Things To Do in Scotland in Winter: The Ultimate Guide

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Scotland’s winter weather can be miserable, with temperatures rarely rising above 6°c and daylight at just 6-7 hours per day.

Luckily then, Scotland also has some of the best tourist attractions in the world with outdoor destinations like the Highlands offering first-class winter sports and cities like Edinburgh and Glasgow offering lots of warm indoor activities.

Discover exactly where to go and what to do on a winter break in Scotland in this ultimate guide.

Things To Do in Scotland in Winter: The Ultimate Guide 5

Scotland in winter

Scotland is popular with tourists for lots of reasons thanks to the beautiful scenery, the amazing cities and the fascinating history, but what isn’t so popular is the dreary winter weather.

It’s often said that a holiday to Scotland will let you experience all four seasons in one day, and to be honest that’s pretty much spot-on.

While Scotland enjoys truly glorious weather in the summer months, with an average of 17 hours of daylight at an average 19°c, the winter months are a completely different beast.

Between November and February the temperature rarely rises above 6°c and the amount of daylight drop to a slightly miserable 6-7 hours per day.

But that doesn’t mean Scotland should be avoided outside of the summer months and if you come to visit us between November and February you’ll quickly find that our winters provide some of the best holiday experiences in Europe.

We’ll explore a few ideas for things to do on a Scottish winter break in a moment, but first, let’s take a more in-depth look at the reality of our winter weather so that you know exactly what to expect when you arrive.

Facts about Scotland’s winter weather

While Scottish weather doesn’t differ dramatically from other countries sitting at this latitude it might come as a bit of a shock to the system if you’re used to a warmer climate.

In general, the weather here is similar to the rest of the UK, although it’s usually a couple of degrees cooler because we’re further north.

Where Scotland differs a great deal is in the Highlands which has weather conditions that can dramatically change in minutes, and many a hiker has set out in blazing sunshine in the morning only to find themselves stuck in driving snow in the evening.

With so many winter sports attracting tourists from far and wide it’s no surprise that the Scottish Mountain Rescue Service (SMR) is one of the busiest in Europe. Just take a look at the statistics:

  • There were a total of 672 call-outs to the Scottish Mountain Rescue service in 2019.
  • Of these incidents 243 involved mountaineers and 259 involved non-mountaineers.
  • Bad weather is a critical factor in winter weather incidents, especially in the western Highlands where around 3,000 mm of rain falls each year.
  • In the Cairngorms, you can expect snowfall for more than 100 days each year and the average winter temperature is 0°c.

Before heading outside check what the weather is doing with my handy Weather Forecast Map.

Daylight hours in Scotland

winter

Along with our cold weather you need to bear in mind that Scotland’s daylight hours are probably lower than you’re used to due to the fact that we’re so far north of the equator – unless you’re an Eskimo of course. Then you’ll be amazed at how long our winter days are.

For everyone else, you’ll find that in winter we get an average of just 7 hours of daylight, with the shortest day being 21st December where it’s full light from around 8.30 am to 3.30 pm. At the beginning and end of our winters you’ll find that daylight lasts from 7 am to 6 pm.

Note that these timings are for the capital city of Edinburgh which lies in the southern region of the country. If you head to the far north of Scotland (the Shetland Islands for example) you’ll find the daylight hours decrease to around 9 am to 3 pm on the shortest day – a mere six hours of light.

The moral here is to start your day early but be prepared to come back early too, unless you’re in a city. You’ll find a huge number of things to do in our cities at all times of the day in winter which is why I wrote a guide about why I think January is one of the best months to visit Scotland.

What to pack and wear for a winter break in Scotland

Scotland’s weather can change at the drop of the hat and there’s been more than one occasion where a hillwalker has set out in blazing sunshine wearing shorts and a T-shirt and found themselves lost in snow just a few hours later. But it’s easy to keep yourself safe by using a little common sense.

