The Torridon, Wester Ross

Winter in Scotland can be truly magical. The gold and red colours of autumn give way to frost-covered glens and snow-capped peaks, the chill in the air makes your cheeks glow and nose tingle, while shimmering lights of Scotland's cities beckon.

It's a season that lets you see places in a new light and offers new experiences that you just can't enjoy at any other time of year. Even planning where to stay in winter throws up some exciting and unusual options that you've probably never thought of before.

Check out these ideas for a unique Scottish winter break you'll remember for years to come:

Best for

Fans of Islay's famous peaty malt whiskies and vibrant island culture.

Things to see and do

If there's one thing that will warm you up in winter, it's whisky, the country's national drink. For a winter break with a difference, take the ferry to Islay, Scotland's whisky island. 

With eight distilleries to visit, you'll no doubt find a favourite peaty dram to warm your cockles on Islay. You could visit Bowmore Distillery, situated in the heart of the village of the same name, or get up close to the stills of Lagavulin Distillery. Islay also boasts some lovely beaches and clifftop nature reserves, perfect for a winter stroll.

Unwind in a cosy fire-lit pub where you might hear some live traditional music. If you visit during 17 - 19 November 2017, you can experience great craic during the Islay Sessions, a small winter festival featuring incredible folk musicians.

Stay

The island offers a great range of places to stay, from traditional hotels to luxury eco-lodges with saunas and hot tubs.

Find accommodation on Islay.

Eating out

Treat yourself to some fine Islay produce, including tasty fresh seafood. At the restaurant in the Port Charlotte Hotel, you can enjoy a sumptuous meal in elegant surroundings, or tuck into a bar supper in the relaxed atmosphere of the bar and conservatory.

Getting there

Located off the coast of the Kintyre peninsula on Scotland's west coast, Islay is most easily accessed from the port of Kennacraig, with car ferries running daily. A ferry also departs from Oban once a week.

When it comes to getting around the distilleries without a car, local taxi companies can arrange bespoke tours.

Best for

Anyone who enjoys listening to live music, exploring museums and soaking up a vibrant city atmosphere.

Things to see and do

Glasgow has its finger on the pulse all year round, and even in the dreariest of winter months this dynamic city really shines. Explore the handsome city centre and admire Glasgow's striking architecture. At The Lighthouse, discover touring exhibitions, take in panoramic views of the city, or find out more about designer Charles Rennie Mackintosh in the dedicated Mackintosh Centre. Take a subway to the West End to visit the beautiful Kelvingrove Art Gallery & Museum and discover the area's quirky shops, cool bars and restaurants.

If you visit in January, you can catch a gig or two at one of the many fantastic venues across the city during Celtic Connections, the world-famous celebration of traditional, folk and roots music. This winter festival features the best of home-grown talent and incredible musicians from all across the globe, and you can see both legendary artists as well as up-and-coming acts.

Stay

From smart boutique hotels to sleek serviced apartments, Glasgow has a huge range of places to stay.

Find accommodation in Glasgow.

Eating out

Glasgow's dining scene is thriving. Experience a Glasgow institution and book a table at the Ubiquitous Chip, or opt for one of the trendy restaurants in the Finnieston area of the city.

Getting there

Glasgow is served by three international airports with regular flights to cities in the UK and Europe. It's also very well served by train and bus routes.

Best for

Those who want to enjoy a scenic coastal break and see amazing night time wonders.

Things to see and do

The Highland region of Moray Speyside is perfect for a quiet escape filled with bracing coastal walks along beaches and paths. Explore charming historic fishing villages, take walks along unspoilt stretches of sand and try to spot the resident dolphins frolicking close to the shore. Get a real flavour of Speyside by following the River Spey to one of the region's whisky distilleries.

If you visit between 8 - 19 November 2017, you could catch the Colours of Cluny, a night time extravaganza of sound and light.

