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Best time to visit Scotland: Complete guide

Team AckoFeb 12, 2024

If you're looking for a beautiful, magical place to visit in the United Kingdom, Scotland is definitely at the top of the list. From highlands and lochs to castles and fairy-tale villages, Scotland is full of natural wonders.

But before you can enjoy all that Scotland has to offer, you need to know when is the best time to go. After all, it doesn't make sense to visit if the weather is too cold or too wet! In this article, you'll discover when is the best time to visit Scotland and what kind of activities you can enjoy during each season. 

Best Time to Visit Scotland

Contents

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When is the best time to visit Scotland?

The best time to visit Scotland would be June to August. However, the best time of year to go really depends on what type of experience you're looking for. Tourist season in Edinburgh starts to ramp up in June and peaks in July and August, making these months more expensive to visit and generally more crowded. 

However, spring (April-May) and autumn (September-October) provide better weather for outdoor activities and sightseeing, as well as less crowds and lower prices. Winter (November-March) is the cheapest time to visit Scotland, but there will be fewer activities and attractions open. No matter when you decide to visit Scotland, you're sure to have a magical time.

When is the best season to visit Scotland?

The best season to visit Scotland is either spring or autumn, as the weather is mild and crowd sizes tend to be smaller. Summer (May-September) is generally the warmest and sunniest months in the Scottish Highlands, making it ideal for planning road trips and coastal holidays. Winter is the most affordable season to visit Scotland, though keep in mind that rain and snowfall can occur at any time of year. Regardless of which season you decide to travel, make sure to come prepared with suitable clothing since weather conditions can change quickly.

Peak season: Scotland sees a lot of tourists during July and August, as it is their peak tourist season. If you are thinking of visiting this destination during the peak tourist season, make sure to complete all travel-related bookings in advance.

Shoulder season: March, April, May, and September, October, and first half of November are the two shoulder seasons. You can visit Scotland during these months to avoid the crowd and still have a good tourist experience.

Low season: Scotland is cold during the second half of November, December, January, and February. Thus, these months do not witness a lot of outdoor tourist activities. 

A month-by-month guide to travel in Scotland

There's something special about every season in Scotland, so no matter when you visit, you're sure to have an unforgettable trip!

Scotland in January

Although the average temperature in January is 5°C (41°F), you may just be in luck and catch sight of the Aurora Borealis, also known as the Northern Lights. Scotland's unique culture and heritage is on full display during this time, with events such as Burns Night, which celebrates the life of Scotland's national poet, Robert Burns. Whether you’re looking to explore Scotland’s unique culture or take in some of its breathtaking natural beauty, January can be an excellent time to visit this magical land.

  • Temperature range to expect: 1°C – 6°C

  • Events: Burns Night, Celtic Connections & Enjoy winter sports

Scotland in February

Scotland in February can be a magical experience. With average high temperatures of 6°C (42°F) and lows of 0°C (32°F), visitors who brave the cold can still enjoy the beautiful landscapes and attractions that Scotland has to offer. Additionally, there is always a chance for snow, especially if you are visiting higher elevations or rural areas. 

Despite the cold temperatures, Scotland still has a lot to offer. From skiing and snowboarding at numerous ski centres around the country, to enjoying amazing constellations of stars and maybe even the Northern Lights from places like Cairngorms National Park, Galloway Forest Park or the Isle of Skye; there is plenty to explore and see.

  • Temperature range to expect: 0°C – 6°C

  • Events: Scottish Wedding Show, Outdoor Leisure Show

Scotland in March

March is a wonderful time to experience the beauty of Scotland. After a long winter, the country bursts with wildflowers, making it the perfect destination for a restful break. Scotland in March is ideal for sightseeing, as many of the popular sites remain open and crowds are often smaller than in peak months. 

If you're looking to explore a city, Inverness in the Scottish Highlands is an excellent choice. The first stop for many travellers is typically one or both of Scotland's biggest cities—Glasgow and Edinburgh—which offer a range of landmarks and attractions. Other popular destinations include St. Andrews, Scotland's oldest university; Cairngorms National Park; and Loch Ness.

  • Temperature range to expect: 2°C – 8°C

  • Events: Inverness Music Festival, Glasgow Art Fair

Scotland in April

April is a great time to visit Scotland, with many unique experiences awaiting the traveller. The start of spring brings the promise of warmer weather, blooming flowers, and greener landscapes. The days are longer and the skies often clear, allowing for more sightseeing and outdoor activities. 

