So when is the best time to visit the Scottish Highlands, my personal opinion is anytime as Scotland offers everything for all seasons, and the scenery changes with each season giving you a different aspect each time you visit. So what makes Scotland so appealing and why are some people put off visiting at certain times of the year.
Scottish Weather and Climate
Daylight Hours – Annual Calendar of Sunsrise and Sunset Times
The changeable Scottish weather is probably one of the largest factors to deter you from visiting the Scottish Highlands, it’s not a case of the weather is always bad, it is just so unpredictable, some say you can experience four seasons in one day, but don’t let this put you off, even if the weather is not necessarily good you can guarantee it will be dramatic, interesting, breathtaking and definitely very photogenic. But the weather plays such an important role within Scotland’s dramatic landscapes, and it would be much different if it was not for our famous weather.
Billy Connelly said about the weather in Scotland: “There is no such thing as bad weather – only the wrong clothes”
Summer in the Scottish Highlands
The Months during summer especially June, July and August are very busy and Scotland’s peak season for tourism, with the busiest period during the School summer holidays. You can experience lovely sunny days, however you can’t always guarantee the weather at this time and can expect varied weather patterns, but the days are often generally mild and enjoyable, the largest advantage of this time of year is the daylight hours, with daylight reaching 10pm or beyond the further north you go. August in Scotland can be a great time to have a holiday in Scotland with many events taking place like Highland Games and Festivals, but this can also have a large impact on accommodation with many places booked up very early.
Although summer is a great time to Holiday in Scotland it does have some drawbacks, the warmer weather can attract many clouds of midges, these little biting insects can have the hardest outdoor type running for cover, they will often appear around dusk and dawn and especially in warmer and damp times.
Spring and Autumn in Scotland
May and September can be a very nice time to visit with often nicer if not better than the main summer months. This time of year you are less likely to find large crowds and busier roads, and accommodation is more available and generally cheaper. During these months the scenery changes colour and is a fantastic time for outdoor activities especially Hiking and Mountain Biking, it is a particularly good time for people interested in Photography. During May you can expect to see many nesting birds and other wildlife, September can be restricted in some areas as this is stalking season for deer, but should not stop you enjoying yourself.
Plan your holiday around an Event – Click Here for the Calendar
April and October are usually the start and the end of summer season in many areas of rural Scotland, many of the attractions and tourist offices open during the Easter week and usually finish or reduce hours after the October half term holidays, but this by far does not mean the end of holidays in Scotland as many areas are getting ready for the Winter season.
Winter in the Scottish Highlands
October to March can offer great deals for people looking for a winter holiday in Scotland with many hotels offering good deals for weekend breaks or mid-week breaks, do take note though that public transport in some rural areas will change to a winter timetable. During winter days you can expect cold and crisp weather but fairly short daylight hours, you can also experience wet, dark and gloomy days but this gives you the perfect excuse to sit beside a burning log fire with a glass of your favourite Scottish Whisky. An added bonus to your winter stay could be a visible Auroro Borealis or Northern Lights
Christmas and Hogmanay has traditionally been a good time to visit Scotland with the famous Scottish hospitality and party nights, however the cost can be much more during this time. During Winter if Snow falls on the Scottish mountains the Ski season will start, this can be a busier time in towns like Aviemore and other Scottish Ski resorts. Other highlights of a Scottish winter will be the chance to see the Northern Lights (aurora borealis) whilst snow falling on the Scottish mountains and forest will give you a Christmas card vista, a sight everyone should witness one time in their life.
So as you can see there are many months you can visit Scotland and have an enjoyable time, it’s up to you, but we can guarantee you whatever month you choose to visit, Scotland will offer you a great time and a warm welcome.
Anytime I can
That’s the spirit! 🙂
You’d be surprised though how many folk email us and ask this question.
Charles Kagan says
I am going to be in Scotland on a tour early June.
I am interested in visiting at least one distillery.
I will be in Edinburgh on 6/2 & 6/3.
On Wednesday, 6/3 I could have a free day.
What distilleries are close enough to see and are there tours available.
Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
Greg Murray says
Hi Charles Glenkinchie is the nearest distillery to Edinburgh but is very difficult to get to by public transport. Most of the famous whisky distilleries are in the Highlands, so not on Edinburgh’s doorstep. I do know that various tour companies do one day whisky trips to some distilleries, Rabbies are one of the companies that do a one day trip, try them and let me know how you get on.
ROSEANNA SINCLAIR says
MY ANCESTORY IS CLAN SINCLAIR. AM VERY EXCITED TO VISIT ORKNEY SCOTLAND. CASTLE SINCLAIR. CASTLE GRINGOE. ROSSLYN CHAPEL. CASTLE ROSLIN. HAVE BEEN DOING ALOT OF RESEARCH. HENRY SINCLAIR.1300-1400. MAY NOT HAVE ALL FACTS RIGHT. SAW OUR CREST. WOW! OUR TARTAN COLORS. WE EVEN HAVE OUR OWN SONG. VERY EXCITING. PLANNING MY TRIP MAY 3 2016. BE THERE ABOUT 3 WEEKS OR SO….57. WIDOWED FEMALE. BETTER FIND ME A TRAVELING PARTNER BY THEN. LOL. 🙂
Thinking of visiting in early-mid September, but will it still be very green everywhere? And how are the midges that time of year?
