We've all heard plenty of jokes about the Scottish weather - but most of them aren't true! Scotland's climate is actually quite moderate and very changeable, although on occasion we get really hot or really cold weather.

As the old Scottish saying goes, 'there's no such thing as bad weather, only the wrong clothes!'

Temperature and seasons

January and February are generally the coldest months in Scotland, with the daytime maximum temperatures averaging around 5 °C (41 °F) to 7 °C (45 °F). July and August are normally the warmest months in Scotland, with temperatures at an average 19 °C (66 °F).

Scotland has four seasons; spring, summer, autumn, and winter. However, the changeable nature of the climate means it's not uncommon to experience all four seasons in one day!

Long summer days

Scotland's high latitude means that although winter days are short, in summer there are very long daylight hours and often an extended twilight.

In the north of the country, Lerwick in Shetland has about four hours' more daylight at midsummer than London. At this time of year there is actually no complete darkness in the far north of Scotland. And with the extra hours of daylight, you can pack a lot into your day. Round of golf at midnight, anyone?

Regional variations

McCaig’s Tower

Despite being 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. It's often the case that you can drive for 20 minutes and find that the conditions are completely different.

The combination of mountainous landscapes and the prevailing winds from the Atlantic means that the western Highlands are amongst some of the wettest and windiest places in Europe. Or, as we like to call it, atmospheric!

By contrast, the eastern part of the country, from Inverness across to Aberdeenshire and down to Angus, Fife and the Lothians, enjoys an annual rainfall that is actually similar to (or less than) New York, Barcelona, Rome or even Rabat in Morocco.

Come rain or shine…

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.


The average number of days with snow falling in Scotland ranges from 15 to 20 days. However, the peaks and mountains of the Highlands experience around 100 days of falling snow.

The ski season varies each year, but generally it runs from November to April. Scotland's five ski centres provide some of the best value snowboarding and skiing in Europe.

Why we love the rain!

Edinburgh Castle rainbow

  • Whisky lovers should have a fine appreciation for a good rain shower. As the proverb goes, 'today's rain is tomorrow's whisky.'
  • Without rainfall, we wouldn't have breathtaking waterfalls, or rushing rivers ideal for white water rafting.
  • A rainy day is a great excuse to spend an afternoon wandering around one of the country's many galleries or museums.
  • Our luscious countryside, dense forests, and beautiful gardens would not be so verdant and rich if it wasn't for all the rain.
  • There would be no puddles to splash in!
  • And no beautiful rainbows!

Did you know?

  • Strong winds driving in from the Atlantic and North Sea make the Outer Hebrides and Sutherland a paradise for windsurfers.
  • The long daylight hours means that you could play a round of golf in the middle of the night on Orkney and Shetland.
  • Long dark winter nights are the best time to see amazing constellations of stars at Scotland's designated Dark Sky areas.
  • The Gulf Stream brings warm winds to Scotland's west coast. You can find palm trees in the Highland coastal town of Plockton.
  • Dundee is Scotland's sunniest city, with an average of 1,523 hours of sunshine per year.

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