Best Christmas City Break Places in Scotland | VisitScotland (2023)

Best Christmas City Break Places in Scotland | VisitScotland (1)

Calton Hill, Edinburgh

In all of Scotland’s cities, the jingle of sleigh bells and the aroma of mulled wine wafting through the air is enough to put any Scrooge in the mood for Christmas. It might be cold outside, but Christmascity breaksin Scotland are simply magical.

Keep reading to find out more about the best places to visit in Scotland at Christmas.


Best Christmas City Break Places in Scotland | VisitScotland (2)

Edinburgh’s Christmas markets © George Clerk

From November to January,fall under the Yuletide spell at Edinburgh’s Christmas. Just imagine: fairy lights twinkling in the trees; bustling markets selling all kinds of festive goodies; and warm drinks and delicacies from across Europe.

Bring in the new year… at the one and only Edinburgh’s Hogmanay! Enjoy concert performances and musicians in Princes Street Gardens – be quick, it’s one of the hottest tickets in town.Please note, Edinburgh’s Hogmanay has been cancelled for 2021.

Go explore… the village of Roslin and the incredible 15th century Rosslyn Chapel. Take a stroll around the amazing chapel* and glen, both can be reached by the 37 Lothian Bus service from the city centre.There are plenty more things to do in Edinburgh at Christmas, so get exploring.

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*Please note the chapel is closed 24 – 25 December and 1 January.


During Glasgow’s Christmas the fun never stops! Enjoyfestivities such as the fabulous Style Mile Carnival, the epic 5K Santa Dash, festive light illuminations, and the Christmas market at St Enoch Square.

Get into the festive spirit… at some of Glasgow’s lively pubs. Listen to fiddle tunes with live folk sessions beside the roaring fireplace in the Babbity Bowsteror stay warm on a chilly winter’s night inside Stravaigin, which serves up some delicious Scottish food. Or why not wander around a festive Glasgow Christmas market? Grab last minute gifts, tuck into some delicious food and drink, and admire Glasgow’s Christmas lights twinkling above.

Go explore … the breathtaking winter landscapes of . From Balloch (a short drive, bus or train journey from Glasgow), climb up Conic Hill and enjoy gorgeous views across the water.


Best Christmas City Break Places in Scotland | VisitScotland (4)

Union Terrace Gardens, Aberdeen

Up in Aberdeen, the granite buildings sparkle and song fills the north easterly air during Aberdeen’s Winter Festival with carol concerts, foodie marketsand special festive performances. Wrap up warm and head to the Christmas Village for some merriment.

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Warm up… with a dram of single malt. Try one of the ‘Secret Malts of Aberdeenshire’ at one of the city centre’s whisky bars, such as The Grill or CASC (which stands for Cigars, Ale, Scotch, Coffee).

Go explore … the Cairngorms National Park. If winter conditions are favourable, you might get the chance to ski or snowboard at The Lecht, one of Scotland’s five snow resorts. If not, take a scenic drive along the Snow Roads route which passes through the charming towns of Braemar, Tomintoul and Ballater in the eastern Cairngorms.


Best Christmas City Break Places in Scotland | VisitScotland (5)

Christmas market at Slessor Gardens, by Dundee’s waterfront

Ah, Dundee – a cool, creative and cultural city which is always up for making Christmas memories with you! A city known for inventing marmalade,The Beano and Grand Theft Auto – see if you’ll have a bright idea this Christmas! Head to the city and Dundee’s Christmas markets where you can browse stalls and food stands. Or start of the festivities with admiring the Dundee Christmas lights switch on.

Stay indoors… with a visit to the brand new V&A Dundee or enjoy a live show once darkness settles at the Rep Theatre.

Go explore… the history of the surrounding Angus.Arbroath Abbey is famously associated with the Declaration of Arbroath of 1320, which asserted Scotland’s independence from England. It’s a short drive or approximately 20 minutes on the train to Arbroath station from Dundee.


Best Christmas City Break Places in Scotland | VisitScotland (6)

Chocolates at the Legends of Grandtully, Perthshire

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If there’s ever a time and a place to indulge, it’s Christmas time in Perth.Winter festivitiescrop up across the city, making winter a simply wonderful season to make a trip to the ‘Fair City’. It all kicks off in November with the Christmas Light Switch On. Make sure you stop by Perth’s Christmas market to pick up a trinket or two, or some last minute gifts.

