Summer is the most popular time to visit the Scottish Highlands for vacation goers. With so many incredible hiking spots to choose from, the warmer months are ideal for exploring. As well as the breathtakingly beautiful lochs with their easy circular walks, the most challenging peaks and the highest Bens, there are also some charming little towns and villages to discover. These places come to life in the summer and are bustling with locals and tourists alike. Here’s a guide to visiting the Highlands at everyone’s favorite time of year.
June, July and August are the hottest months across the whole of Scotland. You can expect average temperatures ranging from 15°C (59°F) to 17°C (63°F). But it can get much warmer, with highs of over 20°C (68°F) being common. Some of the hottest days of the year have reached 33°C (91°F) in some parts of the country.
With a high latitude, Scotland enjoys long summer days and extended twilight, giving you plenty of sunlight hours to experience the wonderful outdoors and fantastic attractions. The wettest period is late spring to early summer, so rainfall is still possible throughout the summer season. But as the locals often say, “If you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes.”
Rain never lasts too long, and there are plenty of great things to do either way.
What to Pack
Make sure you pack plenty of layers for your vacation in the Scottish Highlands. The weather can change at any time, so warmer and cooler layers are essential for hiking or a day out exploring the towns and villages. If you are planning on hiking here, good walking boots or shoes are essential. While trainers are sufficient for short walks and ambles, proper walking footwear is recommended for any uphill trails, such as the Bens or Munros.
A lightweight waterproof jacket or umbrella are also necessary in case of change in weather, as is sun protection. The UV index is as high as 5 in June and July, so sun cream and sunglasses are a must.
Things to Do
This is the perfect time to go hiking. Challenging peaks such as Ben Nevis, which are often avoided during cold or wet weather, are popular destinations in the summer time. There are also some lovely lochside walks that combine stunning loch views with fantastic nature. And with over 31,460 freshwater lochs in Scotland, there are plenty of spot to choose from.
If you’re looking for a city break, add Inverness to your itinerary. It’s the capital of the Highlands and offers excellent shopping, sightseeing, nightlife and culture. Another popular tourist destination is Fort William, known as the “Gateway to the Highlands”.
Best Time to Visit
July and August promise more chance of heat the longest hours of sunshine. However, if you’re wanting to miss the busy crowds, travel in shoulder season instead. In early June or September, when schools are still in term time, Highland towns are much quieter. The shoulder season also benefits from some of the best weather too.