When the snow starts to fall, the sun ceases to warm us, and we're suddenly wrapped up in a haze of scarves and gloves, it can be tempting to opt for winter holidays abroad. But here in the UK there are dozens of excellent choices: historic cities like Bath and Edinburgh host huge, continental markets, replete with twinkling fairy-lights, mulled wine and handmade nutcrackers. National Parks, meanwhile, turn into spectacular winter wonderlands, sparkling with snow-covered plains, amidst the bare-stripped branches of trees. While the crisp, cold air doesn't offer the warmth of a Caribbean Christmas, winter holidays in the UK have a charm and beauty all their own.
Top places to visit in the UK this winter
So with so much to see and do in the UK this winter, why go anywhere else? Of course, you'll need comfortable and cosy accommodation when opting for winter holidays at home, but luckily HomeAway Holiday Rentals has over 10,000 UK properties to choose from. Fancy a traditional farmhouse in England or a fishing cottage in Scotland? How about finding rural retreats in Northern Ireland or secluded spots in Wales? Our accommodation spans each and every corner of the United Kingdom, so you're bound to find your ideal property when you rent privately through HomeAway Holiday Rentals.
Is there anywhere better to warm the soul than the shores of Wales? Ok, so you can't expect to build sandcastles in your swimsuit, or even strip down for a dip in warm waters, but you can expect bracing, cliff-top walks and gloriously fresh sea breezes. You'll even enjoy sunshine when on winter holidays in Pembrokeshire; the south coast of Wales is one of the sunniest places in the UK, after all! Go cycling, hiking or climbing in the Pembrokeshire Coast National Park, before returning to a cottage nestled in the heart of the Welsh countryside. With many of our self-catering properties boasting heart-warming, wood-burning stoves, they're the perfect choice for that romantic break away.
Cumbria's the destination of choice when looking for excellent walking trails. Pack an extra jumper and a flask of something warm, and you'll be more than prepared to hike up Latrigg Fell, one of the region's most challenging hills. All the huffing and puffing will be worth it, however: it boasts magnificent panoramas over Derwentwater Lake and the Borrowdale Valley, hopefully covered in snow during the winter months. Afterwards, take a trip to Hadrian's Wall or Furness Abbey, or learn about the area's most famous local, William Wordsworth. With plenty of historical sites, cosy pubs and icy lakes, Cumbria's an excellent choice when in search of wonderful winter breaks.
If you fancy a city break this winter, consider a stay in Scotland's capital. During the festive season, Edinburgh comes alive with fairy lights, Christmas markets and winter activities, and come Hogmanay, its enormous, annual street party is unbeatable. For the adventurous, there are opportunities for ice skating in Princes Street Gardens and taking a ride on the illuminated Edinburgh Eye, while those with relaxation in mind can simply sip mulled-wine, watching street performers along the Royal Mile. Wander around the German market ladened with handmade gifts, festive foods and music, or enjoy gazing up at gothic architecture as you soak up the spectacular atmosphere.
Head for County Antrim's Black Mountain this winter, and you'll be rewarded with outstanding panoramas over Belfast and beyond. Boasting an extensive network of National Trust walking trails, County Antrim's the ideal spot when you want to explore the great outdoors. Bring some sturdy shoes and a wooly jumper or two, and you can appreciate the Giant's Causeway at its quietest, before settling in a cosy pub with a pint of local ale. Of course, while most visitors bring cameras when holidaying in Northern Ireland, it's an absolute must when staying here during winter. The colder months see sunsets and sunrises change, with blazing hues of red illuminating the beautiful landscapes.
If you just can't bear the thought of a winter without any sun, why not travel southwards and keep your fingers crossed for the Cornish micro-climate? Sprawling sub-tropical gardens cover much of this English region, and offer some light relief with their year-round colourful blooms. Head for the Tresco Abbey Gardens on the Isles of Scilly, where you'll find over 300 plants still in flower, or take a trip to the Eden Project, where you'll find almost 100,000 exotic species: enormous conservatories house plants from around the world, from Amazonian rainforests to Mediterranean coastlines. Once you've had enough of the humid weather indoors, enjoy a bracing walk along one the region's finest beaches.