The Best Time To Visit Scotland Is Late Spring or Early Autumn (…Or Is It?)

Trying to figure out the best time to visit Scotland? Find answers here, as well as all the info you need to pick the best time to visit for YOU.

In my opinion, the best time to visit Scotland is late spring.

However, I’m always reluctant to suggest the “best time” to go somewhere…

There are pros and cons to every season, and different people seek different things, so there’s never a black-and-white answer!

In this post, I’ll do my best to describe what Scotland is like throughout the year. With any luck, that’ll give you the info you need to decide when will be best for you.

best time to visit Scotland
Ready to discover when is the best time to visit Scotland? Let’s take a look. Photo Credit: Deposit Photos.

When Is the Best Time To Visit Scotland?

Most people say the best time to visit Scotland is late spring or early autumn. Think May, June, September or October.

Go then, and you’ll enjoy long-ish days, warm-ish weather, a high chance of sunshine, fewer tourists than peak summer, and access to most quintessential Scottish attractions. Prices should also be slightly cheaper compared to July and August.

Is This Really the Best Time To Go to Scotland?

While there are countless reasons to explore Scotland in the shoulder seasons, other incentives exist to go at different times of the year. Let’s examine both sides of the argument…

Yes – May, June, September, and October Are Best

On the one hand, these months are undeniably a great time to visit. Late spring and early autumn are gorgeous, there’s heaps to do, and midges – the bane of outdoor life in Scotland – are less likely to ruin the fun.

Scotland’s weather also tends to be best in spring.

While the temperature will still be crisp, you’re more likely to have sunny and dry days. The result is a vibrant landscape filled with life and flowers.

Midge season’s coming up, but there shouldn’t be too many yet, either.

In September and October, rainfall increases and temperatures drop, but the weather’s still much more pleasant than the winter months. Likewise, you’re in for a treat if you love fall foliage. And the best part?

You can enjoy it now the midge season’s over.

That’s a big deal. A few weeks earlier, giant swarms of these tiny biting insects would have made life miserable in certain places.

It’ll be quieter, as well. Crowds in Scotland aren’t as hectic as other places, such as UK bucket list destinations like the Lake District. That makes sightseeing far more enjoyable.

But Scotland still welcomes over 3 million international visitors a year. This means it can feel busy in peak season (July and August) – especially in the most popular tourist destinations, such as Edinburgh or the Isle of Skye.

Best Time To Go to Scotland
Deciding when to visit Scotland isn’t always straightforward. Photo Credit: Deposit Photos.

No – Other Times Are Better (Or at Least as Good)

Despite all that, late spring and early fall aren’t the best times to visit Scotland for everyone.

For example, you might want to go skiing in the Cairngorms. To do that, you have to visit from November to March/April. Most snow falls in January, so going in the New Year would make more sense.

Of course, Scotland’s famous for its wild, wet, and dreary weather. You can get caught in a downpour all year round, regardless of season.

However, July and August are best if you want the highest chance of sunshine and blue skies. Crowds and midges be damned.

Oh, and did you know you can see the northern lights in Scotland?

Although the phenomenon does occur in October, it’s more common in late autumn and winter, when the nights are longer and darker.

Then there are Scotland’s festivals and events to consider.

One of the most famous is the Edinburgh Fringe. This huge celebration of the arts takes place every August. Then you have St. Andrew’s Day and Hogmanay (Scotland’s New Year celebration) – two other significant cultural events you miss by travelling at the “best time to visit Scotland.”

The International Book Festival, Film Festival, Art Festival, and the Jazz and Blues Festival are a few more.

If you want to experience these cultural events in Scotland, tourist season is the best time to go.

when to visit Scotland
In the following section, we’ll run through the key factors to consider when deciding when to visit Scotland… Photo Credit: Deposit Photos.

Key Factors to Consider When Visiting Scotland

So, what are the key factors to consider when deciding when to visit Scotland? Let’s break them down:


Most people decide when to go somewhere based on the weather. That’s trickier in Scotland, though…

The country’s famously rainy.

The season doesn’t matter, either – it’s wetter and colder in winter, but summer’s hardly Mediterranean!

