In Scotland's colder months, you could follow nature's example and go into hibernation… but then you would miss out on all the wonderfully quirky winter activities that you can try in Scotland!
For those with a sense of adventure, there are some amazing things to do in winter in the great outdoors, some of which you might have never even imagined existed, many of which are accompanied by breathtaking winter views.
With so many events, family-friendly walks and activities to keep you occupied in the winter months, we thought we'd help narrow it down for you and list some of the most unusual, perfect for a unique holiday or as part of a special weekend break. Make sure to book a cosy place to stay to warm up in afterwards.
1. Spot wondrous winter wildlife
White-tailed sea eagle © Neil McIntyre
Cameras at the ready! Scotland's wildest residents are really something to see in the winter months. Graceful red deer stride across snow-dusted hillsides while elusive ptarmigan, pure white in colour, shelter in rocky crags high in the mountains of the Cairngorms. Head out on a wildlife tour with an expert guide for the best chances of sightings. You could look for sea eagles on the Isle of Mull or the Ardnamurchan peninsula with Nature Scotland. Or, see countryside critters under the cloak of darkness using thermal technology with Nocturnal Wildlife Tours, based in Castle Douglas in Dumfries & Galloway.
2. Scale an ice wall
Climbing in winter requires nerve and skill, but is an incredibly rewarding challenge. Get to grips with the basics at the Ice Factor. Located near Glencoe in Lochaber, it's around two and a half hours drive from Glasgow and offers indoor ice climbing sessions on the impressive 40 ft ice wall as well as outdoor winter skills courses. Once you've mastered the core techniques (and got the safety equipment) you could head out with a guide and try scaling some of the mountains of the West Highlands.
3. Strap on some snowshoes
Do you love walking and love the snow? Then snowshoeing is a must for you! Strap on a pair of snowshoes, grab some poles and get walking across blankets of pure white snow. It's a magical way to explore snowy forest tracks and hillsides. Perthshire-based Mains of Taymouth organise snow shoeing trips or you could join C-N-Do Scotland on a guided expedition - their trips range from half day taster sessions in Callander in the Trossachs to two day excursions in the northern Cairngorms, and can provide the equipment too!
4. Build your own ice hotel
Ben McDui, Cairngorms National Park
Fancy sleeping in your own ice boudoir that you built with your own hands? Then book yourself on an exhilarating trip which combines guided winter mountain walking and an overnight stay in snow hole. Experience it with the likes of Scot Mountain Holidays, based near Aviemore, for the adventure of a lifetime in the beautiful snowy Cairngorms. Just think - you could be taking in a glorious sunrise from a breathtaking mountain range!
5. Take aim on the ice
Curling, Lake of Menteith near Aberfoyle
Curling is on the list of the many great things that the Scots have invented, and when it comes to international curling competitions, our athletes have a tendency to do us proud. Play it for yourself and you will soon find that curling is a lot of fun! There are curling clubs at ice rinks across the country, from Dumfries in the south to Elgin in the Highlands. Sometimes, when a cold spell hits and lochs and ponds freeze over, curling is played outdoors. Why not get started by finding a taster session?
6. Pedal across snow and sand
If you've never heard of fat bikes, let us fill you in! Think of a mountain bike with oversized, wider tires designed for riding over soft terrains, such as snow, sand and bogs. Get the picture?! They are lots of fun and you can bike across surfaces that just wouldn't usually be suitable for a normal off-road bicycle. Try it for yourself on a guided trip with FatBike Tours across the beautiful beaches of East Lothian, or rent a fat bike from Bothy Bikes in Aviemore and challenge yourself on snow-covered woodland trails.
7. Ride on a sled dog safari
Snow dogs, Meall a' Bhuachaille,Cairngorms National Park, Highlands
You might be surprised to know that there is quite the sled dog racing scene in Scotland, with popular rallies taking place in the winter months - Aviemore is even home to a designated centre for the sport! You can meet these hardworking canines at the kennels and sled dog museum or book a sled dog safari, training session or course with the Cairngorm Sleddog Centre. Is there a more awesome way to appreciate the snow-dusted Highlands than being whisked along by a husky team? Mush, mush!
8. Ski across mountains
CairnGorm Mountain, near Aviemore
You probably know that you can enjoy snowsports at our five fantastic ski centres, but did you also know you can try ski touring? It's an invigorating activity which combines mountaineering and skiing skills, and is a fantastic way to experience the untouched mountain backcountry of the Highlands. A few activity centres offer ski touring courses and guided tours in the majestic Cairngorms, including Glenmore Lodge and G2 Outdoor. Both of these operators are based near Aviemore in the Highlands, which can be reached from Glasgow by road in less than three hours. Most ski centres across Scotland offer seasonal passes - a great Christmas gift idea for your family or friends that love surfing the slopes.
That's not all Scotland has to offer in winter. Stop by in November as the colder weather and darker nights draw in for true Scottish experience with St Andrews Day. Or if you'd rather save your pennies for Christmas shopping, there are plenty of free things to do in winter in Scotland, so no one has to miss out. Winter is also the pefect time for a staycation or group getaway in Scotland, or perhaps you fancy a country retreat, farm experience or even a wellness break to recharge for the New Year.