We know what you’re thinking. Going outside? In winter? In the UK? Are you crazy? Hear us out. Because winter may be cold, but winter is also Narnia. It’s the winter wonderland people daydream about after watching a classic Hallmark movie.
Wouldn’t you rather be the person who goes out in the thick of it, embraces every element of this wild and wonderful season, the person who earns their pint at the pub by the cosy fireplace?
Red cheeks and frosted breath. An excuse to buy a warm cinnamon doughnut from the Christmas market. The chance to wear your favourite and most dramatic bright red coat. That knowing look you give to others when you enter a store with a shiver and a brr.
And what better way to make others jealous than by showing them what they’re missing out on? Get that highlight reel going. Sell the dream of a wintery playground. Share the photo of you frolicking in the snow in that bright red coat, a frosted glow in your eyes.
So, in the spirit of sharing your winter adventures with those who were too chicken to step outside, here are 7 Instagrammable places in the UK that you should visit this winter:
“Bath was like a warm hug from an old friend. I felt safe in its embrace for those few special days. And I left with a mournful sigh, hoping to be back again soon.”
That quote is from our very own Bron who visited Bath earlier in the year to see what all the fuss was about. This is a city brimming with rich history, history you can see on every street, etched into old buildings and standing proud before you.
Aquae Sulis. That’s what Bath used to be called back in the Roman times. Elaborate baths were constructed around the natural hot springs and this beautiful city became a spa and social hub for the Romans living there. Bath’s next period of importance was during medieval times when Bath Abbey, founded in the 7th century, became a prominent religious centre. It wasn’t until the 18th century when the Georgian splendour Bath is so famous for appeared. Just like the scene in Princess Diaries, notable architects of the time transformed the city into a Georgian masterpiece of rich crescents and terraces, beautiful gardens, and all-around luxury.
The city has had several famous residents, including Jane Austen and Mary Shelley. It was a playground for the wealthy. A town synonymous with luxury and frivolity.
Today, Bath draws travellers, photographers, writers, artists, and all other curious minds to its beautiful streets. It’s the perfect place to tuck yourself away for a few days, forgetting there’s a world outside of this most idyllic one. And somehow the city becomes even more alluring during winter. How could it not with fairy lights reflecting on frost-covered windows that glow with the warmth of a fireplace inside? These are just some of the reasons we visit Bath and even have it as a departure point.
This may not be what comes to mind when you think battlefield. But, according to legend, the Quiraing exists today because of a great battle that was once fought between two giants. If you believe that kind of thing, anyway. We’re tempted to believe, because when you see the majesty of somewhere like the Quiraing, it’s hard to believe anything normal or mundane was involved in its making.
According to local folklore, the towering pinnacles and distinctive rock formations are said to be the aftermath of a great battle that was fought between two giants who were each vying for dominance of the Isle of Skye. We don’t blame them for squabbling, Skye is pretty incredible.
Even if you don’t believe in all that, this is still one spot you want to save on your bucket list. Even in winter, when the wind is fierce and the air biting, the Quiraing is one of those magical places. Dusted in snow, a low burning orb of light hovering just over the horizon... you feel somewhat in a daze as you bring out your camera for that iconic shot.
If you’re determined to find snow in Scotland during winter without having to go far, far north, you’re best off trying your luck within the Cairngorms National Park. It’s known for having some of the coldest temperatures in Scotland, so bring your warmest clothes.
Within the UK’s largest national park, you’ll find over 4,500 square kilometers of striking landscapes, magnificent mountains, dark and alluring forests, and glorious rivers. It’s a haven for hikers and mountaineers. A perfect place for wildlife watching. A prominent winter sport destination. A grand place for a wee bike ride. Famous for its fine whisky distilleries. And an ideal spot for a bit of stargazing.
Maybe you’ll stand on the edge of Loch Morlich for your shot, with its dark and calm waters, its contrasting beach and woodlands. Perhaps you’ll ditch the car, jump on a bike and go somewhere a little less trodden. Maybe it’s time to see if you can find your way to the Green Loch. Wherever you go within this world within a world, you’ll find beauty as diverse as it comes.
