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Loch Lomond, Stirling Castle and Keplies Tour

Loch Lomond, Stirling Castle and Keplies Tour

  • Tour ID: 1002
  • Tour theme: Luxury Coach Tours ,
  • Duration: 1 Day: 9 Hours 30min approx
  • Starts from: Edinburgh

A day tour to one of the most beautiful areas of Scotland: the Trossachs. Enjoy Loch Lomond, and Stirling Castle, one of Scotlands most important castles...

The Scottish Highlands Essential Experience Tour

The Scottish Highlands Essential Experience Tour

  • Tour ID: 1094
  • Tour theme: Group Sightseeing Tours (Multi-days) ,
  • Duration: 5 Days / 4 Nights
  • Starts from: Edinburgh, Glasgow

The Essential Scottish Experience, tour highlands of Scotland and the western islands, Skye, Loch Ness, Glencoe, Oban, Simply the Best Tour of the Highlands...

Eilean Donan Castle and the Isle of Skye Tour Experience from Inverness

Eilean Donan Castle and the Isle of Skye Tour Experience from Inverness

  • Tour ID: 1208
  • Tour theme: Day Tours from the Highlands ,
  • Duration: 1 Day - 11 hours 45min approx.
  • Starts from: Inverness

This one day tour takes you thorough some of Scotland most iconic scenery, past Loch Ness and Eilean Donan Castle to reach the Isle of Skye. Magical Journey ..

The Isle of Skye Experience Tour

The Isle of Skye Experience Tour

  • Tour ID: 1095
  • Duration: 3 Days / 2 Nights
  • Starts from: Glasgow, Edinburgh

Skye The Misty Isle is our best kept secret and is one of Scotlands most breathtaking retreats, a 3 day Isle of Skye Tour, Loch Ness, Pitlochry and Highlands..

Loch Ness and Highlands Short Break Experience Tour

Loch Ness and Highlands Short Break Experience Tour

  • Tour ID: 1098
  • Duration: 2 Days / 1 Night

two day tour of the best that Northern Scotland has to offer, world-famous Loch Ness and imposing Scottish Highland mountains, also Inverness, Loch Ness Tour...

Glenfinnan Viaduct and Mallaig Tour from Inverness

Glenfinnan Viaduct and Mallaig Tour from Inverness

  • Tour ID: 1591
  • Duration: 1 Day - 12 hour approx.

Visit the Glenfinnan Viaduct, aka Hogwarts Express, take a photo as it crosses the bridge. Enjoy the beautiful scenery of Loch Ness and the scenic port of Mallaig. A must tour for any Harry Potter fan.

Loch Ness, Glencoe and Scottish Highlands Day Tour Experience from Edinburgh

Loch Ness, Glencoe and Scottish Highlands Day Tour Experience from Edinburgh

  • Tour ID: 1100
  • Tour theme: Edinburgh Day Tours (Group Tours) ,
  • Duration: 1 Day - 11 hours 30min approx.

Experience the best 1 day tour of Scotland, we go to the famous Loch Ness and Scottish Highlands, see the rich mountain scenery as you tour on the Nessie Bus...

Day Tour to John OGroats and Dunrobin Castle from Inverness

Day Tour to John OGroats and Dunrobin Castle from Inverness

  • Tour ID: 1585
  • Duration: 1 Day - 11 hours approx.

Day Tour from Inverness to most notherly point, John OGroats, Loch Fleet, explore Dunrobin Castle and enjoy stunning scenery on this tour from Inverness.

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A Guide to Visiting Scotland in Winter

Scotland Winter Travel Tips

Winter is one of the best times to visit Scotland, thanks to flights and hotels that are much cheaper than they are in the summer months and roads that are blissfully quiet compared to the busy tourist season. However, there are a few negatives that could disrupt your winter touring plans, with sub-zero temperatures, short daylight hours, and icy roads causing mayhem for the unwary traveller.

In this article, you’ll discover essential winter in Scotland travel advice that will help you explore the country safely, whether you’re planning an exciting road trip through the Highlands or a cosy weekend break in a city.

Winter Walk Scotland

Touring Scotland’s Cities in Winter

If you intend to visit Scotland to appreciate its culture and history, then I suggest you stick to Edinburgh and  Glasgow  for the duration of your winter stay. Both cities have great transport links, and as they’re within an hour of each other by train or car, you can easily fit a visit to both into one holiday.

The biggest bonus of taking a winter city break is that the weather doesn’t need to be a consideration as everything will be on your doorstep.

Want world-class restaurants? Try Bilson Eleven in Glasgow or The Kitchin in Edinburgh. Passionate about history? How about Glasgow Cathedral or  Edinburgh Castle ? Or maybe you have an energetic family, in which case take them to attractions like  Edinburgh Zoo  or Glasgow’s Kelvingrove Museum .

All these attractions are within easy access of the city centres and if the weather closes in there are always public transport services to take you somewhere else. Edinburgh has the excellent Lothian Buses which operate throughout the city and into the surrounding countryside from West to East Lothian .

There’s also a new tram system that offers fast travel across 10 miles from Edinburgh airport to the city centre and Leith . You’ll find updated timetables for trams and buses at the Transport For Edinburgh website, or you can download the Lothian Buses app on your phone.

edinburgh bus

Payment for either service is via pre-paid books of tickets from Lothian Bus shops (there’s one on Edinburgh’s Waverley Bridge) or on buses or trams using a contactless card or cash. Expect to pay around £5 for an all-day ticket which allows unlimited travel throughout the city.

Glasgow benefits from the ultra-efficient SPT subway system, which has trains that run every 5 minutes at peak times between an oval of 15 stations in all of the city’s main districts. You can either buy a single ticket or a  Subway Smartcard which allows you to top up as you go.

First Bus also runs a sizable bus network in Glasgow, but in my opinion, they are not nearly as nice as Edinburgh’s Lothian Buses. With that in mind, you might like to board a hop-on, hop-off bus instead, which will take you to all the major attractions on a circular tour that runs throughout the day.

If you want to explore both cities on a winter tour,, you can either drive between them, take a bus, or use the train. Personally, I suggest using the train, as it’s the fastest and easiest option, with half-hourly trains between Edinburgh Waverley station and Glasgow Central station that take around 90 minutes.

You could also drive, which takes around an hour via the M8 (depending on traffic), but be aware that parking charges in both cities are expensive, especially in the inner-city NCP car parks. As an example, the NCP Castle Hill car park near Edinburgh Castle charges £25 to leave your car for just six hours.

Another good option for touring between Scotland’s main cities is to take a bus using Megabus (my personal preference) or Citylink.

Pre-book Glasgow to Edinburgh bus tickets with Megabus

There are up to 72 daily services between Glasgow and Edinburgh with Megabus, and the journey takes just over an hour with stations in both city centres. Fares are usually around £5, but the price can double if you buy a ticket at the last minute.

Touring Scotland’s Countryside in Winter

winter road

One of the highlights of visiting Scotland in winter is carving up a mountain on a snowboard or pair of skis, and there are so many slopes in the Highlands you’ll be able to have a great time whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned expert.

If you fancy a challenge, why not head to Glencoe Mountain for the hair-raising Flypaper, which is officially Scotland’s steepest ski slope? On the other hand, if you’re a novice, you can learn the basics at the  Glencoe Snow sports School  before hitting the white stuff for real.