  1. If you’re setting out for a hike in the wilderness make sure you take a backpack with you (Amazon link to the backpacks I use) and pack extra lightweight clothes in the bottom. Include additional thermal baselayers (Amazon link) and keep an insulated top in your bag as well as a hat and gloves. Make sure you keep your extremities warm because your body will shut those parts down first in an effort to keep your essential organs working.
  2. Even if the weather looks ok when setting out on a hike I always throw a pac-a-mac (Amazon link for the one I have) in my bag. I’ve lost count of the number of times it has protected me from an unforeseen soaking.
  3. Keep your head warm. You’d be amazed at the amount of heat you lose through the top of your head and I’ve got a Thinsulate hat (Amazon link) in my pocket at all times. Likewise with gloves. They don’t take up a lot of space and they’re worth their weight in gold when the weather turns bad.
  4. Wear sturdy hiking boots (Amazon link to Berghaus boots which I swear by) and DO NOT set off up a mountain in a pair of crocs or trainers. This one blows my mind and I can never understand why people wear inappropriate footwear for a hike in winter. I’ve got two pairs of boots – one heavy-duty pair for winter and a lightweight pair for summer – and I recommend you get a pair too. See my guide to the best hiking boots to wear in Scotland for more advice on the subject.
  5. Take a portable power pack (Amazon link) with you. A mobile phone offers more than mountain-top Instagram selfies and it can become a genuine lifesaver if you need to call the rescue services. Protect your phone in a waterproof bag and charge your power pack before you depart so you know that whatever happens, you’ll be able to make a call (as long as there’s a signal of course).

Advice for winter driving in Scotland

winter city

Scotland really comes alive in winter and I honestly don’t think there’s anything more breathtaking than seeing a vast snow-capped mountain on a crisp, clear day.

It’s a truly spectacular experience especially if you’re up north in somewhere like Glencoe. Unfortunately, all this gob-smacking gorgeousness comes at a cost for drivers and that’s due to the fact that our roads are potentially quite dangerous after a snowfall, especially if you’ve come from a hot climate and you’re not used to it.

There are a few points to note about our roads that you must understand before you head off on that long-distance winter road-trip you’ve been planning.

First off, our roads are constantly subjected to extremes of weather with heavy downpours soaking the surface and freezing temperatures turning all that water into slippery ice. This has two consequences that can easily catch out the unwary driver.

  1. In winter you’ll frequently find a recent covering of snow hides a sheet of ice underneath it which is a combination that can become lethal if you don’t take care and slow down.
  2. This constant expansion and contraction of ice lead to the British drivers biggest nightmare (apart from speed cameras of course). Potholes. Massive, deep, and dangerous potholes that can throw your car off course without warning. While the roads are repaired fairly regularly in Scotland it’s unavoidable that these potholes can suddenly appear, so please keep an eye open for them.

If you’d rather not drive you can still experience many of Scotland’s best attractions by booking yourself onto a guided tour, and Rabbie’s small group tours of the UK and Ireland has to be one of the best in my personal opinion.

This company specializes in small group tours so you’ll never find yourself stuck on a big coach with a load of screaming children (and adults), and what better way to experience Scotland in winter than have someone else do all the driving for you?

So we know by now that winter in Scotland has its pros, but unfortunately, it has its cons too.

All this is of no consequence if you’re a hardened mountaineer or a hill walker where a little bit of dreich (dreary) and jeelit (freezing) weather isn’t going to put you off, even if it is blowing a hoolie (it’s very windy).

But what if you’re a mum or dad with a couple of kids in tow? Or maybe you’re a bit older and don’t fancy braving the cold?

Well luckily for you there are more indoor activities in Scotland than you can shake a woolly glove at, especially in the cities where tourist attractions have entertained weather-weary locals for decades.