Did you know the Moray area is one of the best places in the UK to catch sight of the Northern Lights? If you're lucky enough to get clear night skies and an aurora forecast, head to Lossiemouth East Beach or Bow Fiddle Rock at Portknockie, two places where the Northern Lights have been spotted at in recent years.

Stay

The Moray Firth has a range of accommodation, including family-run hotels and inns and cosy self-catering cottages.

Find accommodation in Moray.

Eating out

The coastline boasts some fine traditional pubs at the likes of Findhorn, or dine in an 18th century stone salt cellar at La Caverna in Lossiemouth. You could also choose the cheery Mosset Tavern in Forres.

Getting there

From Inverness, it's easy to drive to Moray. Elgin, one of the largest towns in the area, is just an hour away by car.

Best for

Those with a passion for the great outdoors (who also like the finer things in life)!

Things to see and do

Combine your passion for the natural environment with a good dollop of indulgence on a break to The Torridon, a luxury estate retreat in the beautiful north west Highlands.

The Torridon offers activities year-round. In the winter months, there's a programme of archery, sea kayaking, canoeing, rock climbing, and guided walks and mountain bike rides. The surrounding landscape is truly wild and rugged, making for some very exhilarating hiking. Experienced climbers can get a taste of navigating the Torridon mountains in challenging winter conditions. Be sure to pack the crampons!

Stay

The Torridon itself offers elegantly decorated rooms in the grand hotel, built originally as a hunting lodge, and rooms in the Inn. You can also enjoy the privacy of the picturesque boat house, perfect for a self-catering break.

Or find other accommodation in the Torridon area.

Eating out

The Torridon is a slice of foodie heaven, with Torridon Inn offering hearty pub grub and the 1887 Restaurant serving fine, award-winning cuisine with exquisitely matched wines. And should the weather conditions affect the activities in the outdoors, then why not relax in a comfy arm chair and enjoy a delicious afternoon tea, complete with a warming pot of The Torridon's signature blend?

Getting there

The Torridon is accessible by road. From Inverness, the journey takes approximately 1 hour and 30 mins, crossing the Kessock Bridge and following the A835, A832, and the A896.

Best for

Self-confessed foodies who enjoy leisurely days exploring scenic countryside.

Things to see and do

The charming market towns, pretty villages and splendid rolling hills of the Scottish Borders make it a perfect region for touring. It also boasts an abundant natural larder and great eateries, so why not treat your taste buds and enjoy foodie experiences whilst exploring the area?

If coming from Edinburgh, your first stop could be Whitmuir the Organic Place in West Linton. Wander around the working farm, browse the shop for incredible organic produce, or grab something tasty and warming from the Larder Café. There's also an art gallery too!

For those with a sweet tooth, don't miss Cocoa Black chocolate boutique in Peebles, where you can enjoy indulgent tasty treats created by Ruth Hinks, the UK World Chocolate Master. Budding cooks can perfect their chocolate and pastry skills at The Chocolate & Pastry School.

In Jedburgh, Born in the Borders is the premier foodie destination. Home to Scottish Borders Beer, they also have a well-stocked store packed with regional delights and an innovative café and restaurant.

Or, at nearby Kelso, pop into The Cobbles - it's the brewery tap bar of Tempest Brewing Co., and has a great reputation for serving hearty, quality home cooking.  Meat lovers will adore the steak menu, featuring fine cuts from the Scottish Borders' most renowned meat producers.

Stay

The Scottish Borders boasts great choices for both serviced and self-catering accommodation including quaint cottages, historic inns and family-run B&Bs.

Find accommodation in the Scottish Borders.

Eating out

Save room for a tasty evening meal and book a table at the Blue Coo Bistrot and Bar at the Buccleuch Arms in St Boswells. This coaching inn dates from 1836 and has a menu which really showcases the best of the Scottish Borders' produce.

Getting there

The Scottish Borders is easily reachable from both central Scotland and northern England by road. From Edinburgh, you can also get as far as Tweedbank, near Melrose, by taking the Borders Railway.

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