When Is Best Time to Visit Scotland?
Scotland’s weather can always be a little bit unpredictable, but when is the best time of year to visit?
“It’s fine Scottish weather we’re having. Straight down and kind of to the side-like.” William Wallace’s line perfectly sums up the weather in Scottland. Really, the weather is like this in all of the British Isles. But Scottland, in particular, can be even more unpredictable and full of rain. But Scottland does have its better days. And there are seasons that are better for touring than others.
If you’re planning a trip to Scottland, you want to get the most out of your time there. You’ll want clear(ish) skies so you can see mighty Ben Nevis. And your best chance of seeing Nessy will be when the fog is just right. Here we take you through all the Scottish seasons so you know when is the best time to visit Scotland.
1. Is Summer the Best Time to Visit Scotland?
Scottland is in the Northern Hemisphere. Quite far north in that hemisphere too. June, July, and August are definitely the warmest months in Scotland. On average, July temperatures only rise to 63 degrees Fahrenheit. So, if you’re looking for a beach vacation, don’t come to Scottland without the wetsuits. Not only are the days long, but the skies are a bit sunnier. It’s still Scottland. So you’ll have more clouds than Spain. But you can just use the cloudier days to travel or check out places like Edinburgh’s Royal Mile. And if you want to pack as much as you can into your Scottish vacation, visit the far north of Scottland. There you experience no complete darkness during July.
The only downside to visiting Scottland in the Summer are other tourists like yourself. You will have to plan your hotels in advance and be ready for crowded tourist destinations. But Scottland is full of rugged land. If you’re an outdoor adventurer, you can avoid the crowds and head up into the Cairngorms or Northwest Highlands. There are plenty of trails and mountain paths to discover.
2. Or Maybe the Windy Spring?
If you’re thinking about Scottland in the Spring, plan for temperatures ten degrees cooler. The windy nature of the weather in Springtime drags away the clouds some days. You won’t experience as much daylight and sunshine as summer. But you’ll experience more of it than the other two seasons. You’ll want to bring wellies and an umbrella (or purchase them when you get there). You’ll experience a lot of rain on some days. But the rain brings flowers. And flowering trees are plentiful in Scottland. Spring is the best time to wander around Edinburgh and see all of the manicured spaces.
It’s also a great time to head up into the foothills and see the green grasses and the thriving purple heather. The wildlife will be flitting about and extremely active. You’ll see the new lambs frolicking about with their flocks. And if you’d rather stay inside with all that rain, you could check out the incredible museums and historical centers across Scottland.
3. How About Autumn?
Autumn is the best time to visit Scotland if you love blazing foliage. Our forests are hundreds of years old. And in the fall, they turn into a furnace of colors. Yes, you’ll likely be enjoying these sights in the rain, but you’ll be so enraptured by the sight you’ll hardly notice which direction it’s raining. Fall temperatures are only slightly cooler than Spring. But we advise you still bring a jacket. The days are crisp and chilly. And if you climb in elevation, the temperature will drop. But you will definitely want to get outside during the autumn season. Really, late fall is the best time to visit Scotland. Crowds are small and the pubs are welcoming.
Food and Fruit
But the real reason you should visit Scotland in the fall is the food. This is the time when Scotland produces it’s best fruits. Plums, apples, damsons, and pears are all exquisite in the fall. You can purchase fresh-made jams and desserts almost anywhere. And your palate will dream of its next meal. Also, no insects. Summer and late Spring are infamous for the midges that hatch and bother. They’re dead by Autumn. So you won’t have to wear a midge net when out hiking.
4. But What About Winter?
If you’re a warm-blooded fool, winter might actually be the best time to visit Scotland. And really, winters are quite mild in Scotland. It rarely gets below freezing in most parts of Scotland. And when it does, the snow on the mountains is gorgeous. Cities like Edinburgh will be decorated for the Holidays. And it’s the best time to go shopping in the city. Both Glasgow and Edinburgh feature outdoor, European-style markets during the holidays. You can go ice skating, eat seasonal foods, and enjoy live music.
If it’s pre-holiday season, you can get all of your gift shopping done and still have time for a wee dram at the pub around the corner. One of the biggest celebrations is Hogmanay on New Year’s Eve. It’s a several-day celebration and it includes torchlight processions and fireworks. And if you’re hunting around Edinburgh for something to do in the winter, you may not think about the Royal Botanical Garden. But some rare plants actually bloom in the winter at the gardens.
Costs Are Less
But what really makes winter the best time to visit Scotland is the cost of travel. Because winter is Scotland’s lowest season, travel companies and hotels offer discounted rates. Except for the week or two around Christmas, you can see rates drop as low as 20% below the norm. And if you hop on sites early enough, you can get those sweet deals before anyone else.
Conclusion: All Seasons Are Best
Scotland is one of the most beautiful and rugged places on earth. And getting there is only a short plane ride away. Honestly, any season is the best time to visit Scotland. So make sure you plan your trip early so you can get to Scotland during the best season for you.