Stocking fillers… can be found at the Blair Castle Art, Food & Craft Fair (5 – 7 November) which will feature a variety of market stalls where you can pick up a few Christmas gifts, or treat yourself! The Highland Chocolatierin the village of Grandtully southwest of Pitlochry is a must-visit stop for fans of the cocoa bean.

Go explore… Perthshire’s amazing winter vantage points. There’s so many forest trails to choose from. Try easy strolls at The Hermitage, Loch Rannoch, Birks of Aberfeldy and the Queen’s View at Pitlochry. These are also great choices if you need things to do on Christmas Day in Perth too.


Best Christmas City Break Places in Scotland | VisitScotland (7)

Inverness Cathedral © Colin Keldie

The Highland capital’s beautiful architecture looks particularly magnificent in the low winter light, and with plenty of festive frolics and fantastic shopping events during Inverness’ Christmas, you’ll be sure to find perfect pressies for everyone. A great place to find a unique gift or two is Inverness’ Christmas markets.

Tuck into a festive feast… at one of Inverness’ top restaurants. Try the innovative menus at the Mustard Seed or have a hearty roast dinner at the Dores Inn on Loch Ness.

Go explore…the north of Scotland in search of the Northern Lights. The magical Aurora Borealis can sometimes be seen during the darker months. Keep an eye on the Aurora forecast or simply admire the twinkly stars across the black skies in great stargazing spots like Moray Speyside.


Best Christmas City Break Places in Scotland | VisitScotland (8)

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Wallace Monument, Stirling

With a mighty castle overlooking cobbled streets, and the magnificent Wallace Monument looming in the distance, the city’s backdrop is a wonderful place to embrace the city’swinter festival programme and experience Christmas events in Stirling. Make sure you leave time to stop by Stirling Christmas markets to pick up some delicious food and drink to complete your Christmas Day feast.

Go on a winter wander… and admire age-old landmarks in the city centre, or venture into the surrounding countryside and take in the breathtaking views from the top of Dumyat Hill.

Go explore… The Kelpies at Falkirk.These magnificent equine statues, designed by Andy Scott, magically light up at night. Or, stay indoors at the nearbySky High Trampolining Park and jump around for joy – Christmas is coming!


Best Christmas City Break Places in Scotland | VisitScotland (9)

A sunlit Dunfermline Abbey, the resting place of some of Scotland’s most legendary monarchs

Awarded city status as part of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee , the fife town of Dunfermline – formerly Scotland’s ancient capital, has become Scotland’s eighth city. Home to one of the best preserved medieval cityscapes in the country and a rich regal history, this compact city nestled amongst Fife’s gently rolling countryside is a joy to explore over the festive season.

Go on a winter wander… follow the cobbled streets of historic districts like the Kirkgate with their gorgeous period buildings festooned with twinkling lights, or enjoying some Christmas shopping in an eclectic array of independent shops and businesses. If you want a natural escape, head to the sprawling Pittencrieff Park. If it gets too chilly, you can always go inside its famous glasshouses which contain a marvellous array of exotic flora.

Go explore… Stop by the Kingsgate Market to pick up stocking fillers and tasty treats, and take in the magnificent edifice of Dunfermline Abbey and Palace. You an even attend a Christmas service, carol service or concert in the Abbey Church of Dunfermline. Or why not take yourself and the kids to this year’s pantomime at the Alhambra Theatre, Beauty and the Beast?

Find out more about Scotland’s or start making plans for unforgettable Christmas holidays or Hogmanay breaksin Scotland.

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Where should I go for a winter holiday in Scotland? ›

6 Winter Snow Holidays in Scotland
  • Cairngorm Mountain, Highlands. ...
  • Glencoe Mountain, Highlands. ...
  • Glenshee Snowsports Centre, Aberdeenshire. ...
  • The Lecht 2090, Moray Speyside. ...
  • Lowther Hills Ski Club, Dumfries & Galloway. ...
  • Nevis Range, Highlands.

Where can I have a white Christmas in Scotland? ›

In the United Kingdom the most likely place to see snowfall on a Christmas Day is in North and North Eastern Scotland, in Aberdeen, Aberdeenshire or the Highlands.