April is also a great time to explore Scotland's castles, both ancient and modern. With fewer visitors in the beginning of the season, visitors can take their time to explore and appreciate Scotland's beauty without having to worry about crowds. The Cairngorms National Park is renowned for its stunning views so that should be on your must-see list. Glencoe is also popular for its magnificent landscape so definitely don't miss that either.

  • Temperature range to expect: 4°C – 11°C

  • Events: Edinburgh Science Festival, Beltane Fire Festival

Scotland in May

With warmer temperatures and longer days, nature lovers and bird watchers can take advantage of the beautiful scenery. From late March or early April, travellers have a high chance of spotting a variety of wildlife, including deer, otters, dolphins, and eagles. 

Additionally, the mild climate makes May an ideal time for outdoor activities such as hiking, cycling, and boating. And while you’re in Scotland in May, don’t forget to take advantage of the opportunity to explore some of the islands around the country. It’s the perfect time to enjoy some island hopping!

  • Temperature range to expect: 6°– 15°C

  • Events: Ullapool Book Festival, Edinburgh International Children’s Festival, Orkney Folk Festival

Scotland in June

Start by exploring the Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park: just a short drive from Glasgow. Go further west and you'll find Oban, which provides ferry access to several Hebridean islands and is also near Glencoe Valley, home to stunning trails, lochs, and waterfalls. With long days and plenty of sunshine, June is an excellent time to immerse yourself in Scotland's culture, nature and history.

  • Temperature range to expect: 8°C – 16°C

  • Events: Moray Walking Festival, Royal Highland Show, Edinburgh International Film Festival

Scotland in July

In July, Scotland is a beautiful and inviting place. With the summer in full swing, temperatures are warm and comfortable, making it the perfect time to explore the lush landscapes and majestic castles. The days are long and filled with sunshine, giving visitors plenty of time to experience the country's natural beauty. 

The popularity of July also makes it a great time to visit Scotland for those looking for a social atmosphere. From festivals to outdoor activities, there's something for everyone in this magical land. Whether you're looking for an adventure or just some peace and quiet, Scotland in July has it all!

  • Temperature range to expect: 9°C – 18°C

  • Events: Eilean Dorcha Festival, Lomond Folk Festival

Scotland in August

The Highlands offer incredible hiking opportunities, and the islands can be explored by boat. August marks the peak of summer tourist season, so you will want to plan in advance and book accommodations early if you want to avoid large crowds. 

There are a variety of unique experiences that can be had in Scotland during this time of year, whether it's exploring one of the many historic sites or taking part in a traditional ceilidh. No matter what type of traveller you are, Scotland in August is sure to provide an unforgettable experience.

  • Temperature range to expect: 11°C – 19°C

  • Events: Edinburgh Art Festival, Edinburgh Festival Fringe, The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo

Scotland in September

September is the ideal time to visit Scotland and take in its beautiful landscapes. The chillier winter winds have died down and temperatures are much warmer, making it more pleasant for travellers. As September marks the end of peak travel months, visitors can enjoy stunning views with fewer crowds. 

When you're in Scotland, be sure to explore local markets, take a boat trip on Loch Ness, or visit one of the many castles and palaces dotted around the country. With such unique and exciting experiences on offer, you won't regret venturing out into Scotland when it's a little less busy!

  • Temperature range to expect: 7°C – 15°C

  • Events: Flavour of Shetland, The Braemar Gathering

Scotland in October

October is just outside of peak tourism season and temperatures are still mild enough to explore the Highlands and islands. With its romantic castles, breathtaking lochs, cosy pubs and friendly locals, Scotland is sure to captivate visitors throughout October.

  • Temperature range to expect: 5°C – 12°C

  • Events: Samhuinn Fire Festival, Royal National Mod

Scotland in November

You'll have plenty of time to explore the glens, rock formations and other attractions that make Scotland so special. Edinburgh Castle, for example, is open year-round and offers a fantastic view of the city. The Isle of Skye is one of the Inner Hebrides archipelagos and makes for a stunning backdrop to any holiday. While many attractions may be closed by this time of year, you can still enjoy your time in Scotland with plenty to explore and experience.

  • Temperature range to expect: 8°C – 14°C

  • Events: St. Andrew's Day, Glasgow Whisky Festival

Scotland in December

The winter winds have died down and the temperatures are milder and drier than they are during other times of the year. There's something special about travelling in winter; with fewer people around, it can be a more romantic and peaceful experience. Whether you're looking for a festive holiday or an invigorating outdoor adventure, Scotland has something for everyone during December.

  • Temperature range to expect: 2°C– 7°C

  • Events: Edinburgh Hogmanay

When is the cheapest time to visit Scotland?

