When is the best time to visit Scotland?

Picture: Inveraray Castle in the autumn, supplied
Picture: Inveraray Castle in the autumn, supplied
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Although beautiful all year round, what season is the best time to visit Scotland?

From the bustling Edinburgh streets during the Festival in August, to snow capped mountains in the winter, we ask the experts when they would recommend a visit.

Picture: Forvie Sands, TSPL

Picture: Forvie Sands, TSPL

VisitScotland Chief Executive Malcolm Roughead says: “With its stunning coastlines, world-class attractions, unique culture and fascinating history to its breathtaking scenery, award-winning food and drink and everything in between, Scotland has a truly exceptional tourism offering that can be enjoyed at all times of the year.

“From the carpets of snowdrops at Logan Botanic in January to the Northern Lights in the summer months, and from the Enchanted Forest in autumn to the world famous Hogmanay celebrations in Edinburgh, there are so many unique experiences and activities that can be enjoyed twelve months of the year in Scotland.”

Spring

George Anderson from the Woodland Trust says of spring: “We tend to stay indoors in winter so it feels all the more invigorating to get out into Scotland’s wild places in the springtime – when life of every kind is starting anew.

“It is good for body and soul to be out amongst it all. Bluebells and wild garlic fill the woods. Birdsong fills the air. And it is too early in the year for midges! Springtime is a great time to enjoy Scotland’s woods and trees.”

Summer

Adam Newth, from Broughty Ferry restaurant The Tayberry, thinks summer is the best time to visit Scotland: “My favourite time of year in Scotland is early summer - around May and June. It’s when all of Scotland’s wild food starts to come back into season; favourites of mine include asparagus and wild garlic. I love days off spent mackerel fishing - in May you might even be lucky enough to get some sunshine too! It’s the time of year I start eating outside - big bowls of mussels are a real treat!”


With Ricky Kapoor, Managing Director of The Edinburgh Collection adding: “Scotland is beautiful thoughout the year and Edinburgh in particular is truly a year-round destination.

“Let’s be honest you could get all four seasons in one day, no matter the time of year! My own personal favourite time of year is early summer when visitors are so often surprised by the long hours of daylight – and you need these because there is so much to see and do across Scotland. It’s before the peak busy periods of August but there’s a lot going on and the country is looking particularly beautiful.”

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Autumn

Managing Director of Loch Fyne Oysters in Argyll, Cameron Brown, comments on the beauty of autumn in Scotland: “The scenery around Loch Fyne is stunning all year round but one of my favourite times is autumn.

“In September the heather is often still blooming, turning the hillsides purple. As the heather flowers fade the trees start to change colour, creating a beautiful backdrop for hillwalking and getting out into the countryside.

“On a really still day, when the loch is like a mirror, all the colours of the trees are reflected in the water and the whole effect is spectacular. There are also red deer on the hills in the immediate area around our restaurant.

“It’s their rutting season, and the stags’ antlers are at their finest. It’s a great time of year to take a short break and recharge your batteries before the busy festive season kicks in.”

Winter

A season which seems to last the longest, Scotland’s winter is an ideal time for skiiers and the CairnGorm Mountain is one of the most popular snowsports destinations in Scotland.

The pisted runs cater for all abilities and the resort also provides access to the huge CairnGorm Plateau catering for off-piste ski mountaineers. Although an obvious winter destination, Janette Jansson, General Manager at CairnGorm Mountain says: “We have a long-term strategy to maintain and grow CairnGorm Mountain as a year-round destination which will hopefully see the introduction of a state of the art artificial slope which would enable people to ski year-round irrespective of the weather.

“But in winter, there is nowhere better to experience some of the best views in the world in a completely natural environment!”

Ray Clynick, owner and head distiller of Oro Gin agrees that winter is the best time to see Scotland’s natural beauty: “Admittedly, winter in Scotland does usually involve icy winds, freezing temperatures and long nights dominate, however no chilly spell could detract from Scotland’s spectacular scenery.

“The snow-capped mountains, crispy terrain and frosted lochs are a dreamy canvas for winter sports. White velvety snow blankets Scotland’s ski resorts — Cairngorm Mountain, Glencoe Mountain, Glenshee, Nevis Range and The Lecht — and provides the UK’s best skiing and snowboarding conditions. A keen skier myself, I like nothing better than to hop in the car to spend a weekend in skiing in the Scottish mountains.”

Read more: In pictures: 7 hidden gem villages across Scotland well worth a visit