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The Best & Worst Times to Visit Scotland in 2024

The Best & Worst Times to Visit Scotland in 2024

What's the best time to visit Scotland?

The best times to visit Scotland are in the spring and fall when there’s a higher chance of good weather and fewer crowds. Late spring and early fall offer warm but not too hot temperatures, clear days, and lower precipitation, making them ideal for exploring the country.

Spring is especially great for hiking and spotting wildlife, while fall is known for its beautiful foliage. However, if you’re a festival enthusiast, summer is the best time to visit, with famous events like the Edinburgh Fringe and the Highland Games in July and August.

The majestic land of Scotland, to the far north of the United Kingdom, is a beautiful place to visit for lovers of history, nature, and much more.

Scotland has something for everyone. Lovers of history and culture can spend ages in its cities, from moody medieval Edinburgh with its royal palaces to gritty, industrial Glasgow. Its Highlands boast spectacular landscapes perfect for hiking and wandering.

The landscapes hide all sorts of treasures, from whiskey distilleries to a glimpse of the Northern Lights. But when should you visit Scotland to make the most of your trip? We’ll show you this and more in our complete guide below.

The Overall Best Time to Visit Scotland

Gorgeous hilltop view of Calton Hill in Edinburgh, seen during the spring or summer, the best times to visit Scotland

Richie Chan/Shutterstock

The best time to visit Scotland is in the spring or fall, which has the highest chance of good weather and the fewest crowds, making it perfect for exploring the whole country.

Meanwhile, summer is the best time for festival lovers to visit. Late spring and early fall actually have the best weather in Scotland, which may surprise many visitors who come in the summer expecting warm, sunny days.

Temperatures are warm but not too hot, and the days are often clear. According to the official Scotland tourism bureau, spring is actually the season with the least rain in Scotland.

March, April, and May average only 48 mm of rain. Spring is followed closely by fall, which also has low precipitation averages. Summer is Scotland’s rainiest season.

Scotland has a temperate oceanic climate that is greatly affected by the weather blowing in from the Atlantic Ocean. Its exposure to the ocean means that the weather is unpredictable even though temperatures are relatively mild.

Whenever you come, expect rain, but if you can, minimize your chances of getting rained out by visiting during the spring or fall. Spring is one of the best seasons for hiking in the Scottish Highlands and in the rest of the countryside.

Wildflowers such as snowdrops bloom, providing such a welcome sign that winter is over that there is even an official Scottish Snowdrop Festival. Spring is also the best time to spot wildlife while on hikes. Migrating birds such as ospreys begin returning to Scotland then.

The fall is a popular time to spend time outdoors, thanks to the beautiful foliage. Get beautiful photos by wandering through some of Scotland’s national forests and regions such as Perthshire.

Spring and fall are the best months for outdoor activities such as:

  • Golfing
  • Hiking
  • Kayaking
  • Foraging
  • Rock climbing
  • Horseback riding

However, if your main goal is to check out Scotland’s festival scene, not its nature, then summer is the best time to visit. July and August host Scotland’s most famous events, including:

Cheapest Time to Visit Scotland

Photo of pedestrians walking along the street during the winter in Glasgow during the overall cheapest time to visit Scotland

Glasgow / Scotland – February 15, 2019: Pedestrians walking along the brightly lit Buchanan street in the city centre at night/Jennifer Sophie/Shutterstock

The cheapest time to visit Scotland is between January and March, although you can also find good deals in late fall. Between October and April is the low season in Scotland because the cooler, darker weather tends to decrease demand for tourism.

Many tourism-oriented businesses close during the off-season, and those that remain open decrease their prices to accommodate those tourists brave enough to venture into a Scottish winter.

Winter is not entirely cheap in Scotland. Prices (and crowds) tend to increase around Christmas and New Year’s Eve (Hogmanay) as the holidays are a popular time to visit, especially in Edinburgh. Outside of the holidays, you can generally find good deals in Scotland.

