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Best Time to Visit Scotland | When to Go & Travel Tips

Best Time to Visit Scotland | When to Go & Travel Tips

Are you taking a trip to Scotland? Doing research before planning your stay is a must to experience the best weather and the cheapest flights.

There’s a lot to explore at this top-notch vacation spot, and when you discover the best time to visit Scotland, it’ll be a vacation you won’t forget. We’ll show you the best time to visit Scotland, regardless of your plans.

This guide has you covered between medieval castles, majestic Scottish highlands, and how to land the most affordable rooms. 

Also, you’ll find out the worst time to visit Scotland, if there is such a thing, and additional tips for a smooth and ideal trip for a lifetime. Of course, the best time to visit Scotland is now, so let’s uncover fun facts and the best travel tips.

Why You Should Visit Scotland 

Old town Edinburgh and Edinburgh castle pictured in an aerial image during the best time to visit Scotland

f11photo/Shutterstock

Scotland is diverse with cities, countryside, villages, and mountains. If you’re interested in learning about Scottish culture or want to relax and take the views, cross this off your bucket list.

The country is popular for its events and festivals, famous castles, and whiskey distilleries. Whether you want to visit beaches or rolling hills, Scotland has something for everyone. 

Many people want to get the most out of a once-in-a-lifetime trip overseas. So, if you’re going to Scotland, learn what months fit you and this charming country best. Let’s dive deeper.

Overall Best Time to Visit

Traditional Scottish bagpiper in full dress during Summer, the best time to visit Scotland

Lukassek/Shutterstock

The best time to visit includes the end of March to May and September to November. However, spring and fall are the way to go if you want a perfect Scotland vacation with peak weather.

The average spring temperature ranges are pretty mild, from 43 degrees to 59 degrees Fahrenheit. Spring time also means snow on the mountains.

However, visiting between July and August will experience more daylight, especially in the north. Depending on what area you stay in during the summer, the average temperature hovers around 60 degrees.

For luscious fall foliage, you’ll want to travel in early November. However, it’s important to remember that many tourist attractions close around the middle of October for winter, and winter conditions from December to February make travel difficult.

However, the Scottish festival, Hogmanay, occurs for the New Year, with live music, fireworks, and fire dancers. 

Overall, you’ll want to visit around May for optimal mild weather, blooming flowers in the countryside, several festivals, and fewer crowds. So book your flight at least a few weeks early during high travel times.

Cheapest Time to Visit Scotland

Kilchurn Castle reflecting in the water in Loch Awe at Sunset during the cheapest time to visit Scotland

Swen Stroop/Shutterstock

For the cheapest deals, visit Scotland between November to mid-December and after Christmas until the middle of March.

If you travel to Scotland after the high season, you’ll receive plenty of perks. Not only do temperatures drop from the 40s in November to about April, but fewer people travel to Scotland, therefore prices and flights significantly.

So you’ll get a good deal by flying during the cheapest month in February. You can also fly during the week while saving around 20 percent extra for your hotel stay!

If you’re content with chilly temperatures and varying weather changes, you’ll save big when arriving during the cheapest time of year. Scotland isn’t only more affordable around certain months and less populated during particular times. 

Least Busy Time to Visit Scotland

For a piece on the best time to visit Scotland, pictured is an old brick bridge across the river in Sligachan

YuriFineart/Shutterstock

If you hate large crowds, you”ll want to travel during the spring. Even better? The off-season lasts from October to March. You’ll experience more rain, wind, and snow during the least busy times.

As a result, fewer open attractions, ferry boat ride tours, and less sunlight during the day. On average, expect 50-degree weather in October and low 40s in March. 

Flights range depending on what airline you fly, but during low times you’ll find deals online that are well $1000 or lower round trip per ticket. Avoid weekend flights for the best money-saver!

Worst Time to Visit Scotland

Old Leith Docks at dusk with a cloudy sky during the worst time to visit Scotland

Albert Pego/Shutterstock

Traditionally, November through January are some of the worst times to visit Scotland. However, the winter months are the worst travel time due to weather

Although it rarely snows, it’s the rainiest season compared to the rest of the year. The good news is that you will score great flights and hotel deals. To save big, search Kayak for flights, and try getting a hotel room slightly outside the city to save an extra 50 percent.

