If you’re a fan of cosy Sunday lunches, crisp winter walks and buzzing Christmas markets, there’s no better time to visit Britain than autumn and winter. Discover Royal Parks ablaze with colour, wander streets adorned with sparkling fairy lights and savour warming seasonal treats as the snow falls down. To get you inspired, we’ve rounded up a few of our favourite activities to enjoy as the weather turns cooler in London, Manchester, Liverpool, Bristol, Glasgow or Edinburgh, ready for a seriously festive British experience!
Britain is known for its green spaces, but it’s in autumn that our parks, botanical gardens and tree-lined city centres really come into their own. Walk beneath a canopy of reds, golds and brown in London’s Royal Parks, or head on out to Windsor Castle for the chance to spot herds of deer basking in the winter sun. Manchester’s Dunham Massey Park and Liverpool’s Everton Park are perfect places for cosy autumn strolls, while visitors to Bristol can don their comfiest walking shoes and crunch through a kaleidoscope of leaves at Westonbirt Arboretum. Home to 2,500 species, the leaf displays are so beautiful, they’ve even featured in a special Royal Mail stamp collection! If you’re Glasgow bound, venture just 35 minutes outside the city and you’ll discover Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park. Home to majestic herds of deer, keep your eyes peeled for rare red squirrels that rustle through the fallen leaves of these ancient woodlands. Alternatively, get rosy-cheeked on the climb up to Arthur’s Seat in Edinburgh, for staggering views of the city in all its frost-kissed glory.
When it comes to Christmas markets, Britain has it wrapped! Get festive on London’s South Bank or head to the legendary Winter Wonderland in Hyde Park, for fairground rides and fairy lit stalls decked with Christmas crafts. Breathe in the scent of mulled wine and pine trees as you explore Manchester’s wintry delights. With six free and accessible markets in locations across the city, Manchester is filled with seasonal spirit and is the perfect place for a spot of Christmas shopping. Check out more than 50 stalls and stroke the reindeer at Bristol Christmas Market, or visit St John's Gardens in Liverpool for treats such as handmade gifts, roasted chestnuts and delicious mulled wine. Visiting Edinburgh? Mosey on over to East Princes Street Gardens for locally made Christmas trinkets and cracking city views from the Big Wheel, or enjoy ice skating in the heart of the Scottish capital's New Town. Alternatively, check out the snow dusted wooden cabins and stalls at George Square and St Enoch Square in Glasgow, for warming global cuisine and gift options galore.
Nothing says weekend winter chill out more than watching the world go by over a steaming coffee with friends. If you’re looking for a cuppa with class, London’s iconic Monmouth Coffee offers the finest roasts in the heart of Covent Garden, Bermondsey and Borough Market, while Bristol’s The Florist is a flower-filled haven for java lovers. Hungry for vegan-friendly treats? Glasgow’s Willow Grove is a hot spot for vegans and vegetarians hunting down fresh bread, tasty cakes and the perfect flat white, while Steamie Coffee Roasters help you make the most of winter with an ever-changing range of seasonal blends. Comic fans can get their caffeine with a side of literature at Cult Espresso in Edinburgh, and visitors to Manchester can savour cakes worth queuing for at Pollen, in addition to some of the city’s best blends. Tea lover looking for that perfect cup of chai? Get your fix in Liverpool at LEAF, a sprawling, artsy city centre venue with warming seasonal blends including chilli ginger rooibos.
The Brits love a good roast, and as the nights draw in there’s no better time to enjoy one of our favourite national dishes. Brimming with cosy pubs and fine dining venues offering hearty meals up and down the country, you’ll be spoilt for choice. Check out The Bowl Inn pub in Bristol for a delicious farm-to-table Sunday lunch enjoyed by the crackling fire, or head down to The Princess of Shoreditch in London, for an ethically sourced roast served with all the trimmings. In Manchester’s city centre, the soon-to-open Fountain House will offer a mouth-watering selection of gastro-pub dishes, while Slim's in the heart of Liverpool offers classic Sunday roasts with an American diner twist. Heading to Scotland? Edinburgh’s leading gastropub, The Scran & Scallie, is known for its sumptuous recipes made with the finest Scottish ingredients, while renowned chain Hawksmoor is a favourite with locals looking for an unforgettable feed. And in Glasgow, The Curler’s Rest delivers traditional dishes with a Scottish twist, plus a naughty nut roast that’s perfect for veggies looking for a slice of the Sunday action.
In winter, Britain gets lit, as cities up and down the country prepare for the festive season with dazzling light displays. Indulge in a bit of carol-oke on the shadow of Liverpool ONE's huge Christmas tree, or watch Bristol come alive with light at the annual switching on ceremony. Discover a true winter wonderland at Dunham Massey Park in Manchester, as you wander illuminated trails complete with enchanted trees and the spellbinding Tunnel of Light, or get lost in a world of festive colour at Edinburgh’s Royal Botanic Gardens. Looking for last minute Christmas gifts? Shop til’ you drop under a glowing canopy of lanterns at Glasgow’s Buchanan Street, or pick up the perfect present as you explore cobbled streets dripping in fairy lights, in London’s historic Seven Dials.
Bursting with free museums and exhibitions all year round, Britain’s galleries are the perfect place to escape the frosty winter weather and get cultural. Head to London’s Natural History Museum for a wide array of free exhibits, then get your skates on at its beautiful outdoor ice rink, which celebrates its final year in 2021 (tickets at cost). Warm up with a trip into the past at Bristol’s Georgian House Museum or uncover the secrets of the industrial revolution at Manchester’s Science & Industry Museum. Alternatively, keep your feet firmly in modern times, with a trip to Liverpool’s Tate Gallery. In Edinburgh, you can soak up the story of Scotland at the National Library, or head to Glasgow to discover the majestic splendour of the Gallery of Modern Art, all without spending a penny.