Hidden destinations to visit this winter holiday cottages

Hidden destinations to visit this winter

Ellen Drowne 22 November 2023

Christmas is one of the busiest times of the year, though many people may want to escape the hustle and bustle to find some quiet festive magic. With social media influencing travellers' decisions (75% of people use social media as a source of travel inspiration) this can often lead to overcrowding in some local beauty spots. So, for those looking to beat the TikTok crowds and discover hidden winter wonderlands this season – where are the best UK areas to head to?

We’ve created an in-depth guide to some of the most well-hidden beauty spots you could visit in the UK this winter – from classic seaside towns to gorgeous villages in the countryside, there is so much of Great Britain to see, especially in the frosty winter months when everything sparkles!

The best hidden winter destinations

Read on to discover all the best festive towns where you can beat the crowds this winter: 

Infographic showing 20 top winter destinations with all the data collected for them

How did we find the most festive town?

Christmas wreaths and illuminated stars hanging outside shops

To find the most festive town, we analysed how many times the place names appear as hashtags on Instagram, the total TikTok views they've racked up in the last year, the local population, the average snowfall days, the festive vibes according to sentiment scores, and the number of walking routes nearby.

We normalised all these numbers, so it's fair game, and we gave high scores to the places that have a low number of Instagram hashtags, low TikTok views, low population, high snowfall days, high festive sentiment, and a high number of walking routes. We then added up these scores to find the ultimate festive town/village, ranking them from the highest total to the lowest. Check it out!

The best-hidden winter destinations

Robin on a winter branch

Our guide to the secret hidden wonders of the British countryside could lead you to your next winter wonderland! Here are some of the best spots we’ve found:  

Bakewell, Derbyshire

With some of the best festive walks around – there are over 65 different walking routes for you to try out! – Bakewell in Derbyshire is a charming market town, adorned with twinkling lights and festive decorations at this time of year. 

Strolling along the cobbled streets, you’ll be treated to the sight of traditional Christmas markets offering an array of handcrafted gifts, local delicacies, and seasonal treats – there’s a reason they had a festive sentiment score of 43!

And let’s not forget that the iconic Bakewell pudding, a local speciality, becomes even more irresistible during this time of year. Bakewell offers a truly magical Christmas experience for everyone who visits.

Grasmere, Lake District

Every town and village in the Lake District is a sight to behold at Christmas time (we promise we’re not biased, come see for yourself at one of our cosy cottages), but none more so than Grasmere. It’s a captivating Christmas destination, enchanting visitors with its idyllic charm and festive spirit.

The tiny village, surrounded by the stunning landscape of rolling hills and serene lakes, comes alive during Christmas with their festive markets scenting the air with mulled wine and cinnamon. St Oswald's Church adds a touch of historical beauty, hosting heartwarming carol services that can be heard from the hills.

With a population of only 523 people, and 60 different walking routes, you’ll be certain to have a truly restive and heartwarming Christmas break.

Bowness-on-Windermere, Lake District, Cumbria

Visitors to this incredible region can also delight in the cosy ambience of traditional pubs and restaurants in Bowness-on-Windermere, where fireside warmth and seasonal menus create a welcoming retreat from the winter chill.

Bowness-on-Windermere also hosts special Christmas events, from carol concerts to festive boat rides on the lake – all adding to their top festive sentiment score of 50. And with over 50 walking routes for you to trek along, your Christmas holiday could be more activity-filled than you first thought!

All of this adds up to provide an opportunity for you to immerse yourself in the joyous spirit of the season against the backdrop of the Lake District's breathtaking landscapes.

Loch Awe, Scotland

The serene beauty of Loch Awe, surrounded by the majestic Scottish Highlands, takes on a magical quality as the landscape is adorned with a dusting of winter snow. Our festive sentiment score of 73 is well-deserved!