Is Glasgow or Edinburgh better at Christmas? ›

Yes - you read that right. Glasgow as been named the most 'Christmassy' place in Scotland and the UK as a whole - yet our sister city Edinburgh didn't even make the list. Glasgow came out on top and has been crowned the most 'Christmassy' place in Scotland.

What is the most beautiful town in Scotland? ›

10 Beautiful & Historic Towns in Scotland
  • Cramond, Edinburgh & The Lothians. ...
  • Pitlochry, Perthshire. ...
  • Melrose, Scottish Borders. ...
  • Largs, Ayrshire. ...
  • Arbroath, Angus. ...
  • St Andrews, Fife. ...
  • Braemar, Aberdeenshire. Hillwalkers in Braemar, Aberdeenshire. ...
  • New Lanark, Greater Glasgow & The Clyde Valley. Visitor Centre, New Lanark.
7 Oct 2020

Is it worth going to Scotland in December? ›

December is a busy and festive time to visit Scotland's cities, and prices for flights and accommodations tend to climb around mid-month for a few weeks during Christmas and Hogmanay (New Year's celebrations); it's best to book hotels, activities, and restaurants well in advance.

Is Christmas a good time to visit Scotland? ›

December is a great month to travel to Scotland. It's still easy to drive around and visit the top attractions, including its lovely towns, historic sites and natural highlights. Here are some of the best places to visit in Scotland in December: Visit, shop and eat your way around the historic capital, Edinburgh.

Is Inverness worth visiting in December? ›

From mountain sledging to the northern lights, relaxing spas to crisp winter walks, and distillery tours to snow-covered castles, there are so many ways to experience Inverness & Loch Ness this winter.

Where am I guaranteed for a white Christmas? ›

North Pole, Alaska - There's a 100 percent chance of snow on the ground on Christmas morning, and visitors to this aptly named town will wake to an average of 12 inches. 2.

What is the snowiest town in Scotland? ›

Scottish Highlands

Among two of the snowiest places in the Highlands are the villages of Kinbrace and Knockanrock, which can see as many as 50 snow-covered days a year.

Which city is more beautiful Edinburgh or Glasgow? ›

Edinburgh is known for being pretty and Glasgow is famous for being fun. It might be a bit reductive but essentially Edinburgh is famous for being pretty and Glasgow is known for being fun. The same might be said of their people.

Which part of Scotland has snow at Christmas? ›

One of the surest ways to find snow in Scotland is to head to the most northerly place, rather than setting off for the mountains. The islands of Orkney and Shetland are set off the north coast of the Scottish mainland and are easily reached by ferry from John O'Groats.

Is it worth going to Edinburgh in December? ›

Seasonal Festivities Bring Back the Light

While it may be cold and dark outside, Edinburgh lights up like a winter wonderland in December. Edinburgh is a great spot for Christmas shopping, Christmas activities, and endless ways to celebrate the holiday season all the way up through Hogmanay.

What is the most Christmassy town? ›

Santa Claus, Indiana

Billed as "America's Christmas Hometown," Santa Claus, Indiana, is a real place that just happens to live and breathe Christmas every day of the year.

Where is the perfect Christmas town in the UK? ›


With a plethora of quaint cafés, snowy riverside walks, and cracking Christmas displays, it is easy to see why this is one of the best places to go for Christmas in the UK. As well as the attractive town centre, the magnificent Peak District National Park is waiting to be explored.

What is the most magical place in Scotland? ›

10 magical places
  1. Glencoe National Nature Reserve. Featured Place: Glencoe National Nature Reserve. ...
  2. Culzean Castle & Country Park. Featured Place: Culzean Castle. ...
  3. Mingulay, Berneray & Pabbay. ...
  4. The Hermitage. ...
  5. Craigievar Castle. ...
  6. St Abb's Head National Nature Reserve. ...
  7. Culloden. ...
  8. Glenfinnan Monument.

What is the number 1 tourist attraction in Scotland? ›

Edinburgh Castle

It takes the title of Scotland's most-visited paid-for attraction, and is, of course, one of the most popular tourist sites in Scotland.

