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Best Time to Visit Scotland

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Sunrise at Eilean Donan Castle in the Scottish Highlands

Sunrise at Eilean Donan Castle in the Scottish Highlands

Scotland can immerse you in surprising charm, timeless architecture, and endless wonder with the best time to visit taking place from March to May and September to November.

Whether discovering a new perspective on traditional cuisine or watching the mist disappear along the windswept Highlands, uncovering dramatic castles, or enjoying the myths of the enticing landscape, each region in the country reveals a distinctive personality.

From sightseeing to golf, the Highlands to whisky tastings, hiking to cycling, this article will provide you with a wealth of information on what to do and when to do it, no matter your travel preferences.

Best Time for Sightseeing

Best Months: April | May | September | October

Scotland has surprisingly warmer temperatures than you may expect throughout the year, with April to May and September to October offering the best weather for sightseeing and smaller crowds. The sunshine in late spring and early autumn can dish up some crisp mornings and evenings while giving you plenty of warmth throughout the day in which to wander the iconic streets, explore the distinctive galleries, or set out into the scenery to experience the captivating landscapes.

Best Time for the Scottish Highlands

The Quiraing on the Isle of Sky, Scotland

The Quiraing on the Isle of Sky, Scotland

Best Months: May | June | July | August

The Scottish Highlands are a spectacle of fields, craggy cliffs, and dominant rolling hills best experienced from May to August. The weather in late spring and summer can give you the most comfortable temperatures, rarely rising over 70 degrees Fahrenheit. While May through August can also bring larger crowds, especially around the popular Highland Games, the overall seasonal displays of culture in the Highlands are part of the dynamic beauty of the region.

Best Time for Golfing

Best Months: April | May | June | August | September

Golf is a practical way to discover the heritage of Scotland and April to September can give you the best weather in which to enjoy the fairways. While the regions may differ around the country, your overall experience in spring and summer will bring the charming greenery of the countryside to life. There may be larger crowds as the weather warms, which could drive tee rates up, but the more reliable weather and gorgeous scenery display how golf is a perfect expression of Scotland’s beauty.

Best Time for Scotch Tasting

Whiskey barrels outside a distillery in Scotland

Ardbeg Distillery on the Isle of Islay, Scotland

Best Months: March | April | May | September | October

Scotch whisky is an expression of spirit in Scotland, with the best times to experience a tasting being from March to May or September to October. In the off-season, distilleries may stop tours entirely, but those that are open may offer more intimate tours. However, during the peak season in summer there is more competition to reserve a space. A mixture of the shoulder season and peak season could give you a nice balance of more intimate experiences in larger and independent distilleries around the country.

Best Time for Gardens

Gardens at Drummond Castle in Perthshire, Scotland

Gardens at Drummond Castle in Perthshire, Scotland

Best Months: April | May | June | July | August | September

Gardens in Scotland are known for their bright colors and comforting atmospheres, with spring and summer from April to September providing the most welcoming blossoms. Aside from the lovely weather throughout the warmer seasons, visiting in spring can also give you the chance to explore the diverse gardens as the flowers bud among smaller crowds. By summer, the flowers will be in full bloom, creating enchanting landscapes that draw more people to garden paths bursting with color.

Best Time for Hiking

Tourist hiking in Cairngorms National Park, Scotland

Hiking in Cairngorms National Park, Scotland

Best Months: May | June | July | September | October

Scotland is an inspiring destination for hiking, with the weather from May to July and September to October giving you the perfect opportunities for discovering the diverse scenery. The mild temperatures across the country make it easier to wander the variety of trails from the coastline to the Highlands. The crowds generally swell in August, but the surrounding months in spring and summer highlight the blossoming scenery, lush hills, and longer days.

