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Best time to visit Scotland

Planning a visit to Scotland including Orkneys. We have either late May or anytime in September as options. Is there a favored time?TIA

Posted by
934 posts

Late May every time ,long ,long days you might get 4 more hours of daylight

Posted by
313 posts

Thanks Richard. I was thinking about weather but I'm glad you pointed out the daylight hours. Had not considered.

Posted by
6511 posts

The latter part of May also has a lesser chance of rain and more sunny days than September, so if weather is a big determiner go in late May.

Posted by
5709 posts

Another vote for May. However, there is a Bank Holiday the last weekend in May, so places will be busier and more expensive than normal.

Posted by
5648 posts

Still, be prepared for rain any time. That's why the Orkneys are so green, and the sheep have so much grass to munch!

Posted by
4171 posts

We always travel in May or September. You beat the majority of tourists, the summer heat, and the higher prices for airfare and lodging that seem to accompany the main tourist months.

Posted by
33 posts

I'm curious about the rain in May vs. September; Is the fact that it rains more in Sept than May mainly for Orkney, or the majority of Scotland?

Posted by
5789 posts

See: https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/scotland/best-time-1b53488d-9bea-4411-840f-6297e11ffd72

Western Scotland climate: https://www.metoffice.gov.uk/climate/uk/regional-climates/ws

Northern Scotland climates: https://www.metoffice.gov.uk/climate/uk/regional-climates/ns

This describes the main features of the climate of Northern Scotland,
comprising Highland Region, the Western Isles, Orkney and Shetland.

The number of hours of bright sunshine is controlled by the length of
day and by cloudiness. In general, December is the dullest month and
May or June the sunniest.

Rainfall is generally well-distributed throughout the year. The
frequency of Atlantic depressions is normally greatest during the
autumn and winter but, unlike other parts of the UK, Scotland tends to
remain under their influence for much of the summer too. In the
western and northern areas there is an autumn/early winter maximum,
whereas places close to the Moray Firth tend to have a more even
distribution through the year. Late spring and early summer is
normally the driest
part of the year.

Posted by
6511 posts

Dave, looking at rainfall averages and average number of sunny days, month by month, it appears that May has less rainfall and more sunny days than Sept in most of Scotland. I looked at Kirkwall (Orkney), Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dumfries & Galloway, and Isle of Skye and it held true for all of them to varying degrees.

Posted by
33 posts

I'm trying to decide between late May or September, and personally I'm strongly leaning towards May; however my wife has knows someone on the east coast (Stonehaven), that says opposite of most that I'm reading on here and in another post or two. Something else to consider though is that different areas receive different weather. We intend to also visit Skye and Orkney, in addition to the Highlands, Argyll & Bute, Stirling area, and Edinburgh. I've looked at the above links before, which have helped, though it looks like it would still be chilly in late May. I'll have to bundle my family up in layers!