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Scotland: When to Go

Scotland is a wonderful travel destination year-round, but with its distinct seasons and weather, it's important to know which time of year will best fit your vacation.

Scotland's peak travel season runs from May through September. The summer months lasting from June through August are the busiest and filled with school holidays, festivals and sporting events. Hotels fill up during this time, especially in Edinburgh, so it's best to book early. Summer days in Scotland are usually warm, wet and long -- daylight can linger until 9 p.m. or later.

The best weather can be found in the months of May and September, which enjoy milder temperatures and less rain. The transitioning foliage also serves as a great backdrop for outdoor activities like hiking and biking. In April, snow lingers on the mountains in southern Scotland, and glorious autumn colors cover the forests of Trossachs and Perthshire in October.

The low season in Scotland lasts from November through March, when the weather turns colder and days are shorter as the sun often sets by 4 p.m. You’ll find less public transportation available and fewer attractions open outside of the main cities.

Scotland has a temperate climate. Most cities experience summer highs averaging in the mid-60s and winter lows in the mid-30s. Scotland's west coast averages about 59 inches of yearly rainfall, while the east coast is a bit drier, averaging about 25 inches. The western Highlands can receive annual rainfall up to 118 inches.