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    Summer in Scotland

    Endless days, pleasant temperatures, and summer festivals. That’s what you can expect from summer in Scotland. At the height of summer, it feels like the sun barely sets with 16-18 hours of daylight. It’s our most colourful season. Both in terms of natural and cultural attractions. Take in our beautiful countryside, awash in summer blooms and lush vegetation. You can have your pick of seasonal events with festivals, fairs, and other entertainment easily accessible across the country.

    Your Guide to Summer in Scotland

    We can not promise you cloud-free forecasts and 25°C days during summer in Scotland. But this is not to say that this does not happen! On the whole Scottish summers are milder than those of her European cousins, with 18°C as the average daytime temperature across the season and changeable weather. For outdoor lovers, Scotland is a great destination in summer. The cooler temperatures and longer days make Scotland perfect for hiking, mountain biking, road cycling, and paddling. Furthermore, it’s not just the pleasant weather that attracts visitors to Scotland in summer. There is a lot going on over the summer months; including cultural festivals, food fairs, and Highland Games.

    Take me straight to:

    Our Summer Trips

    When is Summer in Scotland?

    You might be surprised to read that summer feels very long in Scotland. There are consistently higher temperatures and longer days around the start of May right through to the middle of September. The tourism season starts mid-June and concludes at the end of August. The landscape is bathed in sunlight with incredibly long days that are on average 16 hours long. Therefore, visitors can really maximise their summer in Scotland, with plenty of daylight hours to play with. 

    Starts
    Ends
    Meteorological summer in Scotland
    1st of June 31st of August
    Astronomical summer in Scotland
    Between the 20th-21st of June Between the 22nd-23rd of September
    What Scottish outdoor experts say
    The third week of May The second week of September

    Summer Weather in Scotland

    Scotland’s weather is notoriously unpredictable – and this is just as true in summer as it is in winter. However, the summer months enjoy longer days, drier weather, and an average daytime temperature high of 18°C. During summer, sunny and warm days tend to come in 2-3 day-long stretches, followed by some milder days with wetter weather. Read What is a Scottish Summer Like? for more information.

    June
    July
    August
    Average monthly rainfall (mm)
    59mm 53mm 59mm
    Average days of rainfall ≥1 mm (days)
    11 10 11.7
    Average daytime temperature (High)
    17°C 19°C 18°C
    Average daytime temperature (Low)
    9°C 11°C 11°C
    Average daylight hours
    17 16 15

    Source: metoffice.gov.uk and timeanddate.com | based on Inverness (capital of the Highlands) as location.

    Scotland Summer Pictures

    Things to do in Scotland During Summer

    Explore on Foot

    summer in scotland

    Summer is a great time for hiking in Scotland. Our long sunny days with milder weather are perfect for going for a bit of a bigger explore. Hiking in a T-shirt and shorts is possible in Scotland but do come prepared with layers and waterproofs for if the weather changes. There is a massive variety of landscapes available in Scotland over small distances; with white sand beaches, impressive peaks, moody moors, and lush forests within short drives of each other. This means that there is always a walking option nearby suitable for any ability or weather condition.

    Fancy a guided hiking holiday? Check out our walking trips here.

    Discover Scotland’s Coastlines

    Combined with our islands, it is said that Scotland has around 10,000km of coastline! The best way to explore this? By sea kayak! Explore secluded bays, dreamy beaches, and incredible cliffs from the water. With the appropriate equipment, sea kayaking can be done year-round, but the warmer weather makes it a truly magical experience. Spend your morning exploring nooks and crannies inaccessible to those not in a kayak, followed by a picnic on a private beach. In the afternoon investigate jutting headlands and their residential birdlife otherwise hidden from the human eye.

    Want to go sea kayaking? We offer introduction holidays, and also trips for more experienced paddlers.

    Jump on your Mountain Bike

    biking summer in scotland

    To be honest – you can go biking at any time of year. But there is nothing quite like riding in summer sunshine, discovering new trails, and exploring Scotland’s incredible landscapes which are washed green in summer. For the adrenaline junkies, Scotland is home to some of the best singletrack in the U.K! However, you can also find many family-friendly tracks which cross stunning scenery and also trail centres dotted around the country. Generally biking itself keeps you warm enough to go lighter on the layers, but always come prepared with spares in a dry bag as you’ll never know what Scottish weather might do…

    Interested in a guided mountain bike holiday? Combine challenge and comfort on our trips!

    Turn it Up a Gear

    summer mtb in scotland

    Road cycling is a very rich way to explore Scotland’s varied landscapes. Ride through spectacular scenery ranging from rolling hills, lush glens, dramatic moors, winding rivers, and a beautiful coastline. Take it all in on our smooth and quiet roads. Road cycling here offers challenging climbs, but also spectacularly fun descents. Aside from the satisfaction of eating away the miles, there is the satisfaction of eating away at incredible baked goods. The exertion of road cycling more than justifies a tea and cake stop en route, something we specialise in here in Scotland.

