When planning a romantic winter holiday, you may be thinking of Switzerland and the French Alps. One thing I can guarantee is missing from your list is Scotland. Famous for its culinary abominations, lack of understandable English speakers and perpetual rainfall, Scotland is a magnificent country to visit year-round.
There is something about winters up north that have my whole heart.The biggest perk is probably the absence of tourists. During the summer, you will often find yourself stuck in traffic, someone stepping on your heels on popular walking routes, and constantly looking for parking.
During the winter, Scotland’s stunning scenery and touristic offerings are all yours. You will easily get a table at the best restaurants. Accommodations are cheaper and have more availability on short notice. Just think of the photos you can get of these world-famous mountains, lochs and castles without having to edit forty bright blue Osprey backpacks out of them.
Breathtaking winter colors
And while we’re talking about pretty sights: Scotland’s winter colours are truly something to behold. The sun may not keep you as warm as it does elsewhere but when it shines, but it dips every heathery hill in the softest golden hue while snow-covered mountain-tops glow like literal icing on the cake of this holiday adventure. It is simply magical.
Scottish winters tend to be dryer than spring and fall, too, so while you can still get very unlucky (in which case I suggest cozying up in front of the fireplace of an old-fashioned B&B and enjoying a cup of hot chocolate), there is a good chance you will get cool, crisp, sunny days between December and February.
Speaking of lights: anything north of Inverness will give you a great shot at seeing the northern lights. The further north the better, but even Lossiemouth in the East and the islands in the west are perfect for viewing the northern lights between September and April thanks to the lack of light pollution in these regions. If you make it all the way to Orkney or Shetland, you’re in for even more spectacular views.
Edinburgh is a perfect city for Christmas shopping, and has direct flights from Frankfurt. The picturesque historic city centre has all the shops you can dream of for every budget. The city’s famed Princes Street even comes with a gorgeous view of an ancient castle that is atmospheric when it’s cloudy and nothing short of breathtaking when it’s throning in front of a blue sky.
Make the trip up to the Western Isles, especially Harris and Lewis. It’s a long drive but the journey is as scenic as it gets and so worth it for the unparalleled solitude of an island where Gaelic is still a spoken language and thousands of years of history linger under every rock.
The endless white beaches (check the tide times before you go!) tend to be completely deserted in the winter, while I heard someone compare August’s onrush of visitors to Bondi Beach. A clear January afternoon at Luskentyre beach will make all your problems sail away on those bright turquoise waves at the edge of the world.