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Scotland is on most people’s travel bucket list and for a good reason. When you get to Scotland, you will notice how the country both eschews and completely forgoes the clichés that surround its popularity - there are numerous ruined castles, rolling green hills as far as the eye can see, fields of purpled heather during the fall, and much more. Although some Scots might not like to acknowledge it, but there is a chance you will run into a bagpiper or two, especially during the celebrations.
Scottish history and culture is definitely a huge draw for the tourists, but there are a number of modern attractions you should not miss out on either - including outdoor music festivals, world-renowned restaurants and more.
You must be extremely excited to plan your Scottish vacation, but before you go, you need to know what the best time to visit Scotland is. The country is cloud-cast for major parts of the year, but every season has its own specialties that you must not miss.
- Best time to visit: May – June, September – October
- High Season: July – August
- Low Season: November – April
- Ski Season: December – March
- All Seasons: May – June (spring), July – August (summer), September – October (fall), November – April (winter)
- The best time to visit Scotland is in spring (May – June), and fall (September – October). This is when the weather is most likely to be dry, and pleasant.
- The high season is in the summer, from July – August, but the crowds will be quite high, and there are chances of rain as well.
- The low season is from November – April, during winter, when rural accommodation will cost and there will heavy snow on the hills.
Scotland is a land of legend, fantasy, and mystery. At the same time, it is the land where you’ll feel most down to earth - when you are trying haggis, or getting drunk on the finest scotch you have ever come across. There are many reasons why you might want to travel to Scotland - maybe it is the stunning natural beauty, or maybe you’re here for one of the famous outdoor music festivals. Whatever the reason for your visiting Scotland, it is necessary for you to know the weather in Scotland, so that you know what activities you can actually engage in during this period.
Spring, summer, and fall are good seasons to visit Scotland, with many activities to engage in during different parts of time during the year. Winter is not the best time to travel to Scotland. The extremely cold weather, abundance of snow and the gloom will definitely put off any traveller! Scottish weather can be divided into seasons, but there is a huge chance the weather will change drastically during a single day. All you can do is carry multiple layers of clothes, so you’re prepared for every adventure!
So, what is special about each season? What activities can you engage in during these seasons? Read on to find out.
May to June – Spring / Good Season
May – June is spring season in Scotland, and definitely when you should visit the country if you want to feel the crisp, fresh air, see the flowers blossoming along the mountain side, and enjoy the pleasant weather overall. The chances of rain are really low during this season, so the weather in Scotland will be perfect for outdoor activities. This is when nesting season begins, and the birds begin to descend on the country!
This is a shoulder season, so there won’t be too much of a crowd. The one drawback of the season would be the midges (small insects), that begin to occupy the entire country - carry adequate spray protection!
- Avg. Temperature: 56 – 60° F / 10 – 13° C (in Edinburgh)
- Rainfall: 38 – 76 mm
- Season: Spring
- Highlights: Make sure you visit the Scottish countryside, where the wildflowers and the rhododendrons will be in full bloom. You should definitely book yourself on trekking and hiking tours of the Highlands during this season, before the stalking season begins. There are a number of events in May - including the Aviemore and Cairngorms Walking and Mountain Festival, Isle of Bute Jazz Festival, and the Arran Wildlife Festival.
July to August – Summer / High Season
This is the high tourist season in Scotland, meaning this is when most of the tourists descend upon the country. This is the hottest part of the year, but the chances of rain are higher. The holidays across Europe and England mean that the tourist population will descend on Scotland, pushing up the prices of accommodation and tickets. Expect ferries and buses to be running full, as well. However, this makes this the liveliest season in Scotland! Prepare well in advance, and book all your accommodation months before the travel, so you get a good deal.
- Avg. Temperature: 64 – 65° F / 15° C (in Edinburgh)
- Rainfall: 62 – 99 mm
- Season: Summer
- Highlights: Edinburgh will be buzzing with activity - especially during the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and Edinburgh Military Tattoo, both in August. You can experience something uniquely Scottish during this season too - the Highland Games in Cowal Gathering, North Berwick, or the royalty approved Braemar Gathering games. This is not the best time for you to go hiking, as stalking season begins from July. However, keep a look out for the hillsides, where the world famous purple heathers begin to spread in August. You can also head to the coast to see the whale migration during this season.
September to October – Autumn / Good Season
Autumn is always a good season - and in Scotland, especially so. The crowds of summer would have left, and prices start to decrease. You can enjoy big discounts on travel and accommodation during this season, especially in rural areas, which shut down after this season for the winter. This is the best time of the year to visit Scotland for great weather, with little to no rain, and clear blue skies with a tinge of chill in the air. The entire country gets covered in golds and browns, making hiking and cycling a pleasurable task!
- Avg. Temperature: 55 – 62° F / 10 – 13° C (in Edinburgh)
- Rainfall: 35 – 38 mm
- Season: Autumn
- Highlights: There are plenty of activities for you to partake in during this season - starting from the Autumn Speyside Whisky Festival in Dufftown, to the Scottish Countryside Festival in Glamis Castle. The food scene becomes amazing in September, as the seafood bounty comes in- from lobsters to monkfish, to mussels. Be careful while hiking or biking in the Highlands, as this is stalking season for deer.
November to April – Winter / Low Season
Winter in Scotland can get rather gloomy and cold. There will be plenty of snow around the country - not just the Highlands. You can also expect a lot of rain towards January – February. A lot of the mountains will be inaccessible due to snowed in roads. Rural accommodations also shut down for the season, so you won’t be able to explore the smaller areas in Scotland.
This the peak ski season in certain slopes of the country though.
- Avg. Temperature: 42 – 49° F / 3 – 6° C (in Edinburgh)
- Rainfall: 38 – 148 mm
- Season: Winter
- Highlights: There is something charming about Edinburgh or Glasgow in winter. There are a number of events - like Glasgow on Ice, that you should definitely not miss. This is one of the best time to visit Scotland because of the legendary Hogmanay New Year Party in Edinburgh - the biggest celebration of the year. You can also go skiing - the Nevis Range, Cairngorm Mountain, Glencoe, or Glenshee will be open during this season - sometimes all the way up to Easter!