While Scotland is consistently beautiful with a charm during every season, it certainly isn’t a travel destination for the climate. The Scottish weather may be notoriously unpredictable, but it does fall into four distinct annual seasons (which all could be experienced within one single day too!). So, what is the best month to visit Scotland? This guide outlines the Scotland weather by month, and reveals the cheapest time to travel to Scotland too!
The harsh weather, clouds of midges or international crowds may not be particularly inviting, but if you are lucky (or smart) enough to catch the country on a good day, you’ll be winning! When the weather shows off, there is simply nothing more remarkable than the beaches, mountains and colours of sunny Scotland!
Table of Contents
- The Best Time to Visit Scotland: Month-by-Month Summary
- Frequently Asked Questions
- What is the best month to visit Scotland?
- What is the best time to visit Scotland to avoid midges?
- What is the rainy season in Scotland?
- What month is typically the sunniest in Scotland?
- What is the warmest month in Scotland?
- Which month is the best to see the Northern Lights?
- What is the cheapest time of year to visit Scotland?
- Scottish Highlands Google Map Legend
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The Best Time to Visit Scotland:
Which month is the best to visit Scotland? From seasonal highlights to events, weather conditions and annual celebrations, every month has a unique offering. This month-by-month breakdown will help you find the perfect time to plan your Scotland trip.
There are fewer visitors in January as snowfall is a possibility and temperatures remain bitterly low. Thanks to the Gulf Stream, Scotland isn’t quite as cold as the countries of inland Europe. Though visitors should still be prepared with plenty of layers, including rainjackets, thermals, gloves, hats and waterproof footwear.
There are plenty of traditional annual events happening in January such as…
🍾 Hogmanay – Expect hangovers and closures during the first few days of the year with Hogmanay, the Scots celebration of the last evening of the year.
🥃 Burns Night – On the 25th of January, Scotland plays tribute to the cultural legacy of a world-famous poet called Robert Burns. The day is traditionally celebrated with a meal of haggis, neeps and tatties, followed by a ceilidh and perhaps a wee dram or two.
🛷 Dog Sled Rally – Every year since 1984, mushers have gathered near Aviemore for the British Sled Dog Race. Anyone can simply find a spot amongst the trees to watch the dogs hurry past, or yelp at the start line in anticipation.
🔥 Up Helly Aa – During the last Tuesday in January of every year, the community of Lerwick celebrate Shetland’s Viking heritage by performing a huge spectacle on the streets. This typically consists of a torch-lit procession, as well as the burning of a galley.
With a certainty of snow on the hills, there is also a high chance of some amongst the cities and towns too. Nevertheless, there are plenty of events that happen in February…
🏉 Six Nations – The Guinness Six Nations Championship is one the biggest events, and the oldest international rugby tournament, for rugby union. It brings together the best teams in Europe including England, Wales, Ireland, France, Italy and Scotland. Every year crowds fill the pubs in Edinburgh before and after a home game in Murrayfield Stadium.
March is awkwardly in-between; not quite winter, but not quite spring. Signs of the good weather may begin to appear, but it could all turn again in an instant. The days are more often than not dry and sunny with a sharp chill in the air.
😂 Comedy Festival – Glasgow is the host of Europe’s biggest comedy festival. The event has become a renowned annual event on the cultural calendar, featuring stand-up stars and home-grown favourites on many stages across the city.
SUGGESTION: Spend time in the world's friendliest city, Glasgow!
There may still be a chill in the air, yet April could go either way. Whilst locals begin to creep out from winter hibernation, the odd snowstorm could potentially drift but without overstaying any welcome.
🐣 Easter Holidays – The Easter Bunny pays children a visit in April with the occasion being mostly family-orientated and edible! In light of the celebration, schools are closed for two weeks on different dates of the year. Therefore, visitors can expect attractions to be much busier!
🐑 Lambing – The majority of lambing takes place between March and May. Therefore, April is a great time to spot our wee baby sheep learning how to walk the fields of Scotland.
🔥 Beltane Fire Festival – This annual participatory ritual is held on the 30th of April on Carlton Hill in Edinburgh. It celebrates the beginning of the summer season with ancient Gaelic traditions and the raging Beltane bonfire.