Either way, the experience will stay in your memory for a lifetime, and it’s often the deciding factor for choosing the countryside over the city in winter, but what else is there to tempt you away from Scotland’s urban areas?

After snow sports, the most popular winter outdoor activity in Scotland is hiking, and there are so many trails to choose from that that you might feel a little overwhelmed, but an OS Map will put you on the right path (no pun intended).

One of the nicest walks in the Scottish Highlands is the Loch Morlich circuit, which loops around one of the most picturesque lochs in the country, framed by the stunning Cairngorm mountain range and Glenmore Forest. A winter walk there is the perfect way to relax after an exhausting run on the slopes, and the loch’s golden sand beach makes a nice change from mile after mile of snow.

You could also follow the John Muir Way which is a 134-mile adventure across the lower-middle region of Scotland from Helensburgh on the west coast to Dunbar on the east, or The West Highland Way which stretches 96 miles from Milngavie north of Glasgow to Fort William near Ben Nevis.

Glencoe

One option for a winter hike that’s a little bit different from any other in Scotland is The Arran Coastal Way which runs in an oval around the coastline of the Isle of Arran . I’m mentioning it because, unlike most of Scotland’s walking trails, the majority of the Arran Coastal Way is on tarmacked roads, so it’s pretty much impervious to the weather, plus the island is spectacularly pretty.

If you’re visiting the Hebrides and would like to see what many people regard as the most beautiful landscape on earth,, I recommend you take a trip to  The Quiraing  on the Isle of Skye. This stunning landscape was formed by a series of ancient landslides thousands of years ago,, and it offers views that are nothing short of breathtaking. I go into much more detail in my  Guide to The Quiraing .

Other western islands that might be worth visiting on a winter tour of Scotland are Mull and Islay, each of which offers a different experience.

Mull is almost as attractive as Skye but has far fewer tourists, and there are superb walks to enjoy in winter, depending on the weather. If the conditions are clear, I thoroughly recommend a walk up Ben More Mountain, but if not, you’ll find Mull’s single-track roads offer a nice alternative around much of the coastline and through the centre of the island.

Islay is one of the most picturesque islands on the west coast, and while it’s best known for its whisky there are also lots of walks to be had, with The Oa and Loch Gruinart being two highlights along with the coastal road that follows the shore of Loch Indaal.

When Is Winter in Scotland?

winter girl

Winter in Scotland officially lasts from December 21st to March 20th, although the ‘off-season’ encompasses October to April. I’m making this point because if you intend to visit Scotland outside of the peak season to save money, you might consider the end of autumn and the start of spring instead of the depths of winter, as the weather will be a few degrees warmer and the daylight hours will be an hour or more longer.

Aside from the weather, the one thing that defines winter in Scotland is the short days, and depending on where you travel you could find yourself in darkness for up to 17 hours.

The number of daylight hours varies between the far north and the southern borders and you will find there’s at least an hour’s difference between the two regions, which is something to think about if you want to go sightseeing or set out on an epic hike.

Below is a table of the sunrise and sunset times for Orkney in the far north and the Borders in the far south so you’ll have an idea of what to expect in winter.

Daylight Hours in Scotland in Winter

Winter weather in scotland.

tour scotland in winter

We love jabbering on about the weather here in Scotland, and truth be told, it’s a bit of a national obsession. I think that’s down to the fact that the weather is so changeable and you don’t know what it’s going to do from one moment to the next, especially once you get out into the Highlands, where the old saying ‘four seasons in one day’ really comes into play.

There’s a significant difference in temperature between the north and south of the country, but you can expect extremes once you hit the elevated Highlands, an example of which is Braemar, which regularly has the coldest annual temperatures in Britain and currently holds the record at -27.2 °C.

So what can you expect from Scotland’s winter weather? Well, it’s impossible to predict as it varies with the month and location but the following table will give you an overview of annual averages.

Average Winter Weather in Scotland

Bear in mind the temperatures in the table don’t tell the full story as the wind chill can be considerable and even a light breeze in winter can drop temperatures significantly.

If you’re not already aware, wind chill is defined as the difference in temperature on exposed skin that’s disturbed by moving air compared to the same temperature on exposed skin without moving air. To calculate it, multiply the wind speed by 0.7 and subtract that value from the air temperature; e.g., if the temperature is 5 °C and the wind speed is 10 mph (16.09 km/h), then 5 minus (10 x 0.7) gives you a wind chill temperature of -2 °C.

That’s quite a difference and it’s the reason why wind chill must be taken seriously, as many hikers get so obsessed with checking the ambient temperature they get caught out when the wind starts howling (which it does in Scotland. A lot).

Aside from the wind chill, January and February are generally the coldest months in Scotland, with average temperatures that hover around 5 °C, which is lovely when it’s clear but not so nice when it’s grey and wet. From November to February, you can expect half of the days to be overcast and wet each month, with the rest of the days equally split between cloud-free and partly cloudy days.

Bear in mind this depends on which part of the country you’re travelling to as the west coast is wetter on average than the east coast due to the weather brought in from the Atlantic Ocean.

If you’re coming to Scotland for snow sports you’ll want to head to the Highlands as there is, on average, 100 days of snowfall each year and due to the elevation the snow usually lasts until April (Scotland’s snowsports season is widely acknowledged as running from November to April). The Lowlands, meanwhile, don’t experience anywhere near as much snow, and you’ll generally find 2-3 weeks of snowfall each year, with the highest likelihood of it falling in February and occasionally in January or March.

Touring Scotland in Winter Using Public Transport

edinburgh bus

Whether you use Scotland’s public transport really depends on what you want to do and where you want to go. If you’re up for exploring the wilderness, then your best bet is a car, as Scotland’s public transport network doesn’t reach many of the remotest areas, and where it does, you’ll find connections are few and far between.

That’s not so bad in summer, but hanging around for a once-an-hour bus when it’s cold and wet isn’t exactly what I’d call an enjoyable experience. It’s a different story if you’re visiting Scotland’s cities in winter though, and you’ll want to ditch the car and use trains, trams and buses instead.

On the whole, our public transport networks are well maintained, (usually) punctual, and reasonably priced, and Edinburgh and Glasgow have public transport systems that are as good as you’ll find anywhere else in Britain.

As I mentioned earlier, if you visit Glasgow in winter, you can quickly find the major tourist hotspots with the excellent Glasgow SPT subway along with the frequent  First Bus  buses. Edinburgh is equally well catered for with the  Lothian Buses  bus and tram network.

Aside from taxis – which are expensive and not necessary IMHO – your other transport option is the train which is probably the best way to travel if you’re not used to driving in Scotland, or perhaps if you’ve had a wee dram or three (remember we have a near-zero drink-drive policy in Scotland).

There are loads of different routes for taking the train, each of which offers wildly different views out the window, but I recommend the Borders Railway, the Kyle Line, and the West Highland Line.

Scenic Railways Map

If pushed, I’d say the West Highland Line is the nicest of the bunch as it cuts through some very scenic countryside between Glasgow and Fort William before continuing to its final destination at Mallaig. Also, you can swap trains at Fort William to the wonderful ‘Harry Potter’ Jacobite steam train which is famous for its scenes in the movies where it puffs its way across the Glenfinnan viaduct.

Train prices are considerably more expensive than other transport options but you can save money by booking single tickets in advance through The Trainline website or getting a Scotrail Spirit of Scotland pass which gives you unlimited travel for four or eight days.

