I'm in the very early process of planning a two+ week trip to Scotland for summer of 2022. Our two options right now are late May/early June or very late August/early September. Most of our time will be spent in the Highlands touring, potentially taking some small hikes - we're not city people but are planning on spending a few days in Edinburgh at the front end of either trip. I know that weather in Scotland can be iffy all the time but we're trying increase our odds of decent weather while also avoiding midges and the crowds of the Fringe in Edinburgh. Personal recs?
Late May / early June is by far the best season: the days are much longer (giving you a lot more flexibility if the weather changes a lot during the day), and it should be less busy.
We've been to Scotland twice, both times in May, and loved it. The days are very long, which is great for outdoor activities and seeing the scenery.
We mostly focused on the western highlands. I'd say our favorite experiences included:
boat cruise on Loch Lomond out of Luss
visiting Inveraray Castle
staying overnight in Stonefield Castle Hotel on the Kintyre peninsula
visiting Urquhart Castle
visiting the Loch Ness Centre and Exhibition
Culloden Battlefield visitor centre (didn't see much outdoors because it was pouring rain at the time)
Did I mention we like castles? LOL. For hiking, Aviemore seems to be a popular base. Hope this helps!
An additional advantage of May/June is that if we are continuing to have COVID waves at that time, you'll have the option of slipping the trip just a few months, to September. If you plan for September and it doesn't work out, you'll be postponing for eight months.
Thanks everyone! May is looking better and better! Have the midges made their presence known yet in May in the highlands?
I've been in the last half of June and in the August / September window. My sister took a trip in May as did my parents. And yes, there is lovely long light in June and May, but it's not dark by any stretch of the imagination in late August! Here's a website to check for yourself. . In late August there are still local families take vacation as school starts in early September in Scotland. In late August you'll get to see the heather in bloom. It's not at its peak in September, but it is still beautiful. You can't avoid midges. You can't avoid rain.
If you want to hike--walk in Scottish terms--the best thing to do is to locate somewhere you do day trips that allow you to dodge the weather. Everyone wants to walk in the West. But the west tends to have the most rain. That's why my walking trips have been based out of small towns near Inverness. From there you can get to the West if the weather is clear, and if not look to the East either down to the Cairngorms or up the coast toward Dornoch. I've been on 7 or 8 week-long walking trips and probably had only one or two total washouts! You can't let a little rain stop you from walking. Have proper gear--water proof not water resistant jacket. I recommend rain pants, good waterproof hiking boots, a midgie hat, and layers.
Whenever you go you'll have a wonderful time.
I would avoid Edinburgh in August unless you want to go to the Fringe. Early June would be my choice. Warm enough (hopefully) but before the busy school holiday period.
Another vote for May/June. We spent a week in Scotland in May 2016, including 2 days in the Highlands and 2 in Oban, and enjoyed lovely weather every day but the last (in Glasgow).
With your interest in the Highlands, you might consider the programs offered by HF Holidays, a member-owned cooperative that offers all-inclusive packages with lodging and meals, plus guided walking or “discovery” touring, from a lovely country house on Loch Leven in the Highlands:
Non-members are welcome with a slight additional fee. We really enjoy the activities and camaraderie at these country houses, and the food is excellent.
Maybe we'll see you there. Our Scotland 2020 tour is now tentatively scheduled for 16 days from late May to mid June. After an additional year of planning and the advice we've received, we're confident this is a perfect time of year. Word of advice to not delay booking hotels. When we were planning for 2020 we found that even this far in advance some hotels in smaller areas were already filling up.
We were in Scotland and Northern England in Late September and were comfortable in sweaters and a waterproof jacket with a scarf or knit hat. Good walking shoes; sometimes the walks up to castles is cut grass. It was still warm some days. Look at www.visitscotland.com for a great gateway site. We did visit the "Highlands" and Northern England with Hadrian's Wall and Durham. The Borders with Medieval Castles and Abbeys. Dumfries; Bobby Burns hometown. Glasgow for Art & Music. Edinburgh for the Castle. Stirling, etc. I live on an Island in the Salish Sea, surrounded by Forests, Volcanos and Whales....but I still got a bang out of the Castles on the hill or by the loch, with the Heather in the Fall.
Another vote for late May/early June. As well as long hours of daylight you will also get the spring flowers. Depending on where you go, you may also see puffins...
Our trip there a few years ago was in May. Looking at the trip photos we mostly wore light, long sleeves or lightweight jackets. Most of the time it was sunny and it was overcast a few days. We got some rain on a couple days but it didn’t stop us from doing what we had planned. Essentially, typical UK weather.