Home Travel 14 Enchanting Things To Do in Edinburgh in the Winter

14 Enchanting Things To Do in Edinburgh in the Winter


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Christmas markets in cobblestone streets, historic sandstone buildings, magical lights, storytellers, a stunning medieval castle and probably the highest concentration of the best whisky in the world to warm you up. Welcome to Edinburgh in the winter!

Scotland’s capital city is a special one. Edinburgh has been the capital since the 15th century and when you walk through the cobblestone streets, you can just feel its history. The sandstone buildings, with their typical sandy color (genius observation right here!), turns to a dark brown when it’s raining (pretty much all the time!), which contributes to the old feel of the place. 

Popular with visitors, Edinburgh can feel really busy in summertime. Especially in some famous spots, like the Royal Mile, Edinburgh Castle and the museums. Add the festivals and events to that, and this small city can get very crowded. That’s why I like to visit in winter. The atmosphere is magical and mysterious at the same time, you feel like you have the city to yourself, and I’ve always had an amazing time!

Luckily we have our good friend David who knows all about the best things to do in Edinburgh in the winter, so take it away, David!

Psst: Planning a trip to Europe in winter? Here are some other helpful posts:


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Oh hey, guess what? We’ve created a printable e-book version of our Two Super Detailed Winter Europe Itineraries (for Two Weeks) post available fo’ free! It’s a solid 30 pages of travel tips, printable packing lists, and all the itinerary details you need to plan your Europe in winter trip. Sign up below & we’ll send it straight to your inbox:

edinburgh in the winter-6
Magical Edinburgh covered in a layer of snow. (Photo Credit)

Edinburgh in the Winter FAQs

Convinced? Let’s get you sorted with some useful information to prepare for your trip, and then I’ll share some things you must experience in Edinburgh in the winter (hope you like whisky!).

Does it get cold in Edinburgh in the winter?

Yes, but not uncomfortably cold. The temperatures in Edinburgh in the winter typically range between 33 and 44 degrees F, which is very manageable with warm clothes and boots. It does freeze sometimes, but it’s not very common. A white Christmas is pretty rare, but you can expect snow in January and February.

Not too bad then, to visit in winter? Well, no, but then there’s the rain. It rains a lot in Edinburgh – at any time of year – and the weather changes more often than I change my underwear. So come prepared with at least a good waterproof, warm jacket. Just knowing what to expect really helps.

I f*cking hate rain. I get very grumpy the moment it starts to pour (my friends call me Rain Man). Still, I love Edinburgh, and that shows how incredible this city is!

View from Edinburgh Castle
View of the city from Edinburgh Castle (Photo Credit)

How to get around in Edinburgh In the Winter

Edinburgh is a pretty small city. Public transport is good, but most places of interest are within walking distance. If you stay in the town center, you can get by with just using the occasional bus – when it’s raining a lot for example and you really need to go somewhere. Otherwise just find a pub and have a drink, like the locals.

The buses run 24 hours a day, which is great if you get stuck in said pub and walking back is not an option anymore. (“Here, try this whisky after the one you’re drinking now.”). There is a tramline with 15 stops that runs between Edinburgh Airport and the New Town. The airport is 8 miles from the city, so this is a very convenient way to get to and from the airport. It runs every 15 minutes, between 6:45 AM and 10:45 PM.


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The dazzling Christmas Market at night
The dazzling Christmas Market at night. (Photo Credit)

14 Enchanting Things to do in Edinburgh in the Winter

Now you know everything to prepare for your trip, all you need to do is pack, get on a plane, (re-)watch Braveheart and shout “Freedoooommm” from the top of your lungs when you get off in Edinburgh. Here are 14 magical things to do in Edinburgh in the winter.

So many delicious treats at the Christmas Market! https://flic.kr/p/2hYMheh
So many delicious treats at the Christmas Market! (Photo Credit)

Get into the spirit at the Christmas markets

The traditional Christmas market is right in the historic center, with 70 stalls and funfair rides spread across the city from East Princes Street Gardens to George Street. Christmas in Edinburgh is magical because you’re surrounded by medieval buildings, with yellow lights reflecting off the cobbled streets, and Edinburgh Castle proudly sitting in the background…it doesn’t get much better than this!

