficionados out there, a visit to the Jorvik Viking Centre is a must, offering an insightful glimpse into Viking life. Follow in the footsteps of William the Conqueror on a climb up to Clifford's Tower for epic views of the city, or even immerse in the city's infatuation with chocolate at York's Chocolate Story.

 From shopping boutiques to luxury hotels, buzzing bars and a thriving foodie scene, York has everything needed for a fabulous winter escape.

Where to stay in York

From boutique escapes in the historic city centre to luxuriously modern hotels inside the city walls, book the perfect winter weekend getaway with our choice of the best short breaks in York below.

Visit the Lake District

Searching for a winter break full of outdoor activities and natural wonder? Look no further than the Lake District – a UNESCO World Heritage Site that boasts mirrored lakes, verdant vistas, renowned restaurants and a rich literary history, too.

Whether an avid rambler who fancies taking on Scafell Pike, a keen wild swimmer who wouldn’t say no to a dip in Lake Windermere, or a literary buff who’s wanting to visit Beatrix Potter’s home at Hill Top, this coveted corner of Cumbria is simply picture-perfect.

Or, if embracing peaceful surroundings and luxuriating in self-care at the same time is preferred, book in for a sumptuous spa day at the elegant Rothay Garden Hotel.

From Windermere to Penrith, Ullswater, Keswick and Wastwater, there are so many incredible areas of outstanding natural beauty to discover in the Lake District this winter.

Where to stay in the Lake District

After a day of rambling along the fells and soaking up spectacular sights, a comfy bed is needed to rest weary legs. From country houses with indulgent tasting menus to chic Cumbrian hotels, here’s our pick of the best short breaks in the Lake District.