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Caitlin Rush August 12 2021

Scotland’s high season generally runs from April to October in line with the warmest weather and the longest days. Here at Absolute Escapes, however, we have never been ones to limit ourselves to this restrictive travel window.

Scotland has so much to offer outside this time and in autumn-winter you can experience a different side to Scotland that I know you will find very satisfying. The hills do not hibernate and the beautiful views and landscapes remain.

In winter, we change our lifestyle and habits. We adorn woolly hats and jumpers and spend more time reading books, going out for hearty meals and meeting friends in cosy pubs. We head outside for wintery walks in a world that is often covered in frost or snow. Although the trees are bare, there are long-reaching views that are obscured by trees in the summer.

Once back indoors there is a feeling of tranquillity as we sit by a fire and warm up again, sinking into a comfortable sofa with a feeling of satisfaction of having been outside and now ready to be snug. Add a hot chocolate or a warming wee whisky to the mix and what more could you want for your next holiday?

Read on to discover why a Winter Escape in Scotland should be firmly on your bucket list!

 

Fewer People

In the low season, you can escape the crowds and have Scotland’s incredible landscapes all to yourself.

There are fewer people, more space, and a feeling of having a world that is all yours.

 

Luxurious Accommodations

In the high season, many luxury accommodations raise their prices in response to demand. In the wintertime, the rates to stay in incredible accommodation can be much more favourable.

You could treat yourself to a night in a castle hotel and sleep safely guarded from the cold outside by stone walls wreathed in hundreds of years of history. Castles offer a maze of rooms to explore and discovering their delights and enjoying their decadence can be the main attraction of a holiday in itself.

In the evenings, perhaps you will find the library or drawing room to relax and bask in the opulent surroundings.

 

Escapism & Relaxation

Travelling at a quieter time of year is the perfect opportunity to escape and shut down in our frantic world. The dark nights force busy minds to stop and busy people to sit still and relax.

A holiday in winter has a slower pace where you are likely to finish any outdoor activities by 4pm and have the whole evening ahead to read that book that you’ve been meaning to get to, or have a long lazy dinner.

There is plenty of time to catch up with yourself and lose that feeling that you should always be doing something.

 

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Warming Food & Drink

One thing that you can’t escape is the fact that winter is cold. Regular breaks are pretty much compulsory in order to refuel and reheat. What an opportunity to constantly dive into little cute cafes and picturesque pubs!

To discover our team’s favourite cosy cafes, check out our blog on Scotland’s 15 Best Cafes for a Rainy Day

A lot of our Scottish cuisine stems from the need to keep warm with large portion sizes and lots of carbohydrates. Just think of Scotch broth, roast meats and pies, haggis neeps and tatties, cullen skink, a warming curry, root vegetable stew, or even the Scot’s love of a bowl of chips. My granny eats a bowl of soup every day in the winter and soup by a Scottish granny is always the best!

On a winter’s night, I recommend feasting on a warm pie with veg and roast potatoes followed by a large portion of hot sticky toffee pudding!

Our national drink of whisky takes on a new life in winter, fuelling cold nights in warm bars surrounded by friends or an evening at home by the fire. For a winter road trip designed around some of Scotland’s best whisky distilleries, check out our Winter Whisky Escape.

 

Get a Feel for Everyday Life

Fewer tourists means that you are more likely to interact with local people during your holiday. Accommodations, bars and restaurants tend to be filled with local people having a night away, rather than tourists. This gives you more of an insight into modern Scottish culture and how people live their regular, everyday lives.

Perhaps you will even get the chance to have a blether (chat) with some friendly locals.

 

Embrace the Weather

There is often less rainfall in winter than at other times of the year and the temperature generally stays well above 0°C, unlike many places in Europe. As with the rest of the year, you are likely to experience a plethora of weather in one day but with the new additions of beautiful frost and snow in the mix.

A misty and autumnal Glencoe is probably one of my favourite views in Scotland, while my favourite kind of Scottish day is when it is freezing cold but brilliantly sunny with blue skies. Imagine a beautiful castle framed by snow-capped hills on a sunny day – the photo opportunities are endless!

As long as you have the right clothing, heading outside is possible whatever the weather. If you are an experienced winter walker, a walk up the snowy mountains will be unforgettable!

 

Discover Indoor Activities

Did you know most of Scotland’s museums and art galleries are free and open to everyone? These offer the perfect space to head indoors in bad weather and learn something new.