You can even find deals on high-end Edinburgh hotels for 20%–30% cheaper than their peak prices. If you are flying into Scotland, January–March is also the cheapest time to do so.

Once the holiday rush is over, flight prices decrease and stay low until early April, when the tourist season slowly begins to wake up. If you still want to catch some of the good weather, the best time to visit is during the fall.

After September, when families send their kids back to school, there is less demand for tourism. Many businesses lower their rates to try and extend the tourism season as much as possible, and you can find good deals in October and November.

Least Busy Time to Visit Scotland

Old street in Melrose, Scotland during the least busy time to visit


The least busy time to visit Scotland is winter when few visitors are brave enough to brave the cold, but you can avoid crowds well into spring.

Winter is long, cold, dark, and damp in Scotland—hardly a compelling argument for visiting. However, those who do visit can find remote landscapes with nary another wanderer and few crowds, even in Edinburgh and Glasgow’s most popular attractions.

If you do arrive in winter, you can see Scotland from a unique perspective. The snow-capped peaks of Ben Nevis and other Scottish mountains are truly spectacular sights.

Winter is a particularly good season to go stargazing, and lucky visitors can even catch the Northern Lights. If you want to avoid crowds but also catch some warmer weather, then spring is a good time to visit.

Spring is a particularly good time to visit the islands, where you can catch a glimpse of a more traditional way of life that is more visible before the tourist crowds come in. Take photos on the beautiful beaches or follow the rituals of traditional life, such as lambing.

Worst Time to Visit Scotland

Photo of crowds making their way down the city center in Glasgow, Scotland

GLASGOW, SCOTLAND – MAY 27: People walking in centre of city on May 27, 2018 in Glasgow/Jaroslav Moravcik/Shutterstock

If your main priority is avoiding bad weather, winter is the worst time to visit, while summer should also be avoided if you dislike crowds.

Winter in Scotland is a test of endurance. The days are short, and the nights are long, with the sun setting well before 4 P.M. in the north. The weather isn’t always cold, but it is chilly, and it rains often.

Many hotels, tour operators, and even historical sites close for the season, so you may not be able to see what you planned to see.

However, winter is the best time to visit to save money and beat the crowds—and for a cozy experience. Scots warm up with traditional festivals, such as Hogmanay in December and Burns Night on January 25th.

Winter is a great time to catch local festivals, which are often full of traditional Celtic music and bonfires. These festivals are geared for locals, as opposed to summer’s tourism-oriented festivals.

Unless you are coming with the goal of seeing one of the popular festivals, summer is the worst time to visit Scotland. Edinburgh in August is an expensive, overcrowded mass, and many Scots avoid the city, if possible, in the summer.

Even in the countryside, coach tours and day trippers flood popular attractions, making a trip to Scotland in the summer frustrating. That being said, summer is one of the best times to visit the islands in the far north. The weather is warmest, and the days are the longest.

Avoid the most touristy islands, such as the Isle of Skye, and you can still have a good time. Although the water never truly warms up, summer is the best season to explore Scotland’s coast.

Frequently Asked Questions

Red carriage of the Glennfinnan Railway in Scotland, pictured during the best time to visit the country

Marcin Kadziolka/Shutterstock

Still have questions about the best time to visit Scotland? Here are some answers:

What is the best month to travel to Scotland?

The best month to travel to Scotland is September, when the weather is beautiful—you can catch the beginning of the fall foliage, and the crowds are diminishing.

What is the cheapest time of year to visit Scotland?

The cheapest time of year to visit Scotland is during the mid-late winter (January–late March), when the holidays are over and the country’s low season sets in.

What are the rainiest months in Scotland?

The rainiest months in Scotland are actually the summer months of June, July, and August, although this varies depending on the location.

So, What’s the Best Time to Visit Scotland?

The best time to visit Scotland is during spring or fall when you are guaranteed the best weather and the crowds thin out. However, there’s something to see no matter what season you visit.