Since you must take a ferry that is subject to the whims of the Inner Hebridean Seas and the Atlantic Ocean, getting to the west coast islands is a little more challenging. However, islands nearby provide some protection for certain waterways, like the Sound of Mull. The only exception is the Isle of Skye, which has a road bridge that joins the southeast corner of the island to Kyle of Lochalsh, meaning you don’t need to take a ferry at all.

While you could sail from Mallaig on the mainland to Armadale on Skye, I recommend crossing the bridge as a road trip in that region of Scotland is a fantastic experience, especially if you stop at attractions like Eilean Donan Castle which is located 9 miles from the bridge on the A87.

The main ferry operator in Scotland is Caledonian MacBrayne and their main transport hub is in Oban (known as ‘the gateway to the isles’).

Winter Driving in Scotland

winter road scotland

If you’re driving a hire car in winter you can pretty much just set off as long as you’ve booked through a reputable company, but if you’re driving your own car and you’re not familiar with Scotland’s roads there are a few essential pieces of advice that you must take notice of before setting out on your journey.

I’m making this point from first-hand experience, as the first time I visited Scotland, I was living in sunny Cornwall and decided on an impromptu mega road trip, only to find my car sideways in a ditch shortly after entering the Cairngorms. That error was completely my fault, as I’d set off without preparing my car, so if you’d like to avoid the same mistake, please take note of the following list of tips for driving in Scotland in the winter.

Preparing Your Car for Winter Driving

1: Plan your route by checking a road map and then checking the weather forecast in the area you’re driving to. If you live in Cornwall, for example, and you’re not used to driving through a foot of snow, you don’t want to end up waiting hours in the middle of the Scottish Highlands for the AA to rescue you (ahem). The Traffic Scotland website is a great resource for the latest winter driving conditions.

2: In the UK, it is not illegal to drive with snow on the roof of your car, but if enough falls off while driving to cause injury to anyone, you could be liable for driving without due consideration. Even more importantly, it is illegal to drive with a windscreen that is obscured by mist or ice, and you could land yourself a £60 fine and three points on your licence as a minimum.

3: Following on from the above, it is UK law that all lights are visible, and the same goes for the front and rear number plate lights.

4: If you’re planning on a road trip through Scotland’s remote areas make sure your fuel tank is topped up so you can leave the engine running if you break down, and pack a bag with food and water as a precaution. Remember each person, on average, drinks 3 litres of water per day.

FULDENT Sports Water...image

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  • 【Portable for Multiple Activities】 The 1L capacity achieves a perfect balance between utility and portability. With a carry loop, you can go for both indoor and outdoor exercises with it, including cycling, running, camping, hiking, yoga, treadmill, etc. Its compact size also fits your backpack and bike bottle holder perfectly.
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scottish winter tours

5: A breakdownA car cover is an essential purchase for anyone visiting Scotland with a car. The RAC and AA have roadside assistance plans starting at less than a tenner a month, which will be money well spent if you need recovery. Private services, e.g., a local garage, will charge upwards of £200 for a single call-out.

6: Before setting off, check that a few basic,but necessary,parts are working: wipers, fan heater, screenwash, lights (including indicators and fog lights), and make sure you haven’t got any warning lights on the dashboard.

7: Pack an emergency kit for every eventuality, which includes a mobile phone and a USB battery pack (Amazon) because phone batteries die quickly when they’re cold, a hi-vis vest, de-icer, a warning triangle, jump leads, and a spade. You can get most of that in a single emergency kit from Amazon .

Also, pack a thermal blanket (Amazon) and keep it near the centre console so it can be easily retrieved if the car overturns and any occupants are trapped.

8: If the road conditions are really bad, you should consider investing in snow tyres or snow chains. Snow tyres have studs embedded in them that provide extra grip, and snow chains wrap around normal tyres to achieve the same effect.

Neither are suitable for driving on clear roads where there is no snow, and snow chains can actually damage both your car and the road if you don’t take them off when you get back on the tarmac.

Kingavon BB-EB104 Heated...image

How to Drive in Snow

Driving in snow is very tricky if you’re not used to it, especially if you find yourself in a skid. The advice of most driving experts from the AA and RAC is to not get yourself in that position in the first place and the following tips will help you drive safely in winter.

Please note that driving in snow and ice is your responsibility alone so if you don’t feel comfortable, do not attempt the journey.

  • To avoid wheel slip when setting off, start in second gear and move away slowly. This isn’t so important if you have a 4×4 or your car has a winter mode as the vehicle will do most of the work for you.
  • Once on the move, try to accelerate gently and get to as high a gear as possible as quickly as possible.
  • Leave a much bigger gap between you and the car in front than you would if the road surface was clear. The RAC recommends leaving a gap ten times bigger than normal.
  • If you find yourself on a steep hill keep your momentum going without changing gear. The appropriate speed will depend on the gradient of the hill.
  • When heading back downhill use a low gear and avoid braking quickly.
  • If you find yourself in a skid, steer gently into it but do not panic and slam the brakes on. Instead, take your foot off the accelerator and keep both hands on the steering wheel.
  • If you end up driving in heavy snow you can experience a white-out where your headlights are reflected back at you. Make sure you use dipped headlights and if the visibility drops below 100 metres put your fog lights on.
  • Be aware that some sections of road that are shaded from the sun (tight corners and humpback bridges for example) will be the first to freeze and the last to thaw. If the rest of the road looks fairly clear but you’re near one of these hazard areas, slow down.
  • In the Highlands, there are snow markers on either side of the road that indicate how deep the snow is and the direction of the road. Keep an eye on them, as they’re invaluable for spotting hidden dips.

Scotland Winter Walking Advice

winter woodland walk

The months of January and February are two of my favourite times to go walking in Scotland, as that’s the time of year when almost all mountains and hills have a fresh white layer of snow on top of them. I wouldn’t recommend heading to the summits in winter unless you’re a seasoned climber, but wandering through secluded glens and forests on a crisp winter day is a sublime experience.

If you do decide to head out into the wilds, you need to be aware that while Scotland’s landscapes are beautiful, they can also be deadly if you don’t take the right precautions, so take note of the following list of things you need to know before you head out.

Note that the Amazon affiliate links below are for items I recommend.

1: Wrap up warm with several layers of clothing and wear a sweat-absorbing base layer along with a rain and windproof jacket . You’ll lose a lot of heat from your head, so always make sure you wear a woolly hat , and wear gloves and thick socks to keep your extremities toasty.

2: I can’t overstate how important good quality boots are in Scotland. Get a pair that has good grips (‘Vibram’ branded are best) and is waterproof, and make sure they have supportive ankle protection. I swear by Berghaus boots , as although they’re a wee bit more expensive, they last much longer than cheaper brands, plus they’re supremely comfy. See my guide to the best waterproof hiking boots to wear in Scotland for more information.

Walking Boots

3: Pack high-energy food and drink to replenish the energy you’ll be burning in the cold. With regard to water, bear in mind that you should take 2 litres per person per day, and each litre weighs 1 kg. I take two bottles on my winter walks: one insulated Thermos for a cup of hot tea down the road, and a tough metal water bottle to stay hydrated.

4: Take walking poles . Not only will they help you balance on slippery surfaces, but they’ll also allow you to poke the ground in front of you so you don’t end up falling into a snow-covered hole.

