The Best Time to Visit Scotland

Best time to visit Scotland

What Is The Best Month To Go To Scotland?

The peak season is mid-summer when prices are at their highest, as are the crowds in popular destinations and landmarks.

Late spring and autumn offer a mild climate conducive to exploring both city or countryside.

You can enjoy shopping all year round in Glasgow and Edinburgh as well as their fine restaurants and interesting museums. 

Dean Village Edinburgh at Night
Dean Village Edinburgh at Night

Month by Month Guide to Events + Weather in Scotland

Visiting Scotland In January

Things to do in Scotland In January

  • Hogmanay sees out the Old Year and sees in the New. New Year is special everywhere but in Scotland, Hogmanay starts on the 30th of December and no one returns to work until 3rd January. Definitely party time!
  • Celtic Connections is Glasgow’s annual winter music festival starting in mid-month and lasting until February.
  • 25th January is ‘’Burns Night’’. This occasion commemorates the life and work of the great poet Robert Burns, and is traditionally marked by a feast of haggis, neeps and tatties (a.k.a. Scottish food). While this may not sound appetizing to everyone, haggis is actually quite delicious – and it’s definitely worth trying at least once! Other popular Burns Night activities include reciting Burns’ poetry, listening to Scottish music and dancing the Highland Fling. So if you’re looking for a fun and unique way to celebrate, give Burns Night a try!
  • See the Northern Lights. The northern lights are one of nature’s most spectacular displays, and Scotland is one of the best places to see them. While the northern lights can be seen from many parts of Scotland, the best views are typically found in the north and west of the country. If you’re hoping to catch a glimpse of this natural wonder, be sure to head to Scotland during January.
Ice Skating on a pond in an Edinburgh park

Scotland Weather In January

You will need warm clothing if you visit any part of Scotland in January. Precipitation can fall as snow as frosts are regular and high temperatures averaging out at about 5C. Daylight hours are short as well; think in terms of 8 hours throughout the month.

Edinburgh Scotland in Winter TimeEdinburgh in the Snow

Visiting Scotland In February

Things to do in Scotland in February

  • Lovers of the great outdoors will love the Fort William Mountain Festival towards the end of the month. There are 5 days of lectures, films and exhibitions about walking and climbing hosted by Lochaber.
  • February is the best month for skiing in Scotland. The ski season usually runs from November to April, with the best conditions typically occurring in February and March. Of course, this also depends on the snowfall in any given year. Scotland is a renowned skiing destination, thanks to its picturesque landscapes and varied terrain. These days, Scotland is home to several world-class ski resorts, where visitors can enjoy both downhill and cross-country skiing. If you’re looking for an exhilarating winter trip, be sure to add Scotland to your list of destinations.
  • Edinburgh’s Royal Highland Centre is the venue for the Scotland Antiques & Collectors Fair in the second half of February.
  • Glasgow Film Festival runs over 10 days late in February showing plenty of variety in over 100 films.
  • Inverness Music Festival runs for a week, often running into March. More than 1,000 entrants compete in a range of categories.

Weather In February

The weather remains cold in February. Landscapes in snow look wonderful but travelling is difficult at times.

As the month progresses, the hours of daylight increase to almost double figures by the end of the month. Precipitation in both forms is usually less than January.

Visiting Scotland In March

Things to do in Scotland In March

  • Glasgow International Comedy Festival is held annually in the second half of March using multiple venues.
  • Bands from throughout Scotland head to Perth Concert Hall in mid-March for the Finals at Scottish Concert Band Festival.
  • St. Patrick is Irish but his Saint’s Day is 17th March and on the weekend closest to that day, Edinburgh’s Cowgate St. Patrick’s Festival celebrates with song, dance and Guinness in five bars.
  • The Scottish Golf Show in late March in Glasgow features exhibitors, golf lessons, a dedicated kid’s area and trick shot demonstrations. 

Scotland Weather In March

Scotland slowly warms up in March with average temperatures still only 9C. The rain hasn’t gone and if anything there is more than there was in February.

Snow is still likely in higher regions and nights remain cool. There is more daylight with the clocks going forward at the end of the month. 