The Christmas market stalls are mostly run by independent, local companies. It is the perfect place to find some original presents to put under the tree. The food is as varied as it is delicious. From hot pies and pulled beef subs, to pad thai and Peruvian empanadas, you won’t be disappointed. 

Sweet treats include churros, waffles and chocolates. To keep warm, there’s mulled wine, local whisky and (non-dairy) hot chocolate. The handmade hot pies from Jarvis Pickle are to die for!

The Christmas market is open from mid-November until early Janaury, from 10:00 AM till 10:00 PM. 

Edinburgh's Hogmanay 2008
Thousands join in the Torchlight procession through the streets of Edinburgh culminating in the burning of a viking ship and wicker Stag on Calton Hill.
During Edinburgh’s Hogmanay thousands join in the Torchlight procession. (Forever Edinburgh)

Experience Hogmanay

If you are visiting Edinburgh around New Year’s Eve, you are in for a treat! The New Year’s celebration in Edinburgh is called Hogmanay. It is a festival like I’ve never experienced before, most of all because there’s so much going on. Remember I wrote that Edinburgh is quiet in winter? Well, forget that for Hogmanay, as this is a massive celebration!

Hogmanay starts on December 29th and lasts into the New Year. There are a lot of different ticketed and free events going on. The main events are the torch procession, the New Year’s Eve street party and the concert in the gardens, all with separate tickets. The good thing is that you can opt in or out of events, because Hogmanay can get a bit hectic. 

The torch procession (the medieval fire kind) is a must. Imagine being in a dark medieval city and seeing people dressed up as Shetland Vikings leading a procession of more than 8,500 torches, literally lighting up the city. It’s breathtaking! You can participate by buying a torch for $20 and walking along (some of the proceeds goes towards helping homeless folks), or just watch it from the side. Either way, it will be an experience you will never forget!

Going to one of the street parties to lead in the new year is another event you should attend. Buildings are lit up in colorful lights, there’s music, singing and dancing, while enormous, mysterious creatures tower above the crowds. This all culminates in the countdown, followed by a spectacular fireworks display over Edinburgh Castle.

You’ll find all the information about Hogmanay on the official website.

Scottish girls take a chill dunk during the Loony Dook!
Scottish girls take a chilly dunk during the Loony Dook! (Photo Credit)

Loony Dook in the Firth of Forth

The amazing New Year’s event of Hogmanay is immediately followed by another event, which is – in my opinion – completely bonkers. Dook is Scottish for ‘dip’, the Firth of Forth is an estuary with freezing water. You see where this is going, right?

Started in 1986 by a few locals in a pub, who had the brilliant idea to dive in the Firth of Forth as a hangover cure (hard to avoid after Hogmanay!). “If you do it, I’ll do it”. You can imagine, it didn’t take long before everybody joined in, and on January 1st, 1987, the first Loony Dook took place with a small group of people.

Skip forward to now, and the Loony Dook is an enormous event with thousands of Dookers jumping in the Firth of Forth every year, in fancy dress (in costumes to the American readers!). There is a pre-Dook parade that goes to the water, where participants are welcomed by bagpipers and a warm bowl of porridge. 

Since 2023 the Loony Dook has been dropped from the official Hogmanay celebrations, but it’s still a very popular event, just now organized by the local community. At least it’s free now, so you’ll save $20 and can still freeze your ass off.

Rather stay in bed and enjoy your delicious hotel breakfast? Yeah, me too! Want to participate and find out if it really cures your hangover? (I reckon you’ll find out you’re a masochist!) Head here for more information about Loony Dook.


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Warm up in a pub

Scottish pubs are lovely places, where you can enjoy some food and a drink, in a homely setting. Pub is short for public house after all (and synonym to drinking loads in Edinburgh). In winter they are even better! With the log fire on, they are warm and cozy refuges where you can meet up with friends and “coorie doon”, Scottish for “snuggle up”. No friends? No problem! The locals are always up for a drink and a laugh (in that order!).