5: Take a map and compass and learn how to use them. After a snowfall, the landscape can change dramatically, and it’s easy to lose your bearings. Ordnance Survey produces the best maps by a wide margin and offers a variety of waterproof, ultra-durable maps. I guarantee you’ll get lost just as it starts raining. Always happens to me.

Buy OS Landranger maps direct from Ordnance Survey.

6: Become familiar with your route before you leave and stick to it. One of the main reasons why winter hikers get lost is because they suddenly decide to take a different path and then find themselves unable to get back onto their pre-planned route.

The  Walk Highlands  website is a fantastic resource for walking trails in Scotland, and Google Maps is very handy as a free GPS, but make sure you’ve got a spare battery or a power pack in your bag.

7: If you happen to find yourself lost in the middle of nowhere in winter there’s something that could mean the difference between life and death. That something is Scotland’s network of ‘bothies’, which are weatherproofed huts located in the remotest regions of the country.

They are always unlocked and they are free to use with the only requirement that you leave them clean and tidy afterwards. You’ll find a complete guide to them in The Scottish Bothy Bible .

  • Walk Highlands : Detailed hiking maps and route information with photos to help you get your bearings.
  • Traffic Scotland : Provides updated road and rail information that includes disruptions to services due to bad weather.
  • Google Maps . Where would we be without Google Maps? The world’s biggest mapping provider and one of the best. Google Maps includes directions for travellers on foot, using a car, and using public transport.
  • Scotrail is the official website of Scotland’s railways. You’ll need to visit this site to buy tourist rail passes like the Spirit of Scotland pass, but if you’re buying standard tickets you’ll often get them cheaper from The Trainline .
  • The Met Office is the official body of UK meteorology and in my experience, their forecasts are the most accurate. A great alternative is Open Weather which has an easy-to-read layout on their website.
  • Ordnance Survey has a great service where, for around £25 a year, you can download an unlimited number of OS maps to your mobile device. I use the app myself, and I’ve lost count of the number of times it has saved me when I’ve been out walking but forgot to pack a paper map.

You Might Also Like:

  • The Best Outdoor Winter Activities in Scotland
  • Things to do in Scotland in Winter: The Ultimate Guide
  • Scotland in January: The 10 Best Places to Visit

Frequently Asked Questions

Is scotland worth visiting in winter.

Winter is a great time to visit Scotland for anyone who loves wintry landscapes and fresh snow-capped mountain peaks. Popular snow sports locations are the Cairngorm, Nevis, and Glencoe mountain ranges which offer ski slopes of various grades.

Scotland’s cities have lots of festivals in winter with highlights including Edinburgh’s Christmas and Hogmanay festivals, and Glasgow’s festive lights display.

What is Scotland’s weather like in winter?

It is impossible to predict in advance what Scotland’s weather will do in winter, but generally, you can expect 0 to 5 °C from November to March and 7-9 hours of daylight (less the further north you go).

Around half the days each month will be overcast and rainy, and between November and March, you can expect 2-3 weeks of snowfall in the Lowlands and 100 days of snow in the Highlands.

What is the rainiest month in Scotland?

Scotland receives the highest amount of rainfall in the United Kingdom, and statistically, the rainiest month is December with an average of 200 mm of rainwater.

This changes from north to south and east to west with the west coast traditionally being wetter than the east coast and the Highlands being wetter than the Lowlands.

Can you see the northern lights in Scotland in winter?

It is not usual to see the northern lights in Scotland in winter, although the months between September and March offer the best chance as the nights are much longer than the rest of the year.

Galloway Forest Dark Sky Park, which is little affected by light pollution, is one of the best places to see the northern lights. Note that northern lights can only be seen when there is strong solar activity.

Related Posts

A Guide to Scotland’s Winter Weather

A Guide to Scotland’s Winter Weather

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How Much Should You Tip in Scotland?

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A Guide to Giant Hogweed in Scotland

Craig Neil is the author, photographer, admin, and pretty much everything else behind Out About Scotland. He lives near Edinburgh and spends his free time exploring Scotland and writing about his experiences. Follow him on Pinterest , Facebook , and YouTube .

scottish winter tours

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Best of Scotland (Winter, 7 Days)

  • In-depth Cultural
  • Fully Guided
  • Coach / Bus
  • Christmas & New Year

Places You’ll See

Edinburgh

  • Introduction
  • Day 1 Welcome to Edinburgh
  • Day 2 Discover Enchanting Edinburgh
  • Day 3 Venture into the Scottish Highlands
  • Day 4 Explore Culloden, Loch Ness and the Isle of Skye Make Travel Matter
  • Day 5 Journey to Thriving Glasgow
  • Day 6 Walk the Walls of Stirling Castle Connect with Locals Dive Into Culture
  • Day 7 Farewell Glasgow

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Where You'll Stay

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scottish winter tours

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  • Itinerary Excellent 4.5
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Trafalgar

  • ED Emily · 7th July 2023 Fiona and Steven were the absolute best! Fiona was one of the greatest tour guides I’ve had. This is my first time with trafelgar and they are a major reason I will return. Steven was an amazing driver and I always felt safe. Fiona was so happy,... Show more Trip date: May 2023

Best of Scotland (Winter, 7 Days) reviewer 8

  • PK Peter · 2nd January 2023 Automatically translated. View in English Rate this translation Automatic translation available in English. View in English Gut,organisiert, mit Kevin einen guten Reiseführer. Das Verhältnis Sightseeing zu Fahrzeit im Bus hätte besser sein... Show more Trip date: December 2022

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Scotland in Winter: What to Do and Where to Go

Scotland in the winter can be an adventure for those who enjoy wintry landscapes and off-the-beaten-path experiences. Read on if you want to tour Scotland in winter , or are curious but want to be convinced. You'll discover fun things to do and find out what to see in Scotland over the winter months.

While the high season in Scotland is the summer and its shoulder months, the winter is becoming more and more popular with visitors. This is because Scotland enjoys some temperate weather all year long (especially for a Northern European country!) meaning the winter, while rainy, isn’t too cold, and is perfect for sightseeing or enjoying nature.

To help you plan what to do and when to come in the winter months in Scotland, we’ve put together a handy guide for you

  • Take a look at our Scotland winter tours and vacation packages

When is winter in Scotland?

Winter is technically from December until early  March  and is seen as the off season.

This time coincides with colder temperatures and changeable weather, fewer visitors and shorter daylights hours. It also encompasses some of the big national events, such as Hogmanay, St Andrew’s Day and Burns Night, the birthday and commemoration of celebrated national poet Robert Burns .

Stirling castle in winter with a dramatic, snow-capped mountain in the background

Winter climate and weather in Scotland

Scotland enjoys a temperate climate all year long, which is also true in winter when the average daytime temperature is around 5 degrees Celsius (41°F). This means it fares pretty well in comparison to its northern neighbours.

January and February are usually the coldest months. The conditions while mild are more changeable at this period of the year, with more wind, rain, and storms.

It snows a handful of times a year in the cities, and it is more likely toward March than Christmas despite popular beliefs. In the mountains, however, it snows a lot over the winter and you may see snow-capped mountain tops in the distance.

The most distinctive feature of Scottish winter weather is how fickle conditions can be, so we recommend being ready for everything! In one moment the skies may be sunny and bright, but ten minutes later they may be clouded over and shedding a mixture of snow and rain, affectionately called 'sleet'.

