A quick guide and advice on when to visit scotland with advice on weather and climate and how that might impact your holiday
When to visit Scotland
The high season is from May to September, and this is when Scotland receives the vast majority of visitors. Though the weather tends to be better during the summer months, prices for accommodation are higher in the high season and hotels and guesthouses in the most popular places need to be booked in advance. It's also a good idea to make reservations - at this time - on ferries to the islands, especially to Skye and Mull. A major advantage to visiting in the summer months is the long hours of daylight, especially farther north, where the sun doesn't set till around 2200 or later in June and July. During the low season, from October to Easter, many tourist sights are closed, and travelling around the Highlands and Islands can be difficult as public transport services are limited. Many of the smaller tourist offices are also closed during the low season. Though some hotels and guesthouses close during the low season, the majority are now open all year round, as are most restaurants. Taking everything into consideration, May and September are probably the best months to visit Scotland, though Glasgow and Edinburgh are worth visiting at any time of the year.
The Scottish climate is notoriously unpredictable, especially on the west coast, where a bright, sunny morning can turn into a downpour in the time it takes to butter your toast. Predicting the weather is not an exact science and tables of statistics are most likely a waste of time. There's an old saying in Scotland that if you don't like the weather, then wait 20 minutes, and this just about sums up the climate. The west coast receives far more rain than the rest of the country and the east coast gets more sunshine. The west coast is also milder in the winter due to the relatively warm waters of the Gulf Stream. Winters in the north can be very harsh, especially in the mountains and glens, making hiking conditions treacherous. Winter storms also make it difficult to travel around the islands as ferry services are often cancelled. Generally speaking, May to September are the warmest months, with an average summer high of around 18-19°C and, though they are often the driest months, you can expect rain at any time of the year, even in high summer. So, you'll need to come prepared, and remember the old hikers' adage that there's no such thing as bad weather, only inadequate clothing.
For a seven-day weather forecast service, call Weather Check, Tel 0891-3331111 plus 101 for the northwest, 102 for the northeast, and 103 for Glasgow, Edinburgh and southern Scotland.