The best pubs in Edinburgh:

  • The Jolly Judge – This pub is in a basement and it’s tiny. It’s a no-frills pub, with a brown wooden interior, but there’s something about it. Just a lovely place to bunker down and have a drink by the log fire.
  • Sandy Bell’s – This pub has been there for more than 100 years and is popular amongst Scottish folk musicians. What I love is that you can just sit down with a beer or a malt whisky, while musicians get together and play spontaneously. 
  • Moonwake Beer Co. – If you like local beers, don’t skip Moonwake. This microbrewery has some excellent beers on offer, as well as sustainable wines, all served in their colorful, industrial taproom. The milk stout is excellent!
Edinburgh Castle on the top of a snowy hill.
Edinburgh Castle on the top of a snowy Castle Hill. (Photo Credit)

Visit Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh’s best-known attraction is Edinburgh Castle. The castle is pretty much always visible from the city, as it’s built on the top of Castle Rock, an inactive volcano (you can’t really build a castle on an active one anyway). It was built in 1103. Imagine all the things that happened and the people who lived here in the last 920 years! This place has a lot of stories to tell.

You can visit the castle by yourself. It’s a short and fairly steep walk up the castle, but it’s worth it! The castle itself is very impressive, as you follow the route through Portcullis Gate, Argyle Battery, Lang Stairs, Argyle Tower and various exhibitions. Once you’re on the castle walls, you’re treated to beautiful, wintery panoramas of Edinburgh and its surroundings.

If you have time, I would recommend booking the 2-hour Highlights Tour on Get Your Guide. It gives a lot more depth to your visit, as the guide will tell you lively stories about the castle. The price included a skip-the-line ticket, which is great value and a fantastic experience! 

view from calton hill edinburgh in the winter
View from Calton Hill, Edinburgh. (Photo Credit)

Climb up Calton Hill

It’s very easy to get amazing winter views of the city from Edinburgh Castle. The only problem is that one significant landmark is missing from the views…the castle! From the top of Calton Hill you’ll get great views of Edinburgh with the castle in the background. The National Monument is also on this hill, which looks a bit like a Greek temple.

Calton Hill, sounds like hard work? It isn’t! There is a staircase from Regent Road that takes you up the south side in five minutes! You can also walk up the north side via Royal Terrace. I like walking up stairs, so I climb up that way, then walk back down the Northside. The best time is around sunset, if you get a dry, not too cloudy day.


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Holyrood Palace
Holyrood Palace standing beautifully at the end of the Royal Mile. (Photo Credit)

Visit Holyrood Palace

Holyrood Palace, also known as Holyroodhouse, is right at the bottom of Royal Mile, the main shopping street (I wonder how long that street is?). The Royal Mile is the street that connects Edinburgh Castle at the top, with Holyrood Palace at the bottom, about a mile apart (what?).

Holyrood Palace is the official residence of the King when he’s in Scotland. You can visit it all year round. An entry ticket costs around $23 and gives you access to some of the beautiful rooms (sorry if you’re a fan, not King Charles’ bedroom), collection of art and the lovely gardens.

I love to visit this palace in winter. The whole place is decorated with Christmas trees, lights, wreaths and garlands. It makes it very Christmassy, especially when the grounds are covered in snow.

View of Edinburgh from Arthur's Seat
View of Edinburgh from Arthur’s Seat. I guess you could say it’s the best seat in the house… (Photo Credit)

Hike to Arthur’s Seat

This is the last activity where you have to climb, I promise! Arthur’s Seat is the biggest hill on the eastern edge of Edinburgh, and the views from there are spectacular, especially in winter. You start the walk from Holyroodhouse. It’s a bit of a hike, with a steep, tricky climb at the end. It makes it even harder when it’s raining or freezing (scrap that, just assume the path is always slippery). How hard is it though? Well, I only said “f*ck this, I’m going back” twice, which probably means it’s moderate level for most people.

