When is the best time to visit the Scottish Highlands?

Chances are if you research the best time to visit the Scottish Highlands, you’ll end up with a bunch of recommendations scattered across the calendar. Everyone in the UK loves talking about the weather for a reason — it’s so changeable!

Choosing the right to visit the Scottish Highlands is also about personal preference. Maybe you love a dramatic autumnal landscape or prefer a balmy summer’s day. Whichever time of year you’re thinking of travelling, read Bye By Car’s rundown of what to expect.

At Bye By Car, we know how important it is to see a country your way, whatever the weather! That’s why our Self-Guided Tours of Scotland can be taken all year round to suit your schedule. 

If you’d like to hear more about our tours of this rugged landscape, get in touch! Our friendly team is always happy to help use their local knowledge to create a custom trip to meet your adventure requirements.   

But for now, let’s find out more about the Scottish Highlands and when you could plan your visit.

Embrace Spring in the Scottish Highlands

Spring is a great time to explore the Scottish Highlands. With several types of spring wildflowers in bloom, the hills are alive with life and colour in spring. The cooler temperatures range from approximately 7°C to 13°C, making the days perfect for exploring the Highlands on a hike or by bike without getting too hot.

Not only are the roads quieter but there’s more accommodation available as schools aren’t out for summer just yet. Try our 11-day Outer Hebrides and Loch Ness Scotland Driving Tour to experience the highlights of the Highlands. Embrace the natural wilderness and Scottish traditions across Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park.

A Scottish Cow in the Highlands (Source | Licence)

Summer Visits to the Scottish Highlands

Summer is the most popular time to visit the Scottish Highlands partly because it’s the warmest! With temperatures reaching approximately 15°C to 17°C, the historic tour sites and parks are likely to be busier with families on summer holidays. 

If you want to escape the Lowlands and Edinburgh’s busiest season, we recommend choosing some lesser-seen sites in the Highlands. Venture to some of Scotland’s standing stones to experience the long summer days as the ancient pagans would have. Orkney’s Ring of Brodgar Stone Circle and Henge is particularly magical and dates back to the 3rd millennium BC.

For seasoned hikers looking for a challenge, we recommend tackling Ben Nevis – the UK’s highest peak – in the summer months. There will be less chance of weather extremes disrupting your excursion and you can enjoy the panoramic sunny views when you reach the peak.

Visiting the Scottish Highlands in Autumn

If you visit the Scottish Highlands between September and November, expect to see the terrain bursting into oranges, yellows, and fiery reds. This time of year is also quiet and temperatures range from 8°C to 14°C. The crisp, cool days go darker earlier so be mindful of this when planning an outdoor excursion.

The Scottish Highlands has many castles to explore in the atmospheric autumn months. Seek shelter and take in Urquhart Castle’s vivid history before heading to Loch Ness to catch a glimpse of the legendary creature in time for Halloween. Or visit the Glencoe Valley in autumn to see the red deer camouflaged amongst the changing trees.

The Scottish Highlands can be a Winter Wonderland

Winter in the Scottish Highlands is, unsurprisingly, when the coldest months take place. With highs of 5°C, the peaks of the Highlands usually experience 100 days of falling snow. If you’re planning a winter trip to Scotland, be prepared for travel disruption and all eventualities, especially if you’re hiking.

The Highlands offer breathtaking views in winter with snow capped mountains and icy lakes. Winter is a great time to visit for a period of quiet contemplation. Hunker down and stay on the islands of Shetland, Orkney, or Caithness for a chance to see the Northern Lights (or ‘Mirrie Dancers’) light up the winter skies. 

We hope our recommendations have given you a clearer idea of when to plan your trip to the Scottish Highlands. Whether you choose our Edinburgh, Outer Hebrides, and Loch Ness Scotland Driving Tour or our seven-day Outlander Tour, we guarantee you’ll love Scotland’s wild landscape.

As Scottish comedian Billy Connolly said, “There is no such thing as bad weather – only the wrong clothes.” So whenever you decide to visit Scotland, make sure you’re prepared for any eventuality! Sunscreen, umbrella, anorak, and shades are useful all year round.
If one of our tours has caught your eye or you’d prefer to explore the Highlands using your own route, get in touch with us! We can help curate a custom tour, so you don’t miss out on any of the breathtaking places in the Scottish Highlands.

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