    Have a look at our guided road cycling holidays here, we offer a range of trips for all levels.

    Go for a Summer Paddle

    summer in scotland canoeing

    Want to see parts of Scotland that others rarely do? Then canoeing is the activity for you. Paddle through stunning gorges, or watch the scenery glide by on a more open section of river. Depending on the river you can either let the water gently take you to hidden places inaccessible to those on foot or feel the adrenaline pump as you go down a rapid. It’s a great wet weather activity, as you’re already in water-resistant clothing, plus rain generally makes the rivers more interesting. Canoeing is also a great way to spot a variety of wildlife.

    Sound like something you’d enjoy? We offer canoeing holidays for all abilities.

    Practice your Photography

    summer in scotland photography

    Summer can be a very interesting time for photography in Scotland. Skies can be the very definition of blue, and the hills impossibly green. Long evenings mean you’ve got several hours of glowing twilight to enjoy, with slow sunsets giving you plenty of chances to snap up those magical light moments. The changeable weather can create fantastic opportunities for taking pictures. Snap that rainbow when the sun comes bursting through the rain, or frame the sun-soaked slivers of landscape when the clouds split open.

    Visit incredible locations and learn photography from an expert on one of our photography trips.

     

    Going off the Beaten Path This Summer

    Want to enjoy all the benefits that summer has to offer in Scotland? But don’t want to be crowded? This is easily possible. Visit quieter destinations without missing out on the stunning scenery or remarkable castles associated with the tourism hotspots.

    For example, those who want to experience Scottish highland and island life could visit the isle of Arran which is often described as Scotland in miniature. Experience dramatic peaks, island culture, and a beautiful coastline on this gem of a west coast island.

    Argyll is an area known for its ancient heritage, glittering sea lochs, abundant wildlife, and gorgeous islands. The Argyll Peninsula and the southern islands of the Inner Hebrides are less frequented than it’s famous sister region of Skye and Lochaber, but it’s no less beautiful or interesting.

    Scotland’s north coast is growing in popularity – but there are some areas north not easily accessible to the mainstream tourist. Visit the islands that dot this wild stretch of coast. The Summer Isles are known for their scenic vistas, marine wildlife, and isolated sandy beaches.

    Instead of heading north before or after your city trip to Glasgow and/or Edinburgh, why not head south? Immerse yourself in rolling green hills, fantastic beaches, and some of Scotland’s most interesting historical sites in the Scottish Borders.

    Head up further north than most would go to the ancient Orkney Isles – where life has been heavily influenced by the natural surroundings and turbulent history.

    Those who are willing to venture as far as the Outer Hebrides will traditionally go to Lewis and Harris – but Uist, Barra, and Mingulay are less crowded and share the uniquely beautiful Hebridean panoramas that the northern islands are so famous for.

    Scottish Summer Wildlife

    Photo Credit: Basking Shark Scotland

    There is wildlife to see in Scotland all throughout the year, but summer is a great time as many species are more active during this season for various reasons.

    For instance, you can hear the mating shrieks of the elusive pine marten during summer, and near the end of the season, they will have started kitting. Visitors are most likely to see the recently reintroduced Eurasian beaver in summer as they are out and about more frequently and further afield foraging for food.  Year-rounders like red squirrels, red deer, and otters will also be visible in the countryside.

    Summer visitors are most rewarded when turning their eyes to the sky. Many bird species migrate to Scotland during springtime and are active over summer mating and rearing their chicks. You are in with a good chance to see osprey, puffins, gannets, buzzards, eagles, skuas, razorbills, and guillemots.

    Moreover, summer also sees basking sharks and minke whales return to our waters. Both are best spotted when they are feeding, which tends to be in shallower waters close to land. Likewise, you can spot seals, dolphins, and porpoises over the summer months.

    Interested in seeing wildlife and learning more about our native species? Check out our wildlife holidays here.

    Scotland's Best Summer Beaches

    When you think of Scotland you don’t immediately think of sunbathing on the beach, do you? This is a shame as Scotland is home to incredible beaches, some may even say the most beautiful beaches in the world…

    Some of Scotland’s beaches could have been lifted straight out of a Caribbean cruise catalogue; white sands, turquoise waters, and endless skies. We’ve included some of our favourites above, but if you are looking for even more suggestions have a read of Scottish Beaches: Most Beautiful but Underrated by Wilderness Guide Tim Francis.

    What Foods are in Season in Summer?

    Summer is a time of year with an abundance of fresh and local produce available in Scotland. Find local food festivals to try out some different flavours, or indulge in a summer barbecue. Late summer is a great time to try your hand at foraging wild mushrooms, although we recommend joining foraging courses before picking independently. 