The following list aims to offer you a few suggestions for making the most of your time in Scotland without having to wipe any icicles from your nose, although you might feel the need to warm up inside one of our pubs with a wee dram of Scotch whisky, purely for medicinal reasons of course…

Things to do in Edinburgh in winter

As the capital of Scotland, Edinburgh is home to a dizzying amount of attractions that will keep you entertained when it’s cold and damp outside, and this is a city that seems to have been designed with tourists in mind.

From the cosy pubs along Rose Street to the sprawling maze of rooms in Edinburgh Castle, you’ll find enough to keep an entire family occupied no matter the state of the weather outside.

Add to this the theatres, museums and art galleries (most of which are free), the fantastic array of places to eat and one of the best winter festivals in Europe, and Edinburgh has to be at the top of your list for things to do in Scotland in winter. Let’s check out a few of the best attractions with the list below.

(1) Edinburgh Castle

  • Address: Castlehill, Edinburgh EH1 2NG, UK
places to go in Scotland in January

Who needs sunny skies when you’ve got the grandest castle in Europe in the middle of Scotland’s capital city? Edinburgh Castle deserves its place as the number one tourist attraction in Scotland, with over 2 million visitors walking around its ancient rooms, corridors and courtyards each year.

But while a visit to this incredibly popular attraction in summer will see you getting stuck in enormous queues as you fight to dodge a thousand eye-poking selfie sticks, visit the castle in winter and you’ll find that it’s a much more relaxed affair.

The castle is full of places to explore and although the entry cost is on the pricey side at £17.50 (as of 2021), there’s more than enough activities to keep families occupied for an entire day.

On-site attractions include the Scottish National War Memorial, the National War Museum, several regimental museums, the Royal Palace and Saint Margaret’s Chapel, and all will keep visitors entertained for hours. Tired feet can then take a rest at the excellent castle café and restaurant in the main courtyard.

While you’re at the castle make sure you take the time to see the crown, sceptre and sword of state of the Scottish Crown Jewels and learn about their incredible history before stopping to take a few photos looking out over the panorama of the city from the cannons on the half-moon battery.

And as an extra tip, make sure you’re in the courtyard near the café to hear the ear-popping one o’clock gun being fired (at… 1 pm…), a tradition that has been re-enacted every day since 1861.

You can find out more about this attraction with my complete guide to Edinburgh Castle.

(2) Edinburgh’s Christmas Festival

  • Address: Princes Street, Edinburgh
Edinburgh's Christmas

Forget your high-end Christmas shopping in London or your Gluwein-fuelled Christmas markets in Germany, if you really want to experience the spirit of Christmas then you have to come to Edinburgh in December to experience our Christmas festival extravaganza.

We don’t do things by half in Auld Reekie and not only will you find one of the best Christmas markets in the UK but you’ll find more Santa-themed shows and activities than you can poke a candy cane at.

Princes Street Gardens host more than 130 chalets selling gifts and souvenirs from haggis to German sausages, hand-carved wooden nutcrackers to personalized Christmas ornaments, and clothes ranging from cashmere tops to tartan woolly scarves. If you want to enjoy family shopping while sipping on a warm glass of mulled wine, the Edinburgh Christmas market is the place to do it.

Nearby you’ll find a funfair with a big wheel, the (slightly terrifying) star flyer, a Christmas theme park for younger children, an ice skating rink, a gallery of ice sculptures and more friendly pubs and bars than you’ll be able to stagger between.

Not only that but there are shows-a-plenty during Edinburgh’s Christmas with regular appearances by the circus and cabaret act La Clique, the camp-as-Christmas annual panto at the Kings Theatre and sing-along musicals at the Edinburgh Playhouse.

You can learn more about this amazing event with my complete guide to Edinburgh’s Christmas.

(3) The National Museum of Scotland

  • Address: Chambers St, Edinburgh, EH1 1JF
national musuem edinburgh

Cold winds and rainy days do not make a fun-filled holiday, but who needs to be outside when you can explore the maze of exhibits at The National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh.

