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Sligachan River, Scottish Highlands

When is the best time to visit Scotland?

The best time to visit Scotland is during spring (late March to May) and fall (September to November).

Temperatures are warmer by spring, with averages of 43°F-59°F, although there will still be snow in the mountains of the Highlands and the Cairngorms. The summer months (June through August) are the warmest of the year, with extensive daylight hours in July and August the further north you go.

The crowds begin to disperse from late October. Early to mid-November can be a wonderful time to see Scotland’s glorious fall foliage. However, many sites close for winter from mid-October. Snowy conditions in December through to February can make travel tricky, although you’d be rewarded by spectacular wintery scenes and roaring log fires.

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Scotland Climate Guide

Destination Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Edinburgh 43°F 2" 43°F 2" 48°F 2" 54°F 2" 59°F 2" 64°F 2" 66°F 2" 66°F 3" 61°F 3" 55°F 3" 48°F 3" 45°F 2"
Fort William 39°F 12" 41°F 8" 43°F 10" 50°F 5" 55°F 5" 59°F 6" 61°F 7" 61°F 7" 57°F 11" 52°F 12" 45°F 11" 41°F 12"
Glencoe 39°F 12" 41°F 8" 43°F 10" 50°F 5" 55°F 5" 59°F 6" 61°F 7" 61°F 7" 57°F 11" 52°F 12" 45°F 11" 41°F 12"
Inverness 41°F 3" 41°F 2" 46°F 2" 50°F 2" 57°F 2" 64°F 2" 66°F 2" 66°F 3" 59°F 3" 54°F 3" 46°F 3" 43°F 3"
Loch Lomond 41°F 9" 41°F 6" 45°F 7" 52°F 4" 57°F 5" 63°F 4" 64°F 5" 64°F 6" 59°F 8" 54°F 9" 46°F 8" 43°F 8"

Month-by-month guide to traveling in Scotland

Glencoe

Visiting Scotland in January

January is bitterly cold in Scotland, especially in the east of the country where average temperatures hover around freezing during the daytime. Edinburgh is beset by icy winds from the coast, and much of the country is under snow, especially the mountainous areas. Hogmanay is the Scottish festival for New Year, usually marked by live music, fire dancers and fireworks. Burns Night, a celebration of national poet Robert Burns, is on the 25th of the month and is usually observed by poetry readings accompanied by whisky and haggis.

Events & Festivals

  • Burns Night is a celebration of Scotland's national Poet, Robert Burns, usually celebrated with poetry readings, whisky and haggis.
Edinburgh

Visiting Scotland in February

February is still a cold month and receives a fair amount of snow. The Fort William Mountain Festival is held during February, celebrating all things mountainous with films, events and talks by famous mountaineers.

Events & Festivals

  • The Fort William Mountain Festival is a celebration of all things mountainous, with talks by famous mountaineers, films and events.
Loch Lomond

Visiting Scotland in March

In the south of the country temperatures start to rise and spring begins to emerge. In the Highlands and Cairngorms, snow remains on the mountains but the lower slopes may begin to melt.

Edinburgh

Visiting Scotland in April

Temperatures are slightly warmer, although again the mountainous areas will remain cold with snow on the peaks. This is usually when the ski areas of the West Highlands and the Cairngorms close. April is typically the driest month in Edinburgh. Beltane, a pagan fire festival, is held at the end of the month, marking the end of winter. In Edinburgh, thousands climb Calton Hill for a pagan and fire-themed performance.

Events & Festivals

  • Beltane is held at the end of the month, a pagan fire festival marking the end of winter.
Scottish scenery

Visiting Scotland in May - June

Spring flowers and foliage really emerge in May and into June, with the snow mostly melting from all but the highest peaks. Public holidays at the beginning and end of May make these weekends particularly busy. From June, Scotland’s midges make an appearance, lasting through until the end of September. Daylight hours are long, with around 17 and a half hours by the end of June in central Scotland, increasing the further north you travel. Many Highland games are held in May and June, although these do continue through to September.

Events & Festivals

  • The Highland Games feature heavy athletic events such as tossing the caber, tug-o-war as well as dance competitions and piping.
Isle of Skye beaches

Visiting Scotland in July - August

This is peak summer in Scotland, with temperatures averaging at around 19°C (66°F). Schools break for the summer in July and this is the busiest time of year to travel. Edinburgh Festival Fringe is held throughout August, coinciding with the Edinburgh Military Tattoo, a spectacular military parade in front of the castle.

Events & Festivals

  • The Highland Games feature heavy athletic events such as tossing the caber, tug-o-war as well as dance competitions and piping.
  • The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is the world's largest arts festival. Held during most of August, it features all kinds of performances including comedy, dance and theater.
Glenfinnan Viaduct

Visiting Scotland in September

September is the wettest month in Scotland, and temperatures decrease a little. Despite the schools returning, this is still a busy time of year to travel. The most famous of Scotland’s Highland games, the Braemar Gathering, is held in September just north of Pitlochry.

Events & Festivals

  • The Highland Games feature heavy athletic events such as tossing the caber, tug-o-war as well as dance competitions and piping.
Isle of Skye

Visiting Scotland in October

Vibrant autumn foliage reaches its glorious peak towards the end of October, and the weather is typically cool and slightly drier than in September. Certain hotels and sites start to close towards the end of the month.

Loch Morlich, the Cairngorms National Park

Visiting Scotland in November

Temperatures are fairly cold across Scotland in November, particularly in the north and the east. Autumn foliage still on the trees at the start of the month drops towards the end, and the first snowfall is often in November. This is a much quieter month to visit Scotland, although some sites may be closed. St Andrew's Day, held on the 30th of the month, is a celebration of Scotland’s patron saint, marked with feasts, music and dancing.

Events & Festivals

  • St Andrew's Day is a celebration of Scotland's patron saint, marked with feasts, music and dancing, held on the 30th of the month.
Portree

Visiting Scotland in December

December has the shortest amount of daylight of the year, with long nights and cold days. It’s a relatively dry month and can see beautifully crisp, clear and sunny days.

Events & Festivals

  • Hogmanay is the Scottish festival for New Year, usually marked by live music, fire dancers and fireworks.

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Travel advice

Practical tips for traveling to Scotland, from social protocols to guidance on money matters, with a link to the latest government travel advice.

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