This includes the huge National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh and the impressive Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum in Glasgow. Pop in for 15 minutes or a whole day and shelter from the cold!

 

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Winter Events

As if all this wasn’t enough, there are lots of exciting events and festivals that take place in Scotland in the low season.

From the end of November to the beginning of January there are Christmas markets to visit in each Scottish city including the most impressive one in Edinburgh where you can ride the giant Ferris wheel, buy gifts at the brightly decorated stands, and warm up with mulled wine.

When the evenings are at their darkest, we light up our cities with thousands of fairy lights covering streets and buildings.

Hogmanay (New Year’s Eve) is extremely important in Scotland and you will find large celebrations up and down the country.

There are also many other important events celebrated in these months including Guy Fawkes Night on the 5th November, St Andrew’s Day on the 30th November, and Burns Night on the 25th January.

Celtic Connections is a two-week long music festival of exciting global artists that takes place in Glasgow in January. Up Helly Aa is the famous Viking festival in the Shetland Isles. Burns and Beyond is a celebration of Burns Night and modern Scotland with a series of events in Edinburgh in January. There is so much to choose from!

 

The Night Sky

Finally, head into rural Scotland on a clear night and feast your eyes on thousands and thousands of stars twinkling down on you. I could stare at our night sky for hours and the stars offer a free nightly show for everyone to enjoy.

One of the best places to see dark skies is Dumfries and Galloway – home to the magical Galloway Forest Dark Sky Park which you can visit on our Southern Scotland Winter Road Trip.

You also don’t have to get up early to see a beautiful sunrise!

 

Top Tips for a Scottish Winter Escape

  • Bear in mind the limited hours of daylight
  • Look ahead at the weather and plan your days accordingly
  • If you are driving on rural roads, be aware of winter driving skills
  • Invest in a good, waterproof coat and wrap up warm
  • Check opening times of attractions in advance as they could be shorter or limited
  • Most importantly, bring your camera!

Absolute Escapes are specialists in self-drive holidays and our new Winter Escapes are designed around spectacular scenery, historic gems, and the very best accommodation. I hope this blog has inspired you with some of the possibilities of travel off-season in Scotland.

Our top itineraries include our Isle of Skye & Scottish Highlands Winter Escape and our fabulous Winter in a Scottish Castle Hotel. Why not come and experience a different side of Scotland and join us for a cosy, winter adventure.

Caitlin Rush

Discover our Scottish Winter Escapes

Isle of Skye & Scottish Highlands Winter Escape

From £730pp

Self-Drive Holidays
Duration 7 Nights
  • Edinburgh Castle, The Royal Mile & Holyrood Palace
  • Experience Glencoe, Scotland's most famous and atmospheric glen, set beneath snow-capped mountains
  • Visit the magical Isle of Skye and the Cuillin Mountains during the quieter winter season

Winter Whisky Escape

From £605pp

Self-Drive Holidays
Duration 5 Nights
  • Discover Scotland’s world-famous Malt Whisky Trail which includes Glenfiddich and Macallan distilleries
  • Tour Dewar’s World of Whisky & The Famous Grouse Experience
  • Visit spectacular Edinburgh, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and home to Edinburgh Castle, the Royal Mile & Holyrood Palace

Winter in a Scottish Castle Hotel

From £1275pp

Self-Drive Holidays
Duration 7 Nights
  • Enjoy atmospheric views over Loch Fyne from your west coast castle hotel
  • Stay in a magnificent Highland castle with romantic turrets and ancient battlements
  • Explore the delightful town of Pitlochry from your luxury castle hotel in the heart of Highland Perthshire

North East 250: Scottish Winter Road Trip

From £610pp

Self-Drive Holidays
Duration 6 Nights
  • Drive through an incredible wintery landscape, including the snow capped mountains of the Cairngorms National Park
  • Try an array of warming whiskies on the Speyside Malt Whisky Trail
  • Take advantage of the peaceful countryside to look up at the magical stars of the night sky

Southern Scotland Winter Road Trip

From £615pp

Self-Drive Holidays
Duration 6 Nights
  • Explore charming Ayrshire which inspired Scotland's Bard, Rabbie Burns
  • Discover the unspoilt beauty of Dumfries and Galloway - home to the magical Galloway Forest Dark Sky Park
  • Visit the magnificent ruins of Melrose Abbey - the resting place of the heart of Robert the Bruce
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