This enormous museum easily rivals any other worldwide and not only can you get lost in the wonders of history in the modern part of the buildings but you can marvel at the restored architecture of the Victorian Grand Gallery as well.

One of the things I love about the National Museum of Scotland is that it isn’t just a load of stuffy old information booths and boring skeletons like you might find in some other museums, but instead you’ll find a collection of fascinating exhibitions that will take you through the wonders of nature, art, design, fashion, science and technology.

There are galleries containing meteorites from the dawn of our planet, galleries exploring the history of Scotland, galleries displaying incredibly lifelike animals from an extinct T. rex to an endangered Scottish wildcat, galleries focussed on world culture and galleries showing just about anything you can possibly imagine in-between.

Another great feature of the National Museum is that it has lots of interactive experiences for kids to get involved with, so not only will a visit there keep them entertained but they’ll come away having learnt a few things too.

If you have some extra time on your hands the museum frequently has premium exhibitions that showcase everything from the history of video games to the history of fashion. There are also a couple of cafés if you feel the need to take a break and the gift shop sells lots of quality souvenirs. Best of all, entry to the museum is completely free.

You can find out more about the National Museum of Scotland by checking out my Guide to Free Edinburgh Attractions.

(4) The Scottish National Gallery

  • Address: The Mound, Edinburgh, EH2 2EL
scottish national gallery

Freezing-cold Scottish winters needn’t stop you from enjoying Scotland’s fine collections of artworks and the Scottish National Gallery at The Mound in Edinburgh city centre contains more than enough culture to keep you busy for an entire afternoon or longer.

Masterpieces from around the world are housed at this art gallery, with artworks from Botticelli, Rembrandt, Vermeer, Van Gogh, Monet and many others displayed across two interlinked buildings – the National Gallery building and the Royal Scottish Academy Building.

The Royal Scottish Academy is used as an exhibition space (usually with an entrance fee) and includes an underground gardens level that houses a restaurant, shop and visitor facilities, while the National Gallery building next door (free to enter) houses the major artworks of the collection.

As well as art from international painters, this gallery also contains great examples of Scottish artworks and there are also storytelling sessions for children.

There’s even a free bus that will take you to the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art a few miles away so you can spend most of the day lost in the world of art without having to pay a penny.

You can find out more about the Scottish National Gallery by checking out my Guide to Free Edinburgh Attractions.

Things To Do in Scotland in Winter: The Ultimate Guide 13

Things to do in Glasgow in winter

As the biggest city in Scotland, Glasgow has loads to see and do when it’s cold outside.

This is a city with a rich industrial heritage, and in addition to free attractions like the iconic Kelvingrove Art Gallery and the Riverside Museum, you can enjoy a vibrant city centre with some of the best shopping in Scotland and enough theatres, cinemas, bars and restaurants to make your head spin.

Not only that but there are plenty of museums, galleries, landmarks and historic buildings to keep visitors happy no matter their age, and if it’s dry there are even a few country parks to wander around. Let’s check out a few top ideas for your next visit to Glasgow with the list below.

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scotland mountains

(5) Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum

  • Address: Argyle St, Glasgow, G3 8AG

Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum houses one of Europe’s greatest art collections across twenty-two themed galleries and its extensive collections contain an incredible 8,000 objects in total.

The fact that the gallery offers such a diverse range of artefacts goes some way towards explaining why it’s the most visited free attraction in Scotland, even beating Edinburgh’s National Museum for annual footfall.

There’s a little bit of something for everyone at Kelvingrove and the list of displays and exhibitions is too big to include in this article, but some of the most popular exhibition areas are; the Arms and Armour Gallery, the Dutch Gallery, the French Gallery, the Charles Rennie Mackintosh Gallery and the West Court with its Spitfire aeroplane hanging from the ceiling.