Find out more in our weather and temperature guide for Scotland .

scottish winter tours

Winter packing list for Scotland

The most common question that people ask when they are preparing for a trip to Scotland is often: what should I pack?  Followed by concerns about whether the Scottish weather’s reputation is real.

These are all valid concerns, and the main answer is to be prepared! As the weather is extremely changeable, it’s likely that you could end up exposed to all four seasons within your stay (or even within a day!). For this reason, it’s best to be prepared for all kinds of weather. And as the expression goes, there is no good or bad weather, only good or bad clothing.

We’ve compiled a few recommended items if you’re wondering what to pack for a trip to Scotland:

  • A good waterproof and windproof jacket.
  • Lots of light layers.
  • Hat, scarf and gloves. 
  • Warm and waterproof boots.
  • Waterproof trousers.

Where to go and what to see in Scotland in winter

If you want to come to Scotland during the off season, whether to avoid the crowds, or experience the Scottish winter, fear not as there is plenty to see and do during the winter months!

scottish winter tours

Fun things to do in Scotland in winter

It’s worth noting that on top of the beautiful natural landscapes you can enjoy around the country, some of the most popular attractions of Scotland are open and accessible all year long. This includes the Isle of Skye ,  Loch Ness Centre & Exhibition , as well as strongholds like Edinburgh Castle, Stirling Castle, and Dunnottar Castle .

  • If you love visiting beautiful old buildings, take a look at these  packages including Scottish castles

Here are some things you may want to do over the winter:

1. Visit Edinburgh in the winter

Edinburgh , Scotland’s capital, is a great destination in the winter for a city break. Edinburgh Castle is opened all year long and if you’re lucky a bit of frost may brighten the darker winter days with white dust along the crags.

During daylight hours we recommend walking up Arthur’s Seat for a great view over the city! Alternatively, you can go for a much shorter walk up Calton Hill. You’ll also be rewarded with a stunning viewpoint.

Most of the Edinburgh  museums are free to visit, making it a great alternative if you’d rather be inside. You could also cosy up with a dram of whisky in a local pub and enjoy true Scottish hospitality .

And if you're an Outlander fan, why not sample one of the places to eat on Scotland's Outlander Trail ? Soon you could be indulging in afternoon tea surrounded by the Signet Library's opulent decor.

scottish winter tours

2. Visit Glasgow

Scotland’s largest city, Glasgow , is another great stop for a city break, or as a stopover on your way into the Highlands or islands.

Museums are also free and you get a great choice, from modern art, to the world-famous Kelvingrove Art Gallery. The Glasgow Botanic Gardens are also free and the green houses will definitely warm you up! If you’re travelling with the family, kids may love popping into the Glasgow Science Centre on a rainy or colder day.

If you love green spaces, don’t miss walking out to Bellahouston Park on the south side, where you’ll find the House for an Art Lover. In the east, you can roam the Glasgow Green or even the Necropolis and nearby Glasgow Cathedral.

Glasgow is the best place to shop in Scotland, so don’t miss popping into a shop or two on the pedestrian Buchanan Street. Finally, end your day in one of the many restaurants of the city centre. We especially recommend Merchant City with its fairy lights and bustling evening ambiance.

Queens Park in Glasgow dusted with snow during winter

3. Road trip around the Highlands

Scotland is a year-long destination, and this is especially true because roads and attractions are often open and accessible along the various seasons. This isn’t to say that weather conditions do not affect visitors.

While it is possible to road trip around Scotland  in the winter, there are fewer activities, sights, accommodation, and daylight hours to take advantage of during the low season. Roads may also occasionally be closed due to weather conditions, which is more likely during the winter months.

This is especially true of more remote areas, such as the North Coast 500  and some of the isles that may not be as accessible due to ferries running less frequently and being cancelled due to adverse weather.

  • Did you know?  If you're lucky you could glimpse the aurora borealis in the Scottish Highlands. Find out more in this guide to  where and when to see the northern lights in Scotland .

Driving across the Highlands during winter with white mountains ahead

We recommend a road trip around the Highlands, up the east coast to Aberdeen , then across to Inverness. You can even easily access Skye as it is connected to the mainland by a bridge. The west coast is particularly pretty too, with Fort William, Glen Coe and Oban being popular stops all year long.

Winter conditions in Scotland, especially in rural locations and the countryside, can easily affect driving conditions. If you’re planning on coming to Scotland for a winter road trip, we advise you to be careful when driving, and to be very flexible and ready for the realities of winter.

  • Don't fancy driving in winter? Take a look at our guided group travel packages , with 15 people maximum and a driver-guide at the wheel
  • You could also ask about a  personal guided tour of Scotland  and have an experienced private driver take you around Scotland’s top sights in comfort and style

4. Cairngorms National Park

The Cairngorms National Park is a popular stop for those who love winter activities. The Cairngorm Mountain offers some spectacular views and opportunities for skiing and snowboarding. It boasts 30km of pisted runs, 10 lifts, a freestyle park and on-site equipment hire.

For a special opportunity, we recommend visiting the Cairngorm Reindeer Herd, one of our travel consultants’ favourite. Roaming freely since 1952, there are currently over 150 reindeer in the herd, mostly located  the Cairngorm Mountains.

One of my favourite winter activities is to visit the Cairngorm Reindeer Herd. You have the opportunity to hike up to the hill top where you can walk amongst these beautiful creatures and enjoy the feeling of their soft velvet noses on your hands if you wish to have a go at hand feeding them. - Annie Pepperell, Scotland Travel Consultant

scottish winter tours

5. Highland Perthshire

Perthshire  is a central region of Scotland that you may not know about, but will definitely love visiting!

If you’re driving through, there are many stops you may wish to take. We particularly recommend the Hermitage and Pitlochry.

The Hermitage is located near Dunkeld, a charming village on the banks of the River Tay. The highlight, which is as inspiring in the winter months, is the walk at the Hermitage Forest. You will be rewarded by a view of the romantic Black Linn Falls and Ossian’s Hall of Mirrors.

Pitlochry, located at the edge of the Cairngorms National Park, is another charming Victorian town renowned for its accessibility to great walking trails in the surrounding scenic hills. It is also the home of the smallest whisky distillery in Scotland, Edradour Distillery .

6. Northern lights

While visitors rarely come to Scotland for this, it is possible to see them here!

Scotland has some northern lights activity during the winter months, especially in the northern parts of the country. While the sky is often too cloudy to be able to witness them, in late autumn and early winter, if the weather is on your side and northern lights activity is high, you may just be able to see them if you’re away from light pollution.

We recommend downloading and checking an aurora forecast app, and keeping an eye out especially in the northern isles like Shetland, Orkney, Lewis and Harris.

northern lights glowing green and purple above Cullen bay

Winter festivals and events

While August is known as the festival month in Scotland, the winter isn’t free from its exciting events and activities. Some of the biggest traditions are held over the winter and you may find.

Below we’ve put together a list of the winter festivals and events in Scotland you may want to come to here for, or experience while you’re visiting. For instance, you won't want to miss Scotland's legendary Hogmanay (or "New Year's Eve") celebrations . 

  • Related: How to celebrate Christmas in Scotland

scottish winter tours

Scotland winter travel tips

If you do come visit in the winter, here are the last few tips we will leave you with:

  • Book early for Hogmanay . It gets really busy in Edinburgh around that time, so make sure to book your accommodation early to avoid disappointment.
  • Be flexible . If you’re planning on road tripping around the country, make sure to allow for enough time to get to your daily destinations and always check the road conditions.
  • Prepare for changeable weather and road conditions . The winter sees even more changeable conditions, meaning you need to be ready for everything, from sunshine, to rain, to snow. Dress and act accordingly, always keeping your personal safety in mind.
  • Factor in short daylight hours . At the height of winter, Edinburgh gets less than 7 hours of daylight, meaning the north gets a bit less. Take this into consideration when sightseeing and driving.

