Scotland's weather and climate

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Journey Planner
  • A rainbow against green mountain scenery
    Highland rainbow
  • white sandy beach on a deserted curving bay
    Summer on the islands
  • Dramatic lights bursts through fark clouds to light a loch below
    Dramatic Highland light
  • Mountainous snow-covered landscape
    Winter in the Highlands
  • leaf-covered walk through autumnal trees
    Autumn in Perthshire

Unlike the way it's sometimes presented, Scotland's climate is actually moderate if changeable and only rarely extreme at either end of the temperature scale.

Regional variations

For such a relatively small country, one of the most surprising things about the Scottish climate is just how much it varies from one region to another.

For example, because it is so mountainous and the prevailing winds come in from the Atlantic, the western Highlands are some of the wettest and windiest places in Europe. By contrast, the eastern part of the country from the 'Highland capital' of Inverness across to Aberdeenshire and down to Angus, Fife and the Lothians enjoy an annual rainfall that is actually similar to or less than New York, Barcelona, Rome or even Rabat in Morocco.

Scotland's high latitude means that although winter days are short, during the summer months, the days are very long, often with an extended twilight. For example, Lerwick in Shetland has about four hours' more daylight at midsummer than London and at this time of year there is actually no complete darkness in the far north of Scotland.

The average number of days with snow falling in Scotland ranges from 15 to 20 days, whereas on the peaks and mountains in the Highlands the average number of days with snow falling is about 100 days.

Temperature

January and February are generally the coldest months in Scotland, with the daytime maximum temperatures that ranges of an average of around 5° to 7 °C. July and August are normally the warmest months in Scotland, with temperatures of an average 19 °C.

Every cloud has a silver lining...

As the old Scottish saying goes, "there's no such thing as bad weather, only the wrong clothes!"  So even though Scotland isn't blessed with year-round sunshine and tropical temperatures, that doesn't mean to say that our weather gets in the way of having a great break - quite the reverse in fact.

Scotland's five ski centres provide some of the best-value snowboarding and skiing in Europe while the strong winds driving in from the Atlantic and North Sea make the Outer Hebrides and Sutherland a paradise for windsurfers. In fact, the island of Tiree hosts one of the world's premier windsufing competitions, the Tiree Wave Classic each October.

Meanwhile, during the summer, the long daylight hours mean you can even play a round of golf at midnight on Orkney and Shetland .

And even if it does rain, Scotland boasts a fantastic range of galleries, museums and other attractions to keep you entertained all year-round, regardless of the weather.

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