Salisbury Crags, Edinburgh
Picture this: festive fun which doesn’t break your budget. Could it be a Christmas miracle?
That’s right folks, Christmas in Scotland means that it’s time to put down the mince pies and head out for some amazing experiences.
We’ve come up with some delightfully frugal ideas to keep you amused and fill your heart and soul with Christmas cheer. This way, you can save money for more Scottish adventures in 2017!
1. Winter wanders
A frozen scene at Rannoch Moor, Highlands
It’s time to brush the dust off those hiking boots. A winter stroll can be a magical and exhilarating experience, with frost crunching underfoot and hopes of a sprinkling of snow. It’s also a beautiful time to capture magical winter photos, and marvel at glittering landscapes in the stunningly low winter light. There might also be a few wildlife sightings, especially in the north of Scotland, as red deer, who are most vocal at this time of year, venture onto lower lands as temperatures start to dip.
Where should I go? There are spectacular winter walks all across Scotland, from the thrilling clamber up Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh to pleasant ambles in Perthshire’s Big Tree Country. For experienced winter mountaineers, there are also more extreme climbs in the Cairngorm Mountains too – always check the forecast beforehand and read the safety guidelines from the Mountaineering Council of Scotland.
How much will it cost? A healthy dose of fresh air costs nothing, so why not stop for a hot drink or a pint along the way?
2. A wee whisky
The Famous Grouse Experience, Perthshire
A fabulous accompaniment to the coldest months of the calendar, a sip of whisky is known to fend off the chill and warm the soul. Although rare bottles of whisky can sell for hundreds of thousands of pounds, a wee dram can still be enjoyed without breaking the bank.
Where should I go? Why not learn all the basics at the Famous Grouse Experience in Crieff, where you can try one of Scotland’s oldest single malts? Or, find distillery tours and tastings around Scotland- always double check opening times during the winter months.
How much will it cost? In pubs and bars, a dram of single malt varies depending on the age and quality of the whisky. Distillery tours also vary in price, some are free, and many are under £15 and include complimentary tastings.
3. Watch a film with a Scottish backdrop
A driving route through Glen Coe. One of the filming locations for Skyfall.
When the wild winter weather sets in, there are still ways to admire Scotland’s beautiful landscapes without braving the great outdoors.
Get cosy with the classic cult favourite Trainspotting, filmed in Edinburgh, Glasgow and the remote Corrour Station in the Highlands. Or, admire the Glenfinnan Viaduct in Harry Potter or the looming mountains of Glencoe in James Bond action thriller, Skyfall. Learn more about famous filming locations in Scotland.
Where should I go? For a movie night like no other, head to one of Scotland’s quirky and unusual cinemas.
How much will it cost? Just the cost of a DVD or cinema visit!
4. Go to a Christmas market
Glasgow at Christmas time
Where should I go? Fall under the Christmas spell at this year’s European-style markets in Edinburgh and Glasgow, where you’ll find a magical whirlwind of twinkling lights, enchanting sounds, the smells of scrumptious treats wafting through the air, and lots of fun and laughter.
Don’t forget, there are many other winter festivals taking place all across Scotland too.
5. Eat some chocolate
Chocolate cherries by Iain Burnett the Master Chocolatier at Legends of Grandtully
Gourmet truffles and chocolate logs, or artisan gift boxes and heavenly hot chocolates? If you can’t indulge a little bit at this time of year, then when can you?
Chocolate is lovingly crafted by Scottish chocolatiers across the country – we have over 60 independent chocolate companies in Scotland. Why not follow a delicious recipe with a Scottish twist, and whip up some indulgent treats for the family this Christmas?
Where should I go? For more of the sweet stuff, try chocolate from: Oban Chocolate Company, Cocoa Mountain in Durness, Cocoa Bean Company in Kirkcudbright and Coco Chocolatier in Edinburgh. Check out Scotland’s Chocolate Larder Map for more of Scotland’s artisan chocolatiers.
How much does it cost? It depends how much chocolatey goodness you want to buy! Expect to pay anything between £2 -7 for a bar of homemade Scottish chocolate.
6. Go on a railway adventure
The Cairngorm Mountain Railway
Where should I go? For a thrilling trip up into some of our highest and most impressive mountains and a lovely family day out, hop aboard the Cairngorm Mountain Railway, Scotland’s only funicular railway. It will take you to the dizzying height of 1097 m above sea level. At the top, you can enjoy a meal at the Ptarmigan Restaurant and ogle at the stunning panoramic views across the snowy mountain range. There is also an exhibition, shop and the highest post box in the British Isles.
How much does it cost? Adult tickets cost £12.
7. Say hello to Rudolph
A reindeer relaxing in the Cairngorms © Neil McIntyre
What could be more magical than meeting some real, live reindeer this winter? You can get up close to these impressive animals, feed them a carrot or two, and learn all about them from experienced reindeer herders.
Where should I go? Head to the Scottish Deer Centre near Cupar in the Kingdom of Fife, and learn about the 14 species of deer on a guided walk or trailer ride. Or, at the Cairngorm Reindeer Centre, there is a lovely herd roaming freely in the wilderness.
How much does it cost? Entry for adults to the Cairngorm Reindeer Centre is £3.50, and entry to the Scottish Deer Centre is £8.50.
8. Get crafty
Christmas decorations at Edinburgh’s Christmas Markets
Head to one of Scotland’s craft fairs and find some great-value presents and stocking fillers, and enjoy some warm and tasty street food as you browse.
Where should I go? There is a culinary extravaganza at Glasgow’s Urban Market, featuring food and drink suppliers, kitchenware, ceramics and much more gastronomic goodies on 18 December.
Or, find a unique gift that you can’t find on the high street at Dundee’s Ethical Fair. You can also meet ‘Green Santa’ and browse for fair trade, handmade presents.
Find more markets and fairs around Scotland during December.
How much does it cost? Please check individual event websites for prices.
How are you getting into the festive spirit this year? Tell us all about your preparations on the iKnow Community forum, and don’t forget to share all your festive snaps from around Scotland using #ScotSpirit. Still want more? Fill your inbox with Scottish inspiration by signing up to our newsletter.