Would you love to see Scotland’s glorious wintry beauty?  Contact us  to g et the help of an Edinburgh-based expert.

camila blog profile

  Camila grew up between the French Canadian and Chilean cultures, before moving to Scotland in 2012. When she’s not travelling or writing about travels, Camila loves to read, run, and puzzle. Her favourite destinations have been Reykjavík, Copenhagen, Estonia and Cape Town.  

Find Camila on LinkedIn .

Getting there

We'd love to give you the same amazing travel experiences as you read about in our blog! To visit the destinations and attractions mentioned in this post - and to discover a few new highlights along the way - check out these recommended Nordic Visitor tours.

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SCOTTISH HIGHLANDS & ISLE OF SKYE - WINTER

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Isle of Skye & Scottish Highlands Winter Escape

  • Fully customisable itinerary
  • Prices from: £1000 per person
  • Best time to go: November - March
  • Transport: Rental car included (optional)

scottish winter tours

Charming and vibrant, Edinburgh is Scotland’s ancient capital city and a hub for culture and creativity year-round. Attractions include historic Edinburgh Castle, the picturesque Royal Mile and the Palace of Holyroodhouse, the home of Scottish royal history.

scottish winter tours

Historic castles

Perched atop Castle Hill, Stirling Castle is the former home of the Stuart monarchs. On the West Coast, Urquhart Castle overlooks mysterious Loch Ness and on the shores of Loch Duich, Eilean Donan must be Scotland’s most beautiful & photogenic castle.

scottish winter tours

Atmospheric Glencoe

Glencoe is Scotland’s most famous and mystical glen, site of the infamous massacre of Clan Macdonald. Enjoy the clear air, the crunch of frost underfoot and soak up the majesty of the rustic heather valleys with snow-capped mountains above.

scottish winter tours

Isle of Skye

The Isle of Skye is popular for its stunning and dramatic volcanic scenery, including the Cuillin Mountain Range, the iconic Storr and spectacular Quiraing. Portree is its colourful capital. Through the winter months, the scenery can really sparkle under dustings of snow, and you’ll likely have this tranquil world all to yourself.

scottish winter tours

Mystical Loch Ness

Located near Inverness, Loch Ness is shrouded in mystery. There are various boat trips and cruises available for those wishing to go in search of ‘Nessie’, the Loch Ness Monster.

scottish winter tours

Situated at the edge of the Great Glen, Inverness is known as the Capital of the Highlands. Nearby you will find Culloden Battlefield, site of the last battle of the Jacobite Rising, and Speyside, home to Scotland’s most famous whisky distilleries. Enjoy a cosy fireside dram to warm the winter nights.

A Stunning Winter Self-Drive Tour in Scotland

This spectacular Scottish road trip begins in Edinburgh, Scotland’s majestic capital city, and explores the magnificent Highlands & Islands.

You will travel north to Stirling, Glencoe & the Isle of Skye and then onward to Inverness and mystical Loch Ness, exploring a selection of the country’s finest mountain and lochside scenery.

Visiting in the winter months, you’ll enjoy the peace and tranquillity to explore this wonderful world at your leisure. Soak in the clear highland air, marvel at the snow-capped mountains standing serene over the frosted glens and warm your spirit in cosy pubs as you sip whisky by roaring fires.

Edinburgh is one of Europe’s most beautiful capital cities. Hop-on, hop-off a City Sightseeing Tour and explore the many attractions, including St Giles’ Cathedral, the National Gallery, Edinburgh Castle, Princes Street, the New Town and Royal Mile. Walk up Arthur’s Seat and enjoy spectacular panoramic views of the city. In the evening, you are spoilt for choice, Edinburgh is gastronomic heaven.

This tour takes you into the heart of the Scottish Highlands, resplendent in their winter coat. Drive through Glencoe, the most infamous glen in Scotland, across the desolate otherworldly beauty of Rannoch Moor, to the foot of Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in Britain. This part of the world is truly breathtaking, and outside of the busy summer months, it will feel all yours to enjoy at leisure.

Journey north to the awe-inspiring volcanic Isle of Skye, visited for its wild mountains, stunning seascapes and geological scenery. Home to the iconic Old Man of Storr, dramatic Quiraing and magical Fairy Pools, Skye is the most famous Scottish Isle. On route to Inverness, you will pass the picturesque castles of Eilean Donan and Urquhart, set against deep clear lochs reflecting the snowy mountain peaks.

The Capital of the Scottish Highlands, Inverness is the perfect base for exploring Loch Ness, Culloden Battlefield and nearby Speyside, home to the world-famous 70-mile Malt Whisky Trail. Your final overnight stop is in beautiful Highland Perthshire, where you can unwind in cosy pubs, nestled amongst the snowy mountains, forests, rivers and lochs.

Suggested Itinerary

The holiday ideas on our website are just examples of the amazing trips we offer.  Think of this itinerary as a starting point which can be tailored into something completely unique to you by our award-winning specialists.

We love the opportunity to use our first-hand knowledge and experience to design and deliver the perfect, bespoke holiday experience for you.

Day 1: Arrive in Edinburgh

Arrive in Edinburgh – Scotland’s majestic capital and one of Europe’s most beautiful cities, where the opportunities for sightseeing are almost endless. Enjoy a visit to Edinburgh Castle, Holyrood Palace, or hike up to the top of Arthur’s Seat for breathtaking panoramic views. Overnight – Edinburgh

Day 2: Edinburgh to Fort William

Travel north and visit medieval Stirling Castle, before a wonderfully scenic journey takes you through spectacular Glencoe and into the heart of the Scottish Highlands. Your destination is on the western seaboard at the foot of Ben Nevis – Britain’s highest mountain. Overnight – Fort William

Day 3: Fort William to the Isle of Skye

Take a spectacular road trip north along the tranquil shores of Loch Lochy, and through the towering mountains of Glen Shiel. Along the way, pause to visit the world-famous Commando Memorial which stands proud over the Great Glen. Cross the bridge on to the famous Isle of Skye, one of the most spectacular islands in the world. Overnight – Isle of Skye

Day 4: Isle of Skye Sightseeing

Today you will have a full day on Skye to roam the rugged island, sample some fine island whisky, enjoy a great day’s walking and marvel at the unique and iconic scenery. There are a number of very well renowned restaurants on Skye which you can book into to enjoy in the evening. Overnight – Isle of Skye

Day 5: Isle of Skye to Inverness

Depart Skye and travel past the most photographed of Scotland’s castles, Eilean Donan. Your route takes you by brooding Loch Ness and Urquhart Castle, and onto the vibrant ‘Capital of the Highlands’. Overnight – Inverness

Day 6: Inverness Sightseeing

A full day to explore Inverness where you could choose to visit Culloden Battlefield where, in 1746, the last battle took place on British soil. Alternatively, you could travel into Speyside and tour the famous Malt Whisky Trail to sample some of this warming drink. Overnight – Inverness

Day 7: Inverness to Highland Perthshire

Travel from the Highlands to the Lowlands into beautiful Highland Perthshire. En-route you could explore Cairngorms National Park, home to ancient Scots Pine woodland, and tour Dalwhinnie Whisky Distillery. Stay overnight in the picturesque Victorian spa town of Pitlochry which has no shortage of cosy pubs, fantastic eateries, and scenic local walks. Overnight – Pitlochry area

Day 8: Depart Edinburgh

After breakfast it’s less than a two-hour drive back to Edinburgh, where your unforgettable winter road trip will come to an end.