Visiting Scotland In April

Things to do in Scotland In April

  • Loch Lomond Springfest is held in Balloch on the first weekend of April. It involves free food and drink, with demonstrations from a range of chefs. Add bars and live music and there is fun for all. 
  • World Whisky Day is actually a month in Scotland. It is an annual event that celebrates the history and culture of Scotch whisky. The month-long festivities include whisky tastings, distillery tours, and other events that showcase the best of what this iconic spirit has to offer. This year, Whisky Month Scotland will take place from April 1-30. Whether you’re a longtime fan of whisky or you’re just getting started, this is the perfect time to explore all that this delicious spirit has to offer. So raise a glass and join in the fun during Whisky Month Scotland!
  • Edinburgh International Harp Festival at Merchiston Castle School in early April each year attracts performers from all over the world with concerts and workshops held over 5 days.
  • Easter is most often in April and there are different celebrations throughout Scotland. Note that some businesses will be closed during the long weekend.
  • Beltane Fire Festival at the end of April recreates an ancient Iron Age Celtic ritual. It is held at Calton Hill in Edinburgh and involves music and dance, a procession and plenty of food and drink.
View from Arthur's Seat in Edinburgh

Scotland Weather In April

Spring is here, less rain and slightly warmer weather, averaging 12C. Snow will still be lingering on the peaks but even elsewhere you need some warm clothing for nighttime.

Mornings and early evenings will also still have a chill in the air. 

Visiting Scotland In May

Things to do in Scotland In May

  • May Day is the first Monday of the month, often called Labour Day and celebrated in many countries in the industrial world. Some businesses will be closed but not enough to inconvenience visitors.
  • The Highland Games are a series of events held throughout Scotland each year to celebrate Scottish culture and heritage. The games include traditional Scottish sports like caber tossing and stone put, as well as Highland dancing and bagpiping competitions. The first Highland Games were held in the 11th century, and they have been held annually ever since. Today, the games attract visitors from all over the world, and they provide a unique opportunity to experience Scottish culture firsthand. Whether you’re watching the athletes compete or listening to the strains of the bagpipes, the Highland Games are sure to leave you with a lasting impression.
  • Spirit of Speyside is a ‘’must’’ for whisky lovers. Speyside is a major whisky producing region and over six days, there is whisky tasting, and a range of events throughout Speyside. 
  • Bonfest celebrates one of its favourite sons, the late Bon Scott of AC/DC. There are 3 days of concerts at the start of May in his hometown, Kirriemuir just north of Forfar in Angus. 
  • Edinburgh’s International Children’s Festival features local and international performances of children’s theatre and dance late in May each year.
  • Spring Bank Holiday is the last Monday in May. 

Scotland Weather In May

The spring flowers are out everywhere. Rural areas and especially the Northern Highlands are looking beautiful and colourful. All snow should have gone from the peaks as well.

Crowds have yet to come to Scotland and with temperatures in the mid-teens in the afternoon, it is a pleasant time to visit Scotland. There is still some rain while a slight chill may require a jacket or sweater in early morning and at dusk. 

Visiting Scotland In June

Things to do in Scotland In June

  • Dundee Westfest early in June involves a funfair, arts and crafts, live music, children’s rides, food stalls and more.
  • If you like rum, head to the Rum Festival in Glasgow early in June. Food, music and of course plenty of rum are available. 
  • In the middle of June, the Kirkcudbright Jazz Festival has everything from Dixieland to New Orleans Swing. Kirkcudbright is down in the south west in Dumfries and Galloway.
  • Edinburgh International Film Festival screens the best of UK and world cinema with some film celebrities attending as well. It is held annually in the second half of the month.

Scotland Weather In June

Perhaps a little rain still but the temperature in June will allow you to wear short sleeves at least some of the days.

A waterproof jacket is easy to carry just in case. The longest day is towards the end of June on the 21st when there is 18 hours of daylight. 

Visiting Scotland In July

Things to do in Scotland In July

  • Skye Live Festival starts early in July and lasts for two months. Enjoy music and dance, ceilidhs and comedy across the island while celebrating the Isle’s culture.
  • Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival runs for 10 days in the second half of July. One of the many highlights is the Mardi Gras Festival. 
  • Inverness Highland Games sees the old clans gathering for traditional sporting events on a day in mid-July.
  • Morvern Games and Gala Week in Lochaline is the best of the annual Highland Games and is held over 4 days in mid-July. 
  • The Hebridean Celtic Festival at a similar time takes place on the Island of Lewis in the Hebrides. There is something for everyone, young and old. 

Scotland Weather In July

July is Scotland’s warmest month with average daytime highs of 19C. This is a popular month with hikers and booking accommodation in advance is advisable.

Have a light jacket with you in case of a shower and enjoy the beautiful surroundings. Locals may go into the sea for a swim but the water temperature is still only 15C if you’re feeling brave!