Many have heard of the Cotswolds. How could it not be famous, looking as good as it does? Villages as charming as the smile of a roguishly handsome prince. Honey-coloured limestone buildings lining the streets like treats on a shelf in a candy store. It’s a dream kind of place. Like stepping into a postcard and realising this kind of beauty can’t be real.
But it is.
And like any good character in a storybook, she’s more than her looks. The area has a rich history dating as far back as Roman times when it served as a significant trading centre. Even in the medieval period, the Cotswolds had a thriving wool trade and contributed to the construction of lovely churches and manor houses. It’s a prosperous region, always has been. Today it’s no different. Only now it draws travellers, adventurers, photographers, daydreamers... like you.
And you’re looking for that most iconic spot. Maybe it’s of the stone bridges that span the River Windrush in Burton-on-the-Water, known as the “Venice of the Cotswolds”. Or perhaps it’s of the iconic Arlington Row in Burbury.
It’s a timeless kind of beauty. The words enchanting and quintessential come to mind. In fact, this may have been where these words were invented.
Glen Coe needs little introduction. For those who come to Scotland, Glen Coe is almost always on their must-see list. Not only is the area absolutely awe-inspiring, but Glen Coe is also rich in history as well. Like much of Scotland, the region is known for an infamous battle known as the Glen Coe Massacre of 1692. Gazing out at the hazy silhouettes of mountains, the trickling rivers and gushing waterfalls, the biting starkness of a wintery landscape, it’s hard to believe that this was once the site of such a horrific battle.
But as you explore this area, be on the lookout for the iconic white house. It makes for an incredible photo any time of year, though we do wonder if it might disappear with enough snow! You might also be interested in visiting the locals – and by that, we mean the Three Sisters of Glencoe. Bidean nam Bian, Stob Coire Sgreamhach, and Stob Dubh – these striking peaks form the southern wall of the glen and the wee lasses lure hikers, adventurers, and photographers year after year. There are also legends surrounding these iconic sisters, one stating that the peaks were originally three sisters who were transformed into stone as a punishment for some transgression. I guess it's up to you to decide what you believe!
Here’s a little secret spot you may not have heard of. Many haven’t! And it’s a real shame, given the quirkiness of such a place. Welcome to Portmeirion, a quaint village in Gwynedd in North Wales. It was designed and built by a gentleman named Sir Clough Williams-Ellis back in the 1900s. His goal? A coastal resort town reminiscent of the beauty of idyllic Italian villages.
The result? A whimsical, atmospheric, beautiful little town that draws people to its gates. And we say gates because you do actually have to pay to enter – since the whole town is technically an ‘attraction’.
It’s the kind of place where you can wander with your camera and find a hundred different spots for a great photo. But to help narrow it down a bit – try the central piazza, the beautifully landscaped gardens (from the Gazebo Garden to the Chinese Lake), and down on the shores of the Dwyryd estuary.
It comes as no surprise that we’ve included Ireland on this list. Ireland? Beautiful? Surely not! This incredible landscape is an icon of emerald green and smiling faces around the world. Rich in history, bursting with stare-worthy locations, and the inventors of Guinness beer, Ireland is the kind of place one goes for a real adventure.
Located just south of Dublin is a little area known as County Wicklow and, within that, the Wicklow Mountains. Anywhere that’s nicknamed the “Garden of Ireland” has to be pretty spectacular, right? This mountain range is defined by its rolling hills, dramatic valleys, mesmerising lakes, and dense forests.
And then there’s Glendalough. The sister of Wicklow Mountains National Park, sitting side-by-side, this beautiful area is renowned for its early monastic settlement dating back to the 6th century. If you head to Upper Lake in Glendalough, you can get a great shot of the lake backed by the scenic Wicklow Mountains. And in winter, those peaks are likely to be – at the very least – dusted in the fresh snow of this beautiful season.
We know venturing out in a UK winter seems a fool’s mistake, but we can assure you – as those living, breathing and adventuring in these countries all year round – that there is something quite precious about a peaceful moment spent lakeside with the snow falling. And if you give winter in the UK half a chance, come prepared with the right clothes (cute wellies, anyone?), and bring a few extra batteries for your camera, we’re certain you’ll come to realise why we love it so much.