What's Included?

Your holiday includes:

  • Carefully selected en-suite accommodation for 7 nights including traditional Scottish breakfast
  • Comprehensive information pack
  • Personalised itinerary with our recommendations for the best places to eat and drink and sightseeing suggestions
  • Map of Scotland with our recommended driving route
  • 7 days rental of an Economy car (other vehicle categories available) including comprehensive insurance
  • Tickets for the Edinburgh City Sightseeing Tour
  • 24-hour emergency contact number
  • Full financial protection

Your holiday doesn't include:

  • Travel insurance
  • Lunches and evening meals

Accommodation & Prices

Special Places to Stay

We know that after a busy day of sightseeing an exceptional place to stay makes all the difference. That’s why all of the accommodation we select is hand-picked using our first-hand knowledge of the best places to stay.

Our discerning team has a wealth of experience, and we extensively research and regularly review all of the accommodation we select for our clients.

Please choose from one of our accommodation categories below. If you wish to combine these categories or perhaps upgrade for a special occasion let us know in your enquiry.

scottish winter tours

A collection of quality 4* Guest Houses and 3* Hotels often located in beautiful locations which provide an excellent standard of accommodation.

Tastefully decorated and furnished, these properties are generally owned and operated by locals who have a genuine passion for their region which they are keen to share with you. Their warm hospitality is sure to be a highlight of your Scottish experience.

scottish winter tours

It also comprises larger 4* Hotels selected for their high standard of accommodation, exceptional service, and great location. These range from traditional luxury to contemporary Hotels.

scottish winter tours

These are truly magical places and amongst the best Scotland has to offer. The perfect choice when you would like somewhere really special which can be a treat for the night or for your entire holiday.

Our packages include car rental and comprehensive insurance for the duration of your holiday. Absolute Escapes has an excellent relationship with a number of car hire operators and we are able to offer quality vehicles and great value for money.

If you plan to bring your own vehicle, we are also able to offer this itinerary without a rental car.

All our packages include:

  • Collision Damage Waiver
  • Super Damage Excess Waiver
  • Third Party Insurance
  • Theft Waiver
  • Good for 2 people
  • Maximum of 4 passengers
  • 2 large suitcases
  • Manual or automatic transmission
  • Good for 2 – 4 people
  • Maximum of 5 passengers

Intermediate

  • Good for up to 4 people
  • 3 large suitcases
  • Good for 5 people
  • Maximum of 7 passengers
  • 3 – 4 large suitcases

Related blog posts

How do our self-drive holidays work.

Since 2004, we've led the way in planning remarkable road trips in the UK. Like a perfectly tailored suit, each itinerary is crafted around you. Learn more about us and our self-drive holidays in our new guide. Read more

scottish winter tours

9 Surprising Benefits of Visiting Scotland in Winter

Embrace winter in Scotland and you'll fall in love with snow-capped mountains, freezing lochs, and warm, Highland hospitality. Read on to discover our tips on experiencing the best of winter in the North. Read more

scottish winter tours

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13 BEST Things to do in Scotland in Winter

From wild walks and hikes, to mind-blowing events in the cities, scotland in winter is full of great things to do – just remember to wrap up warm .

winter in scotland

If you love exploring the great outdoors, then warming up by a cosy log fire, then Scotland in winter is the place for you! Whether you want to hit the slopes with some fresh snow, take part in massive cultural festivals, or see nature at its finest, you need to visit Scotland during the winter months. 

Some of the best-loved Scotland winter activities take place out in nature. Personally, I love wrapping up in a huge coat and gloves for a snowy hike or for a ski session, before heading to a local pub to sit by a roaring fire and sip a wee dram of whisky. Sounds festive, right?

scotland winter activities

From diving into Viking festivals in the Shetland Island or learning a new snow sport in Glencoe, to celebrating Scotland’s most famous poet in Edinburgh , I know you’re going to find a winter activity in Scotland that you absolutely love.

So, let’s dive right in and check out some of the best things to do in Scotland in winter.

If you’re planning a visit for a different time of year, don’t miss our guide to the best things to do in Scotland in summer , our top picks for autumn and our favourite places to visit in Scotland in spring .

Scotland winter weather 

There’s no getting around the fact that Scotland in winter is cold. In fact, you can expect highs of 5°C (41°F) – yep that’s the high… so you’ll need to pack all your winter warmers! You’re likely to encounter some snowfall during the winter months, with around 10-20 snowy days throughout the season. This rises to an average of 40 snowy days if you’re up in the Highlands where the ski resorts are. 

scotland in winter

Best things to do in Scotland in winter

Welcome in the new year at hogmanay.

If you find yourself in the Scottish capital around New Year’s Eve, you’re in for a treat. Honestly, I think Hogmanay is one of the best New Year’s celebrations around. With tons of fireworks, music, ceilidhs, drinking, and just general fun, it’s the perfect way to welcome another year.  

hogmanay edinburgh

Be aware that prices for accommodation do go through the roof around Hogmanay so it’s best to book as early as possible. 

Check out the slopes at the Cairngorms National Park

One of the best Scotland winter activities in skiing. Yes, you can absolutely ski in Scotland, and the Cairngorms National Park is one of the best places to do it! In fact, Cairngorm Mountain is commonly listed as the best ski area in Scotland for beginners.

skiing in carngorms national park

So, whether you’re a complete novice or you want to get some time on the slopes in the UK, January and February are both great months for skiing in Scotland. 

Celebrate Burns Night in Edinburgh

Are you going to be in Scotland around the 25th of January? Well then, you’re going to have a front-row seat to Burns Night , celebrating Scotland’s most famous national poet, Robert “Rabbie” Burns.

Celebrate Burns Night in Scotland

Burns Night is all about celebrating Scottish traditions, from festive ceilidhs to eating your weight in haggis, neeps, and tatties. Wash it all down with some classic Scotch and you’re going to be celebrating like a local in no time.

Experience the Northern Lights in Glencoe

You might not be aware, but you actually can see the Aurora Borealis in Scotland in winter! The general rule of thumb is that the further north you go, the greater your chances are.

northern lights in scotland

That being said, Glencoe in the Scottish Highlands is consistently one of the best places to see the Northern Lights in Scotland in winter. That’s because there’s pretty much zero light pollution for miles around and the higher altitude means that on a clear night, you’ve got an unobstructed view of the Aurora! 

Get in the festive spirit at Glasgow’s Christmas Markets

Want to get in the festive spirit? Head to Scotland’s second city, Glasgow during November and December for their amazing Christmas Markets. Glasgow’s well known for its art scene and architecture so it’s the perfect backdrop for a winter getaway.

glasgow christmas market

Indulge in a big mug of mulled wine, get a bratwurst or bag of candied almonds, and wander around the stalls in the evening. It’s an ideal way to get in the Christmassy mood! 