Highlights of the museum have to be the painting by Salvador Dali, the Kelvingrove organ (daily recitals happen at 1 pm and 3 pm on Sundays), and the Fulton Orrery – one of the most complicated orreries in the world (an orrery is a mechanical 3D model of the solar system).

You can find out more about this attraction with my complete guide to Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum.

(6) Glasgow Cathedral

  • Address: Castle St, Glasgow, G4 0QZ
Glasgow Cathedral

Glasgow boasts the most complete medieval cathedral on the Scottish mainland with a building that features stunning stained glass windows and incredibly well-preserved ancient chapels.

The cathedral is thought to have been built on the site of St. Kentigern’s tomb (also know at St. Mungo) and many historians believe the cathedral is the birthplace of modern Glasgow.

There’s a lot to admire about this historic building, especially the ornate stone carvings in the main hall which are remarkably well-preserved considering they were made nearly a thousand years ago.

Even if you’re not a religious type you can’t help but feel a wee bit awe-struck by one of the finest collections of stained-glass windows in Britain.

You can also explore the spooky crypt that was built to house the tomb of St. Kentigern, the Blacader Aisle ceiling with its painted stone bosses and some seriously ugly gargoyles.

The icing on the cake is that after you’ve wandered around the cathedral it’s only a short walk to two more free attractions – The Necropolis and the St. Mungo Museum.

You can find out more information about this historic attraction by reading my Guide to Glasgow Cathedral.

(7) The Necropolis

  • Address: Castle St, Glasgow, G4 0UZ
The Necropolis

The Glasgow Necropolis is one of the few outdoors locations included in this article but I’ve added it here because one of the best times to visit it is in the winter, when the light is fading and there’s a chill in the air.

This big, or should I say enormous burial site is the final resting place for over 50,000 of the city’s residents, and some of the most important people in Scottish history have their final resting place in this fascinating city of the dead.

As the need for extra burial grounds began to reach crisis point in the 19th-century, Glasgow’s city councillors added several extensions to The Necropolis and today the entire site covers a remarkable 37 acres.

This is great news for tourists as it’s easy to walk through the network of paths that meander all the way through the graveyard, and it has to be one of the few places in Glasgow where you can forget that you’re in the middle of Scotland’s biggest city.

A walk through the Necropolis will reveal many monuments to Scotland’s most prominent historical figures, including Charles Rennie Mackintosh (actually buried in London), and William Miller, the man responsible for the children’s nursery rhyme Wee Willie Winkie!

It might seem like a bit of a strange place to visit but Glasgow’s Necropolis is well worth the journey on a crisp winters day.

If you want to know more about this historic attraction you can read my Complete Guide to the Glasgow Necropolis.

(8) The Riverside Museum of Transport

  • Address: 100 Pointhouse Place, Glasgow, G3 8RS
The Riverside Museum of Transport

If you’re going to spend a day in Glasgow then you have to take a walk along the banks of the River Clyde, the waterway that was once home to the city’s world-leading shipbuilding industry.

Those days, unfortunately, are long gone, but you can at least experience the history of Glasgow’s industrial heritage with a trip to the Museum of Transport.

This museum is free to enter and it’s big enough to easily spend an afternoon in when the temperature drops, especially if you combine it with a visit to the 120-year-old Tall Ship moored outside on Pointhouse Quay.

The Riverside Museum is one of the most popular museums in the city and each year over a million visitors flood through its doors, which is another reason why visiting Glasgow in the winter is such a great idea as there are hardly any queues.

Inside the building you’ll find an impressive range of transport memorabilia with full-size steam locomotives exhibited alongside buses, trams, cars and bikes, and over 3,000 objects are on display from Glasgow’s industrial past.

There’s even a recreation of a Victorian cobbled street, complete with shops and a subway station. If you’re any kind of transport buff or if you’ve got kids that love getting interactive with machinery then the Riverside Museum should definitely be at the top of your list of places to visit.

You can find out more information about this attraction by reading my Guide to The Glasgow Riverside Museum.

