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Summer in Scotland Guide: What to Do and Where to Go

By: Camila
Last Updated: 02/08/2022
Posted in: Blogs, Scotland, Guides

Imagine holidaying in Scotland in summer: you're exploring ancient ruins, learning about mythical stories, travelling through sweeping landscapes, and meeting the friendly locals. You can expect this and more with a Scotland summer vacation.

Whether you’re already planning an upcoming getaway to Scotland or you’re looking for inspiration, our local experts in Edinburgh have you covered. Read on to find out what to do, where to go and what to expect from the weather with this Scottish summer guide.



loch fyne Scotland summer

Scotland is a beautiful country all year long, but the summer is an especially exciting time, with loads to see and do. So, let's get down to details.

When is summer in Scotland?

As Scotland is in the Northern Hemisphere, June, July and August make up the summer months. You could also visit in April, May and September, the "shoulder season", when the weather remains pleasant.



Summer climate & weather in Scotland

Scotland has a changeable climate all year long. That said during the summer, you can expect warmer and more stable weather than during the rest of the year. Average temperatures during these months will be around 15°C (59°F) and you may be lucky enough to enjoy highs in the low to mid 20s °C (68°F).

The summer may get Scotland's highest temperatures, but the shoulder months get some of the best weather. On average, May is the month with the most sunshine hours and April is one of the months with the least precipitation.  

Another wonderful thing about Scotland’s weather in summer? Well it rarely gets too warm for you to enjoy the great outdoors. That means there are unlikely to be scorching days when you can't go hiking or sightseeing comfortably.

Summer packing list for Scotland

Are you wondering what to pack for a trip to Scotland during summertime? Keeping in mind that Scottish weather is very changeable, even within the same day, you should be ready for just about anything. In summer that means bringing clothes for warmer and cooler temperatures. 

Here is a suggested packing list:

  • Shorts and trousers
  • T-shirts and thin long-sleeved shirts
  • warm jumper or fleece
  • A waterproof jacket
  • Good walking shoes or boots, especially if you intend to hike and go on nature walks

Finally, even if you visit during a particularly warm and sunny summer spell, you may find the evenings chilly, especially in the Highlands. For that reason, you should pack a light scarf and thin hat, just in case you need it.

Must-see Scottish summer attractions

Scotland's highlights are majestic at all times of the year, but here are some top locations to add to your summer itinerary:

1. ISLE OF SKYE

This one may already be at the top of your bucket list. The iconic Isle of Skye, with its rugged mountains peaks, lunar landscapes and beautiful coastlines, is definitely worth the visit. Here you could go hiking to dramatic rock formations, taste delicious fresh seafood, admire waterfalls, and try spotting local wildlife.

It's an especially good one to visit during the shoulder months as there are fewer visitors.



quiraing

2. FORT WILLIAM

If you love hiking, you may want to head west to Fort William in Lochaber. This Highland town is known as the "Outdoor Capital of the UK".

Fort William is nestled at the bottom of Scotland’s (and the UK’s) highest mountain, Ben Nevis. Here you can take advantage of all kinds of outdoor activities, such as hiking, cycling, mountain biking, kayaking, and much more.



3. THE HERMITAGE

If you can't venture too far north, you could instead go enjoy nature walks in the Perthshire area. Try a walk around the lush Hermitage, a site near the town of Dunkeld that’s protected by the National Trust for Scotland.

The forest was originally designed as a pleasure ground for the Dukes of Atholl, back in the 18th century. The area boasts giant Douglas fir trees which are some of the largest ones in the UK.



hermitage pertshire

4. LOCH NESS

Another pleasant stop in summer is the iconic Loch Ness. This beautiful "lake" is known worldwide for being the home of Nessie, the Loch Ness monster.

But legends aside, Loch Ness is an impressive natural site that you can visit, by walking on its shores or by boat. You could also visit the ruins of Urquhart Castle.



