When is the Best Time to Visit Scotland?
It is an often asked question on media sites, ‘ When is the best time to visit Scotland? ’
Indeed, this is most probably one of the first thoughts that spring to mind when planning or dreaming about visiting our magical ‘wee’ country, Scotland.
My favourite response to that query is always, “Visit Scotland whenever you can”. Perhaps it is easy for me to say as I am blessed to be living in this beautiful land.
I hope to enlighten you with some useful information (you could call it an insider’s guide) as to when may be the best time for you to visit, and enjoy a vacation in Bonnie Scotland.
Hopefully the following information can help you in making your decision, giving you an idea which months and seasons would be a good time to plan your visit to Bonnie Scotland.
For some, the best time to visit is in spring, when the flowers and blossoms start to sprout. Others may favour Autumn (The Fall), when the autumnal golden colours make the scenery so special, that everywhere you visit looks like that amazing picture postcard you want to post to your friends back home.
However, most tourists from around the world appear to visit Scotland in the summer, when the Highland Games are in full swing, or when the Fringe or the Edinburgh Tattoo is in ‘Auld Reekie’. From May to September, the population in Scotland’s capital city can double.
The truth is we have visitors all year round, even including the winter months, when there is nothing better than cosying up in front of a log fire in a remote Scottish Glen, or by the bonnie banks of one of Scotland’s many glistening lochs.
If that is the top question, then by a close haggis hair, the next question most frequently asked is;
What’s the Weather going to be like when I visit Scotland?
Being a native Scotsman I always quote the Big Yin, Billy Connolly “There’s no such thing as bad weather in Scotland, only inappropriate clothing” or “There are two seasons in Scotland: June and Winter”
Seriously, it is possible to experience 4 seasons in one day.
Take a look at our video below, which was filmed in the summer of 2017 at Loch Lomond.
All jokes aside, the weather is a huge factor to take into consideration when visiting Scotland. It’s not that it’s always dreich,cold, wet or windy, it’s just that it can be unpredictable. Historically the weather can be warm and sunny in April, May and June, then experience hailstones the following day.
Again traditionally it may be pouring “cats and dogs” in July especially at the ‘Glasgow Fair Fortnight’. It really can be a matter of pot luck.
But as we say in Scotland…
“Todays Rain, is tomorrow’s Whisky”
To sum up, in my humble opinion, it’s all good, so get your case packed and visit Scotland whenever you can.
Visiting Scotland in the Spring (March, April, May)
In late March or early April, nature lovers and bird watchers come to Scotland to see the beautiful coloured Puffins arriving. Affectionately known by many Scots as the “Clowns of the Seas”. It’s a good sign that Spring is coming, and a truly spectacular place to get up close to these wonderful birds, is by taking a boat trip to Staffa.
In April we can enjoy some amazing sunny weather, and it’s truly a beautiful sight to see the newly born lambs frolicking in the lush green fields. The air is fresh, and daffodils burst out in bright sunshine yellow. Around us, new life emerges, and the hope of wonderful things to come.
Many rural hotels, bed and breakfast accommodation and guest house establishments reopen for the summer tourist season at this time too. This is also the reopening of Historic Scotland’s medieval castles and towers and places of interest to discover. Before we know it we are skipping our way to the month of May.
A famous Scot’s saying is, “Ne’er cast a cloot till May be oot”. Simply meaning keep your clothes on until June, you can still catch a cold in May, sunbathing in Scotland can happen….sometimes. I say to people if you see the sun then take a photograph of it and stick it on your mantelpiece…( typical Scottish humour). So whenever you come to Scotland, be prepared for good humour with warm hearted, welcoming people.
Scotland’s famous Highland Games and Gatherings begin in May. A spectacular show of strength and endurance, highland dancing and the skirl of the pipes dating as far back as 1314, to the oldest free games in Ceres which marks “the glad return of Ceres men frae Bannockburn!”. For the full calendar of dates and when you can attend a Highland Games or Gathering then visit the Scottish Highland Games Association website here.
May, can also be regarded as one of the best times to visit Scotland, before peak-travel, which is great to find low season travel deals.
