When is the best time to visit Scotland?

A seasonal guide to enjoying Scotland

When planning a visit to Scotland, one of the key considerations is the weather. As you will quickly notice, Scottish weather can be described as…unpredictable. But that’s part of the fun! Experiencing a warm sun on your back during winter snow, or cooling rain on a beach in summer is what makes a holiday here such an unforgettable experience. Here at Kingsmill’s Hotel in Inverness, we’re always prepared with brollys and sun hats, whatever time of year it is! So here’s our seasonal guide to deciding on when is the best time to visit Scotland. 

Spring (March to May)

In spring, Scotland truly comes back to life. After winter, everything gradually wakes up and green carpets the woodland floors again. Plants like wild garlic and snowdrops are some of the first to be seen, and it’s a cheery sight. A great place to explore new plants growing is at the Inverness Botanic Gardens

Spring weather tends to be mild, but there is often still a chill in the air so we advise jumpers and jackets. There are plenty of shops in Inverness to add to your wardrobe, if you find yourself short of a jacket or pair of shorts!

Spring also benefits from quieter streets before the busy summer tourist season begins. Everything is still open, it’s just that you won’t have to wait as long in queues and you might find it easier to get a seat in busy restaurants. This is perfect for those who don’t like to book in advance.

Summer (June to August)

Summer offers the longest days of the year, up to 17 hours of it in June. This gives you plenty of time to explore our rich countryside and shores, taking in every last inch of Scotland’s Highlands. The weather is also a lot warmer when the sun is high in the sky. Although there is still a chance of occasional rain showers, a light rain jacket is normally all that is required. 

The summer also sees plenty of festivals and things to do. This includes the Highland Games which take place all over the country and are the place to be when you want to see a caber being tossed! Our local theatre, Eden Court, also has regular summer festivals including Under Canvas, which is a celebration of Scotland and its music.

Autumn (September to November)

The autumnal Scottish landscape is breathtaking. As greens fade to browns and yellows, woodlands and parks take on a beauty that can’t be admired at any other time of the year. A great place to enjoy this is at Reelig Glen near Inverness, an ancient woodland that is perfect for exploring and discovering some of Scotland’s native wildlife.

Temperatures at this time are mild and comfortable, still perfectly suitable for outdoor activities like playing on the beach or barbecuing. It’s also a good time to visit for avoiding queues, as the busy summer season has ended by autumn.  

Winter (December to February)

Winter is a special time here in the Highlands. The nights are longer, there’s the chance of snow and there are many drams of whisky to drink in front of a fire! 

If you visit before Christmas, you’ll have Christmas markets and Hogmanay celebrations to enjoy. This is a celebratory time of year for us with good cheer everywhere, regardless of what it’s doing outside.

At the start of the year you’ll find a peaceful Inverness, still with plenty to do but somewhat less rushed than at other times of the year. Although the days are shorter, there is still plenty of time to explore the city and make the most of your time here. At night, pubs and restaurants welcome everyone for fun evenings. 

So, when should I visit Scotland?

Your decision to visit Scotland should be based on many factors, and not just the weather. For example, if you like festivals and music, the summer is a great time. If you are looking for cozy nights in pubs with a drink, then winter is perfect. Spring and autumn offer great opportunities for wildlife watchings and making the most of your time without busy tourist queues. But if you are still undecided on the best time to visit Scotland, then there’s an easy answer – visit at least once during each season and decide for yourself! Make sure you check out our offers and book your room with Kingsmills.