Things To Do in Scotland in Winter: The Ultimate Guide 18

Things to do in the Scottish Highlands in winter

The Scottish Highlands offer something for everyone at any time of the year, with tourists visiting the area throughout summer for the walks through the mountain ranges that would otherwise be impossible to reach in winter.

But even in the colder months this part of Scotland has a lot to keep visitors entertained, especially if they have a love of winter sports.

Glistening ice and miles of crisp, white snow will make you feel like you’re hiking in a winter wonderland, while adrenaline junkies will be more than happy with the dog-sledging, skiing, snowboarding and ice climbing at sites like Cairngorm Mountain.

Check out the activities below for ideas on your next Highland winter adventure.

(9) Ice Factor, near Glencoe

  • Address: Kinlochleven, PH50 4SF
ice climb

The National Ice Climbing Centre at Kinlochleven offers activities for all ages groups and abilities and it can accommodate you whether you’re a beginner or an experienced climber.

The centre features some of the worlds biggest indoor ice climbing walls and also has rock climbing walls with over 135 routes. Suffice to say if you’re in the area and you enjoy climbing then it’s going to be impossible to get bored at Ice Factor.

Beginners can take to the indoor climbing walls under the supervision of trained instructors, and equipment is available to rent on site if you don’t want to pay outright for your harness and safety gear on your first few climbs.

There are plenty of slabs, corners and overhangs to practice on and once you’ve got some practice under your belt you’ll eventually be able to take advantage of the experienced climber facilities.

The ice climbing wall is the highlight of Ice Factor and it’s second to none against any other indoor climbing centre in the world. Over 500 tonnes of real snow and ice have gone into constructing the wall which is a mightily impressive 12 metres (40 feet) high.

(10) The Visitor Centre at Culloden Battlefield

  • Address:  Culloden Moor, Inverness, IV2 5EU

The Culloden Visitor Centre is located on the site of Culloden Moor, the very same location where the Jacobite uprising of 1745 came to its final, bloody end. The battle almost entirely wiped out the Jacobite army and sealed the fate of the Young Pretender, Charles Edward Stuart.

If you’ve any interest in Scottish history then you really owe it to yourself to visit the battlefield where more than 1,500 Jacobites were killed in less than one hour.

The site is well set up for tourists thanks to the National Trust for Scotland and gravel paths lead around and through the moor, so even on icy days you’ll be able to explore the battlefield.

There are plenty of information panels at the sides of the path as you make your way around the site and it’s interesting to imagine how the scene would have looked on 16 April 1746 as the two armies faced each other.

Luckily for modern-day tourists there’s a superb indoor visitor centre that will tell you about all the events leading up the battle, during it, and how it shaped Scotland into the nation it is today.

The visitor centre serves to both entertain and inform with interactive exhibitions where characters from the battle retell their stories, and an immersive, 360-degree film will help you imagine what being in the centre of the fight would have actually been like.

There’s even an animated battle table to give you a birds-eye view of the sequence of events as they happened, and an excellent café will help you warm up after you’ve been for a walk around the moor.

You can find out more about this attraction with my Complete Guide to Culloden Battlefield.

(11) Cairngorm Mountain Centre

  • Address: CairnGorm Mountain Centre, Aviemore, PH22 1RB
cairngorm centre

The Scottish Highlands are home to some of the most dramatic mountain ranges in the world, and visitors from across the planet flock there in winter to enjoy the activities on offer. One of the favourite starting points for many Highland adventures is the Mountain Centre at Cairngorm.

Heading to the Cairngorms when a fresh dusting of snow has hit the landscape really is like stepping into another world, and your senses will initially struggle to take in the stark brightness of the snow glistening on the mountain tops stretching away into the distance.

Luckily, the Mountain Centre will help you get your bearings with lots of information guides, or you can just stay at the resort if you don’t want to wander too far.

