Last Updated on 29 July 2022
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When is the best time to visit Scotland?
Having visited more times than I’ve had hot dinners, I am possibly the world’s biggest advocate for the Scottish Highlands. There are some incredibly pretty places in Scotland and visiting truly does give you the space to disconnect from the daily hustle and bustle of life (in part because the signal is often quite shady). Because no one likes scrolling through masses of information trying to find the simple answer to the above question, I’m going to cut to the chase and then get into the seasonal nitty-gritty below… In my humble opinion, the best time to visit Scotland is March-May or September/October. If you wish to know more about when to visit Scotland, then please grab a cuppa and keep on reading!
When to visit the Scottish Highlands for: Less crowds and springtime colours
Average daytime temperature: 7°C-13°C
Spring falls over Scotland from March through to May causing the foliage to erupt into a rainbow of springtime colours. If you’re wondering when is the best time to visit Scotland to avoid crowds, the earlier part of Spring is probably it. Over the years, the enchanting Scottish Highlands have become a pretty popular place, so you can expect to see tourists year-round. But in the earlier parts of Spring when the days are still deceptively chilly, the crowds are perhaps less so. Do be mindful that if you are doing a motorhome trip through Scotland as many do due to the world-renowned NC500 route, some of the sites may not be open until the latter part of the season.
Tip: Before visiting, be sure to check out the 7 most beautiful lochs in Scotland and incorporate them into your Scotland itinerary!
When to visit Scotland for: Sunshine (and pesky midges)
Average daytime temperature: 15°C-17°C
June-August sees the summer sunshine in Scotland and although the sun may appeal, there are what could be considered as a couple of drawbacks to visiting during this season. You’ve probably heard of the infamous Highland midge and so may be wondering when to visit Scotland to avoid midges – well, the quick answer is anytime BUT the summer! You might think that insect repellents and citronella candles are enough to keep them away but you’d be wrong, especially if you’re in the Highlands near boggy areas or water, and this is likely to negatively impact your Scottish experience. Furthermore, these months coincide with the European summer holidays, making it a busier and pricier season.
Tip: In my experience, if you visit in late-Spring or early-Autumn and have a particularly sunny day, you may find that the Highland midges come out but they won’t be too much of a bother (unlike in the summer). Winter is a no-go for midges, because it’s too cold.
When to go to Scotland for: Wildlife and autumn foliage
Average daytime temperature: 8°C-14°C
If you’re wondering when to visit Scotland for wildlife, then Autumn (or Fall) is probably for you. Autumn in Scotland coincides with the rut season – a time where competing Stags will work to become the dominator in order to win over the Hinds (female deer) so he can eventually mate with them. One of the things you will hear, especially during October (in my experience) usually early in the morning or as dusk approaches, is Stags bellowing at each other across the mountains to indicate their territory. And like Spring, Autumn is another beautiful season to visit due to the vibrant autumnal colours which sweep across the countryside and mountains.
When to visit Scotland for: Snow (but potential inconveniences)
Average daytime temperature: 5°C
If you’re wondering when is the best time to go to Scotland for the chance of snow, your best bet is during the winter months. And although winter can be a magical time to visit Scotland (especially if you are there and it’s a white Christmas, which I have been lucky enough to be as a wee girl), I’m going to be a party pooper and bring you back to reality. If snow does fall which can be likely in the Scottish Highlands, this can make some roads impassable causing them to shut, like the A9 or the Applecross Road (Bealach Na Ba). Furthermore, icy conditions can be common and this can be difficult to navigate on single track roads. If you want to explore Scotland without any delays, then perhaps winter is not for you.
Tip: There are many single track roads in the Scottish Highlands. This is particularly common in Glens and there are usually many passing points. However, don’t be surprised if you end up driving on what is listed as an A road on your map, and its single track!
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