Want to know the best times to visit Scotland? Our top picks of things to do each month will help you decide.
Whether you dream of hiking in the Highlands, winter sports adventures or revelling at one of Scotland’s fantastic festivals, certain months are best. We’ve even included the average temperature to give you an idea of what to expect. For any events and venues mentioned, please check dates and opening times before travelling.
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Visiting Scotland in January has several advantages. To start with it’s cheaper and quieter. Any part of the country could get snow too, perfect if you love winter wonderland scenery.
Snow is pretty much guaranteed at ski destinations such as Glencoe Mountain Resort. For an adrenaline rush, head to The Snow Sports School that offers group and private lessons for all abilities.
Meanwhile, on 25th January, Scotland celebrates Burns Night to pay tribute to the national poet, Robert Burns. Special Burns Night dinner menus are great for sampling Scottish cuisine including haggis, neeps, tatties and a wee dram of whisky.
As a guide, the average temperature in Scotland in January is 2 to 8°C.
Spring is on its way and many of Scotland’s finest gardens and woodlands celebrate with the annual Snowdrop Festival. Seeing swathes of these tiny white blooms bursting into life, often through the snow, is a beautiful sight.
Visit the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh, regarded as one of the best botanic gardens in the world, for stunning displays including specialist snowdrops.
Or tie your snowdrop viewing in with a visit to one of Scotland’s finest historic homes, Scone Palace in Perthshire. From early February the gardens reopen for visitors to enjoy the mass of snowdrops that shoot up along the Old Drive.
As a guide, the average temperature in Scotland in February is 2 to 8°C.
As winter begins to fade into the past, March is one of the best times for getting out in the countryside. One of the nicest ways to explore is by bike, especially as the roads are generally quieter at this time of year as the main tourist season is yet to begin.
There are many beautiful places for cycling, but the Isle of Arran, often called ‘Scotland in miniature’ is a fantastic place to head to for the day. You can take the ferry from Ardossan and be on the island in under an hour.
Spend the day admiring the scenery that comprises mountains, forests, beaches and glens and be sure to treat yourself to a delicious lunch somewhere with a stunning sea view before you leave.
As a guide, the average temperature in Scotland in March is 3 to 10°C.
By early April, many of Scotland’s castles, of which there are hundreds, have opened their doors to visitors. From ancient fortresses to atmospheric ruins, there is a diverse selection to tempt you.
Fall in love with Urquhart Castle, a ruined silhouette set on the shore of the world-famous Loch Ness. Or head to Inveraray Castle in Argyll, home of the Dukes of Argyll and the seat of the Clan Campbell. It looks like it was plucked straight from the pages of fairy-tale book.
Meanwhile, Edinburgh Castle brims with royal history and you can easily spend a few hours here. Time your visit to Edinburgh for 30th April and you can also witness the spectacular Beltane Fire Festival held on Calton Hill.
As a guide, the average temperature in Scotland in April is 5 to 13°C.
If you love whisky, the fact that World Whisky Day is held in May (on the third Saturday of the month), is the perfect excuse to visit Scotland at this time. A number of whisky festivals take place across the land from the isles to the Highlands.
You should also include a trip to a whisky distillery in your trip and there are many to choose from. Whether you’re looking to sample fine malts in the Scottish Highlands, or learn more about the distilling process, many offer a range of tours and tasting experiences.
Golf season also officially starts in May, so why not book your tees at one of the famous golf courses such as Turnberry or St Andrews.
As a guide, the average temperature in Scotland in May is 7 to 16°C.
Summer gets us in the mood for partying and merrymaking. If you like good music, the four-day Glasgow International Jazz Festival held in June showcases a variety of local and international artists and bands at locations across the city.
June is also a good time of year for hiking in the countryside in Scotland. Trees and flowers are blooming, there’s plenty of wildlife and the temperature is usually ideal – never too hot. To whet your appetite, enjoy walks amongst the dramatic scenery of Glencoe or the forests of the Highlands.
As a guide, the average temperature in Scotland in June is 10 to 18°C.
July is one of the best months to visit the coast of Scotland. Water sports enthusiasts can enjoy everything from sea kayaking off the west coast to paddleboarding.
There are lots of scenic and sightseeing trips to enjoy too, where you can look for wildlife and sea birds, enjoy the breeze through your hair and breathe in the salty air.
For something completely thrilling, hop aboard a boat bound for the mighty Corryvreckan whirlpool. It’s said to be the third largest whirlpool in the world and not for the faint-hearted.
As a guide, the average temperature in Scotland in July is 12 to 20°C.
Festival season is now in full swing and one event that draws visitors from far and wide is the Edinburgh Fringe that showcases artists and performers from comedians to musicians.
However, for something different, that’s steeped in tradition, you must witness the Highland Games. Part of the Scottish culture for centuries, Highland towns such as Dundonald, host their Highland Games in August and visitors are always welcome.
Observe the truly unique spectacle of pipers piping and Scottish dancing, alongside tug o’ war, caber-tossing and Scottish hammer-throwing.
As a guide, the average temperature in Scotland in August is 12 to 19°C.
Visiting the lochs in September is a great idea, (especially as midge season is beginning to die down). Whether you want to get on the water or admire the views from the shore, stunning scenery is guaranteed.
Head to Loch Lomond to discover the myths and legends of its islands on a sightseeing cruise with an expert guide. Or take a walk on part of the trail that surrounds Loch Ness – be sure to keep your eyes peeled for Nessie as you go.
As a guide, the average temperature in Scotland in September is 10 to 17 °C.
The Cairngorms National Park is one of the best places in Scotland to visit in autumn. From the rich golds, reds and oranges of the leaves on the deciduous trees, to the huge pine forests, from the sparkling lochs to the misty moorlands, the views are constantly changing.
It’s a paradise for walkers who come to enjoy the fresh air, for photographers who love the autumn light and for wildlife-lovers. You may even hear the roars of the red deer stag rut. Quite a spectacle, the rut is when stags fight each other in order to win over a female. Do remember though that the temperature in the mountains is usually cooler that the average for Scotland.
As a guide, the average temperature in Scotland in October is 7 to 13°C.
To embrace Scottish traditions, make sure you are in Scotland for St Andrew’s Day on 30th November. You’ll find a varied line up of events and celebrations taking place in almost every village, town and city.
As a national holiday, St Andrew’s Day is a big deal. The best of Scottish culture is celebrated through ceilidh dancing, traditional music and parties with lots of delicious Scottish food such as smoked haddock followed by clootie dumpling and custard.
As a guide, the average temperature in Scotland in November is 4 to 9°C.
Treat yourself to a pre-Christmas break full of shopping, fun and festivities. Every year the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh opens its festive garden where you can book tickets for the illuminated trail through tunnels, past the lake and under trees decorated with Christmas lights. It’s pure magic.
Whilst in the city, Edinburgh Christmas Market, considered one of the UK’s best, is a must. Take the opportunity to pick up unique Christmas presents, take a whirl on the vintage carousel and generally get into the festive spirit.
As a guide, the average temperature in Scotland in December is 2 to 7°C.
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