What are Popular Winter Destinations for the British

by CiCi
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As the days grow shorter and the temperatures drop, many Britons look forward to escaping the cold and gloom of a British winter. The quest for sun, snow, or simply a change of scenery drives thousands to seek holiday destinations both near and far. This article delves into the most popular winter holiday destinations for British travellers, offering insights into why these locations are so attractive and what they have to offer.

Chasing the Sun: Warm Winter Getaways

The Canary Islands: A Perennial Favourite

The Canary Islands, particularly Tenerife, Lanzarote, Gran Canaria, and Fuerteventura, are among the top choices for Britons seeking winter sunshine. These Spanish islands, located off the northwest coast of Africa, enjoy a mild climate year-round, with temperatures rarely dropping below 20°C even in January.


Why the Canaries?

Reliable Weather: The consistent warm weather makes the Canary Islands a dependable escape from the British winter.


Short Flight Time: With flights averaging around four hours, the islands are relatively accessible.

Diverse Activities: From hiking in Teide National Park in Tenerife to enjoying the beaches of Fuerteventura, there is something for everyone.

Family-Friendly: Numerous resorts and attractions cater to families, making it a great destination for all ages.

Dubai: Luxury and Modernity in the Desert

Dubai has emerged as a prime winter destination for Britons over the past decade. Known for its ultramodern architecture, luxury shopping, and vibrant nightlife, Dubai offers a unique blend of Middle Eastern culture and Western amenities.

Why Dubai?

Luxury Experience: Five-star hotels, world-class dining, and high-end shopping appeal to those looking for a lavish holiday.

Warm Weather: Temperatures in winter range from 20-25°C, ideal for beach activities.

Family Attractions: From the Dubai Aquarium to theme parks like IMG Worlds of Adventure, there are plenty of options for families.

Cultural Experiences: The blend of traditional and modern offers unique cultural insights, such as visiting the historic Al Fahidi neighborhood or the modern Burj Khalifa.

The Caribbean: Tropical Paradise

The Caribbean is a dream destination for many Britons, especially during the cold winter months. Islands like Barbados, Jamaica, and the Dominican Republic offer pristine beaches, crystal-clear waters, and a laid-back lifestyle.

Why the Caribbean?

Beautiful Beaches: Stunning coastlines with white sand and turquoise waters are a significant draw.

Rich Culture and History: Each island has its own unique culture and history, from reggae music in Jamaica to the colonial history of Barbados.

All-Inclusive Resorts: Many opt for all-inclusive resorts that provide a hassle-free vacation experience.

Diverse Activities: From snorkeling and diving to exploring rainforests and enjoying local festivals, there’s plenty to do.

Thailand: Exotic and Affordable

Thailand’s allure lies in its exotic culture, affordable luxury, and warm weather. Destinations like Phuket, Bangkok, and Chiang Mai offer a diverse range of experiences, from bustling city life to serene beaches.

Why Thailand?

  • Value for Money: Thailand offers luxury experiences at a fraction of the cost compared to Western destinations.
  • Warm Climate: With temperatures in the mid-20s to 30s°C, it’s an ideal warm-weather getaway.
  • Rich Cultural Experiences: Temples, festivals, and Thai cuisine offer immersive cultural experiences.
  • Adventure Activities: Scuba diving, hiking, and exploring markets and temples cater to adventure seekers.

Embracing the Cold: Winter Wonderland Destinations

The Swiss Alps: Skiing and Snowboarding Haven

For those who embrace the winter cold, the Swiss Alps offer some of the best skiing and snowboarding opportunities in the world. Resorts like Zermatt, St. Moritz, and Verbier are famous for their picturesque landscapes and world-class facilities.

Why the Swiss Alps?

  • World-Class Skiing: High-quality slopes and a long ski season attract winter sports enthusiasts.
  • Luxury Resorts: Upscale accommodations and amenities cater to those seeking a premium experience.
  • Scenic Beauty: The stunning alpine scenery provides a breathtaking backdrop for any holiday.
  • Winter Activities: Beyond skiing, activities like ice skating, snowshoeing, and après-ski entertain visitors.

Iceland: A Winter Adventure

Iceland is gaining popularity as a winter destination for Britons due to its unique landscapes and natural phenomena. The chance to see the Northern Lights, bathe in geothermal hot springs, and explore ice caves draws many adventurers.

Why Iceland?

  • Northern Lights: Winter provides the best opportunity to witness this natural light show.
  • Unique Landscapes: Glaciers, volcanoes, and geysers offer extraordinary sights.
  • Adventure Activities: Ice caving, glacier hiking, and whale watching provide thrilling experiences.
  • Geothermal Spas: The Blue Lagoon and other hot springs offer relaxation in a surreal setting.

Lapland: A Magical Christmas Experience

For families, especially those with young children, Lapland in Finland is the quintessential Christmas destination. Known as the home of Santa Claus, Lapland offers a magical experience with reindeer sleigh rides, snow-covered landscapes, and the chance to meet Santa.

