As the temperature dips and Scotland's jaw dropping landscapes sparkle in the clear winter light, nothing beats a refreshing winter walk to soak up the winter wonderland around you. Enjoy the magical appearance of hills glistening with snow, crisp air filling your lungs and frost crunching underfoot - plus it's a good excuse to warm up with a hot chocolate when you get back to base.
We've rounded up some of the best winter walks, walking routes and trails, including loch view walks, city routes, woodland wanders, family-friendly gems and mountain hikes. Here are our top picks of winter walks in Scotland:
Loch view winter walks
Pause to enjoy views of tranquil waters as you stretch your legs on a great winter walk - guaranteed to work up your appetite for a hearty meal later on! These two routes offer stunning views of winter scenery.
1. Loch Morlich, Cairngorms National Park
Loch Morlich, Cairngorms National Park, Highlands
- Distance: 6 km (3.75 miles)
- Time: 1.5 - 2 hrs
- Starting point: Loch Morlich car park
One of the best walks in the Cairngorms, this loop around Loch Morlich offers stunning views of the northern Cairngorm mountains, which look especially majestic dusted with snow. Situated in the heart of Glenmore Forest, a spot of Cairngorms winter walking will make you feel like you have stepped into the pages of a story book.
Read about the Loch Morlich circuit
2. Knockan Crag National Nature Reserve, North Highlands
Lochan An Ais, Knockan Crag National Nature Reserve, Highlands
- Distance: 2 km (1.25 miles)
- Time: 1 hr
- Starting point: Knockan Crag visitor centre
Colliding continents, exploding volcanoes and millions of years of history - discover the epic story of the stunning landscapes around you. Begin at the Rock Room visitor centre before heading out onto the trails, where sculptures and jaw-dropping viewpoints await.
Read about the Knockan Crag trail
City winter walks
See Scotland's cities dressed in all their winter glory on a fantastic city walk. These two suggestions give lots of information about the history of the buildings and monuments you'll see as you head out on your winter walk.
3. Calton Hill, Edinburgh
Calton Hill, Edinburgh
- Distance: 1.75 km (1 mile)
- Time: 1 - 1.5 hrs
- Starting point: Waverley Train Station
If you're staying in Edinburgh, head to Calton Hill, located east of Princes Street, for a winter hill walk with beautiful views of Scotland's capital. There are lots of buildings and monuments to discover, including the 1831 Dugald Stewart Monument which was designed by William Henry Playfair.
Find out more about the Calton Hill walk
Union Terrace Gardens, Aberdeen
Uncover the stories behind some of Aberdeen's most impressive granite buildings and sculptures on this city centre trail. Learn about the granite industry throughout the ages and tour some of the key buildings and monuments made of this glittering stone. One of the best winter walks in the city.
Follow the Aberdeen granite trail
Woodland winter walks
There's nothing more enchanting than a winter walk through woodland. Here are two great options.
5. Cardrona Forest, Tweed Valley Forest Park, Scottish Borders
Cardrona Forest offers three great winter walking trails through the forest - the Burn Trail, an easy access route along the Kirk Burn, the Kirkburn Trail, which offers beautiful views of the Tweed Valley, and Wallace's Trail, a circular route that passes the remains of Cardrona Tower, which dates from the 1500s. Look out for red squirrels as you explore too!
Read about Cardrona Forest
6. Clatteringshaws, Galloway Forest Park, Dumfries & Galloway
Clatteringshaws Loch, Galloway Forest Park, Dumfries & Galloway
- Distance: 5.5 km (3.5 miles)
- Time: 1.5 - 2 hr
- Starting point: Clatteringshaws Visitor Centre
This enchanting route, in the heart of a UNESCO Biosphere, begins with a stroll along the edge of Clatteringshaws Loch to visit Bruce's Stone, which commemorates Robert the Bruce's victory at the Battle of Glen Trool in 1307. The route then leads to the visitor centre to begin the Loch View hike through winter woodland, reaching a stunning vantage point over the loch.