Visiting Scotland In August

Things to do in Scotland In August

  • Edinburgh Fringe Festival is the largest art festival in Scotland and takes place over 3 weeks. Performances take place in numerous venues featuring theatre, comedy, cabaret and opera, dance and more.
  • The Cowal Highland Gathering is an annual event that takes place in the town of Dunoon, in the west of Scotland. The Gathering is one of the largest and most prestigious Highland games in the world, attracting competitors from all over the globe. The event takes place over three days in August and features Highland dancing, piping, and heavy events such as tossing the caber. There is a spectacular parade of Scottish clans, as well as a range of traditional food and drink stalls. Whether you’re a competitive athlete or simply looking for a fun day out, the Cowal Highland Gathering is not to be missed.
  • Edinburgh Military Tattoo is also around three weeks long and uses Edinburgh Castle as a backdrop. It attracts a huge worldwide TV audience and features traditional music to Scotland.
  • The Edinburgh International Festival is typically on for three weeks in August.
  • Largs Viking Festival and Festival of Fire usually starts in August and runs to September. It celebrates the Battle of Largs between the Scots and the Vikings.
  • Edinburgh International Book Festival runs through the second half of August. It is the largest book festival in the world and involves debates, lectures, workshops and a chance to meet authors. 

Scotland Weather In August

August is similar to July and the best chance you have to enjoy Scotland’s lovely beaches. The sea temperature may even be a degree higher so if you fancy a dip, this is your chance.

Visiting Scotland In September

Things to do in Scotland In September

  • Braemar Gathering early in September is a popular Highland Games event with pipers and dancers as well as a guarantee of a member of the Royal Family attending.
  • The Stranraer Oyster Festival over three days in mid-September involves top chefs, oyster experts and guest speakers as Scottish seafood is celebrated.
  • The Great British Food Festival in mid-September takes place at Floors Castle in Roxburghshire. The setting is beautiful while you enjoy live music, fine food and drink.

Scotland Weather In September

September is still fairly warm although temperatures may be down a degree or two. There will be some showers but this is a good month to be outdoors. Golf in September is generally good.

If you want to visit the home of Golf in Scotland then St Andrews is worth checking out. The colours start to change in the autumn and there are fewer crowds around to enjoy them. 

Visiting Scotland In October

Things to do in Scotland In October

  • Ayrshire Real Ale Festival takes 3 days in early October. It is held in Troon where one of Scotland’s most iconic golf links is found. You can expect more than 150 real ales. 
  • Royal National Mod is a cultural and arts festival held in mid-October in Glasgow. You will hear Gaelic tunes, highland dance and drama.
  • Scottish International Storytelling Festival runs through the second half of October at various venues throughout Edinburgh. 
  • Spirits of Scone Halloween is just one of a number of Halloween events throughout Scotland. This is in Perth but there will be plenty going on in Edinburgh as well.  

Scotland Weather In October

October temperatures average at 13C and rainfall does increase from the previous months. There is the chance of snow on the peaks even as colder nights start to return. You need to have some warm clothing for nights, especially at altitude in the Northern Highlands. 

Visiting Scotland In November

Things to do in Scotland In November

  • Stirling Gin Festival is early in the month and showcases over 100 different gins.
  • Bonfire Night, November 5th, is celebrated throughout the United Kingdom.
  • The Oban Winter Festival is held for 10 days in the second half of November, celebrating the Island’s culture. Expect parades, reindeer, art and pipers to entertain.
  • Edinburgh’s Christmas markets begin at the end of November and run until the day itself. There are stalls, rides and various shows.
  • Samhuinn Fire Festival on October 31st is Edinburgh’s answer to Halloween and takes place on Calton Hill. A huge number of people take part in this festival which is put on by the Beltane Society.

Scotland Weather In November

Winter is here and the further north you go, the colder it is likely to be. Temperatures in double figures become more scarce and the first real frosts can appear.

You need to pack warm clothing as well as being ready for rainy days. The clocks have gone back at the end of October and daylight hours are now shorter. 

Visiting Scotland In December

Things to do in Scotland In December

  • St. Andrew’s Day is 2nd December which is a bank holiday in Scotland. 
  • The Christmas holidays in Scotland are 24th, 25th and 26th December. Many things will be closed but some city attractions such as Edinburgh Zoo opens. Restaurants are happy to welcome diners each of those days. 
  • Hogmanay starts on 30th December and runs for 4 days. Some people take holidays between the 26th and the New Year to have an extended break. The street party in Edinburgh is well worth checking out if you are looking for a party!