Where is the prettiest place in Scotland? ›

20 Most Beautiful Places In Scotland
  1. 01 Dunnottar Castle, Aberdeenshire. ...
  2. 02 Bow Fiddle Rock, Moray. ...
  3. 03 Isle of Iona. ...
  4. 04 Traigh Hornais Clachan Sands, North Uist. ...
  5. 05 Bealach Na Ba, Wester Ross. ...
  6. 06 Loch Ken, Galloway Forest Park. ...
  7. 07 Glenfinnan, Fort William. ...
  8. 08 Eoligarry Beach, Isle of Barra.

What month is it most likely to snow in Scotland? ›

Scotland experiences snow during winter, which runs from mid-November till early March. On average, the country experiences 15 to 20 days of snowfall during this period.

What is the cheapest month to go to Scotland? ›

The cheapest time to visit Scotland is between November and December and again from late December through mid-March. Considered the area's low season, the temperatures drop, along with the number of visitors.

Is Scotland too cold in December? ›

December, January and February are generally the coldest months in Scotland, with the average maximum temperature usually around 5°C (41°F). The average number of days with snow falling in Scotland ranges from 15 to 20 days. However, the peaks and mountains of the Highlands experience around 100 days of falling snow.

What is the rainiest month in Scotland? ›

Whilst it rains all year round in Scotland, the wettest periods are autumn and winter. In 2014, 2015 and 2016 winter was by far the wettest season, with volumes reaching 739 millimeters in the latter.
Monthly amount of rainfall in Scotland from 2015 to 2022 (in millimeters)
CharacteristicRainfall in millimeters
12 more rows
20 Jun 2022

Can you see the northern lights in Scotland in December? ›

The best time to see the celestial displays are in the autumn and winter months when nights are darker and the skies are clear. The most common months to see the northern lights in Scotland is December through February.

How far is Loch Ness from Inverness? ›

Most visitors to Inverness want to see Loch Ness during their stay. It's only eight miles from Inverness and there are various ways of getting there.

Is it an easy drive from Edinburgh to Inverness? ›

The distance on the drive from Edinburgh to Inverness is about 155 miles (250 kilometres) and while it should only take about 3 hours and 15 minutes non-stop in a car without traffic, there are many interesting stops to take if you follow a scenic route meaning you could easily spend a few days driving between the two ...

Where is the most magical place to spend Christmas? ›

Rovaniemi - Lapland, Finland

Rovaniemi in Lapland, Finland, may be the best place on earth to celebrate Christmas. Located just north of the Arctic Circle, Finns argue that it makes a much likelier home for Santa than even the North Pole.

How do you do Christmas when your broke? ›

How To Have A Magical Christmas When You're Broke
  1. Homemade tree ornament exchange. ...
  2. Get Christmas books from the library. ...
  3. Buy all of your wrapping paper, bows and tape from the Dollar Tree. ...
  4. Make paper snowflakes. ...
  5. Make popcorn garland. ...
  6. Make a construction paper countdown chain. ...
  7. Check the local thrift stores.

Where is Winter Wonderland in Scotland? ›

Edinburgh's Winter Wonderland

Edinburgh is the ideal fairytale city for a magical winter wonderland. The Winter festivals in Christmas celebrations in Edinburgh are an enchanted burst of twinkling lights, magical sounds, along with lots of fun and laughter.

What is the coldest city in Scotland? ›

Braemar, in Cairngorms National Park, which is known for freezing temperatures and chilly winters. During the middle of winter, temperatures here drop to around 1.5°C / 34.7°F, but it's sometimes way colder. The UK's lowest-ever temperature was recorded at Braemar, sitting at −27.2 °C (−17.0 °F).

Where is the best snow in Scotland? ›

Which Scottish ski areas have the best snow records? Of the five Scottish ski areas, Glencoe, Nevis Range and Cairngorm are generally considered to be more reliable for snow than Glenshee and the Lecht.

What is there to do in Aviemore at Christmas? ›

to do this season
  • Highland Wildlife Park. Visit one of Aviemore's top local attractions, with a visit to the polar bears or tiger cubs. ...
  • Aviemore Ice Rink. ...
  • Strathspey Steam Railway. ...
  • Landmark Forest Adventure Park. ...
  • Visit Loch Morlich. ...
  • Cairngorm Reindeer Centre. ...
  • Snowsports in Aviemore. ...
  • Aviemore Zip Park.

