Climate of Scotland

Climate of Scotland

Where is the country of United Kingdom located? Scotland is a part of United Kingdom. According to the Köppen climate classification Scotland has a moderate maritime climate (types Cfb), with relatively mild winters, moderately warm summers and precipitation throughout the year. The surrounding seawater has a dampening effect on both heat in summer and cold in winter.

Scotland has a reputation for being very wet and that is partly true. The Scottish Highlands are wet, gray and cool. Rainfall here is on average about 250 days a year, of which about a hundred days in the form of snow. Large parts of the Scottish Highlands are covered with a good layer of snow for a fairly large part of the winter. The South Scottish Highlands, which extend over almost the entire south of Scotland, are also quite wet. Here too, snow falls regularly in winter, but less frequently than in the Scottish Highlands. The central lowlands, which run from Dumbarton and Glasgow in the west to Dundee, Edinburgh and Dunbar in the east, are slightly less wet than the higher elevations. The amounts of precipitation do not only differ between the different heights, there are also clear differences from west to east. Because the majority of the showers are brought in from the west, the eastern part of Scotland is a lot drier than the west. Especially east of the Scottish Highlands and the Southern Scottish Highlands, you notice that the mountains and hills have already absorbed large parts of the precipitation. At the same latitude, there can be differences in the amount of annual precipitation of more than two thousand millimeters over a distance of only 150 kilometers. The wettest spots in the highlands account for more than 3,000 millimeters annually, while many places along the east coast account for just 600 to 800 millimeters. That is comparable to the amount of precipitation in the Netherlands.

Influence of sea

Because of its location in the northwest of Europe, Scotland is influenced by the Atlantic Ocean. For a large part of the year there is a westerly airflow, which ensures the supply of often humid and in winter relatively warm air. Much of the precipitation falls in the western part of Scotland.

The relatively warm seawater that flows from the south-west to Scotland by the Gulf Stream creates a warming effect in the winter months. If Scotland did not have this warm seawater, it would be considerably colder in winter. Now Scotland has winter temperatures that are well on the high side for this latitude.

Fresh summers

Summers in Scotland are too cold for a sun and beach holiday. In the central lowlands and along the eastern coastal areas, the daytime temperature can rise to 17 to 19 degrees on average during the summer. In warm periods, especially when there is a strong high pressure area to the north or northeast of Scotland, temperatures can shoot into the 30s. However, such summer conditions are more the exception than the rule, summer weather in Scotland usually means between 22 and 25 degrees. In large cities such as Glasgow and Edinburgh, the heat can linger a little longer, so that it can still be pleasant on the terrace in the evening. In the Scottish Highlands and on the many islands, such as the Hebrides and the Shetland Islands, it is a lot cooler in the summer. Daytime temperatures of between ten and sixteen degrees, with possible spikes to slightly above twenty degrees, are what awaits you there during the hottest months (July and August).

Foggy and gray

Scotland regularly has to deal with fog, which has various causes. The fog in the Scottish Highlands is often the result of low-hanging clouds. It can be foggy and dark for days in the winter months. Especially in combination with drizzle, this creates the characteristic photos you see of the Scottish mountains. Radiation fog is common throughout Scotland in the autumn. This is fog caused by differences in temperature between the wet ground and the air. Over a snowy surface, you can sometimes see this effect on sunny days with a thin layer of fog hanging over the ground. Along the east coast of Scotland there are sometimes fog banks in late spring that drift inland from the sea. This is also caused by temperature differences, in this case by warm air above still relatively cool seawater.

Scotland’s entire climate provides many cloudy days. Depression from the sea, a less powerful sun due to the location and the geographical conditions mean that many days in Scotland are gray and gloomy. Because nature enjoys this climate and large parts of Scotland often display bright green colors outside the winter period, this country gets its so characteristic appearance.


