The best and worst time to visit Scotland (2024)

Wondering about the best and worst time to visit Scotland? I’m here to help.

Scotland is beautiful year-round, but depending on what you’re after (and what you want to avoid), some months definitely edge out others.

I visited in August and was extremely lucky with the weather (no rain for weeks), but this is Scotland, so rain is hit or miss no matter when you visit.

In this post, I’ll go over when to visit Scotland and the best things to do in each season. And if you’re worried about the infamous midgets, I’ll cover them, too!

Let’s dive in.

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The best and worst time to visit Scotland

When you’re planning a trip to Scotland, understanding the best and worst times to go can make or break your experience.

Let’s look at when you’ll enjoy your trip the most and when you might run into some challenges.

The best time to visit Scotland

Spring (May to June) and fall (September to October) are the best times to visit Scotland.

During these shoulder seasons, you’ll experience milder temperatures, with averages ranging from 10°C to 15°C.

Summer, especially June to August, is warmer and days are longest, especially up north.

Crowds thin out starting late October. Early to mid-November is prime for catching the stunning fall colors.

Better weather and longer daylight hoursCrowded attractions and higher prices
More tours and attractions openNeed to book accommodations and activities in advance

The worst time to visit Scotland

If you want to avoid bad weather, skip winter (Nov-Feb).

Winter has short days, cold, rainy weather, and many places close.

Also, from mid-May to September, midges (tiny biting insects) swarm in some areas, which could be another reason to plan your visit outside these months.

Fewer tourists and lower costsColder weather and more rain
Unique winter events (Hogmanay)Shorter days and some attractions closed

Weather in Scotland

Scotland’s climate is oceanic, meaning it can be quite unpredictable no matter when you visit. So, my advice is to pack a raincoat – always.

You’ll experience a mixture of rain, wind, and variable temperatures, with some occasions of snow in the winter, particularly in the Highlands.

Here’s a quick look at what you might expect temperature-wise across Scotland:

MonthAvg Temp
January32°-41°F (0°-5°C)
February32°-41°F (0°-5°C)
March37°-46°F (3°-8°C)
April39°-50°F (4°-10°C)
May44°-55°F (7°-13°C)
June50°-60°F (10°-16°C)
July55°-65°F (13°-18°C)
August55°-65°F (13°-18°C)
September50°-60°F (10°-16°C)
October44°-55°F (7°-13°C)
November37°-46°F (3°-8°C)
December34°-43°F (1°-6°C)

Things to do in Scotland in Spring

Visiting Scotland in spring means fewer crowds and plenty of outdoor and cultural activities to enjoy in the lively spring atmosphere.

See spring blooms in the Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh

As the snow gives way, the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh comes alive with a stunning display of spring flowers.

You can take leisurely walks underneath flowering cherry blossoms and witness the garden’s collection of rare and beautiful plants, bringing a burst of color after the winter months.

Visit Loch Lomond for kayaking

Loch Lomond is calm and inviting in spring, ideal for kayaking.

You’ll find the water still as glass, making it perfect for paddlers of all levels to enjoy tranquility surrounded by sprouting greenery and the awakening Highlands.

Read next: 25 best souvenirs from Edinburgh

Explore the Fairy Pools on the Isle of Skye, with fewer crowds

Spring is the time to explore the Fairy Pools on the Isle of Skye with minimal interruption.

The clear, turquoise waters against the backdrop of the Cuillin mountains are a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, and doing so before the summer rush brings a sense of peace and exclusivity to your adventure.

fairy pools

Take a whisky distillery tour during the Speyside Whisky Festival

If you’re a whisky aficionado, participating in the Speyside Whisky Festival is a must.

Held in April and May, this event allows you to indulge in Scotland’s finest malt whiskies right at the source, amidst the rolling hills and fresh, spring air of Speyside.

Cycle around the Isle of Arran

Known as ‘Scotland in miniature’, the Isle of Arran is at its best in springtime.

Cycling around the island, you get to enjoy the varied landscapes, from picturesque coastlines to rugged mountains, and if you’re lucky, you may even spot some local wildlife.

Things to do in Scotland in the summer

Summer has the warmest weather in Scotland, hitting around 15-17°C (59-63°F).

The days are longer, which is great, but expect lots of tourists. It’s the best time for festivals and exploring the islands, just be ready for the crowds.

Island hop across the Inner Hebrides

Embark on an island-hopping adventure to the Inner Hebrides where you can explore the historic isle of Iona, the wildlife-rich Mull, and the volcanic wonder of Staffa.

Enjoy the good weather and get close to nature while spotting puffins along the rugged coastlines.