In July/August, temperatures hover around 15°C, and there are at least 10 days of rain on average each month.

For the best shot at staying dry, stick to the east of the country in spring. Scotland’s topography means it’s drier than the west (and the highlands), and, statistically speaking, spring is the driest season.

Be sure to consider the weather if you plan on going hiking, camping, and so on. Places like the Scottish Highlands are wild, wet, and windy. You’ll want the best possible conditions to stay safe and have fun.

Daylight Hours

Days vary hugely in length throughout the year in Scotland.

At the heart of winter, you might get 6 hours of daylight. You can get over 17 in the middle of summer.

And sometimes, it never gets completely dark. These so-called “white nights” occur between May and August, depending on where you are.

Anyone wanting more time to explore should visit Scotland from spring onwards. But if you want cosy nights around a fire, sipping whiskey and/or cocoa, after days spent skiing…winter’s best.

Events and Activities

Scotland’s events calendar is so long and varied that there’s always masses to do.

Many events are seasonal, though. So, when choosing the best time to visit, think about what you’re most desperate to see.

Maybe you’ve always wanted to celebrate Hogmanay? Or to go to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival? Or see the Aurora Borealis?

If so, you’ll have to time the trip accordingly.

Same for the Highland Games. Nicely, it’s a season of events that starts in May and continues until the end of September, meaning you can still see them if you go in late spring or early fall.

Nevertheless, most events happen in July and August, making the summer months more conducive to watching them live.

Budget and Crowds

Weather and events aren’t the only things that change with the seasons in Scotland. Queues, crowds, and prices do, too.

The busiest and most expensive time in Scotland is high season. That means summer – late June through August or thereabouts.

The quietest and cheapest time to visit is low season, meaning late fall and winter – from November through to April.

The weather might suck. But you can expect no queues at attractions, fewer crowds in big cities, no trouble finding places to stay, and rooms/activities available at budget-friendly prices.

The period(s) many say are best for visiting Scotland are its shoulder seasons. May to June and September to October both offer an excellent balance in terms of affordability, crowds, and weather.

A word of warning, though:

Many tourist attractions, restaurants, and hotels close for winter. You might notice it from late October. Consider going earlier in the year to ensure everything you want to see/do will be open.

Explore Scotland
Searching for a hassle-free way to discover Scotland? A guided tour could be the answer. Photo Credit: Deposit Photos.

Consider Exploring Scotland the Easy Way

Moving around, finding accommodation, and deciding what to do in a new place can be a pain – especially when you lack time and are exploring a country as laden with activities as Scotland.

If you want a simpler way to see the best bits at the best time, you could join a small group tour from G Adventures.

For example, their Highlights of Scotland tour ticks off a number of items on this list, including Edinburgh, the Isle of Skye, and Fort William. They also have a History and Highlands tour that lasts a bit longer.

Both take you to a curated list of top attractions and take care of your transport, accommodation, and activities.

In other words, you get an epic trip to Scotland with zero hassle.

Never heard of G Adventures? Don’t worry, you’d be in good hands. This tour company has been a leader in small-group adventure travel for almost 30 years.

They take people all over the world, using local guides to showcase the very best of each country. Expect unique experiences in stunning destinations, with the logistics taken care of, and a group of like-minded companions to share the adventure with.

Here’s a Reddit thread where people who have been on their tours discuss what they liked/disliked.

Click here to learn more about their trips to Scotland.

Pick the Best Time to Visit Scotland for You

There you have it, then: a detailed look at the best time to visit Scotland.

Whether you were looking for a short answer or a long one, I hope the info here has shed light on when would be best for you.

Looking for more posts like this? You might like exploring these famous landmarks in the UK.

Author: Danny Newman

Title: Writer and Content Creator

Expertise: Travel, Digital Nomadry, Outdoors, Blogging

Danny Newman is a writer, content creator, and digital nomad from the UK. He founded the travel and lifestyle blog What’s Danny Doing, a popular resource for people seeking more adventure, self-discovery, and purpose. A nationally syndicated writer, Danny’s work features in dozens of online publications, including and news sites across the US.