Who knew that two years plus of a global pandemic would finally allow us to appreciate what this neck of the woods has to offer? Boasting varying landscapes and quaint little villages, the UK and Ireland are actually a mecca for culture, with tons of stunning sights and historical landmarks to uncover across the islands, very much worthy of winter staycations. Read on for our picks of the best winter staycations in the UK and Ireland.
1. The Cairngorms, Scotland
One of the most beautiful parts of the Scottish Highlands, the Cairngorms not only offers an unbeatable landscape, but sometimes in the winter, glimpses of the Northern Lights, too. Home to rugged snow-topped mountains and vast lakes, the idyllic national park is the perfect place to book a cabin and get cosy for the winter, with tons of fantastic walks and ample peace and quiet to lap up during your visit. Who needs Iceland when you have Scotland, eh?
The kind of quintessentially British getaway you’d expect from an American rom-com, The Cotswolds is as quaint as towns in England come – setting the bar when it comes to storybook-style architecture, beautiful scenery, and cosy country pubs. Opt for a comfy inn as your accommodation and enjoy the ample walks available on your doorstep, finishing off with a cuppa tea, proper British style – obviously.
One of the prettiest places in the entirety of England, Bath has garnered quite a reputation for its beauty thanks to its sand-toned 18th-century architecture. Flowing right through the city, the famous place is perfect to visit all year round – with the Roman Baths, in particular, the highlight of the trip. For those who enjoy a cosmopolitan touch, Bath has tons to offer, including plenty of cool coffee shops, stunning wine bars and an endless array of restaurants.
4. Dartmoor, Devon
One of the UK’s most beautiful national parks, Dartmoor offers a wonderfully wild landscape in the winter months, offering sanctuary to ponies, cuckoos, otters and plenty other species of wildlife who call the national park home. A tranquil retreat that nature lovers can revel in, Dartmoor offers a splendid array of winter walks and activities – including the likes of horse riding, cycling, watersports and more.
5. Brecon Beacons
Situated in the South of Wales, Brecon Beacons is the perfect place for forest views and snow-topped mountains – quite a different landscape for us concrete-burdened Mancunians. Filled with homely places for winter staycations such as barns, lodges and cottages, the beautiful UK national park is sure to help shake off the winter blues with its breathtaking sights, peaceful walks, and unbelievable waterfalls.
A historic city found just two hours from Manchester in North Yorkshire, York has essentially become the UK’s very own Hogsmeade, thanks to its Tudor architecture and quirky buildings that loom over streets such as the famous Shambles. Home to a number of Harry Potter-themed shops, quaint markets, and tons of gorgeous bars, York offers a fantastic staycation – whatever the season.
Another of the UK’s most beautiful and decadent cities, Oxford offers a gorgeous glimpse into the past, with much of the city boasting sand-toned architecture dating back to the 12th century. Packed full of history and home to one of the world’s most prestigious universities (where Stephen Hawking himself studied), Oxford is sure to thrill all who are lucky enough to potter through its streets.
It might be chilly oop North in the winter, but Durham’s beauty somehow makes that irrelevant. Picturesque, historic and slightly Medieval, the city has plenty to do if history is your thing – with its very own castle, beautiful stately homes and plenty more to explore. If that wasn’t enough already, there are tons of wonderful bars and restaurants to try, too, making it a city break with the best of both worlds.
9. Wild Atlantic Way, Ireland
A dramatic trail boasting some of the best of Ireland, the Wild Atlantic Way is famed for its lengthy coastline, much of which is painted in Ireland’s famous greenery. The route itself takes up to a couple of weeks to complete, however, there are some fantastic places along the way to stay – including Mizen Head, Malin Head, Keem Bay and Doolin. Each location is as unique as the next, offering beautiful coastal views, wholesome walks, and plenty of Irish culture.