The problem is that the official path gets icy in winter. To prevent slipping and saying “f*ck this, I’m going back”, it’s better to carry on walking on the grass. Closer to the top, there are some chain-railings to hold on to.

The 360-degree view is absolutely worth it though. You can see the entire city from here, with the castle placed majestically in the middle. The waters of the Firth of Forth behind the city, with the remarkable Forth Bridge. Turn around and you’ll see the beautiful surrounding hills. Climbing Arthur’s seat really feels like you’ve been on a real adventure. And there’s always a whisky to warm up after!

the scotch whisky experience edinburgh in the winter
Have a taste at the Scotch Whisky Experience! (Photo Credit: The Scotch Whisky Experience)

Scotch Whisky Experience

You may have figured out by now that Scotland is famous for its high-quality malt whisky (this is not a typo: whisky produced in Scotland must legally be spelled without the ‘e’). That’s why you can’t miss out on the  Scotch Whisky Experience while you’re in Edinburgh! This museum shows you all about how whisky is made, in an interactive way, with an entertaining guide.

This is a great experience in winter, especially cuddling up in the immersive 180° presentation of Scotland’s dramatic countryside (without the rain!). The museum is warm, but the whisky is what keeps you really warm. It’s very common in Edinburgh to enjoy a dram of whisky on a cold day. It warms you up like nothing else!

You will see a lot of whisky! And I mean thousands of different bottles. Luckily you get to try some too. You’ll notice that there are sweet, smoky and fruity aromas. Perhaps you’ll find your new favorite. Good thing there’s a shop too, where you can buy a bottle to take home. How convenient!

Feast on a full Scottish breakfast

So you’ve found your new favorite drink at the Scotch Whisky Experience, went to a pub after to drink more of the stuff, and now you woke up feeling a bit hungover? (Hey, I don’t blame you at all. These things happen!) You need a full Scottish breakfast. The best hangover cure in the world! Hope you’re hungry.

A full Scottish breakfast is a good old fry up, that tastes even better in winter, as it’s so comforting and filling. This fatty meal is what people needed in the cold, wet winters of Scotland. This is what you get on your plate: a square Lorne sausage, pork sausages, baked beans, fried eggs, fried mushrooms and tomatoes, black pudding (blood sausage), a slice of haggis, tattie (potato) scones and buttered toast. (Yes, that’s a sh*tload of food!)

This is where you can get the best Scottish breakfasts in Edinburgh:

  • Butternut Squash – This lovely little café has an all-day breakfast too, with massive portions (you know, just in case a normal full Scottish isn’t enough). Quite a few veggie and vegan options for breakfast too!
  • The Urban Fox – Friendly staff, relaxed atmosphere and a full breakfast with all the bells and whistles. What else do you need? The portions are huge and the food is delicious. They do a full veggie breakfast too.
  • Edinburgh Larder – Winning awards such as “the best cafe in Edinburgh”, this is a wonderful place to pop in for a warm, hearty Full Scottish Breakfast! Located in Old Town, come try their farm fresh food and they even take reservations, so you know you can get in easily!
Burns Night Haggis
Burns Night Haggis. (Photo Credit)

Celebrate Burns Night & Try Haggis

If you happen to be in Edinburgh on January 25th, you are in luck! This is when the Scottish people celebrate Burns Nights, to celebrate the life of Robert Burns, the author of many famous Scottish poems. His life is still celebrated every year, more than 200 years after his death, when a few friends came together to commemorate him. They had a meal of Haggis and performed his work.

Nowadays, Burns Night hasn’t changed much. It normally starts with a reading of Burns’ “Address to a Haggis”, the haggis is then served on a silver platter, for everyone to enjoy. Officially, a bagpiper plays it in. After the meal, more poems will be read, and there is live music and dance.

