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Winter family staycation hotspots

With the colder weather approaching, many people may be looking to book a winter holiday this year.  

Staycations have seen a huge resurgence in the past few years as many people opt to stay closer to home and see what adventures the UK has to offer.  

So, if you’re planning a winter staycation, then read on, to discover the top destinations in the country for families.

Windsor and Maidenhead comes top as the UK’s winter staycation spot

Windsor and Maidenhead has taken the crown as the best staycation spot for families, and it’s easy to see why. There are so many great things to do with the kids, such as Legoland and Windsor Castle.  

For that reason, it scored particularly high on entertainment facilities, and it also comes top of the list for healthcare facilities, and the amount of green space available in the area. 

Cornwall and St Albans take second and third position. While Cornwall is well-known for its beautiful beaches, suggesting it’s still a great place to holiday in the winter with the family. There are so many museums to explore, such as the Museum of Cornish Life, and the Museum of Witchcraft. Plus, Cornwall came second for the number of accommodation and restaurants, with 3.73 per 1,000 people; and with 12 Christmas markets, it’s guaranteed to give you a festive feel. 

In third place, St Albans has the benefit of being close to London, so it’s a great place to stay if you want to tag on a couple of days in the capital. However, when it comes to exploring St Albans itself, the first place you should head to is the pretty Verulamium Park. 

In fact, St Albans scores well for entertainment and recreation opportunities in its own right; and it’s a great place to catch a show, with the Alban Arena and Maltings Art Theatre hosting gigs, musicals and plays.  

All top five family winter staycation spots are in the south of England, with London coming in fourth, and Oxford fifth. 

The expense of eating out in London with the average cost of a meal, at £65.75 helped keep it from the top spots, but there’s no denying there are so many things to see and do. If you’re in the mood for festivities, head to one of the seven Christmas markets across the city, including the iconic Winter Wonderland; or try ice skating in one of the rinks in spectacular spots like Hampton Court, and checking out the impressive Christmas lights display on Regent Street. 

Oxford places highly for its healthcare facilities (it came third), but it’s a great destination to visit year-round, including in the winter – with its imposing university buildings and many museums a great place to start. 

Stirling is the highest-ranking city in Scotland to make the cut, in seventh place, and Harrogate is the first northern city in England to make the list, coming in at position 13. 

Looking at the other end of the spectrum, Falkirk has placed the lowest, followed by Plymouth and Wakefield. That’s not to say they’re not worth visiting, as there are still plenty of things to do there. However, shopping opportunities were low compared to other places, while some people will see that as a bonus if you’re looking for a festive break, then maybe give them a miss. Plymouth only has one Christmas market, whereas Falkirk and Wakefield don’t have any.

Top tips for a hassle-free winter holiday

So, if you’ve not booked somewhere for winter sun and are instead going to be visiting somewhere more festive in the UK, you may want to follow these top tips to ensure you have a holiday the whole family will enjoy. 

1. Pack lots of layers 

When travelling in the winter months the weather can be changeable so it’s important to dress for the weather and layer up, if you’re not prepared and the kids are too cold it may cut your adventures short.  Sturdy shoes can be a good idea too. 

2. Be discreet with your valuable items  

Christmas Markets can be bustling places where you will find yourself in close quarters in crowds. If you’re carrying around your phone, cash or a camera then make sure you keep them as hidden as possible. If a pickpocket notices your phone in your back pocket, you’re more likely to become a target.

3. Book the right travel insurance 

Like with any trip, you should make sure you’re covered with insurance before you go – whether you take out single or annual travel insurance. If you are staycationing in the UK, you might need to cover yourself with UK holiday insurance. Some providers will require a minimum stay of at least one or two consecutive nights in pre-booked accommodation, so be sure to check your policy details. 

If you’re planning on doing any winter sports (perhaps if you’re heading up to Scotland or visiting one of the UK’s indoor slopes) you’ll need to look at getting winter sports insurance. It’s essentially an add-on to standard insurance, but it means that you can be covered for winter-specific hazards, such as loss of a ski pass. 

4. Stock up on snacks 

For those driving to your destination, it’s always a good idea to be prepared and stock up on snacks and drinks for the whole family, alongside taking a phone charger, just in case you get stuck somewhere due to weather conditions.  

If you have any questions about your upcoming winter holiday, then head on over to our travel help hub; or if you’d prefer to plan a summer holiday, then discover our top family staycation spots in the warmer months.

Brought to you by the travel insurance experts at Comparethemarket. 


The intention of this data task was to produce a ranking table for different UK locations, based on eight different factors, to find the best "winter staycation" locations in Great Britain.  

To calculate the overall "winter staycation" ranking, each factor was indexed to give a score of between 0 and 1. These scores were then summed across every factor for each location, to provide a total score, which was then used to rank the locations.