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Despite being a cold month, you'd be surprised by the vast number of activities you can enjoy when you visit Scotland in January The Scottish Highlands are enchanting, with snow-capped mountains, white-dusted forests, and frozen lochs. If you love wintry landscapes and enjoy winter sports, you should definitely visit Scotland at this time of the year. 

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Scotland Weather in January

January weather in Scotland
Visit Scotland in January and you will enjoy a spectacular contrast of snow clinging to branches, before being swept away by the winds

You can expect fairly chilly weather in Scotland in January. Average daytime temperatures hover around 5°C, while nights average at 1°C. You will also likely see snow; the average number of days with snow falling ranges from 15 to 20 days.

Edinburgh's temperatures average between 1°C and 5°C, and snow falls for two days and regularly aggregates up to 12 mm. Since it's a chilly month, most people avoid visiting Edinburgh during this period, so you can expect the street to be relatively quiet.

Like most parts of Scotland, January is one of the coldest months in the Scottish Highlands, averaging at 3°C. Temperatures can also be extreme in the Highlands, with a record winter low of -27°C.

Check out our seasonal overview for the best time to visit Scotland.

Weather in Scotland in January - Rainfall and Temperatures

Avg Daily (°C)756
Avg Nightly (°C)211
Avg Daily (°F)454143
Avg Nightly (°F)363434
Avg Rainfall (mm)707050

Why Visit Scotland in January

Enjoy the beauty of winter sun  in Scotland in January
As the snow fall, you can enjoy the beauty of the naturally beautiful winter sun
Northern light in the dark skies of Scotland during January
You’ll have a once-in-a-lifetime chance to witness the spectacular Northern lights, as they dance majestically across Scotland in January

Fewer tourists plan on visiting Scotland in January due to the cold weather. But there are many good reasons why you should go for a winter escape in Scotland. Here are some of them.

  • See the northern lights: If seeing the Northern Lights is on your bucket list, you should travel to Scotland in January. When you visit Scotland during the winter season, your chances of seeing these mesmerizing lights are pretty good, thanks to dark skies and long nights.
  • Enjoy winter sports: You'll have plenty of opportunities to enjoy your favorite winter sports when you visit Scotland in January. Hit the slopes at Glencoe Mountain Resort or the Lecht Ski Center in the Cairngorms. The Scottish Highlands are also a great place to enjoy all kinds of winter sports.
  • Lesser crowds: Since January is a low tourist season in Scotland, you can escape the crowds and enjoy the beautiful wintry landscapes all to yourself! The streets of Glasgow and Edinburgh, which tend to be busy in the summer, are almost empty.
  • Affordable accomodations: One of the best things to do in Scotland is sleep at a castle hotel. However, these luxury accommodations are often more expensive during the peak tourist season. But if you visit in January, you'll find these accommodations are affordable, with some hotels slashing their prices to half the original rate! Check out our best deal for a trip to Scotland.
  • Experience winter onderland: Scotland's iconic landscapes are even more stunning during the winter season. The winter sun beautifully illuminates the rugged coastline of the Highlands in an amber glow. Meanwhile, the dark-heavy clouds make the Loch Ness appear even more mysterious, and the light dusting of frost makes the Isle of Skye shine magically.

Where to Go and What to Do

Pack warm clothes if you are heading to Glasgow in January as it is among the coldest Scottish cities.
Pack warm clothes if you are heading to Glasgow in January as it is among the coldest Scottish cities.

Even though there are fewer tourists in Scotland in January, it's worth noting that many of the country's most popular attractions are open and accessible throughout the year. Scotland's capital city of Edinburgh is a great destination to explore in winter. Make sure you visit its most popular attraction, the Edinburgh Castle. Perched above a Castle Rock dominating the city, the castle houses some of the most significant Scottish artifacts.

A trip to Glasgow is amazing for a winter break in Scotland. Wander its scenic streets in your warm winter gear and visit St. Enoch Square. This public square gets even more festive in the winter season and is decorated with sparkling lights, making it look even more magical at night. On rainy days, visit the world-famous Kelvingrove Art Gallery and the Glasgow Science Centre.

Your winter holiday to Scotland won't be complete without visiting the Highlands. This beautiful region is a year-long destination and home to the Cairngorm National Park, a haven for wildlife. If the weather is not too extreme, you can hike the park's vast expanse, stopping at local pubs to warm up. Given the many activities to do in Cairngorm, it may be a good idea to research how many days you will spend in Scotland to make sure you can get it all done!

If you visit Scotland in January, you'll find many fun things to do in the country that you won't be able to do in summer, such as watching the Northern Lights, enjoying winter sports, and experiencing the stunning winter scenery. You also won't have to deal with too many tourist crowds, and there are affordable luxury accommodations you can take advantage of.

If you're ready to go on a winter break, book one of these customized trips to Scotland with our travel experts now!

Other articles:
Scotland in December
Scotland in February
Winter in Scotland

Published by Astha Joshi, updated on May 22, 2023

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