Haggis is a Scottish national dish. Even if it’s not on Burns Night, you will have many opportunities to try it. Whether you want to, is a different thing. The first time I tried it was on Burns Night. It was a delicious, meaty meal and I absolutely loved it. I didn’t know what it was made of…

You might want to sit down for this one: Haggis is a mixture of sheep’s liver, lungs and heart, suet, onion, oatmeal, stock and spices. This is all packaged in a sheep’s stomach and cooked. It’s served with neeps and tatties (mashed turnip and potatoes). If you’re not keen on Haggis (which might be the case now), there are other Scottish meals you can try on Burns Night, or perhaps a vegetarian version of Haggis.

Want to celebrate Burns Night? Best way is to book a table at one of the venues, for a three-course Burns supper, poetry and live music. Great venues are Ghillie Dhu, Prestonfield House or Whiski Rooms.


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Dean Village in the winter
Dean Village looks so cozy in the winter. (Photo Credit)

Wintery walk in Dean Village

Dean Village is an area only a 10-minute walk away from Princes Street. It’s a small, secret oasis along the Water of Leith, used for water milling in the past. You can still see old millstones everywhere. I think this is Edinburgh’s most beautiful neighborhood, especially on a clear winter’s day, when the banks of the Water of Leith are covered in snow. The houses are made of sandstone too, but the roofs are pointy. The way the buildings are clustered together gives it a cozy feel, like you only get in small villages. It really feels like a magical place.

To get to Dean Village, start at the west end of Princes Street. From there, follow Queensferry Road until you see a small, steep road called Bell’s Brae on your left, just before you reach Dean Bridge. Walk down it to get to Well Court, which is the center of Dean Village. Follow the water back in the direction you came from to admire the picturesque Dean Bridge. You can’t miss it, it’s big!

Vicrtoria Street in Edinburgh in the winter
Victoria Street in Edinburgh in the winter. (Photo Credit)

Visit Victoria Street

One street you must see in Edinburgh in the winter is Victoria Street. This winding, cobblestone lane is one of Edinburgh’s most famous streets. It’s also UNESCO World Heritage. You can see why, the moment you get there. The street was designed by Thomas Hamilton, inspired by ancient Greek architecture, and named after Queen Victoria.

The facades are colorful, which contrasts beautifully with the dark skies and wet sandstone buildings of Edinburgh in the winter. The street is well-known for its abundance of independent boutique shops. If you are looking for unique Christmas presents to take home, this is where you’ll find them.

  • The Whisky Shop – Need I say more? If you’re looking for a great local whisky – even limited editions, or any other local drinks, this is the shop to go to!
  • The Enchanted Galaxy – Are you a Harry Potter fan? (who isn’t!) This shop is full of merchandise and other items that have to do with the wizard. Why have a Harry Potter shop here? Victoria Street was J.K. Rowling’s inspiration for Diagon Alley!
  • Armchair Books – I love old book shops, even though I hardly ever buy books. They are just beautiful and smell nice. Armchair Books is one of the smallest book shops I’ve ever seen, and it’s absolutely filled from floor to ceiling.
Greyfriars Graveyard
Greyfriars Graveyard isn’t so spooky… during the day. (Photo Credit)

Get spooked in the underground vaults

A city as old as Edinburgh comes with a fascinating history and incredible stories. To make its history come to live, you need a brilliant storyteller. The guides on the Haunted Underground Vaults and Graveyard tour are amazing!

This sounds like a standard ghost tour, which you can find in pretty much every capital, but it’s not. The tour is more of a history tour, with some spooky stories (hope you don’t mind ghost dogs).  It will take you past some historic and haunted streets, to Greyfriars Graveyard (ok, that is spooky!), and you will go underground to visit the vaults, which are surprisingly warm in winter.

The underground vaults are situated under Old Town, supposedly haunted, and have loads of history. Back in the day, this is where homeless people took refuge. There were illegal gambling taverns, an illegal whisky distillery and apparently bodysnatchers used this underground city to store dead bodies (yeah, nice place!).

We didn’t see or hear any ghosts on this tour, but it’s one of those experiences that I won’t forget. It was so interesting to walk around secret places of the city, to hear the spooky stories. The guide made it so much fun and I’ve learned a lot!

You can book the Haunted Underground Vaults and Graveyard Tour on Get Your Guide.


