When people think of winter travel, the UK isn’t usually the first country that comes to mind. But there are a lot of places that come into their own in the cooler months, and many advantages to visiting at this time of year. If you’re open to the idea, read on for A Lady in London’s best places to visit in the UK in winter.

Places to Visit in the UK in Winter

Visiting the UK in Winter

One of the great things about visiting the UK in winter is that not many people do. The prospect of fewer crowds is a prime benefit, not to mention shorter wait times, better deals, and easier booking opportunities.

Furthermore, as overtourism becomes an increasing problem around the world, visiting in the winter months is a good sustainable travel practice.

And if you’re worried about the weather, you shouldn’t be. The British weather is unpredictable year-round, so you’re just as likely to get caught in a downpour in July as in December.

If you have the right clothes (my winter packing list can help), you’ll be fine in the cold.

To top it off, there are better travel deals and discounts. Winter means more attractive prices on everything from transport to accommodation, and there’s often increased availability and sweeter last-minute deals than in the high season.

House on Talisker Bay

Places to Visit in the UK in Winter

My list of places to visit in the UK in winter comes from personal experience. I’ve visited all of the places on this list in winter, and can personally vouch for how much I enjoyed them. If you go, I hope you will as well.

Sligachan Old Bridge

1. York

First on my list is York. This city in the north of England is one of the prettiest in the UK at any time of year. But it’s particularly good to visit in the winter for a few reasons.

First, York is home to some amazing Christmas markets. From St Sampson’s Square to Coppergate and the Shambles, the city is packed with chalets selling all kinds of Christmas gifts and food.

Second, York gets crowded at other times of year, and winter is a good time to go to avoid the summer throngs.

Walking the city walls, exploring the narrow Snickelways, and taking in York Minster are all easier to do in the winter when there are fewer people around.

Third, York looks magical in winter light. Between all the Christmas lights and the soft sunlight, the city glows in winter.

York at Christmas

2. Isle of Skye

Next up is Scotland’s Isle of Skye. This island in the Hebrides is one of the best places to visit in the UK in winter for many reasons.

One is that sunrise takes place late enough that you don’t have to set an early alarm to see it. With deep pinks and purples and the backdrop of snow-capped Cuillin Hills, it’s spectacular.

Another great thing about visiting the Isle of Skye in winter is that there’s beautiful light. From the Fairy Pools to Talisker Bay, it makes visiting and photographing the island a treat.

Seasonal scenery is another reason to visit in winter. The Black Cuillins are atmospheric with a dusting of snow on top, and thick frost on the ground looks like shimmering diamonds when the sun hits it.

Add to that the fact that in the summer months the Isle of Skye suffers from insects like midges and issues like overtourism, and winter is the time to go.

Cuillin on the Isle of Skye in Winter

3. Birmingham

Birmingham is another of the best places to visit in the UK in winter. This underrated city in England is home to beautiful historic and contemporary architecture, a world-class art museum, and good shopping.

But there are a few things that make it more attractive to visit in winter than at other times of year.

I’ll start with the Birmingham Christmas markets. These festive markets fill all the main streets and squares in the city center and bring Birmingham to life with chalets, gifts, giant Christmas pyramids, Santas, and more.

There’s also a great ice skating rink in Birmingham. Set against the backdrop of the stunning contemporary library, it’s a fun place to get out and embrace the winter spirit.

Ferris Wheel in Birmingham in Winter

4. Rye

For something calmer, Rye is one of my favorite places to visit in the UK in winter. This town in England’s East Sussex is not only one of the prettiest towns in Britain, but also a cozy retreat in the colder months.

Winter is a great time to be in Rye because there are fewer people around, the town’s pretty streets are easier to explore and photograph, and there are lots of warming pubs to tuck into.

On top of that, the Mermaid Inn in Rye is rumored to be haunted, so it’s the perfect place to indulge in a winter ghost story or two.

Rye is also near beaches like Camber Sands, and on a clear day it’s fun to take a winter walk along the shore.

Rye, England in Winter

5. Edinburgh

Back to cities, Edinburgh is one of the top places to visit in the UK in winter. The Scottish capital is full of festive cheer during the colder months, and it has one of the biggest and best New Year’s Eve celebrations in Britain.