May is the unofficial beginning of the tourist season as the month is unofficially labelled one of the best months to visit Scotland. Why? As the weather becomes a little more stable with the likeliness of sunshine, the crowds are yet to appear. Colourful flowers and lush green foliage are a delight to all those who visit too.
🐋 Orca Watch – The orcas are most likely to be spotted between May and September. However, the Orca Watch is a ten-day event based in northeast Scotland. It is specifically organised to collect data in large groups, as they welcome anybody to join the passionate community during their search.
🥃 Whisky Month – Pour yourself a dram, visit a distillery or find a whisky festival, as May is the month of appreciation for our iconic national drink.
In June, the landscapes are spectacular and the weather is warm, but with the Scottish schools out for summer, you will be battling with much larger crowds. That’s not to even to mention the arrival of the midges too!
On a literal brighter note, visitors travelling in June will be blessed with more than 17 hours of daylight per day, so there is much more time to enjoy the delights of the Scottish countryside. The longest day of the year, Summer Solstice is the 21st of June.
🐦 Puffins – The puffins only make an appearance ashore for a few months of each year in Scotland. They normally arrive in late March or early April before retreating back to the Atlantic in August.
🥾 Highland Games – This is the place to watch a caber being tossed by a chap in a kilt whilst tapping your toes to the beat of a nearby pipe band. The Royal Highland Show is a 200-year-old event that spans four days, every year. This offers a great day out for all the family with displays of Scotland’s farming, food and rural life.
SUGGESTION: Head to Staffa for an opportunity to spot whales or basking sharks.
The month of July is peak season in Scotland as the crowds and prices for accommodation, travel and attractions are at their highest. Both the English and Scottish school children are on their summer break, allowing more families to travel to the cities, islands or countryside to appreciate the likelihood of the warmest weather.
Are you looking to see something a little different? Check out the following happenings…
⛳ The Scottish Open – Attempt a hole-in-one on world-class courses before watching the professionals show others how it’s done! July is possibly the best month to visit Scotland for golf to soak up the energy of the Scottish Open. Otherwise, travel earlier in the year to enjoy fewer crowds out on the greens.
🎤 Hebridean Celtic Festival – The internationally renowned HebCelt music festival passionately nurtures the island’s heritage of Gaelic and traditional music. Located on the Isle of Lewis, HebCelt presents a blend of the best local talent and world-famous artists.
🐦 Puffins – The puffins typically arrive in late March or early April before returning to the Atlantic in August. This may be your last opportunity of the year to catch them!
SUGGESTION: Go puffin-spotting on Handa Island, Staffa, Duncansby Head or Canna.
Those who venture north will be greeted with picture-perfect landscapes as the heather is in full bloom, spreading outbreaks of purple across the countryside.
In terms of weather and events, August is a safe bet. As a consequence, the prices can be hellishly steeper and the availability of accommodation is severely reduced. This is particularly the case as Edinburgh bursts in capacity with several world-renowned events…
🥁 Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo – Set against the backdrop of Edinburgh Castle, the Royal Military Tattoo is an iconic performance of music, and a display of the British Armed Forces, Commonwealth and international military bands.
🎭 Edinburgh Fringe Festival – This is one of the greatest celebrations of art and culture on the planet! For three weeks, crowds of international visitors flock to Edinburgh to immerse themselves in an outburst of creative performances from around the globe.
🏍️ Thunder of the Glens – Even if you aren’t a fan of motorbikes, seeing and hearing the roar of hundreds of Harley-Davidsons parade around the Cairngorms is quite the spectacle! This happens on the last weekend in August, every year.
🥾 Highland Games – Within the heart of the Central Highlands, the Killin Highland Games hosts a variety of truly Scottish competitions featuring, ‘tossing the caber’, highland dancing and pipe bands.
Visiting Scotland in September can be just as unpredictable as any other month, though with children returning to school across Britain, the less crowded period is a popular favourite amongst travellers.
🥾 Highland Games – The Braemar Gathering is the most famous of the Highland Games. Each year the royal family make an appearance as this was a particular favourite of Her Majesty the Queen.