Is it better to stay in Old Town or New Town Edinburgh? ›

Old Town and the Royal Mile is the best area to stay in Edinburgh for sightseeing (especially for first-timers). While the New Town with its numerous restaurants is an excellent location for shopping and dining out.

Is it cheaper to stay in Glasgow or Edinburgh? ›

Which is cheaper Glasgow or Edinburgh? Edinburgh is an expensive city, that's for sure! While Glasgow isn't cheap, it's certainly more affordable than Edinburgh, in pretty much every category. From restaurants and bars to hotels and attractions, Glasgow is a more budget-friendly destination.

Should I go to Glasgow or Edinburgh? ›

If you are a big Harry Potter fan, you will also have found the right place with Edinburgh. However, if you are someone who loves a busy, vibrant city with great nightlife and want to learn more about modern-day Scottish culture, then Glasgow is the city for you.

Where in Scotland Does it snow in December? ›

To increase your chances it is best to go somewhere like the cairngorm mountains. To quote our meteorological office: "The average number of days with sleet or snow falling in Scotland ranges from around 20 or less near the west coast to over 100 days in the Cairngorm Mountains and some other high peaks.

Where is a castle for Christmas set in Scotland? ›

Tantallon Castle, East Lothian

Tantallon Castle in East Lothian has already been a popular feature of Scottish film and TV, featuring in big productions such as Mary Queen of Scots. In A Castle for Christmas, we see this Scottish landmark during Sophie and Myles's tour of the country.

Can you see the northern lights in Edinburgh in December? ›

Edinburgh. Very occasionally, you might see the northern lights from the Scottish capital, Edinburgh. This is a rare scenario but when it happens, it is pretty special! If you are visiting Edinburgh as part of a winter tour of Scotland, you could always have a look for the northern lights.

Do you have to pay to get into Edinburgh Christmas market? ›

Edinburgh Christmas Market Tickets 2022

Rides and attractions are ticketed and cost various prices, from £3.50-£10, and can be booked online here. This includes the Ice Skating Rink, Christmas Tree Maze and the Big Wheel.

Do you have to book to get into Edinburgh Christmas market? ›

The Edinburgh Market is not ticketed, however, there may be a queue you will have to wait in before entering. Additionally, tickets will be required for experiences like the ice-skating rink and the ferris wheel which gives a stunning view of the festive city.

Is it worth going to Scotland in winter? ›

Is it worth travelling to Scotland in winter? Absolutely! There are so many reasons why travelling to Scotland in the offseason is a good idea – it's cheaper, less crowded and the snow-capped peaks of the Highlands are breathtaking.

Where is a good place to holiday is Scotland? ›

Edinburgh – best for short breaks

If you want to avoid the hustle and bustle of the city centre, a few of the best places to visit in Scotland near Edinburgh include the charming rural village of Roslin, the beloved riverside village of Culross, and the tranquil coastal town of Dunbar.

Where is nice for a holiday in Scotland? ›

Scotland holiday destinations don't get much better than the countryside of Angus! The area stretches out from the city of Dundee, right around the east coast and inland to the lush valleys and soft peaks of the Angus Glens, which consist of five glens with 10 Munros.

Is winter a good time to go to Scotland? ›

Early to mid-November can be a wonderful time to see Scotland's glorious fall foliage. However, many sites close for winter from mid-October. Snowy conditions in December through to February can make travel tricky, although you'll be rewarded with spectacular wintery scenes and roaring log fires.

Is Christmas a good time to go to Scotland? ›

A December trip to Scotland can fill you with Christmas cheer. It is a jolly time to take in some of the winter landscapes on invigorating walks in the countryside. There's lots happening at this time of year - from winter festivals, Christmas markets, craft fairs and pantomimes.

Which Scottish city should I visit? ›


While the capital city of Scotland is best known for its incredible medieval castle - Edinburgh Castle is consistently ranked as one of the UK's most visited tourist attractions - there are numerous other parts of this beautiful city to explore.

Which is better Aberdeen or Inverness? ›

A separate index covering just Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland puts Inverness in pole position, ahead of other Scotttish and UK cities, including Aberdeen, thanks to its quality of life.


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