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edinburgh in the winter
The Beautiful Edinburgh in the winter. (Photo Credit)

Where to stay in Edinburgh in the winter

Because Edinburgh is such a compact city, it makes sense to stay in the city center to have the best experience. Hotel prices are very reasonable in winter. You can get a double room in a great hotel for less than $100 a night, which is not bad at all for staying in a capital city.

The only choice you have to make is whether to stay in the Old Town or New Town. They are both right in the center of all the sights and activities. “What’s the difference?”, I hear you wonder. Well one is old, and the other is…(ok, I’ll get outta here). 

The Old Town is full of medieval history, with Edinburgh Castle, Holyrood Palace and the Royal Mile. It has lots of secret alleyways and courtyards to explore. New Town feels more European, with wider streets and squares. This is where you’ll find striking Georgian architecture. It’s also better for restaurants and nightlife, in my humble opinion.

Here are three amazing hotels to stay in Edinburgh in the winter:

  • Adagio Aparthotel Royal Mile – If you want the best of both worlds, and stay in a prime location, look no further. The apartments have a bedroom, small lounge and kitchenette. The hotel offers a self-service laundry room (great with all that rain) and serves a delicious breakfast. Double rooms around $100 a night.
  • CoDE Pod The Court – Is budget your main driver? This quirky hostel in Old Town has modern dorms with pods. If you just need a good night’s sleep and breakfast –and you’re not claustrophobic!– this is a cheap option. Pods in dorms with shared bathrooms from around $25 a night.
  • Roomzzz – This hotel offers spacious studios with a balcony, a little seating area and kitchen. It’s in a great location in New Town, with views of Edinburgh castle. The lobby has a coffee bar and grab & go style shop. Perfect for getting some snacks and drinks on your way out to explore the city. Studios from around $120 a night.

What to Pack for Edinburgh in the Winter

Ever heard that saying, “there’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing?”  In addition to keeping you warm as you explore, weatherproof clothing is especially important if you’re going to do outdoor activities. So, be sure to bundle up in your favorite cozy sweaters, a warm coat, and waterproof winter boots! We’ve got all the details you need.

We recommend wearing a base layer underneath your clothing on cold days during your winter trip – that means that the layer closest to your skin should all be made from merino wool. Merino wool is super warm, incredibly soft (nope, it’s not itchy) and much more lightweight than synthetic fabrics, as well as being naturally antibacterial, which means you can re-wear it without the re-wear funk. If wool isn’t your thing, wear an equally insulating textile like hemp or silk. Avoid non-insulating fabrics like cotton, and remember that natural fibers are pretty much always better than manmade textiles like polyester.

After your base layer, you’ll need to add on at least 1 additional layer before your outerwear, like a pair of pants and a sweater. On REALLY cold days, where the temperatures are below 10 degrees, we recommend adding on another base layer before your clothing layer & outerwear. And if you’re doing winter activities, add a waterproof layer as well, like lined snow pants. For more winter travel packing tips, head over to our Cold Weather Packing Guide.

Here are our tried and true travel essentials for winter travel.