Best Time for Cycling

Couple biking in the Scottish Highlands

Biking in the Scottish Highlands

Best Months: April | May | June | July | August | September

Scotland’s landscape feels ancient and wrapped in mystery, which you can best experience when cycling from April to September. Crowds are larger in August, but many attractions and visitor centers along the trails are seasonal, only opening in spring and summer. Whether climbing the craggy mountains, winding through the Highlands, or rolling across the Lowlands, the spring and summer can give you much more predictable weather to wind through the stunning scenery and along idyllic roads.

Best Time for the Isle of Skye

The Fairy Pools on the Isle of Sky, Scotland

The Fairy Pools on the Isle of Sky, Scotland

Best Months: May | June | July

The Isle of Skye is the embodiment of breathtaking scenery found in seclusion, which you can best explore from May to July. With cascading waterfalls, lush mountains, and glens reminiscent of hidden fairy homes, the summer on the island offers moderate temperatures, while also giving you access to the scenic splendor with much smaller crowds. It is easy to become enchanted by the mystical ambiance any time of year, but May to July will give you the most all-round comfort.

Best Time with Family Travel

Mother with two kids at Inchcolm Abbey on the Island of Inchcolm, Scotland

Inchcolm Abbey on the Island of Inchcolm, Scotland

Best Months: April | May | September | October

Stunning landscapes, dramatic coastline, and ruins growing out of the wild make Scotland a captivating destination for families, especially from April to May or September to October. The more temperate weather of early spring and early fall make it much easier for your entire family to discover the wonders of Scotland, while also avoiding the larger crowds of mid-summer. These months also give you easy access to each corner of the country, including the renowned Highlands.

Best Time for Couples

Tod Head Lighthouse near Stonehaven, Scotland

Tod Head Lighthouse near Stonehaven, Scotland

Best Months:  May | June | July | August | September

Scotland is truly one of the most beautiful countries in the world, its natural beauty creating a romantic ambiance, especially from May to September. No matter the time of year, you can find passion and romance around the country, but spring and summer highlight charm and charisma as gardens bloom, the hills turn lush, and the lochs shimmer in the longer days. The relaxed pace of summer also encourages the romance of the legends for which the country is famous.

Spring and Summer Activities

Luskentyre Beach on the Isle of Harris, Scotland

Luskentyre Beach on the Isle of Harris, Scotland

Best Months: May | June | July

Spring and summer in Scotland can give you remarkable access to thrilling activities and excursions. As the weather warms from the Highlands to the Lowlands, you can get some of the best weather in May and June, while also enjoying the festive ambiance of the summer season, whether in Edinburgh or the Isle of Skye. When visiting Scotland in spring and summer, the following are only a sample of the activities and experiences you can enjoy:

Hiking | Cycling | Beaches | Sailing | Summer Festivals | Garden Excursions

Fall and Winter Activities

Christmas Market in Edinburgh, Scotlant

Christmas Market in Edinburgh, Scotlant

Best Months: October | November | December

Scotland in fall and winter creates a unique wonderland of cultural and scenic experiences often overlooked by visitors. Instead of the autumn and winter frost, Scotland from October to December shines with heritage festivities, the changing colors of fall, and the exceptional ambiance of the Christmas season. From festive castles to husky sledding across the Highlands, snowsports in the mountains to the welcoming museum galleries, the following are examples of what you can enjoy in winter and fall:

Snowboarding | Skiing | Christmas Markets | Winter Festivals | Scotch Tasting

More Travel Information & Tips

Urquhart Castle on Loch Ness, Scotland

Urquhart Castle on Loch Ness, Scotland

Scotland’s seasons range from rich colors to veils of dynamic gray, but no matter when you visit, you can find alluring activities. Knowing what you want to experience can help you decide on the best time to visit, with each season offering you limitless things to do, from sailing Loch Ness to golfing St. Andrews Old Course. You can find further inspiration for your trip with our Scotland Tours. Planning a trip? You can speak with a Scotland travel expert for free by filling out a Trip Request or by calling our team at 1-888-265-9707.

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