If you choose to book at a chain hotel in town, book through the hotel’s website, or get an Airbnb. Although May is generally the best time to travel cost and weather-wise, look out for midges as these creatures bite.

Midges gravitate towards damp and wooded areas as they hate sunlight. If you want to stay clear of these flying insects, avoid the Highlands and Scottish islands.

This is especially important between the end of May into the entire month of August. However, if you’re feeling brave, prepare with repellent, try to stay in the sunlight, and wear long sleeves. 

Things to Consider

Sunrise over Quiraing on the Isle of Sky during the least busy time to visit Scotland

Sara Winter/Shutterstock

There are things to consider before booking your dream Scotland getaway. From packing essentials to everything you can expect while touring, We’ve got you covered.

Below are some tips and tricks to know regarding your next trip. These include:

  • Bring a raincoat
  • Wear casual clothes, layers
  • Most people don’t wear kilts
  • Tip street performers, bagpipers
  • Visit Edinburgh and Glasgow
  • People speak English, accents
  • Don’t call Scottish people English
  • Locals are friendly
  • Souvenirs may not be authentic 
  • Many places close on Sunday
  • Buses require exact change
  • Get a ScotRail Travel Pass

Raincoats 

The weather in Scotland is unpredictable, and it rains a lot even if it appears to be sunny. So bring a raincoat, and it’s a good idea to bring waterproof shoes too. You can’t go wrong; also, since it does get windy, leave behind the umbrella.

Clothing 

The rain brings quick, chilly temperatures. Dressing in layers is practical. Speaking of comfort, you’ll see many people dress casually. So, leave your fancy, formal wear and heels at home.

Kilts 

You’ll see people in kilts, mainly in Edinburgh, but locals typically wear them for weddings and other special occasions. Though, you’ll see street performers decked out.

Bagpipers 

Bagpipers play on the streets, and it’s a nice gesture to tip! So bring extra for tips, snap a photo, and enjoy the music and surroundings. 

Visit Edinburgh and Glasgow 

With Edinburgh being the capital and Glasgow being the second largest city, visit both to experience the culture.

In addition, the two big cities are less than an hour apart, so it’s great for travel. One last thing, pronounce Edinburgh as Ed-in-burr-a or Edin-bra, and you’ll fit in nicely with the locals!

English Accents

People in Scotland may say unique words and phrases with an English accent. It’s sometimes hard to understand when locals speak fast, so you may ask them to repeat. You’ll hear “aye” and “nae” for yes and no, as well as “wee,” which means little.

Scottish vs. English 

While Scots speak English, Scotland isn’t England, and each has a separate heritage and culture. So avoid calling Scots English, as it’s offensive to their country. 

Locals

Locals are friendly, so don’t be afraid to smile and say hello. Scots tend to avoid conflict and arguments. 

Souvenirs 

To save money, you must know certain souvenir shops contain authentic Scottish items, and some don’t. For example, many t-shirts come from China, especially on the streets of Edinburgh. For quality souvenirs made in Scotland, keep an eye for smaller shops away from tourist hot spots.

Sunday Sabbath

In many Scotland areas, Sunday is the day for rest, including shops. So while you won’t find a Sunday newspaper lying around, tourist attractions, hotels, and bars may remain open. However, hours may reduce and close early. 

Buses 

Be prepared to pay in exact change, as many buses in Edinburgh don’t give change back. Look for bus fares at each bus stop. 

Get a Travel Pass 

Public transportation adds up, and the ScotRail Travel Pass is good for buses, ferries, and trains. In addition, there are different ticket bundles for a certain amount of days for unlimited travel!

Frequently Asked Questions

Highland Mountains pictured during the best time to visit Scotland with warm weather and few clouds in the sky

Kanuman/Shutterstock

Now, let’s go over some of the best, frequently asked questions regarding Scotland and visiting one of the world’s most magnificent areas.

What locations make up the Scotland region? 

