The Scottish Highlands are located in the northwest of Scotland. Being so far up in the northern hemisphere, the weather is often unpredictable. In fact, Billy Connolly once said, “There are two seasons in Scotland: June and Winter”. Even in the summer months the weather is known to be quite damp, and it’s not the warm and sunny weather you typically associate with summer. This means that no matter what time of year you visit, you’ll need to bring plenty of layers and a waterproof jacket to stay warm and dry if the heavens open. 

The best time to visit the Highlands really depends on what you want to do and experience. Do you want to spend your days outdoors walking and soaking up the fantastic scenery? Or perhaps the idea of cosying up in the pub around a log fire with a dram of whiskey when it’s bitterly cold outside is quite appealing. We’ve put together some information to help you decide when to visit the Scottish Highlands and what to expect in each season.

Average daytime temperatures in the Scottish Highlands 

MONTH

AVERAGE TEMPERATURE (°C)  

January 

7

February

7

March

9

April

13

May 16
June  18
July 20
August  19
September 17
October  13
November  9
December  7

Spring

Best for: smaller crowds, World Whiskey Month (May), wildflowers and wildlife 

Spring can still be quite nippy in the Highlands and it can snow until March. The weather usually warms up after the Easter weekend and the days start to get longer. Barren landscapes that were covered in frost and snow start to come alive with yellow daffodils and colourful wildflowers. You might also see gorgeous baby lambs and calves running around the fields as they become acquainted with their legs. Sure, the weather could turn at any point and it might pour with rain, but overall it’s a glorious time to visit and the atmosphere is bound to put a spring in your step. A perk of visiting in spring is that you’ll just miss the big summer crowds and accommodation won’t be booked out. May is a great time to visit if you’re a whiskey lover as it’s World Whiskey Month.

Summer

Best for: sunny weather, longer days, Highland Games 

If you want good weather, June to August is the best time to visit. There’s no guarantee (this is Scotland), but the temperatures are pleasant-ish during the daytime. The early mornings and evenings can still feel a little chilly so layer up if you’re heading out early. The plus side of summer is that there’s loads of daylight and it doesn’t get fully dark until about 11 pm around the time of the summer solstice. One of the downsides is that it’s more crowded, (especially at popular destinations like the Isle of Skye), although the Highlands rarely feels too crowded as it’s so vast. You’ll also be exposed to pesky midges that can bite you and make your skin itchy, so bring some insect repellent and longer layers to warn them off. 

Autumn

Best for: Autumn foliage, spotting wildlife, fewer tourists 

Autumn in the Highlands is a sight to behold with splendid seasonal foliage, especially when you look out from the lochs. September can be hit and miss with the weather – it can either be an extended summer with warm days and chilly evenings or the cold winter air can arrive early. Another plus of visiting in autumn is that you'll miss the notorious Highland midges. Another thing to note is that some attractions and accommodation may close in October for the low season.

Winter 

Best for: skiing, thin crowds, Hogmanay

Winter is the wettest, dampest and gloomiest time of year in the Highlands. But hey, it’s all about perspective. Just because it’s damp and dark outside doesn’t mean you can’t have an amazing trip. Winter usually arrives early with the first snowfall in November. Despite the cold, winter can be a splendid time of year with snow-capped mountains and frost-covered forests that turn the Highland landscapes into a magical winter wonderland – perfect for getting cosy in the pub around a fire. It's also the perfect time to do skiing, snowboarding and other winter sports in Cairngorms National Park. If you’re in Scotland during the festive period, you’re in for a treat. The Scots really know how to throw a New Years Eve Party (known as ‘Hogmanay’ in this neck of the woods) to celebrate the old and welcome the new. Some attractions and accommodation close in the winter so always plan ahead. 

Click to return to Scottish Highlands FAQs

Our Scottish Highlands tours & holidays 

5 Days From 706

Spend five days in the Scottish Highlands and the Cairngorms with Intrepid. From...

6 Days From 1320

Spend six days gallivanting through Scotland with Intrepid. From Inverness, paddle the...

8 Days From 1925

Begin in Glasgow, explore the picturesque Isle of Skye, travel to the famous Loch Ness,...

5 Days From 1005

Discover a region of Viking and Neolithic history, plus the best of Scotland’s whisky...

5 Days From 775

Take a 5-day walking trip through the Scottish Highlands in summer and enjoy all the...

Tailor-Made trips

Take two or more on an exclusive trip and tailor your itinerary