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. I have been to Scotland over a dozen times and I’m still finding amazing places to visit.
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. As a personal opinion, the best time to visit the Scottish countryside is autumn with its mixture of beautiful gold and brown colors dominating the landscape. When winter comes many tourists visit Scotland just to sample the shopping experience that the two largest cities have to offer, Glasgow and Edinburgh. However, there are ample winter activities that keep travelers coming to Scotland.
Below you will find when to visit Scotland by region to help you plan your trip!
Edinburgh and the Central Lowlands – Year Round
The cities of Edinburgh, Glasgow and Dundee together with numerous towns, 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 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 entire weeks. The entire city comes alive with shows, displays, and demonstrations of all types.
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 the historic St. Andrews course.
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. If you enjoy the holidays you will not want to miss Edinburgh Hogmanay Party.
The Highlands and Islands – Summer
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 of it still is: 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.
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.
The fall also provides a good time to visit the Highlands due to the spectacular colors dominating the countryside. Summer events give way to the more relaxed pace of our Autumn events, like the Scottish Countryside Festival in Glamis.
There are also many visitors coming to the Highlands in the winter months to enjoy the fantastic slopes and cold weather activities.
Related: Top Things to See in the Highlands
Southern Uplands – Spring & Summer
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. Covering about eighteen hundred square miles, the Scottish Borders stretches from the rolling hills and moorland in the west, through gentler valleys to the rich agricultural plains of the east, and on to the rocky Berwickshire coastline with its secluded coves and picturesque fishing villages.
Spring and summer is a great time to explore this area where you’ll discover friendly towns and picturesque villages, as well as the castles, abbeys, stately homes and museums that illustrate the exciting and often bloody history of the area. It’s that history which is commemorated in the Common Ridings held every year by various towns from June-August.