The Best Time To Visit Scotland

If you ask anyone when the best time to visit Scotland is, you’re going to get a melting pot of different answers. Some people enjoy the snowy, holiday scenes in the winter months while others swear up and down on the sun-soaked summer months and some others swear by a little slice of in between. So, when’s the best time for YOU? In this guide, I am going to give you the rundown, the DL, the whole shebang about Scotland’s weather and my recommendations for seasons and months depending on what you’re looking for. There is a Scottish saying that goes, “there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes”, so make sure you’re also packing optimally according to the season! If there is one huge piece of advice I can give, it’s not to undermine Scotland’s weather and always check forecasts before you leave, and *ahem* not the weather app on your smartphone because we ALL know how unreliable those things are. While you’re checking off your Scotland packing list, make sure you check the weather on YR, a reputable weather service that even Icelanders trust!

This post may contain affiliate links for the products I mentioned, but as always, all opinions are my own. I make a small commission, at no extra cost to you, when you make a purchase or booking through these links. This helps to support this space and keep me blogging, which I am so extremely thankful for.

Headed to Scotland? Check out my other blogs to help plan your trip!

 


 

 

Scotland’s Weather Overview

 

Since Scotland is in the Northern Hemisphere, the seasons tend to correlate with those in the states and other parts of Europe. Winter is November through February. Spring is March through May. Summer is June through August, and Fall is September and October, roughly. If you’re not looking for specific months, but rather the high, low, and shoulder seasons of Scotland, use this guide below to help determine when you want to head out:

High Season | June – August

Low Season | November – Mid December, December 26th – Mid March

Shoulder Season(s) | May – June, Late September – November

Warmest Month(s) | July/August

Coldest Month(s) | January/February

 


 

The Best Time To Visit Scotland For Festivals

 

January | Up Helly Aa (Viking Festival)

June | Edinburgh Film Festival

August | Fringe Festival (Music, Movies, + Art)

December | Hogmanay (New Years)

 

Technically, you can visit Scotland any month of the year and there will be some type of festival going on! It’s a festival hub and there are over 200 festivals held over the entire year! I listed the more notable festivals below in case you really want to go big or go home, but you can look at the annual calendar of festivals here.

 

The Best Time To Visit Scotland For The Best Weather

June – August

With the best weather comes the most crowds, so if you’re traveling in July and August specifically, expect there to be A LOT of crowds and for prices to be much higher. On top of that, the Fringe Festival takes place in August every year so you’ll have the crowds from good weather AND an ENORMOUS festival. Accommodation and tours are going to be fully booked months in advance so keep that in mind if you’re planning summer visit.

 

The Best Time To Visit Scotland’s Highlands

May – September

Many people visit the Scottish Highlands starting in May through September since the weather is in its prime and these months are when Scotland has the most daylight hours. If you can manage it, avoid July and August, that tends to be a common theme here since the crowds will follow you up into the highlands, but Scotland has plenty of room to get off the beaten path and have some gems all to yourself. If you plan on visiting outside of this timeframe, before you plan and make arrangements, make sure the attractions you pack properly for your planned activities, check the weather, and make sure they’re open during the time you’ll be visiting.

 

The Best Time To Visit Scotland To Avoid Midges

May, June, September, October

If you’re wanting to visit Scotland in the summertime, then there is hardly any escaping the midges, but if you push your trip forward or back to the spring and fall months, you can avoid the midge bites and still experience beautiful weather. If you still want to visit in the summer and want to experience the least amount of midges, these are a few tips:

Tips For Avoiding Midges In The Summer Months

  • Wear light clothing.
  • Avoid shade, early mornings, + late evenings.
  • Keep moving and stay in the breeze, they like stagnant air.

 


 

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Scotland Weather in January

MAX Temperature | 45 F (7 C)

MIN Temperature | 34 F (1 C)

If you’re planning a visit to Scotland in January, brace yourself, this is the coldest month of the year. Lucky for you, the mild ocean currents from the west keep Scotland’s winter weather above freezing temperatures, even at night, AND while show showers aren’t abundant, you can still expect a wee bit of snow if the temperatures drop low enough.

Many say that January is a poor time to visit Scotland, but if you’re keen on celebrating the New Year there, prepare to encounter wind, rain, snow, and some wicked wind chill. You’ll want to bring along a quality rain jacket, warm gloves, warm baselayer top and bottom, thick socks, and a lot of layers so that you don’t end up freezing your entire trip. A lot of people aren’t huge fans of the cold, including myself, but if you want to save a bit of money and snuggle up in some of Edinburgh’s best coffee shops while watching the rain and snow pass, consider bundling up and taking on Scotland in January!

Pros | low prices + few-zero crowds

Cons | weather can be brutal + cold

 

 


 

Scotland Weather in February

MAX Temperature | 46 F (8 C)

MIN Temperature | 34 F (1 C)

February is also another month for poor weather, making it one of the worst times to visit Scotland. The temperatures are slightly warmer, but it’s really nothing to ride home about. If you’re wanting to visit Scotland in February, you’ll want to take the same protocol as in January: warm clothes, layers, and waterproof shells. You don’t gain any significant amount of daylight hours and there aren’t really any large celebrations going on this month, so it’ll be fairly quiet.

