When to Visit Scotland – What You Need to Know

The Fairy Pools, Isle of Skye

When to visit Scotland depends heavily on region, time of year, and what you are looking to do. The country is awash in seasonal activities, varied weather patterns, and cultural festivals specific to certain times of the year.

Here you will find insights on when and how to visit Scotland broken up by region to begin planning your next adventure!

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Spring is a beautiful time of year to visit Scotland for the clean fresh air, the mountains, lochs and countryside in all their scenic splendor. Summer is another great time to visit Scotland due to the warmer weather and abundant cultural festivals.

Autumn is a great time of year to visit the countryside with its mixture of beautiful gold and brown colors dominating the landscape. When winter comes many tourists visit Scotland to sample the shopping in the two largest cities – Glasgow and Edinburgh. There are also ample winter activities and celebrations that keep travelers coming.

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Edinburgh and the Central Lowlands

The cities of Edinburgh, Glasgow and Dundee (together with numerous towns) make up most of the population, and the majority of Scotland’s industry are located within the Central Lowlands.

This broad valley averages 50 miles across and runs across the center of the country.  It is geologically distinct from the surrounding regions, being composed of Devonian Old Red Sandstone, peppered with ancient volcanoes.

Summer in Edinburgh and the Central Lowlands

Summer sees the world’s largest arts festival with the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. The festival is held annually, usually in mid-late August and last three full weeks. The entire city comes alive with shows, concerts, unique displays, street performers, and demonstrations of all kinds.

The warmer weather of summer also provides the perfect time to take advantage of the natural beauty of the central lowlands. Hike, bike, canoe, horseback ride, take a scenic drive, or enjoy some world-renowned golf at one of the many courses, including the historic St. Andrews.

Winter in Edinburgh and the Central Lowlands

Another good time to visit the major cities of Edinburgh and Glasgow would be winter. Shopping and fantastic winter festivities make the cities a hub for travelers in the colder months, also the Christmas Markets in Edinburgh are world famous.

If you enjoy the holidays you will not want to miss the Hogmanay parties all over Scotland. The oldest and most traditional can be found in the wee village of Stonehaven, just outside Aberdeen.

Related: Top Things to See & Do in Edinburgh

The Highlands and Islands

Scotland’s Highland region, covering the northern two-thirds of the country, holds much of the mainland’s most spectacular scenery.

You may be surprised at just how remote much this area can be. The vast peat bogs in the north, for example, are among the most extensive and unspoiled wilderness areas in Europe, while a handful of the west coast’s isolated crofting villages can still be reached only by boat.


Summer in The Highlands

The summer is a perfect time to visit the Highlands if you want to see the countryside.  The warm weather allows full access to the country’s most spectacular scenery. Summer also has a full calendar of Highland Games, including the North Berwick International Highland Games, and the Cowal Gathering, the largest of the Games events.

Related: Top Things to See in the Highlands


Fall in The Highlands

The fall also provides a good time to visit the Highlands due to the spectacular colors dominating the countryside. You’ll find entire hillsides covered in brightly blooming heather.  Summer events give way to the more relaxed pace of our Autumn events, like the Scottish Countryside Festival in Glamis.

Winter in The Highlands

There are also many visitors coming to the Highlands in the winter months to enjoy the fantastic slopes and cold weather activities. Skiing in particular is a big draw with a handful of well groomed slopes around the country.

Southern Uplands

In general terms, the Southern Uplands are the fertile plains and hills bordering England.  The region boasts magnificent scenery, albeit of a much gentler nature than that found in the Highlands; the highest peak in the area is only 2763 feet high.

Southern Uplands

Spring and Summer in the Southern Uplands

Spring and summer is a great time to explore this area. You’ll discover friendly towns and picturesque villages, as well as castles, old abbeys, stately homes, and museums that illustrate the exciting history of the area.

It’s that history which is commemorated in the horse Common Ridings held every year by various towns from June-August.

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