  • Merino Wool Base Layer Leggings: These super comfy 100% wool leggings function just like long underwear. They’re made of soft, super-luxurious wool and make your legs feel like they’re being hugged by an extremely soft sheep. Jeremy has this pair. You’ll want to wear these underneath your pants on cold days during your trip.
  • Merino Wool Base Layer Undershirt: Laying is crucial when it’s this cold, and you’ll need to start with a layer of insulation on top and bottom. If it’s not terribly cold that day, I can sometimes get away with a short sleeved or even sleeveless wool base layer. I also defintey just wear my long sleeved base layer as a shirt somtimes! This is mine and this is Jeremy’s.
  • Wool Socks: Make sure you don’t just have run-of-the-mill acrylic socks for your trip – they won’t keep your feet warm while you’re out in the snow! Instead, bring socks that are primarily made of soft, heat-regulating wool, like these or these.
  • Warm Walking Boots: We recommend boots that can withstand ice or snow, are weatherproof and waterproof, and are comfortable enough to walk in for HOURS. Sounds darn near impossible, right? Well, it’s not. We’ve found the best boots for winter, and we’re OBSESSED with them (and yes, we both have the same ones. Because we’re kinda gross like that). They’re cute, they’re insanely comfortable, they’re waterproof leather with warm thermal insoles, and they’re extremely lightweight and foldable so you can stuff them in your bag when you travel. We can’t recommend these boots enough, and they’re the only shoes we bring on cold weather trips. They’re made to last and they’re worth every cent. Here are my boots and Jeremy’s boots. You can read more about them in our round-up of our favorite travel shoes for women or for men.
  • Travel Jeans:  My favorite travel jeans have 6 POCKETS. 6!! And 2 of them are zipped and hidden inside other pockets, for extra pickpocket protection. They’re super stretchy and buttery soft, dry quickly even after walking through the snow, and roomy enough to layer over an insulating base layer (or two). They’re cozy enough to wear on a plane, stretchy enough to accommodate that 5 extra pounds of holiday weight I always seem to bring back home with me, and they’re super cute! We’re both obsessed. You can get a pair of men’s or women’s jeans on the Aviator USA website.
  • Warm Flannel ShirtI’m in LOVE with the MerinoLux flannel button-down from Royal Robbins. It’s stretchy, it’s cozy, it’s blended with merino wool (yassss) and most importantly, it’s warm AF and super breathable. It’s also wrinkle-resistant, odor-resistant, and moisture-wicking, and has a hidden zip pocket – so basically everything you could ever ask for in a flannel shirt. I’ve been searching for the perfect flannel for YEARS (you know, like one that didn’t give me that annoying button-down boob gap and allowed me to actually cross my arms) and this is The One. I love it! Here’s mine and Jeremy’s.
Lia frolicking in the snow in Banff in the winter.
It’s important to dress appropriately for snow frolicking, so that you can frolic freely without worrying about, like, how much snow you’re going to get down your shirt (yikes). Practice safe frolicking, y’all!
  • Lined Leggings: On very cold days, I add an extra layer of insulating warmth by throwing a pair of lined leggings on over my base layer and under my jeans (I’ve also worn them without extra pants on top of my base layer because leggings are real pants, fight me). I have two pairs of warm lined winter leggings, one lined with merino wool and one lined with fleece.
  • Warm HatA warm hat is an absolute necessity. It also doubles as a super cute accessory! Did I just rhyme? You want a hat that will stay on your head when it’s windy wind and keep your ears nice and warm – bonus points if it’s lined. Personally I’m a fan of the ones with poofs on top, like this or this. Jeremy is more of a purist, and likes to wear beanies like this one, which is made from earth-friendly recycled wool and nylon.
  • Warm Coat: Your jacket is arguably the most important thing you’ll bring on a winter trip other than your shoes. It has a big job – namely, keeping you warm but not sweaty, allowing you to actually move your arms, and letting you explore for hours without feeling heavy or restrictive. Plus, it’s gonna be in almost all of your photos.  I bring this this cozy fleece-lined coat with me, and Jeremy wears a wool-blend coat similar to this one and this one.
  • Packable Down Jacket: Jeremy and I each bring two jackets each on our winter trips: our heavy/bulky coats, and a lightweight, travel-friendly packable down jacket. It’s perfect for those days when I want the freedom of not wearing a big heavy coat, and it’s also a fantastic added layer of warmth on super cold days. For this trip, I brought this down jacket and Jeremy brought this down jacket.
  • Gloves: Don’t go outside in the winter without gloves on! Jeremy and I both have these wool gloves that work with touchscreens, because let’s face it, I have a hard enough time using my phone without wearing gloves. Over those gloves we layer on a thicker pair that allows us to do things like throw snowballs at each other.
  • Scarves:  I LOVE a chunky scarf. They’re my favorite accessory! I love this super soft scarf from Royal Robbins, which is blended with wool and turns into a cute shawl or infinity scarf with a few well-placed buttons. I’m also a big fan of scarves that are big enough to double as blankets, like this one or this one.
  • Winter Sports Gear: If you’re planning to go skiing or snowboarding on your trip, bringing a few things can easily be packed in your suitcase will save you cash on rentals. We recommend these goggles and these gloves for snowboarding, and these travel-friendly crampons for snowshoeing.  

