The Best Time of Year to Visit Scotland, For Every Type of Traveller

30th October 2023

Summer… just hearing the word brings sunny days and, long evenings to the forefront of your mind. Yet, what if we told you that whilst the summer still is the most popular time to take a vacation, travel to Scotland in its quieter seasons should not be underestimated? Each Scottish season has a different call, that hails a different kind of traveller. Allow us to show you the best time of year to visit Scotland, for each type of traveller:

For Those Who Would Like the Place to Themselves:

Scotland’s breathtaking landscapes are the perfect place to retreat to in order to connect with nature again. Part of Scotland’s appeal is its untouched beauty and secluded glens. While the summer is by no means packed, the quietest time of year is of course the winter. So, if a serene setting with fewer people is your cup of tea, travelling in the winter should not be discounted as an option. If you opt for shoulder season travel, you can enjoy a balance of peacefulness and often fair weather.

If you wish to travel in the summer, yet are still longing for a quaint and tranquil time, we can book you into one of our many client-favourite exclusive-use properties that are dotted around the country. Whether you’re nestled in a remote countryside manor, enjoying the view from a stunning coastal retreat, or within the heart of a bustling city, the exclusivity of the property ensures that you are the sole focus of attention.

For Photographers and Lovers of the Outdoors:

Whilst rain does not stop play in Scotland, the driest months of the year are March through to May. The springtime in Scotland is known for having the best chance of sunny weather. This, paired with its lengthening daylight hours makes it the perfect time to be outdoors. For hiking, fishing and more, this season is the ideal time of year to travel to Scotland. 

For dramatic mountain landscapes, autumn is a firm favourite for many photographers. The bracken on the hills turns firey red and the whole landscape is awash with orange. The still plentiful, but shortening daylight hours bring dawn and dusk into the perfect timescale for catching every sunrise, sunset, and golden hour on your trip. 

For Lovers of the Arts:

If the arts are your thing, August is the month for you. In August, Edinburgh erupts in colour and dance with artists from all over the globe taking to the streets, theatres, pubs and, well, any space available to showcase their talents to the world. The Edinburgh Festival Fringe runs at the same time as the International Festival, and the Royal Military Tattoo to name just a few. There are events for all kinds of art lovers, including film, dance, literature, painting, performing arts, comedy and more. 

In January and February, Scotland comes alive with traditional Celtic folk, roots, and world music. Celtic Connections is a celebration of traditional music from across the world, showcasing some of the best folk music from Scotland and further afield. It is held in Glasgow every winter and welcomes people from all walks of life to come together and enjoy each other’s heritage and music. It brightens up January and warms up every hall, pub, and club in Glasgow. 

The Enchanted Forest is a captivating outdoor light and sound show held annually in Faskally Wood near Pitlochry. This event, which typically takes place in the autumn, is a magical experience that transforms the forest into a wonderland of light, colour, and music. Visitors wander along illuminated pathways, surrounded by dazzling displays that evoke a sense of enchantment and wonder.

For Spontaneous Travellers:

In the summer months, you can still enjoy all that you want to do, however, you will need to book further in advance if you do not want to miss out. In the quieter seasons, we are able to make your dreams for your trip come true with less of a lead time since there is usually more availability closer to the date of travel. This makes the best time to visit Scotland, for maximum spontaneity, from October to April. Fancy a last-minute getaway to enjoy the first days of spring or a spontaneous autumnal escape? Get in touch to set your plans in motion.

For Whisky Drinkers:

Every season is whisky season in Scotland, and what time of year to visit depends on what else you would like to do while you are here. However, if the main focus of your holiday is to tour distilleries and enjoy a dram and a hearty meal each night, do not discount the wintertime. In the winter, a more authentic, local experience is accessible. Settle in for the night in a cosy pub with a wee dram and enjoy some live music. There are also plenty of festivals and celebrations at this time of year, like Burns Night and Celtic Connections. 

For the Golfers:

The spring and summer are best suited to golfers due to the better weather and longer light. Although possible all year round, summer is the most popular season, while spring strikes a good balance of good weather and more available tee times on the most sought-after courses. If you are interested in seeing the greats on course, many golf events in Scotland, such as the Scottish Open, could influence when you might like to travel.

It is worth mentioning that there are many excellent and unique courses across Scotland’s Highlands and Islands that are well worth the trip. A different experience from the famous, classic courses, these hidden gems provide a truly special day’s golf. You can read more of our recommendations here.

For the Cultural Reveler:

Winter in Scotland is a joyful occasion. With shorter daylight hours, the Scots keep themselves warm with celebration. In January alone, there are three major festivals that bring people together over food, drink and fire. 

Hogmanay is the Scottish celebration of New Year’s Eve turning into the new year. Traditional customs include “first-footing,” where the first person to enter a home after midnight brings gifts and good luck, and the singing of “Auld Lang Syne,” a famous Scottish song by Robert Burns. Large-scale street parties and fireworks, such as the famous Edinburgh Hogmanay celebrations, are a significant part of the festivities, attracting visitors from around the world. Hogmanay is a time of great joy and optimism, celebrating the arrival of the new year with a uniquely Scottish flair.

Second is a Shetland special; Up Helly Aa. This fire festival is a spectacle to behold, where locals parade with torches through the towns, alight a large longboat, and then watch as the fire engulfs a ship that has taken all year to build.

Third is Burns Night. An occasion where we gather over haggis and whisky to honour our national bard, Robert Burns. As a visitor to Scotland, you can attend a Burns’ Supper, where you will enjoy poetry, bagpipes, whisky, and a hearty dinner. If you’re lucky, you may even be brought on the floor for some Scottish dancing!

So When Should You Visit?

Whatever time of year you choose to visit Scotland, adventure and delight await you. Use this as a guide, and not a hard and fast rule, for there is never a bad time to be in Scotland. To start planning your dream trip to Scotland, get in touch with us today, and we will create a completely bespoke itinerary tailored to your individual wants and desires, whatever type of traveller you are.

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