Hi Christie, yes it will still be green. Whether you can have problems with midges is very much depending on weather conditions, time of day and your location. Perhaps the following post helps: http://blog.islayinfo.com/article.php/islay_midges_repellant
Dave Alexander says
A way I found whilst in the Military was to Chew Yeast Tablets,that make your Tasty Blood to “pesky things like midges taste sour”, another thing (still relating to the Military) Find a Army Surplus Shop & ask for Anti-Midges Fine Net that is worn under a Cap or Hat etc,that prevent these irritating things from getting at your tasty skin!
I hope this helps?
Gerard Devanny says
Hello. I will be traveling all over Scotland for about 5 weeks. I plan on going up the east coast to Aberdeen ( starting in Motherwell and Troon) then driving up to Thurso ( surf) by way of Fraserburgh.. At which time, 2 or 3 days later, I’ll drive down into Inverness and Loch Ness. Then I have no idea. I’ll just wander… my question is, the midges. I take it they are mosquitoes of a sort. I would also possibly stop at a ski resort if I’m lucky enough to catch an early snow.
Anyway, this is a great comment section you have. Thank you..
Hi Gerard, Here is some useful advice about midges: http://www.scotlandinfo.eu/midges-in-scotland-how-to-avoid-them/
Happy travelling 🙂
Louise Blanchette says
Hi there I’m think58ng of getting married in the isle of skye, specifically at Coral beach..does anyone know if any company hosts this venue?
We are a South African family and will be going on holiday to Aberdeen in December. Idealy, we want to immigrate to Scotland in the next 3-5 years. I’m not sure what I want to know. I guess I’m looking for any information about vacationing and living in Scotland.
Hi, I think reading all the pages on our website would be a great start to learn more about Scotland, the history, the people, the landscape and everything else for that matter 🙂
Nancy Going says
My husband and I just retired! Our first trip , we would like to go to Scotland. Never been. The time is totally flexible for us.m 2 weeks, mabye?? Are there certain dates you would recommend and a starting point? We love to drive and site see.
PS What are midges??
Hi Nancy, I personally like spring, usually the sunniest months, especially on the west coast and the islands. Midges are tiny biting creatures appearing mostly on humid calm days in the morning and evening. Here’s some more info: http://www.scotlandinfo.eu/midges-in-scotland-how-to-avoid-them/ I hope you’ll have a good time in Scotland 🙂
Paul Gilbey says
I would like to do the e500 in a vw t5 camper van . Is there a time to go or a time to avoid .?
Hi Paul, I think this post will give you some more info: http://www.scotlandinfo.eu/when-is-the-best-time-to-visit-the-scottish-highlands/
Hi 🙂 I’m planning a Winter trip to the Highlands. I went earlier this year at the end of March and there was a bit of snow however I’m hoping for a snowier trip. The weather can be very unpredictable but I was wondering if there’s any more snow in February than in March on average? I’m trying to balance the likelihood of snow with daylight hours
Hi Nadia, things look good right now but I realise that doesn’t help you. On average I would say you are right that February has more chance of snow and the days are already getting noticeably longer towards the end of the month too 🙂
Hi – I was wondering if it will be green the first week of April?
Winter has only just ended and there’s another cold spell on the way for this weekend, with snow. I think nature will be running behind at least a couple of weeks I’m afraid! Depending on where you are the “Greens” will appear probably later in April.
Hi, I think about a tour by motorbike for two weeks starting October 23rd.
Is this crazy?
Hi Andreas, I don’t think it’s crazy as long as you come properly prepared! You’ll likely have some rainy and windy days but often the weather can be quite ok in October. Hope this helps 🙂
L Powers says
Looking to come Nov 11-21. How will the weather be then? And things to do during this time.
Hi. I wish I could tell you how the weather would be in November. The weather is very unpredictable and the forecast can be somewhat unreliable! Usually November isn’t the greatest month weather wise. Please have a look on our Weather page for more info. I’m not sure which part you’re visiting so hard to say what’s going on.
Hi there! I’m hoping to take a ten-day trip to Scotland covering most of it’s wonderful Geography. Staying a few days in the Highlands as well.
It seems like most folks have already asked about the midges for all seasons so my questions are answered there, haha, but I’m currently torn between booking the trip May 27th – June 5th, or later September 16th – 25th.
In trying to decide between the two times, have a couple of questions:
-Since that late in May and into June it’s pretty much summer months, will the Heather and spring wildflowers still be in bloom? Or have passed on?
-Is there a lot of greenery in bloom in either of those two periods? Or would it still be in the process of growing and blooming in May / on its way out in September?
-Will mid September already be getting a bit cold/snowy in the Highlands?
-Which timeframe do you think would be less busy tourist-wise?
-Any exciting events that happen within either of those timeframes (or even a little bit later, we can shift to later if needed) that might sway the trip to be one time or the other?
Thanks very much! 🙂
Hi Chelsea, Spring flowers will very much be in bloom end of May early June although the Snow Drops (jan/Feb) and Daffodils (april) have bloomed by then. Heather however comes in August! I always feel that May/June has more flowers than end of September, also depending on where you are.
Weatherwise I myself would prefer end of May, especially on the west coast and the islands.
Usually September is still considered a summer(ish) month without any snow, although some more pessimistic folk will tell you that winter starts after August 🙂
There is lots going on all year long. Have a look at our Annual Events page for the most important happenings. Hope this helps 🙂
Very nice information about the Scotland described here ….. interesting indeed
Thank you so much
Could you b e more specific with each season in the Highlands? I am interested in early October to visit Scotland, including the Highlands.
We are planning a trip over Christmas and Hogmanay this year, and we are thinking of driving around between the Dark Skies Parks, Inverness, and Edinburgh. Is driving difficult around that time of year? How icy do the roads get – are they maintained quickly during inclement weather?
Thanks so much for any insight you can give!