The stillness of the water and the crispness of the air create a tranquil atmosphere, providing a peaceful retreat from the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. The historic Kilchurn Castle, standing as a sentinel on the loch's shores, adds a touch of ancient charm to the festive ambience.

With a population of less than 1,000 people and a relatively small amount of social media coverage (only 34,000 hashtags), Loch Awe's remoteness and natural grandeur make it an ideal location for those seeking a peaceful and reflective Christmas, surrounded by the timeless beauty of the Scottish Highlands.

Ambleside, Lake District

Whether indulging in local cuisine at a cosy pub, exploring the charming shops, or simply enjoying the beauty of the Lake District in winter, Ambleside offers a perfect blend of festive charm and natural splendour during the Christmas season.

The charming streets, lined with traditional stone cottages and adorned with festive lights, exude a warm and inviting atmosphere. And with an average snowfall of 18 days per year, you could get lucky and see some added magic this Christmas!

The surrounding fells and mountains, dusted with snow, create a scenic backdrop for nearly 50 leisurely walks and many outdoor activities – views you can also admire from one of our cottages with lake views. Ambleside also hosts a variety of Christmas events, from carol concerts in historic churches to festive parades, adding a joyful rhythm to the air.

Best UK areas for snowfall

Snowy hillside with lake and trees

Seeing snow at Christmastime is magical no matter what age you are, so finding one of those snow-dusted hills to wander up during the festive period can make your Christmas truly memorable. Here are some of the best destinations to find your favourite snowflakes this winter:

  • Fort William, Scotland
  • Ambleside, Lake District
  • Grasmere, Lake District

Best areas for a festive walk

Blonde woman in hat, coat, jeans and boots with man in jeans, coat and cap with little blonde girl on his shoulders  walking through snow with trees either side

Is Christmas even Christmas without some fun family walks? Stretching your legs after eating far too much chocolate is a go-to festive activity, so finding some secret spots with beautiful walks is what we’re all about! Here are our favourite spots:

  • Bakewell, Derbyshire
  • Grasmere, Lake District
  • Bowness-on-Windermere, Lake District, Cumbria

Best UK areas for getting into the festive spirit

Blonde woman with little son in bobble hat meeting Santa in the snow

It can be a little difficult to let go of all the stress of work, or even just to get your head into the festive spirit when you’re running around town picking up presents. Get yourself out to one of our favourite spots to really feel the magic of Christmas this winter:

  • Loch Awe, Scotland
  • Cartmel, Lake District
  • Chipping Campden, Cotswolds

Why not pack up all your presents, pets, and kids into the car and head to one of our stunning Lake District properties this winter for a Christmas you’ll remember forever? After all, we’ve just shown you that it’s one of the best areas in the UK to get into the festive spirit and make the most of the beautiful villages and valleys this area of natural beauty has to offer.

It's not too late to get yourself booked in – we have a whole host of last-minute cottages that are still available to book for Christmas!


A list of the most festive towns/villages has been compiled through desk research. The six factors for each town/village will then be gathered. The data will then be normalised, to give each factor a score between 0 and 1. If data is not available, the factor will be given a normalised score of 0.

The normalised data will then be summed to give each town/village a total score out of 6.

The towns/villages will then be ranked from highest to lowest, based on this total score, with a higher score producing a higher ranking. 

The factors are as follows, and are split by location:

  • Number of hashtags on Instagram - Total number of hashtags
  • Number of TikTok views - total number of TikTok views over the past 12 months
  • Population of destinations - total population of each area
  • Average snowfall - average snowfall days of each area
  • Festive sentiment - the positive sentiment score for '[LOCATION] AND "festive"'
  • Number of walking routes - total number of walking routes within 10 miles

The factors will be normalised as follows:

  • Number of hashtags on Instagram – low value gets a high score
  • Number of TikTok views – low value gets a high score
  • Population of the destination – low value gets a high score
  • Average snowfall days – high value gets a high score
  • Festive sentiment – high value gets a high score
  • Number of walking routes – high value gets a high score

Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.

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