September is the best time of year to visit Scotland and experience its unique beauty! The winter winds have faded, allowing you to enjoy balmy weather and gorgeous scenery. Plus, with the peak travel months avoided, there are fewer crowds. September is also the best time to avoid midges (insects) in the Highlands, as they are at their peak from May to September. When you're in Scotland, be sure to check out some of its most beloved attractions like local markets, boat trips on Loch Ness, and castles and palaces. You can find plenty of unique experiences that are sure to make your trip a memorable one!

When is the most expensive time to visit Scotland?

The most expensive time to visit Scotland is during the summer months of July and August. This is when the tourist season is at its peak, so you can expect to pay a little extra for your stay. However, there are still great deals to be found during this time if you do your research. Additionally, if you're looking to avoid the crowds but still have a pleasant experience, then consider visiting Scotland during the spring or fall months when the weather is still pleasant and the prices are lower.

When is the best time to visit Scotland for a honeymoon?

Scotland is the perfect destination for a romantic honeymoon getaway. Couples can explore the stunning Scottish Highlands and go on whisky-tasting tours during the best seasons to visit: autumn (September to November) and spring (March to May). The mild temperatures and long days during these seasons make exploring the countryside a pleasure, while gorgeous fall foliage and romantic sunsets provide an added bonus. Filled with romance and adventure, Scotland has something for every couple seeking an unforgettable getaway.

When is the best season for Hogmanay in Scotland?

If you want to experience one of Scotland's best-known celebrations, Hogmanay, then wintertime would be the ideal season for that. As this is the time of year when you can experience amazing fireworks displays, live music, street parties or even cosy pubs during your New Year celebration!

Now that you are all set for your Scotland experience, don't forget the most important thing-travel insurance online. It’s always a good idea to consider travel insurance to safeguard your trip. It may seem like a small step, but it can provide coverage for unexpected events like medical expenses, flight cancellations and delays, lost baggage, and more. So, take this extra step to make sure your trip is worry-free and unforgettable.

Frequently asked questions

FAQs

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Which is the best month to visit Scotland?

If you're looking for the best month to visit Scotland, you might want to consider going in either June, July or August. These months are the warmest and provide the longest days of the year, making them perfect for exploring Scotland. However, if you want to witness Scotland's glorious fall foliage, then a trip in early or mid-November is also recommended. The cooler temperatures make it easier to explore outdoor attractions and as an added bonus, there will also be fewer crowds this time of year too!

Which is the tourist season in Scotland?

The tourist season in Scotland is during the summer months of June to August. For many people, this is the best time to visit the magical land of Scotland due to the mild average temperatures and longer daylight hours. During this time, temperatures usually range from 15-17°C (59-63°F) and there are plenty of activities and festivals that take place, making it an ideal time for travellers who want to get the most out of their trip.

How many days are enough for covering Scotland?

9 to 10 days will give you enough time to discover the diverse scenery and history that Scotland has to offer. You'll be able to follow famous whisky trails, explore ancient castles, gaze upon breathtaking lighthouses, and experience wild Scottish nature at its best.

Which is the rainiest month in Scotland?

October is the rainiest month in Scotland, with up to 152 millimetres of rain falling during the month. The wet conditions make it less popular amongst tourists, but the silver lining is that you're likely to get a better deal on travel and accommodation due to the smaller crowds. While this may not be the ideal time for your honeymoon or a summer holiday full of outdoor activities, it could be great for a cultural experience or a getaway. Additionally, if you're looking to explore Scotland without contending with midges, then October is a great time to visit as they tend to die off around this time.

What is the best time to visit Scotland to avoid midges?

If you're planning a trip to Scotland and don't want to have to worry about midges, the best time to visit is between late September and early May. Midge season starts in May until September, but they are more likely to be present in July and August when conditions are wet, humid, and cloudy. To avoid being overwhelmed by these flying, biting insects—which can make your vacation not so enjoyable—it's best to wait until the end of summer to explore Scotland. Though it may be a bit chillier during this period of time, you will still get the chance to marvel at Scotland's incredible landscape without having the nuisance of midges!

Is it better to visit Ireland or Scotland?

The debate of whether to visit Ireland or Scotland is often a difficult one. Both countries offer a unique experience, with breathtaking landscapes and interesting cultures. However, the best time of year to visit each country can vary greatly. In Ireland, the most pleasant times to visit are typically during spring and autumn, while Scotland is known for its pleasant weather and long hours of sunlight from May to September. 

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Disclaimer: The content on this page is generic and shared only for informational and explanatory purposes. It is based on industry experience and several secondary sources on the internet, and is subject to changes.

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