My husband and I are planning a trip to Scotland in 2020. We are trying to decide whether to go mid-April to mid-May 2020 or mid September to mid-October 2020. We usually travel in the Fall but would love to hear the input from this forum. Thank you.
In my opinion, either is fine. A few years ago we visited Scotland in May and Ireland in October and had good luck with weather on both trips.
If the amount of daylight matters to you, that argues for April-May rather than September-October. I have not researched off-season weather so cannot comment on temperature or precipitation during either period. I recommend taking a look at actual day-by-day weather statistics over the last few years for a few of your planned destinations. They can be found at timeanddate.com. I've linked to Edinburgh's weather data for May 2018.
My personal preference would be April in to May. The countryside will be coming alive, and you will get more daylight each day. September in to October, daylight hours will be getting shorter, and some castles and other venues will be closing down at the end of September.
The lambs will be out on the hills, gorse, daffs, snowdrops, and crocuses will be blooming. Yes, springtime is the time for me, anyway.
But whichever time of year you decide upon, you're going to love Scotland!
Our consistent experience year to year in Scotland (we rent a flat in Edinburgh) is most places that close for winter don’t do so until early November and most in cities have wonderful off season or year round programs enjoyed by locals.
Holyrood has some fantastic off season experiences, as do churches with their concert offerings. We find as the years go by that in cities seasonal closings to be less of an issue than in past but always good to research ahead.
We prefer October and have stayed as late as mid November with no problems. Only once, in a remote Highland hike to a castle, we encountered a closed facility upon arrival. It still was a lovely hike.
Fall is a sublime mix of fall foliage as well as some flowers in gardens still in bloom as late as early November.
Following weather trends and your preference for daylight is smart suggestion. Year to year can vary, we’ve discovered. One year was warm October into November and the next was breezy and chilly.
Recommend signing up for This Is Edinburgh newsletter online to receive year round venue schedules.
Good luck and let us know what you decide!
In the spring you will have lovely long days with lots of light. It will be chilly. But to be honest it is rarely "hot" in Scotland. I would go in May rather than April if you choose spring. The days are longer and a wee bit warmer. In September you see the remnants of the heather that is still on the hillside. The days are still long, but not as May. If you want to know the exact amount of daylight check out this site. While I've visited Scotland in June, July, August, and September, I really like late August and early September. You get a bit of the energy of the Festival in Edinburgh and then the relaxation of September when the kids are back in school, and you can stil explore all of Scotland.
I would go in April-May for the reasons Mike (Auchterless) mentions — being there for the arrival of Spring would be so wonderful!!
Easter Sunday is 12 April in 2020, so places will be very busy and more expensive a week or 10 days either side of this date. I would go for the month of May, rather than mid April, if possible, as the weather should be getting warmer.
Most places stay open until at least the end of October these days, so going in autumn won’t affect your enjoyment. If you went in September/ October, depending on where you were visiting, you should see the hillsides turn purple with the heather and possibly see rutting deer.