Would I visit in February? Probably not. If you can manage to push your trip back a month more towards the shoulder season, you’re going to have a better trip since the weather will be warming up and there will still be few crowds around in places like the Isle of Skye, Outer Hebrides, and the Shetland Islands. To summarize, be prepared to weather the winter season and pack appropriate gear if you’re heading here in February.

Pros | low prices + few-zero crowds

Cons | weather can be brutal + cold

 


 

Scotland Weather in March

MAX Temperature | 50 F (10 C)

MIN Temperature | 37 (3 C)

Scotland’s March weather forecast: wet. REALLY wet; so don’t arrive here in March without at least a proper raincoat! The temperatures begin to jump just a little bit this month, but it is still going to be cold, so don’t let that 50-degree max temperature keep you from packing your layers. The life of the cities will begin to slowly emerge this time of year, the frost will wave goodbye, and small signs of spring will make their way into Scotland!

March is just a little bit before the actual shoulder season for Scotland, but you can still enjoy the perks of the low/shoulder season if you’re paying a visit! The prices will still be relatively low and the more remote areas of Scotland will be easier to explore with the warmer weather, but always mind the forecast!

Pros | lower prices + few crowds

Cons | still pretty cold

 


 

Scotland Weather in April

MAX Temperature | 54 F (12 C)

MIN Temperature | 39 F (4 C)

April is the start of shoulder season in Scotland AND it just so happens to showcase the first little sneak peek of spring! What’s the best part? Since the winter months offered lots of rain, the Scottish countrysides are beginning to flourish with the rich green tones that Scotland is so famous for. On top of that, crowds are still low during the month of April, so you can experience all the gems and wonders of rugged Scotland without having to push through crowds.

That is not to say that you won’t need some warmer clothing because it’ll still be wet and it can go from sunny and perfect to cloudy and a low wind chill in minutes! There is a huge jump in the hours of sunshine gleaming over Scotland, so you’ll have more time for exploration and adventure!

Pros | shoulder season, warming weather, few crowds, + lower prices

Cons | not perfect weather, but bearable

 


 

Scotland Weather in May

MAX Temperature | 59 F (15 C)

MIN Temperature | 49 F (7 C)

In May, you’ll see another little jump in temperatures in the latter half of the month while still enjoying the prices from the low season. May is a BEAUTIFUL time to be in Scotland, and dare I say, one of the perfect times to visit? Like every other month in Scotland, combat wind and spontaneous rain with proper gear and you’ll arrive prepared and ready to explore. There will still be opportunities to find solid deals this time of year so there is a huge opportunity to save money or travel Scotland on a budget if you’re traveling in May.

May boasts up to 17 hours of daylight by the end of the month, so use those extra golden rays to explore the Isle of Skye, Isle of Arran, Outer Hebrides, North Coast 500, Shetland Islands, Highlands, and other rugged spots in Scotland before the crowds arrive!

Pros | shoulder season, warming weather, few crowds, + lower prices

Cons | none?

 


 

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Scotland Weather in June

MAX Temperature | 63 F (17 C)

MIN Temperature | 50 F (10 C)

Once June hits in Scotland, it’s finally time to witness the bustling cities, wildlife, and vibrancy of the country. The weather is perfect, rain showers are still spontaneous and possibly plentiful, but never for the entire day! Tourism starts to really pick up in June since most people want to chase the warmth, but June doesn’t compare to the masses in July and August, so if you want good weather and don’t mind some fellow tourists, June is a great time to visit Scotland.

June is also a really good time to whip out your tent or campervan and get out into the outdoors! A lot of people rent campervans and road trip around the country, which I highly recommend! You’ll save money and see parts of Scotland that few people have seen!

Pros | optimal weather, 15+ hours of daylight, + no limits to exploration

Cons | growing crowds, high season, + prices raising

 


 

Scotland Weather in July

MAX Temperature | 66 F (19 C)

MIN Temperature | 52 F (11 C)

Busy, busy, busy July! I went to Scotland for a tournament in July so I couldn’t really be picky about the month that I went, but July is crowded, especially in Edinburgh. The weather is peaking. The sun shines for 17 hours and everything Scotland has to offer is highly accessible. July is high season, so expect the prices of rental cars, accommodations, and everything else to be significantly higher.

Summertime in Scotland isn’t exactly shorts weather, but with a solid Scotland packing list, you’ll easily come here prepared and ready to wander. As I mentioned above in June, July is alsor great time to whip out your tents and campervans and explore the countrysides! If you want to visit Scotland with the best weather July is your best option. If you want to visit this month, but don’t want crowds, plan to arrive at iconic locations EARLY in the morning and you’ll have remarkable locations, like The Old Man of Storr hike, all to yourself!