5. STIRLING

Centrally located between Glasgow and Edinburgh, Stirling and the greater Stirlingshire is known as the "Gateway to the Highlands". Stop by the city and its stunning surroundings for a combined experience of the Lowlands' and Highlands' cultural highlights and landscape. 

Here you'll find the hill-top Stirling Castle, one of the most visited historic sites in Scotland. Or pop by the nearby Doune Castle, which you might have seen featured in many films and television series like Outlander

6. EDINBURGH

Last but not least is the Scottish capital, Edinburgh. Whether you're visiting on a city break or passing through at the beginning or end of your trip, it is worth a visit. 

In summer, locals say that the city doubles in size as performers and fun-seekers flock to the many festivals held in the capital. Whether that fact is true or not, in August you could treat yourself to one (or more) of the 3,000 shows hosted by festivals across the city.



Edinburgh scotland

Summer festivals & events in Scotland

The beauty of Scotland lies in its natural sights, but there are also many Scottish festivals and events to attend throughout the summer. Events are mostly based around Edinburgh and Glasgow with some more traditional festivals hosted in the Highlands and islands. 

Festivals cover a range of themes and art forms, including folk music, bagpipes, literature, theatre and whisky. Otherwise you can see modern art, up-and-coming comedians and the latest films to be released. And there’s always the chance to witness the largest Highland Games in the world.

Here’s a quick at-a-glance list of festivals and events in Scotland: 


FESTIVAL LOCATION MONTH
TradFest Edinburgh April-May
Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival Speyside May
Royal Highland Show Edinburgh June
Edinburgh International Film Festival Edinburgh June
Hebridean Celtic Festival Stornoway, Isle of Lewis July
Edinburgh International Festival Edinburgh August
Edinburgh Festival Fringe Edinburgh August
The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo Edinburgh August
Edinburgh International Book Festival Edinburgh August
World Pipe Band Championships Glasgow August
Cowal Highland Gathering Dunoon, Argyll August


Scotland summer travel tips 

Here are a few extra travel tips from our local experts to travel to Scotland in summer:

Consider visiting during the shoulder months: Summertime is a popular time to visit Scotland, especially with Edinburgh hosting many festivals throughout August. Visit in April, May or September for a quieter time, more accommodation availability and less traffic on the roads. 

Book early: You may also want to book early if you wish to visit the Highlands and islands in summer. This is especially true if you have specific locations in mind that you don't want to miss out on.

Factor in long daylight hours: In summer, Scotland boasts extended daylight hours, which means long days and short nights. Indeed the sun rises very early, at 3-4 AM near solstice, and sets late around 11 PM at the latest. 

The advantage of this is that you'll have all that extra daylight to enjoy more sightseeing and activities. But if light affects your sleep, we’d recommend an eye mask to go to bed. 

Prepare for "midges": In rural areas of the Highlands and Scottish Isles, you may encounter small flying, biting bugs called "midges". Their bites are an itchy annoyance. While you can outwalk swarms of the insects, it’s worth being prepared.

Midges are at their busiest during twilight hours from mid-June to mid-August. You can sometimes avoid bites by wearing Avon Skin-So-Soft body oil spray, allegedly the repellent of choice for Britain’s Royal Marines.



These are only some of the things you may enjoy in Scotland in summertime. Don’t forget about island hopping to Orkney and the Outer Hebrides, visiting castles and Neolithic sites, or even taking a tour of the famous whisky distilleries.

To start planning your summer trip to Scotland, get in touch with our local experts via live chat, toll-free numbers or contact form. They are based in Edinburgh and will use their local knowledge to build your dream tour of Scotland. 

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Post by: Camila

 Camila grew up between the French Canadian and Chilean cultures, before moving to Scotland in 2012. When she’s not travelling or writing about travels, Camila loves to read, run, and puzzle. Her favourite destinations have been Reykjavík, Copenhagen, Estonia and Cape Town. 

Find Camila on LinkedIn.

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Getting there

We'd love to give you the same amazing travel experiences as you read about in our blog! To visit the destinations and attractions mentioned in this post - and to discover a few new highlights along the way - check out these recommended Nordic Visitor tours.