    June
    July
    August
    Vegetables & Fruits
    Various berries, peaches, runner beans, peas, mangetout, and chillies. Summer berries, stone fruit, rhubarb, sugar snaps, aubergine, and wild mushrooms. Berries, stone fruit, blaeberries, beetroot, cucumber, wild mushrooms, and summer squash.
    Meat & Game
    Lamb. Rabbit and lamb. Grouse, lamb and rabbit.
    Fish & Seafood
    Lobster, plaice, crab, sea trout, and scallops. Crab, mackerel, lemon sole, and mussels. Queen scallops, squid, lemon sole, and razor clams.

    Please read VisitScotland’s Seasonal Food Calendar here for more detailed information of what’s available and when in Scotland, or have a look at: www.eattheseasons.co.uk

    Summer FAQs

    What months are summer in Scotland? Read More

    It depends on who you ask! Although the weather in Scotland can become glorious as early as the end of April, summer does not really kick-off until June when the weather is consistently mild for the next three to four months. Summer in Scotland is generally defined to be from the start of June to the end of August.

     

    Is Scotland cold in summer? Read More

    We’d be lying if we said that Scottish summers are all warmth and sunshine, they’re not. But they’re also not wet and cold like most people think. You might be surprised to learn there is an average temperature of 18°C -19°C over the summer period.

    *Weather data taken from the metoffice, with averages for the city of Inverness (capital of the Highlands).

    What is summer like in Scotland? Read More

    Scotland in summer can be absolutely glorious. Warm days and endless sunshine. You can also have days that in other countries would probably be described as autumnal or wintery. Generally, though the weather is mild, and you can count on lengthy days that are on average 16 hours long.

    Does it rain much in Scotland? Read More

    Not as much as you’d think! Inverness on average receives around 30 inches of annual rainfall. This is little compared to more famous destinations like New York which gets 50 inches and notoriously sunny Milan with 37 inches. Scotland is famed for rain, but consider that it’s the rain that makes our landscapes so lush and green. It is what makes our rivers and waterfalls so impressive. Rain is at the heart of our whisky industry. But the best thing about Scottish rain? It never rains for long. Before you know it the sun is bursting through and warming you up again.

    *Weather data taken from the metoffice, with averages for the city of Inverness (capital of the Highlands).

    What do people wear in Scotland in summer? Read More

    Scotland’s weather is notorious for being changeable, so prepare for all seasons and wear layers. Most likely you will be losing layers rather than putting more on, but it’s always good to have some spare with you in case it does start to rain or if it’s a bit cooler that day. Above all, always carry waterproofs with you if you are heading out into the countryside.

    What is peak tourist season in Scotland? Read More

    Peak tourist season falls between mid-June till the end of August. August is the busiest time of the year and sees the most visitors. This can be attributed to the Edinburgh Fringe taking place in the middle of the month, with people combining a dash of culture in the capital with a trip to the Highlands and Islands.

    Is June a good time to visit Scotland? Read More

    June is a great month to visit. It’s not as busy as July and August and is said to be one of the driest months. It’s also the summer month with the longest days, with around 18 hours of daylight to play with. Moreover,  green officially dominates the landscapes, banishing the winter browns.

    Is July a good time to visit Scotland? Read More

    July may be the most unpredictable summer month in terms of weather. However, it’s also known to be the warmest on average. Like in June, July enjoys long days with 16-17 hours of daylight. The second month of summer has a range of activities available and on the whole pleasant weather.

     

    Is August a good time to visit Scotland? Read More

    Although August may be busy, it’s busy for a reason! Great weather, long days, and plenty of attractions and activities across the country with wide appeal. August is also one of the most beautiful months to come visit as the hills start to turn purple with the heather changing colour.

    Are there midges in Scotland during summer? Read More

    Summer is a prime time for midges in Scotland. However, midges don’t need to ruin your day outside. There are plenty of ways to avoid these wee beasties and their stinging bite. Read Your Guide to the Highland Midge for more information.

    Spring

    Spring weather is mild, but the days are lengthening and consistently drier. The landscape is buzzing with life and colour, with flowers blooming and bustling wildlife.

    Find out more

    Summer

    Summer promises long days, pleasant temperatures, and festivals galore. The countryside transitions from vibrant green to breath-taking purple as the heather blooms.

    Find out more

    Autumn

    Autumn is a time of colourful landscapes and glowing skies. Witness some of Scotland’s most exciting wildlife spectacles and taste flavours unique to our autumn months.

    Find out more

    Winter

    If the conditions are right, Scottish winters are the epitome of ‘winter wonderland’. Crunchy snow underneath your boots, sparkly fields, and the most beautiful night skies.

    Find out more

    Our holidays reviewed
    in your own words

    It was an experience of a lifetime. My husband had never done anything like this before and was lamenting before the trip about how he had let himself be talked into such a thing. He enjoyed it immensely, in spite of the weather conditions and being worried about my injury. We learned things about ourselves and saw a country from a very intimate perspective. We consider ourselves very lucky to have been able to walk the WHW together and would recommend Wilderness Scotland without hesitation.

    Judi Florence
    Self Guided - West Highland Way
    Reviewed on 08/10/2018

    Rated 4.87 out of 5 based on 4,452 reviews

    Read More Reviews

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