The Cairngorm Mountain Centre caters for skiers and snowboarders with a variety of pistes that are suitable for both beginners and the more experienced, and a network of ski lifts will whisk you up to the mountaintop in double-quick time.

You can even hire your ski gear from the resort so you don’t have to cram it all into your car, but if you’re not feeling too excited about hurtling down a mountainside you can take a ride on the funicular railway instead, Britain’s highest railway which runs over 3,500 feet up to the restaurant and viewing platform on the mountain plateau.

You can find out more about this popular mountain attraction with my Complete Guide to the Cairngorm Funicular Railway.

(12) Wildlife Watching in the Cairngorms

  • Address: Speyside Wildlife, Wester Camerorie, Ballieward, Grantown on Spey, Cairngorms National Park, PH26 3PR
deer stag

Winter in the Cairngorms is one of the highlights for any visit to Scotland thanks to the variety of animals that descend from the mountain tops to the slightly warmer climate at the bottom.

Although many animals hibernate throughout the winter (red squirrels being one), you can still see plenty of other creatures about and the fact they’re on lower ground means they’re much easier to spot and photograph.

Alongside Highland cows and red deer you’ll frequently see mountain hares, ptarmigan, pine martens and badgers all scurrying about as they forage for food in the cold winter climate. And unlike summer, winter means you won’t get eaten alive by the midges that thrive during the warmer months.

You don’t even have to go traipsing through muddy woods to see Scotland’s wildlife either as there’s plenty of marine life along the coastline to keep an eye open for, and puffins, otters and dolphins can be regularly seen along much of the Highlands coastline.

Some tour operators like Highland Safaris will take you out into the wilds in fully kitted out 4×4 vehicles so you don’t have to worry about getting your boots muddy, while other tour guides like Speyside Wildlife offer hides and huts located in the heart of Scotland’s forests.

Perhaps the best way to experience Scotland’s winter wildlife is to just pack your backpack, pull on your boots and set off on a trek across the rugged landscape. But as we discussed earlier, be sure to check the weather before you set off, and make sure you take lots of warm hiking gear. After all, as the old Scottish saying goes, ‘there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothes’.

Speyside Wildlife is recommended on several Scottish wildlife websites. Take a look at their website here.

Well that’s about it for this guide to winter breaks in Scotland, but rest assured there’s plenty more information to help you decide where to visit in the rest of the website.

If you’d like to get some inspiration for things to do in Scotland in the warmer months, check out the Ultimate Guide to Visiting Scotland in Summer.


Frequently asked questions about winter in Scotland

What are Scotland’s daylight hours in winter?

Scotland has an average of 7 hours of winter daylight, with the shortest day being 21st December where it’s full light from around 8.30 am to 3.30 pm. At the beginning and end of our winters you’ll find that daylight lasts from 7 am to 6 pm. The hours vary depending on how far north or south you are.

What should I wear in Scotland in winter?

If you’re setting out for a hike in the wilderness wear thermal baselayers, keep an additional insulated top in your bag, and make sure you keep your extremities covered. In the cities wear normal clothes – jeans, jumper, jacket, woolly hat, gloves.

How cold does it get in Scotland in winter?

Between November and February the temperature rarely rises above 6°c anywhere in Scotland. Elevated areas like the Highlands are frequently covered in snow with temperatures around 0°c. Wind chill reduces the temperature by several degrees.

How much does it rain and snow in Scotland in winter?

While the Lowlands experience an increasingly mild climate the Highlands still get regular rain and snowfalls in winter. The Western Highlands see around 3,000mm of rain while the Cairngorms have snowfall for more than 100 days each winter.

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Don’t forget to bookmark Out About Scotland to discover the best places to visit in Scotland, learn what to do in each region and get suggestions for top tourist attractions to add to your Scottish sightseeing itinerary.

By Craig Neil

Scotland travel writer and specialist 360° photographer. Founder of the Out About Scotland travel website and Vartour virtual tours.