Under the influence of depressions that are brought in by sea, Scotland suffers a lot from wind. Especially in the higher areas in the north there is often a stormy wind and the chance of storms is also high. Another place where the wind regularly has free reign is the southwest of Scotland. In the worst storms, the wind force can reach force 10 or 11 (heavy to hurricane-like), occasionally even hurricane force (wind force 12) is measured. There are never really any real hurricanes that arise from tropical depressions in Scotland.

Climate figures

The figures below are based on long-term average climate statistics. The temperatures are displayed in degrees Celsius (°C).

Maximum temperature Minimum temperature Hours of sunshine per day Days of rainfall per month Water temperature
January 3℃ -3℃ 1 23 8℃
February 5℃ -3℃ 1 18 7℃
March 7℃ -1℃ 2 21 7℃
April 10℃ 2℃ 4 19 8℃
May 14℃ 5℃ 6 17 10℃
June 17℃ 7℃ 6 16 12℃
July 18℃ 9℃ 5 17 13℃
August 17℃ 10℃ 5 19 14℃
September 14℃ 7℃ 4 22 14℃
October 10℃ 4℃ 2 23 12℃
November 6℃ 0℃ 1 22 10℃
December 4℃ -1℃ 1 21 9℃

Best time to visit Scotland

Do you want to know when is the best time to travel to Scotland? You can determine the best time to travel to a destination based on the weather and climate. In addition, there are other factors that are not directly related to the weather and that can influence the best travel periods for a travel destination. Think, for example, of holidays or festive periods, which makes traveling more interesting or not, because daily life comes to a standstill as a result. Whoever travels to Scotland will not do so to seek the good weather. Characteristic for this country is that it is quite cool, rainy, windy and often cloudy. Its location on the British Isles makes Scotland very sensitive to depressions brought in from the Atlantic Ocean. Because Scotland is located on the northern side of Great Britain, there is quite often an unfiltered supply of rain areas. This creates the characteristic Scottish landscapes: green, water-rich and regularly clouds in the sky. It gives the country a kind of brutal appeal. The moments when the sun shines are appreciated.

Best months

Due to the higher temperatures and the smaller chance of precipitation, the period from May to August is the best time to travel for a holiday in Scotland. The maximum temperatures in many places are between 12 and 22 degrees, with the months of July and August being the warmest with average maximums of around twenty degrees. In the Scottish Highlands it is on average slightly cooler than in the lower areas in the south of Scotland. It is even cooler on the Shetland Islands: count on afternoon temperatures of 12 to 16 degrees in the summer.

City ​​trips

If you want to make a city trip to Edinburgh, Glasgow or another Scottish city, you should preferably do so between May and August. The rest of the year is also fine, especially because the winters are quite mild in Scotland. The chance that you will need your umbrella is greater. The period October to February is quite gloomy due to the limited amount of sunshine.

Traveling around Scotland

A popular form of holiday in Scotland is through a tour. This way you can get acquainted with the different sides of the country, including the beautiful nature. The Scottish Highlands in particular are a popular destination for a tour through Scotland, where you can take beautiful walks. The weather is an important factor in this. The chance of a rain shower is present all year round, but is smaller in the summer. This is also the warmest and sunniest period. As a result, the period from June to August is the best time to travel to Scotland.

The autumn break is also a great time for those who want to discover the nature of Scotland. The autumn colors provide magical pictures. It’s a bit of luck in terms of weather, but good hiking boots in combination with a waterproof and windproof raincoat are good tools in the fall.

Winter sports

What not everyone knows is that you can do winter sports in Scotland. In winter it is cold enough in the higher areas to snow. The combination of snow and mountains ensures that you can ski in Scotland. To a limited extent, because relatively soft air can disturb the snow conditions. There are several ski areas spread across Scotland: the Cairngorm Mountain, the Glencoe Mountain, Glenshee, the Nevis Range and The Lecht. The best time to travel for a ski holiday in Scotland is from January to mid – February.