Why Lapland?

  • Christmas Magic: The atmosphere is perfect for creating memorable holiday experiences.
  • Winter Activities: Husky sledding, snowmobiling, and visiting Santa’s village are popular activities.
  • Northern Lights: Like Iceland, Lapland is also a great place to see the Northern Lights.
  • Family-Friendly: Tailored experiences for children make it an unforgettable family trip.

Cultural Escapes: Exploring Cities in Winter

New York City: The Winter Wonderland

New York City transforms into a winter wonderland during the holiday season, making it a popular choice for Britons looking for a city break. From the iconic Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center to ice skating in Central Park, the city offers a magical winter experience.

Why New York City?

  • Holiday Festivities: Christmas markets, festive window displays, and holiday performances create a vibrant atmosphere.
  • Iconic Landmarks: Visiting landmarks like the Statue of Liberty, Times Square, and the Empire State Building remains popular year-round.
  • Broadway Shows: Catching a Broadway show is a must-do for many visitors.
  • Shopping: World-class shopping from Fifth Avenue to boutique stores in SoHo attracts shoppers.

Vienna: Classical and Cozy

Vienna, Austria, offers a charming winter experience with its classical music heritage, historic architecture, and cozy Christmas markets. The city’s blend of imperial history and vibrant cultural scene makes it an attractive winter destination.

Why Vienna?

  • Christmas Markets: The festive markets, especially at Rathausplatz, are among the best in Europe.
  • Cultural Riches: Museums, opera houses, and historic sites provide rich cultural experiences.
  • Café Culture: Cozy cafes serving hot chocolate and pastries offer a warm respite from the cold.
  • Architecture: Stunning buildings like Schönbrunn Palace and St. Stephen’s Cathedral add to the city’s charm.

Rome: History and Mild Winters

Rome’s mild winter climate and rich historical tapestry make it an appealing destination for those looking to avoid the bitter cold while indulging in cultural exploration. The off-peak season means fewer crowds at iconic sites like the Colosseum and Vatican City.

Why Rome?

  • Historic Sites: The city’s ancient ruins and Renaissance art are must-see attractions.
  • Mild Weather: Temperatures are generally mild, making outdoor exploration comfortable.
  • Cuisine: Italian cuisine, from pasta to gelato, is a significant draw.
  • Festive Atmosphere: Christmas decorations and markets add a festive touch to the city.

Closer to Home: UK Winter Breaks

Edinburgh: A Festive Scottish Capital

Edinburgh offers a delightful winter escape with its historic charm, vibrant festivals, and stunning scenery. The city is particularly enchanting during the Christmas season, with its markets, light displays, and Hogmanay celebrations.

Why Edinburgh?

  • Festivals and Events: The city’s Christmas Market and Hogmanay (New Year’s) celebrations are major attractions.
  • Historic Sites: Edinburgh Castle, the Royal Mile, and Holyrood Palace offer rich history.
  • Scenic Beauty: Views from Arthur’s Seat and Calton Hill are spectacular.
  • Cultural Experiences: Museums, theatres, and galleries provide ample cultural activities.

The Lake District: Tranquil and Picturesque

The Lake District, with its stunning landscapes and serene lakes, offers a peaceful winter retreat. While it may be cold, the winter scenery is breathtaking, and the area’s cozy inns and pubs provide a warm welcome.

Why the Lake District?

  • Natural Beauty: Snow-capped peaks and frozen lakes create a picturesque setting.
  • Outdoor Activities: Winter walks, hikes, and even some low-level mountaineering appeal to outdoor enthusiasts.
  • Cozy Accommodation: Quaint inns and B&Bs offer warm, comfortable stays.
  • Local Cuisine: Enjoying hearty local dishes in traditional pubs adds to the experience.

Cornwall: Mild and Scenic

Cornwall’s mild climate and dramatic coastline make it a year-round destination. Winter in Cornwall is quieter, providing a more intimate experience of its rugged beauty and charming villages.

Why Cornwall?

  • Mild Climate: Milder temperatures make it a pleasant winter escape.
  • Coastal Walks: The South West Coast Path offers stunning coastal views.
  • Historic Sites: Visiting landmarks like St. Michael’s Mount and Tintagel Castle.
  • Local Charm: Quaint villages and local festivals add to the charm.

See also: Do British Airways Price Match Holidays?


The British winter holiday landscape is diverse, offering something for every type of traveller. Whether seeking warmth and sun in tropical paradises or embracing the cold in winter wonderlands, Britons have a wealth of destinations to choose from. From the exotic beaches of Thailand and the luxury of Dubai to the snowy slopes of the Swiss Alps and the cultural richness of European cities, the options are as varied as they are appealing. For those preferring to stay closer to home, the UK itself offers numerous winter retreats, from the historic streets of Edinburgh to the serene landscapes of the Lake District. Wherever they choose to go, British holidaymakers are sure to find destinations that provide a welcome break from the winter blues.


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