Scotland Weather In December

December is cold with short days. On sunny days, temperatures drop quickly at sundown.

Precipitation often falls as snow and up in the north, snow commonly lies on the ground for days. It will not leave the peaks until spring. You will need warm clothing and something to keep you as dry as possible. 

Best Time To Visit The Scottish Highlands

The Highland provides some of the most stunning landscapes you will ever want to see but winter is no time to enjoy them. High season, July and August, is the busiest time with the best weather.

However, either side of those two months, the weather is pleasantly mild and great for hikers and ramblers. Be prepared for a little rain anytime but it should not be sufficient to spoil your days in the Scottish Highlands.

Best Time To Visit Edinburgh

If you are well wrapped up, you will enjoy the annual celebration of Hogmanay in Edinburgh for New Years Eve, with some Christmas Shopping on Princess Street. There is also something special sitting in front of a nice fire, in a cosy pub off the royal mile. The Jolly Judge being my favourite.

However, Edinburgh is full of important landmarks and if you don’t like the cold, potentially mid-winter is not the time to be walking from one to another. To experience more pleasant temperatures, it will be better to head to Edinburgh after Easter.

July and August tend to be busy, with crowds and higher prices common during these months in Edinburgh.

Best Time To Avoid Crowds

High Season is the busiest time to visit Scotland. Its many tourist attractions can be crowded in July and August which also corresponds to the main school holidays.

If you have a choice, these are two months to avoid. Early summer and autumn will be quieter, perhaps slightly cheaper, and there are no compelling reasons why you should not travel to Scotland during these periods.

What Is The Best Time To Visit Scotland To Avoid Midges?

From late spring onwards, you may come across midges throughout the Highlands and in rural parts of Scotland, especially on the west coast. They are most active at dawn and dusk and are a real irritatant.

Midges may not be something you consider when planning your holiday but you should know they exist. If you do want to avoid them completely, then head to Scotland between November and March. You may still find them on the west coast in Autumn.

What Is The Rainiest Month In Scotland?

Scotland does get some summer rain, and there are certainly rainy days in the autumn, especially in October. However, in most years, the months with the most rainfall are during the winter. It is potluck whether December, January or February will be the wettest month in any single year. 

What is the warmest month in Scotland?

The warmest summer months are July and August. Daytime temperatures will commonly exceed 20 degrees Celsius (68 Fahrenheit). You might get lucky and find that September is just as warm but it is definitely not guaranteed, knowing the Scottish weather!

The sea temperature around Scotland in July and August is also at its highest making for pleasant swimming and great for summer holidays.

What is the cheapest time of year to visit Scotland?

Scotland is a stunning country that is rich in history and culture. However, Scotland can also be an expensive place to visit, especially during peak tourist season.

If you are looking to save money, the best time to visit Scotland is during the shoulder season (April-May and September-October). During these months, you will find lower prices on accommodation and transportation, as well as smaller crowds at popular tourist destinations.

In addition, the weather is usually milder during the shoulder season, making it a great time to explore Scotland’s outdoors. So if you are looking to experience all that Scotland has to offer without breaking the bank, plan your trip for the shoulder season with fewer tourists.

The Best Time To Visit The Shetland Islands

Orkney and Shetland are two of the most beautiful and unique island groups in the UK. Orkney is an archipelago off the north east coast of Scotland, while Shetland is a group of islands lying to the north-east of Orkney.

Both Orkney and Shetland offer a variety of landscapes, from stunning cliff scenery and seabirds to wide open spaces and wildflowers.

The best time to visit Orkney is from May to September, when the weather is at its warmest and the days are longest. However, Orkney can be busy during this time, so it’s worth checking for local events before you book your trip.

Shetland’s climate is similar to Orkney’s, but the island group can be visited year-round. Shetland also has a range of festivals and events taking place throughout the year, so there’s always something going on. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing break or an action-packed holiday, Orkney and Shetland are both well worth a visit.

Best time to visit the Isle of Skye

The Isle of Skye is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Scotland. The island offers a wide range of activities and attractions, from hiking and biking to wildlife watching and visiting historic castles.

If you’re looking for a relaxing holiday, the summer months are the best time to go. However, if you’re looking for an active break, the shoulder seasons of April-May and September-October are a great option. During these months, you’ll find lower prices and smaller crowds.

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