Check out the best time to visit Scotland
Ok, so Scotland isn’t exactly a typical summer getaway spot for us Brits. After all, there seems to be hardly any sun, and there’s often a lot of rain and wind in the home of haggis and the Highlands. Even with a stroppy climate like that in Scotland, it’s a hugely popular destination for tourists. Tourists simply love the rugged landscapes, the picturesque islands, and how friendly we Scots are. As well as that, you can really take in a number of different activities and get to know Scotland in all its splendour. A trip up north to Scotland is always worthwhile, trust me. I’m here to show you when is the best time to visit Scotland so you can get the best out of your holiday.
The best time to visit Scotland
Because of the unstable weather conditions year round, and the differences in the seasons in Scotland, you can pretty much visit Scotland any time of the year you wish. Of course, there are some months that are more popular than others. The high season in Scotland runs in the months of April, May, June, July, August, September and October. Winter is over, or it’s yet to come, and the temperatures are in a pretty pleasant bracket. Of the months I’ve mentioned, the most popular are May, June and September.
Best time to visit Scotland:
- High season: April to October
- Best months to travel: May, June and September
For Edinburgh, the Scottish capital in the south of the country, I recommend August as the best time to travel. May and September are also quite popular, as they’re outside of the summer months when tourists come to Scotland. In the months of June, July and August you’ll need to be ready for high accommodation prices and an influx of tourists. There’s pretty stable weather in these months, too. As a rule, September is warmer than May. But, of course, with every rule there are exceptions!
The best time to visit the Highlands
A highlight of a trip to Scotland, and a special holiday destination, is the Scottish Highlands. Here, you can experience the most beautiful of Scotland’s landscapes. In the Highlands you can visit Ben Nevis, Scotland’s highest mountain (and the highest mountain in the British Isles, too.) You can also check out the numerous lochs dotted throughout the countryside and the lush green meadows surrounding them. Of course, you can come and see them at any time, but I do recommend taking a trip in spring or autumn. The weather conditions then are perfect for hiking and exploring.
I don’t recommend coming in summer, though. At time time, the “highland midges” get up to a little mischief. These little insects are particularly active in the months of August and September, so if you do plan a trip to the Highlands in these months, I suggest you stock up on some insect repellent! If you’d rather enjoy the magnificent views in peace, then I suggest avoiding a trip during these months altogether.
Best time to visit for whale and dolphin watching in Scotland
So many people will flock to Scotland for one reason – to go whale or dolphin spotting. Bottlenose dolphins, for example, are native to Scotland. They live in the area of Moray Firth, part of the North Sea. To see them, you should really go on a tour with an experienced guide. They will bring you out the region, and I promise you this experience will be the highlight of your trip to Scotland. A great little side effect of these is that you might even get to see some seals, otters and osprey in the area. Harbour porpoises, too, are common in the area and have settled around the islands in the north. You can see them all year round – if you know where to find them.
Dolphins are mostly visible when they hunt in spring and summer. When the tide comes in, you can maybe see dolphins while you’re out fishing. If it’s whale watching you’re after, then I suggest coming in late spring to early autumn. If you’d like to take a boat trip to go dolphin and whale watching, then I recommend you contact a vendor directly. They’ll know the best time to spot the wildlife, and they can give you all the important info.
Climate in Scotland
If a staycation in Scotland is your ideal getaway, then you need to be ready for changeable weather. You could experience multiple weather changes in just one day – going from rain, to warm sunshine, to a very windy daytime. There are no harsh differences in the weather throughout the different times of the year. This means generally winters aren’t too cold and summers aren’t too hot. This is all thanks to Scotland’s temperate climate. This kind of climate brings a mild winter – temperatures are rarely below zero, and if they do get there then it’s only slightly below zero. There is often snow in the Highlands, but not too much snowfall in the rest of the country. On the other hand, the temperate climate brings cool summers too. Temperatures in the north can climb to over 30°C, but in reality it never really gets this warm. Temperatures are generally around 20°C in the warm summer months.
Because of its location, Scotland has some regional differences. In principle, it’s warmer in the west of the country than in the east. The Atlantic Ocean, which is off the west coast, brings the Gulf Stream to Scotland and has a very positive influence on the temperatures in the west. However, it does rain much more in the west of the country, particularly in the Highlands, than in the east and the rest of the country. In the east, around Aberdeen, it’s much sunnier than in the west. The climatic differences are minimal on average, but they do exist! June, July and August are the best months for a holiday on either side of the country, when pleasant weather conditions prevail. You will, though, have to decide whether the slightly better weather conditions are worth the increase in hotel prices.
So that you’ll know what weather to expect, I’ve put two climate tables together. Glasgow represents the west, while Aberdeen represents the west.
Climate data for Aberdeen (east Scotland)
|Max. temperature in °C||6||6||8||11||14||18||19||19||16||13||9||6|
|Min. temperature in °C||-1||0||2||3||6||9||1||10||8||6||3||1|
|Sunshine hours per day||2||3||3||5||6||6||5||5||4||3||2||1|
|Rainy days per month||18||14||14||14||14||14||17||15||14||16||17||17|
Climate data for Glasgow (west Scotland)
|Max. temperature in °C||6||7||9||11||16||17||19||19||16||12||9||7|
|Min. temperature in °C||1||2||2||4||6||9||11||10||8||6||3||2|
|Sunshine hours per day||1||2||3||4||6||6||5||5||4||2||2||1|
|Rainy days per month||17||13||10||11||10||10||13||14||13||15||14||16|
My opinion on the best time to visit Scotland
Scotland is, of course, a must for everyone who loves an endless expanse and harsh landscapes, and also people who have no problem with sudden and almost never-ending rain and wind. Because there are no major differences in the weather throughout the year, you can visit Scotland pretty much any time of the year. If you want some pleasant weather and warm temperatures, then I suggest a trip in the months of May, June and September. You should also consider that the months of April to October are the high season for holidays to Scotland. And if you plan to come in the summer months, then be aware of the midge plague in the Highlands!