SUGGESTION: Ride around Scotland's Route 66 alternative, the North Coast 500.
If you are wondering what the best month to visit Scotland for photography is, then October will certainly be a contender. The oranges and golden tones of the autumnal foliage is undeniably picturesque!
Check the ferry timetables if you are planning to travel to the Scottish Islands as many services will be reduced in preparation for the winter season.
Don’t forget to enjoy the seafood too, it’ll be at its freshest at this time of year!
Meanwhile, two popular events take place on the mainland…
🌳 Enchanted Forest – Scotland’s favourite sound and light show illuminates near Pitlochry in October. The Enchanted Forest combines nature and technology to create an exciting outdoor experience.
🎃 Halloween – Celebrate Halloween where, arguably, it all began. Nowadays, visitors may see pumpkins on the doorsteps by day and costume parties by night. There will also be children walking from door-to-door guising and the odd outdoor light event.
As the colder, darker nights begin to dominate, a blanket of frost brings a crisp freshness to each breath. Winter too has its charms, but visitors should wrap up warm with layers!
🏴 St Andrews Day – Like Burns Night, St Andrews Day is a time for patriotism as Scots celebrate their culture and traditional cuisine. This takes place on the 30th of November, every year.
🚀 Guy Fawkes Night – Remember, remember, the fifth of November… Bonfire Night is an annual commemoration of the failure of the Gunpowder Plot in 1605. On the 5th of November, every year, visitors will hear bursts of fireworks shooting and popping in the night sky across the country.
The Scottish Highlands in winter would only be for those who enjoy wintery landscapes and off-the-beaten path experiences. However, thousands of visitors gather in the capital city to celebrate the magic of the holiday season with many traditional refreshments.
🎄 Christmas Markets – The United Kingdom’s greatest Christmas markets are held in Edinburgh. Both local and international crowds fill the streets of the city centre to warm up with a mulled wine after their long days and late-night shopping.
🥂 Hogmanay – This is the Scots version of New Year’s Eve. Whilst many locals host their own ceilidhs at home, hundreds and thousands of international visitors travel to bring in the new year at Edinburgh’s Hogmanay Street Party. This is known for being one of the world’s greatest New Year celebrations!
SUGGESTION: Experience the magic of Christmas in Edinburgh!
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best month to visit Scotland?
Unless you seek to experience Scotland’s harsher conditions with fewer crowds, the best time to visit would be between May and September. It would be during this time that visitors would benefit from the most daylight and the likeliness of drier, warmer and sunnier weather. This is what we Scots tend to call ‘taps aff’ (tops off) weather!
What is the best time to visit Scotland to avoid midges?
The Scottish Midges are most prevalent during late spring to early autumn (May until September), with summer being the peak season. Much like our visitors, midges thrive on still, warm days so if you would like to avoid them completely visit during early spring, late autumn or winter. Otherwise, you are warned to come prepared for our little critters…
What is the rainy season in Scotland?
Whilst it rains all year round in Scotland, the wettest periods are between November and January.
What month is typically the sunniest in Scotland?
Because of Scotland’s high latitude on the globe, the summer days are very long with the sun rising around 4 am and setting as late as midnight on the summer solstice (21st of June). Visit between the months of May and June to experience Scotland during these extended brighter periods of daylight.
What is the warmest month in Scotland?
On average, the hottest month of the year is July. This is the best month to visit Scotland if you’re not a fan of the cold – for sure!
Which month is the best to see the Northern Lights?
The Aurora Borealis can be seen anywhere in Scotland if the weather conditions are right and light pollution is at a minimum. With long periods of darkness, frequent clear nights and a slight frost in the air, the autumn and winter months of December, January and February will yield the most opportunity for a spectacular sighting.
What is the cheapest time of year to visit Scotland?
Like everywhere else, you should organise your trip to be held during the offseason to save the most amount of money. In Scotland, this period is between October and March. This excludes December as the Edinburgh Christmas Markets can be exceptionally pricey!
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Scottish Highlands Google Map Legend
This Google Map Legend showcases 140+ need-to-know coordinates within our bonnie Scottish Highlands & Islands:
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