Whew! That should keep you warm and toasty. Oh hey, want a printable version? Just sign up below and we’ll send a checklist straight to your inbox.

Printable Winter Packing List

This FREE 3-page printable packing list will help make sure you don’t forget anything for your next winter trip. We’ll also send you our favorite travel tips!


The Perfect 7-Day Norway Itinerary for an Epic Winter Trip

About The Author: David loves visiting Edinburgh in the winter. His favorite things in Edinburgh are the Christmas market, the unforgettable Hogmanay celebrations and whisky, of course!

What are you looking forward to doing in Edinburgh in the winter first? Comment below!

Psst: Planning a trip to Europe in winter? Here are some other helpful posts:

xo Lia & Jeremy signature graphic


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Christmas markets in cobblestone streets, historic sandstone buildings, magical lights, storytellers, a stunning medieval castle and probably the highest concentration of the best whisky in the world to warm you up. Welcome to Edinburgh in the winter!

Our Top Travel Tips & Resources

Here are our favorite travel tips & resources for saving money and planning travel logistics! For more tips, check out our travel tips resource page or our guide to planning a trip.

  • Booking Flights: To score flight deals, search on Google Flights or Kayak. Money-saving tips: fly mid-week or on the weekend; fly carry-on only on a budget airline; and take red-eyes or early morning flights.
  • Accommodations: We usually stay in budget-friendly vacation rentals, boutique hotels or private rooms in hostels. We use Booking.com to book hotels (we love their flexible cancellation policy) and Hostelworld to book hostels (low deposit, easy change/cancellation, and excellent reviews). For vacation rentals, we prefer to book using VRBO because they’ve got lower fees and better support than Airbnb, and we’re not fans of Airbnb’s unethical track record. You can also book vacation rentals on Expedia and Hotels.com. We also use TrustedHousesitters as both hosts (for our home and our fur-child) and travelers!
  • Travel Insurance: We always, always, ALWAYS buy travel insurance for international trips, and we STRONGLY suggest it – visit our Travel Insurance Guide to find out why. We recommend either World Nomads or SafetyWing for international travel insurance. SafetyWing is one of the few policies that covers Covid-19, and they have excellent monthly policies that are perfect for Digital Nomads and long term travelers!
  • Travel Credit Card: We book all of our trips on our favorite travel credit card. Not only do we earn cash back that we can spend on more travel, but the card offers fantastic travel perks like travel insurance, trip delay and cancellation coverage, lost baggage reimbursement, and rental car coverage, which helps protect us on our travels. Learn more here.
  • Vaccines & Meds: We use the travel guides on the CDC website to research recommended medications and vaccines for international trips. We always recommend getting every vaccine recommended by the CDC! You can get them at your primary care doctor’s office or a walk-in pharmacy.
  • Tours: We love booking guided tours, especially food tours and walking tours, to get a local’s perspective and a history lesson while sight-seeing! We book our tours using Viator and GetYourGuide.
  • Transportation: We use Rome2Rio to figure out how to get from place to place, and book local transportation online using Bookaway wherever we can. When we book a rental car, we use DiscoverCars to compare rental companies and find the best deal.
  • Luggage Storage: Whenever we’re checking out early or taking advantage of a long layover, we use LuggageHero to safely store our luggage while we’re running around. Use the code PRACTICALW for 2 hours of free luggage storage on us.
  • VPN Service: A VPN keeps your digital information (like website login details, bank info, etc) safe, even when you’re connected to an unsecured network while traveling. Plus, it lets you use Netflix & other streaming sites abroad! We use NordVPN. Use the code WANDERLUSTPROMO when you sign up!
  • What to Pack: Here are the travel essentials that we bring on every trip. We also have packing lists for hot weather, cold weather, and many more. Take a look at all of our packing guides!


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