Visiting Scotland in the Summer (June, July, August)
The Royal Highland Show is the main agricultural show in Scotland, which takes place in June at Ingliston, in Edinburgh. It is a popular event for visitors and Scots, attracting almost 200,000 visitors. The weather can be more favourable, and often the temperature is slightly warmer.
Alas though…this is also the start of the midgie season.
The ‘midgie’ is probably Scotland’s biggest or should I say smallest predator with the biggest teeth. It is a small flying insect that takes no prisoners. Run for the hills, or better still take cover in a local pub or Inn. If hiding out of the way isn’t an option, then some repellant is advisable or citronella candles/scent is often thought to deter these wee terrors.
July is a very popular month to visit Scotland, and you will discover many hotel and flight prices will reflect that. It is also advisable to book visits to whisky distilleries, golf courses and other activities such as the Jacobite Steam Train Journey, well in advance of arriving in Scotland to avoid disappointment.
Scotland is at its busiest in August, it’s a peak time to visit. The Edinburgh Fringe Festival and Edinburgh Military Tattoo (The Greatest Show on Earth) attract thousands of visitors from all round the world.
The World Pipe Band Championship takes place in Glasgow in August also attracting thousands of visitors worldwide.
Visiting Scotland in Autumn (The Fall) – (September, October, November)
In Autumn (The Fall), temperatures are a wee bit cooler and the midgies return to hibernation…thank goodness.
The days start to draw in with less daylight and the foliage on the trees turn into an outstanding variety of russet colours, making our scenic landscape a paradise for budding photographers.
You may just be in luck when visiting Scotland in the winter, and catch sight of ‘The Aurora Borealis’, which we call the ‘Northern Lights’.
On the 30th of November, Scotland celebrates St Andrew’s Day. He was made the official patron saint of Scotland at the Declaration of Arbroath in 1320.
A lot of attractions are closed by November, however it is still possible to have a splendid time in Scotland. Main attractions such as Edinburgh Castle and Stirling Castle remain open all year round, as do many whisky distilleries around the country.
Visiting Scotland in the Winter (December, January, February)
The Scottish Hogmanay is regarded as one of the biggest and best New Year’s Eve parties in the world. Many Scots start off the celebrations on ‘Hogmanay’, bringing in the New Year by singing “Auld Lang Syne” at ‘the bells’. The world famous poem was written by one of Scotland’s most honoured sons, our National Bard, Robert Burns (d.o.b. 25 th of January 1759, Alloway).
From the lowlands to the highlands and of course in the Islands, Rabbie is toasted with the finest of malt whisky and haggis on his birthday every year, traditionally named ‘Burns Night’. The glorious celebration is dedicated to his work and contribution to Scotland’s culture.
The 6 Nations Rugby Tournament kicks off in February. If you are lucky enough to get hold of Scotland tickets, then you may be in for a memorable experience at Murrayfield in Edinburgh. The rough and tough, spills and thrills of International Rugby can be experienced in February and March in Scotland’s capital city, Edinburgh.
Win, lose or draw it’s a great occasion where friendly fans from competing countries pack out the many local bars and inns of Edinburgh to support their favourite teams. I’m not biased at all, but C’mon Scotland.
When will you visit Scotland?
I’m hoping that you have enjoyed our wee blog page on ‘When is the Best Time to Visit Scotland,’ and inspires you to visit our beautiful wee country. No matter what the weather brings, Scotland has 12 glorious months when you can visit her shores.
A top tip to visiting Scotland, is to plan and book well in advance. Regardless of when you are planning to visit, you can find that accommodation in the Highlands can be fully booked months in advance. If you’re fortunate to find somewhere to stay, you may pay a premium.
Remember..come prepared for all weathers; wellies, brollies, jumpers, sunglasses, hiking boots, waterproofs, and flip flops…chances are you will be wearing them all on one day!! 🙂
If you have any questions or would like to get in touch to discuss planning a once in a lifetime private tour to Scotland then drop me an email at email@example.com I would be delighted to help you realise your dream, your adventure.