My husband and I are traveling to Scotland the week of Christmas. We are Hilton Vacation Club members and are wondering if we should spend the full week at the resort in Ballater or split our trip between Edinburgh and Ballater. We like countryside drives and hiking but also want to see castles and do some distillery visits.
You could be lucky with the weather or it could be cold, snowy/rainy or misty. At that time of year, sunset is about 3.30, so I would stick to the cities. If you are going hiking in December, ensue that you have hiking boots, warm, waterproof clothing and a good map.
Check opening hours of places you intend to visit, as many maybe closed.
We visited on our own some years back both in November and then in October, as those were the available months for using airfare miles. Scotland, away from the largest cities, was closed for the winter. No castles. Few takeaways, even fewer real restaurants.
Our third trip we took in May and even then only a couple of castles had opened for the season. Perhaps some web research will reveal holiday openings. Best wishes-
We visit in November and by end of November we have to pack for any weather conditions. And it’s dark.
We only once had an issue with a closed castle on a Rabbies tour. Never had experiences with closed restaurants etc.
That said, previous Replies are correct, if you have issues driving in unpredictable weather on unlit roads or are used to driving on right side not the left...then winter driving outside cities might be interesting in not a good way. We once got into the highlands when a thick fog rolled in unexpectedly; we couldn’t see more then three feet in front of us. Then it snowed about an inch followed by more fog.
Edinburgh is, we think, one of the most interesting and beautiful cities at Christmas. The Christmas Market is set up in mid November. Holyrhood Palace runs some fantastic tours at Christmas (book as soon as they are available online). The churches have amazing concerts. Museums have wonderful off season exhibits.
Don’t know if distilleries have year long open tours. If we have questions like that, we usually email a business’s Customer Service off their website.
Good luck and let us know what you decide to do!