Join the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo

Immerse yourself in the pomp and pageantry of the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, a world-renowned spectacle held each year against the backdrop of Edinburgh Castle.

This event is a high point of the summer and showcases the precision and grandeur of military bands and performers.

Edinburgh Festivals, Scotland-24

Hike Ben Nevis, the UK’s Highest Peak

For hiking enthusiasts, climbing Ben Nevis, the highest peak in the UK, is a summer must-do.

With clear summer skies, the views are unbeatable. Remember, sturdy shoes and preparation are key for this challenging trek.

Enjoy the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Join artists and performers from around the globe at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the planet’s largest arts festival.

The city is alive with energy, providing you with a chance to indulge in both well-known and avant-garde performances.

Edinburgh Festivals, Scotland

Visit the white sandy beaches of Harris and Lewis

Get away from the bustle and relax on the stunning white sandy beaches of Harris and Lewis.

The serene landscapes offer a slice of paradise with crystal-clear waters touching the unspoiled shores—a perfect summer retreat.

Things to do in Scotland in the Fall

Fall in Scotland means stunning autumn colors, cooler air, and fewer tourists. It’s perfect for outdoor adventures and diving into Scottish culture with its festivals.

Hike through the Scottish Highlands

In September and October, the Scottish Highlands burst into a palette of oranges and reds.

It’s a perfect time for hiking because the weather is mild and the summer midges have disappeared. Pull on your boots and experience the serenity and stunning scenery firsthand.


Visit the enchanted forest in Pitlochry

The Enchanted Forest in Pitlochry is a dazzling display of lights set against the natural backdrop of Faskally Wood, usually in October.

The event combines light and music to create a magical evening walk that’s unlike anything else.

Explore the historic Edinburgh’s Old Town

Edinburgh’s Old Town is rich with history, and exploring the cobblestone streets in the autumn is a treat.

With Edinburgh Castle as a backdrop, enjoy the architectural sights and absorb the history without the hassle of summertime crowds.


Attend the Samhuinn Fire Festival in Edinburgh, celebrating Celtic New Year

For a unique cultural experience, join the Samhuinn Fire Festival in Edinburgh.

This November event brings ancient Celtic traditions to life with a blaze of fire and performance, marking the end of the harvest and the beginning of winter.

Drive the North Coast 500

Designated as the North Coast 500, this scenic drive is Scotland’s answer to Route 66.

During the fall — or the shoulder season — you can take in awe-inspiring views of both coasts and the Highlands with minimal traffic and an array of wildlife sightings.

Things to do in Scotland in Winter

Winter in Scotland might be cold, but it’s full of festive vibes, skiing, and crowd-free historical sites. With short days and long nights, there’s still plenty to do.

Visit the Edinburgh Christmas Market

Come November and December, Edinburgh’s Christmas Market is the heart of the city’s festive celebrations.

You’ll find a blend of traditional and unique gifts, alongside mouthwatering treats and hot drinks to keep you warm.

Ski or snowboard in the Cairngorms National Park

During the snowy months from December through February, the Cairngorms National Park turns into a winter sports haven.

Whether you’re into skiing or snowboarding, these slopes offer a range of pistes catering to all levels.

Experience Stirling Castle with fewer tourists

Stirling Castle, dusted with snow, is a tranquil escape from the usual crowds of tourists found during warmer months.

January and February provide a unique experience to explore the castle’s storied halls and learn about Scotland’s history.

Attend Hogmanay in Edinburgh

Hogmanay, Scotland’s world-famous New Year celebration, is best witnessed in Edinburgh.

Wrap up warm and join in the festivities that bid farewell to the old year with music, fireworks, and cultural traditions.

things to do in Scotland - Hogmanay

Take a cozy, scenic train ride on the West Highland Line

Take advantage of the shorter days and enjoy the northern lights or snowy landscapes by riding the West Highland Line.

The trains offer an unrivaled perspective of the Highlands’ winter beauty, making for a memorable journey.

Dealing with midges

If you’re visiting Scotland in summer, be ready to meet some of the most irritating bugs: midges.

These tiny, biting insects can seriously bug you, especially if you’re trekking through the Highlands or kicking back on the West Coast.

The worst months to run into swarms of these pests are June through August.

Midges thrive in warm, damp conditions. So, if you’re traveling during these months, watch the forecast.

Here’s what you need to know to keep them at bay:

Don’t visit:Wear this:Use bug repellent:
June to AugustLong sleeves, pants, head nets if neededDEET-based or natural

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Discover the best and worst time to visit Scotland with my curated guide. Whether you're planning your trip or just dreaming about when to visit Scotland, my guide provides essential Scotland travel tips to ensure you make the most of your journey. #ScotlandTravel #BestTimeToVisit #TravelTips

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