Best towns and villages to visit this winter

Discover Britain's prettiest villages, towns and cities for a winter break, each packed with cosy pubs and hotels, festive activities and magical winter walks.

The small quintessential snow-covered village
Published: November 11th, 2021 at 6:44 am
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Winter holidays are all the more rewarding with a cosy base – somewhere to warm up and relax with friends and family after a cold day exploring the British countryside and all the spectacular wildlife spectacles that can be found within it.


Here are some of our favourite cities, towns and villages to visit in the winter months, from the Scottish Highlands and Dorset hills to Northern Ireland's spectacular coastline and the great mountains of Wales.

Each winter holiday idea has its own selection of warm, comfortable pubs and pretty accommodations, as well as suggested locations for nearby walks and activities.

Best winter holiday destinations in England

Ironbridge, Shropshire

Ironbridge in winter
The buildings of Ironbridge reflect in the River Severn /Credit: Getty

The Iron Bridge, spanning the River Severn just south of Telford, appears frozen in time when covered in snow and ice. The town is a tribute to our industrial heritage. Visit the Ironbridge Gorge Museums for a lesson in local history, and a chance to escape from the cold.

Shaftesbury, Dorset

Shaftesbury in snow
A famous English view - Gold Hill in Dorset, on a cold mid-winters day/Credit: Getty

At 215 metres above sea level, this is one of the highest towns in England. Snow on the steep cobbles of Gold Hill increases the dramatic effect of the street, still remembered for 1973’s romantic Hovis advert. The are lots of opportunities for walking in Dorset, and some 10 miles north of Shaftesbury are Stourhead’s spectacular winter gardens.

Bowness-on-Windemere, Cumbria

Boat and lake in winter
The ferry at Bowness-on-Windermere in the Lake District/Credit: Geoff Eccles, Getty

Fuel up on coffee and cake in the town of Bowness-on-Windermere then make for the Cumbrian hills. There's plenty to explore within a few minutes of the town, including a moderate-level walk to the Kennel Wood oak, and a mini mountain climb from Hawkshead – another ice town – to the summit of Latrigg.

Broadway, Worcestershire

Snowy village
Broadway is a classic Cotswold village/Credit: Andy Roland, Getty

The picturesque village of Broadway, with its warm, honey-hued cottages, is the perfect base for a wintry stroll. Take time to meander along the high street past pubs, cafés, tea rooms and shops – offering art and antiques, country clothing and gifts – then head into the Cotswold hills.

Settle, Yorkshire

Settle in winter snow
Settle in winter snow/Credit: Getty

From this small town in the south-west corner of the Yorkshire Dales follow the icy waters of the River Ribble northwards for about two miles to the glorious waterfall of Stainforth Force. Ye Olde Naked Man Café is a firm favourite for a daytime snack. There are lots of option for walk in the area, including an 8.5-mile circular walk from Settle to Stainforth.

Best winter holiday destinations in Wales

Beddgelert, Gwynedd

river and village in winter
Beddgelert covered in winter snow/Credit: Gary Davies, Geograph

The breathtaking village of Beddgelert is situated in the Snowdonia national park. Nestled in a valley dominated by mountains it sits at the convergence of two rivers, the Glaslyn and Colwyn. Attractive bridges cross the water and lead to many captivating walks in Snowdonia. If pure luxury is what you’re after to warm your sole on a snowy winter's day, then the Sygun Fawr hotel is the place for you.

Best winter holiday destinations in Scotland

Stirling, Stirlingshire

Stirling in Scotland on a winters day.
A view of the city of Stirling in Central Scotland/Credit: Getty

Picture-postcard Stirling, built on the banks of the River Forth in central Scotland, is particularly magical in winter. The castle watches over the city, while the snow-covered summits of Stuc a’Chroin and Ben Vorlich dominate the landscape beyond. There are plenty of places to stay, including Willy Wallace Hostel and The Stirling Highland Hotel.

Lochinver, Highland

The village of Lochinver, on the shore beneath the west face of Quinag (808 metres)/Credit: Duncan Shaw, Alamy

The rugged setting of this picturesque west-coast village 30 miles north of Ullapool contributes to its icy conditions. The mountain peak of Suilven provides the perfect snowy backdrop to the village. Hike up it, or simply marvel at it, then head to the harbourside, where Peet’s Restaurant serves locally produced food with bonus views across the loch.

Aviemore, Highland

The Strathspey steam train prepares for the nostalgic day ahead travelling from Aviemore to Broomhill ©Getty
The Strathspey steam train prepares for the nostalgic day, travelling from Aviemore to Broomhill in Highland/Credit: DouglasMcGilviray, Getty

Excitement abounds when looking out from the Highland town of Aviemore to the mighty Cairngorms mountains, beloved by snowboarders, skiers and winter climbers. It’s the visceral reaction to the size and rawness of these granite giants that makes this landscape such a compelling place for all nature lovers. Bustling Aviemore, with its choice of hip or traditional bars, a good Italian restaurant and swish, hotel-run wooden cabins, is the ideal base for a wintry foray around the northern fringes of the park and its most beautiful lochs.

Best winter holiday destinations in Northern Ireland

Newcastle, County Down

Silhouettes of people on a beach
Enjoy a winter walk on Murlough Beach with the Mourne Mountains as a backdrop/Credit: Niall Majury, Getty

The coastal town of Newcastle in County Down offers a quiet escape on what is often a busy time of year for holidaying. To the norther of the town is Murlough National Nature Reserve, a wildlife-watchers’ dream, while behind it sits the mighty Mourne Mountains - a true winter playground after a night of snowfall.

Enniskillen, County Fermanagh

Town and castle on river at dusk
The snow-covered winter hills of Fermanagh can be explored from the county town of Enniskillen/Credit: p-pix, Getty

This historic market town, built on an island between Upper and Lower Lough Erne, is the ideal base for exploring Fermanagh in winter. It’s the county’s largest and most vibrant settlement, where pretty townhouses rub shoulders with traditional pubs and vivacious cafés. For beer, drop into traditional pub Blakes of the Hollow, then head downstairs for fine dining at Café Merlot.


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