Edinburgh also has great Christmas markets, ice skating rinks, and seasonal decorations in the winter. From Princes Street Gardens to George Street and St Andrew Square, the city center fills with the sights and sounds of the season.

But back to New Year’s Eve. The Edinburgh Hogmanay celebrations ring in the new year with a multi-day extravaganza that includes fireworks, a torchlight procession, a street party, and more.

Building in Edinburgh at Christmas

6. Brecon Beacons

Out in the countryside, the Brecon Beacons are an ideal place to go for a winter weekend in Wales. This area and its national park are perfect for long winter walks that culminate in cozy pubs.

There are lots of walking and hiking trails around the area, and the scenery is as full of adorable sheep and ponies as it is waterfalls and spectacular peaks.

Winter is a great time to go to the Brecon Beacons because it’s far less crowded than summer and there’s something extra rewarding about taking a long country walk in the cold and coming home to a warm fire.

Pony in the Brecon Beacons

7. Belfast

Over in Northern Ireland, Belfast is one of the ideal places to visit in the UK in winter. This city has a lot to see and do, and plenty of beautiful countryside around it.

Belfast itself is great in winter for its lively pubs and museums like the Titanic Belfast. There are also lots of cozy restaurants and cafes to warm up in.

Outside the city, the Causeway Coastal Route is good in winter. Places like the Giant’s Causeway, Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge, and Old Bushmills Distillery are less crowded than in summer months.

And that’s to say nothing of the stunning Dark Hedges, which can be overrun in busier periods.

Titanic Belfast

8. Bath

Back in England, Bath is one of the best places to visit in the UK in winter.

This city is famous for its history as a Roman spa town, and visitors can still take the waters today. It’s a great way to warm up in winter and get into the city’s spirit at the same time.

But there’s more to do in Bath in winter than going to the spa. The city has a beautiful Christmas market, and it’s lovely against the backdrop of the abbey.

There are also a lot of independent shops, restaurants, and cafes in Bath that make perfect places to warm up when it’s cold outside.

And don’t forget the Pump Room. Jane Austen fans will welcome the chance to have tea in the historic surroundings her heroines once frequented.

Bath is also great in winter for the same reason a lot of the other places on my list are: it gets incredibly busy in the summer.

Visiting in winter means fewer crowds and easier conditions for photographing the famous Bath stone buildings around the city.

Pulteney Bridge, Bath

9. Dartmoor

For someplace moody, look no further than Dartmoor. This national park in England’s Devon is known for its atmospheric fog. The heavy mists that blanket the hillsides are stuff of legends, and visiting in the winter months adds ambiance.

Dartmoor National Park features an ancient landscape with stunning valleys, granite tors, rushing rivers, and rugged scenery.

The area is also famous for its ponies, which have lived in the park for centuries and are part of the fabric of the land.

Dartmoor, England

10. Cotswolds

I love the Cotswolds at any time of year, but this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is one of the best places to visit in the UK in winter for several reasons.

One is that it’s less overrun with crowds than in the summer. Places like Arlington Row in Bibury get extremely busy in July and August, but in December I’ve had the whole street to myself.

Beyond that, the Cotswolds villages are atmospheric in winter. From the larger-than-life topiary hedges in Painswick to the cozy pub in Sapperton, the area exudes charm at this time of year.

And that’s to say nothing of the landscapes, which are moody and atmospheric with everything from mist to morning light.

Arlington Row, Bibury

11. London

I’d be remiss if I didn’t include London on my list. The UK capital is a great place to visit in winter.

London comes alive at Christmas, and the city lights up with markets, ice skating rinks, lights, decorations, performances, and more. It’s an amazing place to be during the festive season.

But even after the new year has begun, there are advantages to visiting London in winter.

It’s less crowded, so things like getting theater tickets, booking restaurant reservations, and watching the Changing the Guard at Buckingham Palace are much easier.

Attractions are less busy, so there are fewer (if any) waits to get into or onto them. And places like Borough Market are more enjoyable to explore with fewer people around.

Christmas Decorations in Covent Garden

Best Places to Visit in the UK in Winter

I hope my list of the best places to visit in the UK in winter has inspired you to get out and see more of the country in the off-season.

I’ve enjoyed my visits to all of these places and I have a feeling you will, too. So wrap up warm and have fun exploring.

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Places to Visit in the UK in Winter

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