There are three divided areas:

  • The Highlands in the north.
  • The central lowlands, Midland Valley.
  • The lowlands, Southern Uplands.

How many total regions are there in Scotland?

Scotland has many regional areas for local government administration. Today, there are 32 Council areas.

What’s the top Scotland attraction to visit?

The National Museum of Scotland is the number one attraction located in Edinburgh. It offers year-round exhibits filled with ancient artifacts.

Scotland is home to many castles, but how many?

There are over 1,500 Scotland castles that encompass its long, rich history and styles of architecture.

What’s the oldest castle in the area?

The oldest castle is Castle Sween, built in the 1100s near Loch Sween. People lived in the historic castle for around 500 years.

What race makes up the Scotland population?

Scotland is predominantly white at a whopping 96 percent. However, people who classify themselves as African, Asian, Caribbean, or mixed grew recently to 4 percent.

What is Scotland famous for as a country?

Scotland is famous for its whisky, and it’s their national drink. Since the 11th century, whiskey production has been a Scottish staple.

Is Scotland Safe?

For the most part, Scotland is a safe country to visit. There are preventive measures like many other places in the world. While no location is 100 percent secure, the risk is mild.

Can I drink the tap water?

Not only is tap water safe to drink in Scotland, it’s safer than bottled water. You can feel comfortable drinking tap water because the water in some regions of the land is from mountain reservoirs.

What are some of the top traditional Scottish food items?

In Scotland, you must try traditional food such as haggis, Scottish porridge, neeps and tatties, stovies, and the cock-a-leekie soup.

How pricey is the food?

Prices vary, and food is no exception. The average daily cost is around £31, equating to $37.77 in the United States. Dining is expensive, but breakfast items tend to be cheaper.

Is Scotland expensive?

While a trip to Scotland is expensive, expect to spend at least $95 to $170 US dollars each day upon landing. So the average couple spends roughly $2,566 for a week-long, seven-day Scotland trip.

Can I use my United States cash in Scotland?

Scotland uses the British pound sterling, which you’ll exchange your United States dollars to equal pounds. However, if you try to use dollars, you’ll have difficulty finding shops and restaurants that accept American money.

When should I exchange American money for proper currency?

While you can exchange your money at an airport kiosk or wait until you’re at the destination, it’s better to do it ahead of time. Rates are lower when you exchange at your home bank.

Where in Scotland is considered the most beautiful place to visit?

The Isle of Skye is an image you won’t forget. Connected by a bridge, it’s famous for its landscapes, fishing, and castles. You’ll see green, brown, and purple colors for a picturesque escape.

How many days should I book for a Scotland vacation?

For a full itinerary, it’s best to plan a ten-day trip. But, first, look into the Best of Scotland tour, which includes a couple of days of sightseeing on the streets of Edinburgh.

What should I know to prepare for a Scotland vacation?

One of the first things to do is start planning ahead of time, as it’s never too early, especially if you need a new passport. It’s essential to book everything in advance, have an itinerary, and have extra time for downtime and activities.

What country travels to Scotland the most?

People from all over the globe visit Scotland’s sights. Many Scotland tourists come from Europe, but the majority come from The United States, with around 418,000 people annually.

Are jeans an acceptable clothing item?

Yes, you can wear jeans day or night. Wear jeans and a dressy top with flats or boots, and you’re all set for a formal look. But, of course, if you’re a guy, chinos or jeans will do with most shoes; leave the hiking boots behind.

Who do I call for healthcare advice in a non-emergency setting?

Speak to the National Health Service by pressing 111 for immediate healthcare advice. The NHS is Scotland’s public healthcare system.

How do I act more like a local and less of a tourist?

Don’t drink whisky in shot glasses, or buy the typical tourist Scottish outfit you’ll find at gift shops. If you’re not Scottish, don’t pretend to have an accent. Lastly, don’t complain about the rainy, gloomy weather.

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

While you can see Scotland any time of year, each season has pros, cons, and plenty of excitement. May or June is your best bet for an all-around pleasurable holiday for your buck and mild weather. Happy travels!