Pros | the best weather, 15+ hours of daylight, + no limits to exploration

Cons | crowded, high season, + expensive

 


 

Scotland Weather in August

MAX Temperature | 66 F (19 C)

MIN Temperature | 52 F (11 C)

Unless you’re planning on experiencing the art and wonder of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, avoid August. It’s a known thing to avoid Scotland in August because it’s crowded and really expensive to travel during this month. The Fringe Festival is the largest art festival IN THE WORLD, so that coupled with perfect weather is a recipe for lots and lots and lots of people.

By the end of August, fall starts to creep its way back into Scotland and the days will shorten by only a couple of hours, but you’ll still have plenty of time to enjoy the nicest month, weather-wise, in Scotland. If you want to avoid crowds, but still want good weather, consider visiting in September!

Pros | best weather, 15+ hours of daylight, + no limits to exploration

Cons | (VERY) crowded +  (REALLY) expensive

 


 

Scotland Weather in September

MAX Temperature | 63 F (17 C)

MIN Temperature | 48 F (9 C)

As the temperatures drop, the leaves begin to change, and the spooky fall season makes its way into Scotland, you might want to consider paying a visit this month of the year since the weather is incredible, and not to mention (more) dry. You’ll find the days getting shorter by around two hours, similar to August, by the end of the month, but the comfortable, drier weather makes September another really REALLY great time to visit.

This is where all the summer travelers taper off, but that doesn’t mean that you’ll be able to book tours, excursions, and accommodations last minute. September is still pretty popular for travelers, it’s just not as bad as the summer crowds. The streets, cities, and countrysides are STUNNING this time of year and if you’re a lover of fall foliage, stamp September as your best time to visit Scotland.

Pros | shoulder season, prices begin to lower, + great weather

Cons | still a little crowded

 


 

Scotland Weather in October

MAX Temperature | 55 F (13 C)

MIN Temperature | 43 F (6 C)

If you’ve ever wanted that spooky, foggy, chilly, fall experience, Scotland in October is your ticket to for all the Halloween vibes. The weather in October is still not cold enough to be miserable, but the rain does pick back up a little bit this month. The crowds from summer and the beginning of fall have waved their goodbyes, so October is a really nice time to be in Scotland.

Edinburgh itself is a really spooky city, even when I paid it a visit in the summer months, so take FULL advantage of ghost tours, cemetery wanderings for Tom Riddle, and even consider joining in on the Edinburgh Coffee Festival. Honestly, everything about Scotland in October just fits. It’s perfect. What else is there to say? When I visit again, celebrating Halloween in Scotland is at the top of my bucket list!

Pros | fewer crowds, low prices, + great weather

Cons | none

 


 

Scotland Weather in November

MAX Temperature | 50 F (10 C)

MIN Temperature | 39 F (4 C)

Once Halloween passes, Scotland welcomes winter with the start of November. November is part of the shoulder season so expect all the perks that go along with that: few crowds, cheaper prices, etc.. One of the most notable parts of visiting Scotland in November is that around halfway through the month all the Christmas decorations go up and the spirit of Christmas comes alive!

You’ll want to make sure that you pack the thicker layers since this month is when all those cold fronts are going to come sweeping into the country. If you want to beat the Christmas rush, but still experience the magic of the holidays, November is the month for you. However, do keep in mind that the daylight hours are limited from this month all the way into February!

Pros | shoulder season, Christmas decorations go up, lower prices, + few crowds

Cons | beginning of winter

 


 

Scotland Weather in December

MAX Temperature | 45 F (7 C)

MIN Temperature | 34 F (1 C)

Where are all my Christmas lovers at? Uh-huh. Raise those hands! I shouldn’t have to explain the reason to visit Scotland in December since Christmas is one of the most beautiful parts of the year here. There is a large chance of light snowfall for around half of the month, so you’ll get to experience snowy cobblestone streets dimly lit by street lights. It’ll have you feeling like you’re in a Sherlock Holmes movie.

As I said before, the winters in Scotland are quite mild from the western winds, so temperatures are not likely to go under freezing! It’s still important to bundle up and maybe even consider paying a visit to the highlands this time of year since they’ll be blanketed in snowfall!

Pros | Christmas time, light snowfall, + jolly vibes

Cons | busy for Christmas, cold, + can get crowded

 


 

Have you ever encountered a weather mishap on your travels? Share with me in the comments below!

Aaren

 

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Do you want the most bang for your buck on your trip to Scotland? Do you want moody weather? Sunny weather? Spooky weather? Winter weather? Any weather? In this month-to-month weather breakdown, it covers the best month to travel to Scotland no matter your weather choice as well as when to go to avoid midges, visit the highlands, and more! #visitscotland #scotland

Do you want the most bang for your buck on your trip to Scotland? Do you want moody weather? Sunny weather? Spooky weather? Winter weather? Any weather? In this month-to-month weather breakdown, it covers the best month to travel to Scotland no matter your weather choice as well as when to go to avoid midges, visit the highlands, and more! #visitscotland #scotland

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