A Christmas in the tropics is all well and good, and Santa knows we’re all in need of some sun - but if you ask us, you really can’t beat a white Christmas. One place you’re almost guaranteed to get some snow (or at least some very sparkly frost) is Scotland. With fir forests, reindeer parks, and a traditional Christmas market, it’s the closest you can get to the North Pole without sacrificing on creature comforts. Luckily, our little elves (read: home critics) have managed to fit in some location scouting between scoffing mince pies, and we've discovered the most festive and most magical places to spend Christmas holidays in Scotland. That shouldn't come as a surprise of course, because here at Plum Guide, we pride ourselves on going above and beyond to provide only the very best for our guests. No need to send us a thank you card.
Boats on water in front of terraced buildings in Leith, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK
You may not find much of that famous sunshine over Leith in December, but if you ask us it’s an utterly charming place to spend your Christmas break. Small and cosmopolitan, these streets are crammed full with independent cafes, restaurants, and boutiques for some last minute shopping. Pick up some gifts you’d never find online in chic shops like Flux and Destined for Home, grab a special bottle of wine to enjoy on Christmas Eve in iconic deli Valvona & Crolla, and treat yourself to a lavish meal out in Tom Kitchin’s Michelin-starred The Kitchin. You’ll deserve it after slaving over the Christmas roast.
A man buying hot drinks at a Christmas market stall, Edinburgh, UK
Edinburgh’s a magical place to spend Christmas - the old cobbled streets and towering castle look like something straight off the front of a Christmas card, and there are plenty of festive activities for the little ones. Eye up the must-have Christmas presents of the past in the delightful Museum of Childhood, indulge in a rich hot chocolate from Mary’s Milk Bar, and admire the lights strung up all around town - George Street has a particularly impressive annual display. And if you need a bit of a hand getting into the festive spirit, a trip to the Christmas market could convert Scrooge himself. Tuck into some gingerbread, down a mug of mulled wine, and get your sparkle on.
Fife is often typecast as a destination solely for golfers and whisky fanatics, and though you’ll find plenty of both here, it’s also a prime destination for Christmas holidays in Scotland. Right on the coast, close to some of Scotland’s most beautiful national parks, and within easy day trip distance of the capital, a stay here is really the best of all possible worlds. For a seriously magical day out with the kids, head to the 55 acre Scottish Deer Centre to get up close with Rudolph and pals. Not to mention, Fife lends itself to finding presents for the difficult-to-buy-for - you don’t have to be Rory McIlroy to enjoy a putter around the Old Course, where the game of golf was invented, and we dare you to find anyone who wouldn’t be delighted to find a bottle of Lindores Abbey Whisky in their stocking. (Except, perhaps, your five year old. Stick to the chocolate coins for them, Christmas is hectic enough already).
Lochnagar, Ballater, The Highlands of Scotland
The most northern part of the UK is the perfect place to spend your Christmas holidays in Scotland - you’ve got a good chance of snow during December, and there’s nothing more magical than waking up to see the first flurries falling outside as you prepare to spend the day in front of a crackling fire at your Plum home. If you’re the type who enjoys a brisk walk to blow away the cobwebs after Christmas dinner, you’ll find lots of pretty walking trails around the Highlands, and a trip to the slopes for some seasonal skiing is great for getting the kids out of the house (and off their new phones) on Boxing Day. Above all, spending Christmas in the Highlands is terribly romantic; if you’re planning on popping the question, or just want to show someone special that you care, there’s no better way to do so than by arranging a festive getaway. With any luck, they won’t even notice how badly you’ve wrapped their present.
The Scottish Borders
A Christmas ornament dedicated to Scotland hanging on a Christmas tree
Christmas is a time for luxury, and what could be more luxurious than staying in your very own castle? With our home critics only deeming 3% of homes worthy of inclusion in the Plum Guide, you know our homes in the Scottish Borders guarantee a truly enchanted Christmas. The Borders is a vast stretch of breathtaking scenery, so get some film in that fancy new camera and get snapping; pretty towns like Melrose and Hawick make a beautiful festive backdrop for family photos, especially when the old cottages are covered with snow. Or perhaps you’ll strike a pose in front of the grand fireplace - just make sure to leave a stocking on the mantelpiece for Father Christmas. We hear he’s coming your way.