Read about the Clatteringshaws Loch View trail
Family winter walks
Get the whole family together for the fresh air and good old fashioned fun that winter walking holidays provide. These two picks both offer lots for your little ones to see and do while they stretch their legs in the fresh winter air.
7. Castle Fraser Estate, Aberdeenshire
Castle Fraser, Aberdeenshire
Kids will feel like they've walked into a winter fairy tale in the grounds of this stunning castle. Although the castle itself is closed from late October - March you can explore the beautiful grounds all year round and follow two great winter walks, The Alton Brae Trail and Miss Bristow's Trail.
Read about Castle Fraser
8. The Scottish Deer Centre, Fife
The Scottish Deer Centre, Cupar, Fife © Kenny Lam
Although not strictly a 'walk', The Scottish Deer Centre is an outdoor wildlife park covering 55 acres - plenty of room for your family to stretch their legs, enjoy some fresh air and meet the park's star residents. Your wee ones will love hand feeding the deer and what could be more exciting than seeing reindeer up close at this magical time of year?!
Read about The Scottish Deer Centre
Mountain winter walks
With wintry landscapes spread out below you, mountain walking in the winter offers some of the most jaw-dropping views you can get. Bear in mind though, winter hill walks and walking in the mountains is a form of mountaineering and shouldn't be attempted unless you have the specialist skills, knowledge and equipment to stay safe.
9. Ben Lomond, Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park
Ben Lomond, Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park
- Distance: 12 km (7.5 miles)
- Time: 4.5 - 5.5 hours
- Starting point: Rowardennan car park
Experience one of Scotland's most popular mountain walks in the quieter winter months and enjoy uninterrupted views of stunning Loch Lomond. Look out for elusive ptarmigan in their snow-white winter plumage as you climb this famous Munro.
Find out more about Ben Lomond walk
10. Stac Pollaidh circuit, North Highlands
Stac Pollaidh, Highlands
- Distance: 4.5 km (2.75 miles)
- Time: 2 - 4 hours
- Starting point: Stac Pollaidh car park
A stunning winter mountain walk around towering Stac Pollaidh, with sweeping views over the wintry landscapes of Assynt. One of the best winter hikes in Scotland. You can also add on a short (but steep) climb for breathtaking views across to Suilven and the Summer Isles.
Find out more about the Stac Pollaidh circuit
Coastal winter walks
11. Buckhaven to Elie, Fife
- Distance: 20 km
- Time: 4 - 5 hours
- Starting point: Buckhaven
The 20 km section from Buckhaven to Elie offers charming villages, golf courses, historic monuments and an abundance of wildlife, perfect for a winter walking holiday. Elie a lovely place to finish off your walk. The Fife Coastal Path is one of the most interesting paths in Scotland with a huge variety of things to see and do along the way - a popular spot for dog walks in Fife too!
Find out more about the Buckhaven to Elie walk
12. Cruden Bay to the Bullers of Buchan, Aberdeenshire
- Distance: 4.5 km
- Time: 1.5 - 2 hours
- Starting point: Cruden Bay
Experience the drama of Aberdeenshire's coast on this rousing walk from Cruden Bay. Along with impressive geological features, you will pass the eerie ruins of Slains Castle, thought to be the inspiration for Bram Stoker's Dracula. Perhaps the wander will inspire you to come up with a story of your own…
Find more about the Cruden Bay to the Bullers of Buchan walk
13. Ayrshire Coastal Path
The Ayrshire Coastal Path offers dramatic views along the Ayrshire Coast and the Firth of Clyde. As Ayrshire walks go, this is one of the best - with exciting places to see such as the ruins of Dunure Castle.
Discover more spectacular coastal walks in Scotland.
Scottish Winter walking courses
If you want to learn more about winter skills and mountaineering in Scotland, then check out these Scottish winter walking courses you can take:
So there you have it - some of the brilliant walks you can enjoy in Scotland this winter. Find out more about walking in Scotland.