Check out the Up Helly Aa Viking festival in the Shetland Islands

Now, if you’re an intrepid enough explorer to travel up to the Shetland Islands in the far north of Scotland during winter, you’ll be rewarded with a festival like no other. As the Shetlands used to be home to Vikings, there are festivals and traditions that celebrate that culture. 

shetland isles

There’s no Scottish Viking festival better than Up Helly Aa , held in Lerwick on the last Tuesday in January. With huge fire displays, processions, music, dancing, and drinking, it has to be seen to be believed!

Try snowshoeing in the Scottish Highlands

If you’re not keen on skiing or snowboarding and want to try a less intense snowsport, why not try out snowshoeing in the Scottish Highlands? Snowshoeing is a sport popular in the US and in Europe. You just clip the grippy contraption onto your boots. Once on, you can explore snowy hiking trails with relative ease.

snowshoeing

There are popular and established snowshoeing trails all around the Scottish Highlands, including around Glencoe and near the base of the mighty Ben Nevis ! 

Enjoy a winter road trip on the West Coast

Now, you might not think that winter is the best time for a road trip through Scotland, but it can be pretty liberating to see the natural beauty without the crowds. Snow can be an issue, so pop on some winter tyres or bring some snow chains with you. If you stick to coastal routes, you’re less likely to have issues.

glencoe in winter

The west coast of Scotland includes places like Fort William, Glencoe, Oban, and the Western Islands like the Inner Hebrides. These are all beautiful spots to visit, especially with a dusting of snow on the tops of the mountains!

Dive into history at Edinburgh Castle

If you’re staying in Scotland’s beautiful cities, why not dive into some history and culture? The beautiful Edinburgh Castle is considered one of the best Scotland winter activities and is perfect for a rainy day.

edinburgh castle in winter

Not only is it an outstanding 11th-century castle, it’s also home to some pretty fancy crown jewels. It has historic barracks, and even houses the National War Museum of Scotland. When the rain clears, you can also get amazing views across the city from its standpoint on top of Castle Rock.

Enjoy a day trip to Loch Ness

There are few Scottish myths that are more famous than Nessie the Loch Ness Monster. If you want to go monster hunting, or just spend a lovely day out on the water, Loch Ness pleasure cruises actually run all year round. 

loch ness in winter

The added benefit of going in winter is that there are hardly any tourists and if it’s a crisp and clear day, you should be able to spot a ton of native wildlife and birds! 

Warm up with a whisky tour

Is there a better way to warm up than with a snifter of classic Scottish whisky? Winter is a great time to hit up some of Scotland’s most famous whisky distilleries. They won’t be crowded and it’s a wonderful way to explore Scottish culture while staying warm and dry!

whisky tour in scotland

Some of the most popular whisky distilleries to visit include Islay, Lagavulin, Talisker, and Oban, but of course, there are hundreds to check out all across the country!

Try your hand at ice climbing in Kinlochleven

Ice climbing might sound like a daunting winter activity to undertake, but Kinlochleven actually has an indoor ice climbing wall where you can give it a go. In fact, Ice Factor is the largest indoor ice climbing centre in the entire world! 

ice climbing

The centre uses real snow and ice to keep the experience authentic, so whether you’ve never ice climbed in your life or you’re an intrepid winter mountaineer, this is a super cool winter activity in Scotland that you have to check out!

Explore Loch Lomond by foot

Loch Lomond , about an hour outside Glasgow, is hands down one of the most stunning places in the UK. In the summer months, it’s packed with tourists kayaking, cycling, or hiking around the lake. However, in winter these numbers drop through the floor and there’s a tranquil calm to the area. 

loch lomond in december

If you’re looking for a relaxing hike or long walk that doesn’t involve a ton of snow, the pathways around the banks of Loch Lomond might be a decent shout. Although there is snow on the higher altitude paths, if you stick close to the loch, the chances of snow are really low. You still need to wrap up warm though!

So, there you have it, the best things to see, do, and enjoy in Scotland in winter. What are your favourite things to do in Scotland from December to February? Let me know in the comments below and I’ll be sure to check them out!

Also, if you’re planning a visit for a different time of year, don’t miss our guide to the best things to do in Scotland in summer , our top picks for autumn and our favourite places to visit in Scotland in spring .

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Scotland Tours in December

From Edinburgh’s festive Christmas Market to the beautiful wintry landscapes of the Scottish Highlands, there’s a lot to see and do on Scotland tours in December. Take your pick from our Scottish winter tours, all planned by the local experts at Nordic Visitor.

VISITING SCOTLAND IN DECEMBER

Interested in Scotland tours in December? We’ve got you covered.

At this time of year, you could visit Scotland by taking a scenic road trip or touring with a private guide . Travel to Scotland in December to enjoy the winter beauty of the Scottish countryside, with fewer crowds at major attractions and less traffic for scenic drives in the Scottish Highlands.

What’s more, visiting Scotland in December is a great way to experience Scottish holiday traditions and festivities. This includes Edinburgh’s popular Christmas Market and Hogmanay, Scotland’s unique New Year celebration.

When you book a trip to Scotland with Nordic Visitor, you get hand-picked accommodation, transportation reservations, daily breakfast and access to our 24/7 helpline.

Get in touch via our live chat or toll-free numbers and we'll happily plan your December adventure.

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Why book with nordic visitor.

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Celebrate Christmas or New Year's in Edinburgh

Discover the magic of Edinburgh on a festive city break where your hotel and handpicked excursions are arranged for you. You’ll experience local traditions, explore the historic capital, and visit the Highlands on a guided day trip.

A Scottish Christmas to Remember

Christmas in scotland, explore scotland on a road trip.

Explore the Highlands and beyond on a self-drive tour. You do the driving, we handle your accommodations, route planning and any itinerary customisations. Tours come with a hand-marked map, attractions guide and more.

Scottish Highlands & Isle of Skye - Winter

Express scotland - winter, travel in scotland on a private tour.

Enjoy more Scottish cultural insights on a privately guided tour with a local driving you around in style. Tours are fully customisable and ideal for those interested in Scotch whisky, Scottish cuisine, Outlander film locations and more.

Scottish Highlands & Isle of Skye Winter - Private

Express scotland winter - private, experience scotland your way.

We have tours for all varieties of travel styles and interests. See our options for exploring Scotland below.

Guided Small Groups

Privately guided, best sellers, culinary experience, scottish heritage tours, the scottish highlands, all travel styles, what do our customers say.

The reviews speak for themselves. See what Nordic Visitor travellers said about their experience with us.

Ryan, United States

Edinburgh complete - loch ness, highlands & glasgow - winter, november 2023, a great adventure.

This was such a great adventure for us on our 20th! Amazing tours and time to roam around the city on our own! We fell in love with the people and cannot wait to go back!

Kathleen, United States

Scottish highlands & isle of skye winter - private, february 2023, i can't thank nordic visitor enough.

This is our second trip in two years to Scotland with Nordic Visitor, and we are seriously thinking about another. I can't thank Chris enough for his patience and expertise when booking this trip.

Carlo, United States

A scottish christmas to remember, december 2022.

We booked a 4-day Christmas Tour of Edinburgh which included hotel accommodation, a walking tour of the Royal Mile and Edinburgh Castle, a day tour of the Highlands and Lowlands, castles, and lochs, and also a whisky distillery tour. The hotel was in an amazing location near the Christmas Markets and popular attractions. The day tours were such a wonderful way to experience the countryside outside of Edinburgh. We also added a driving service to drive us to and from the airport and the drivers were so lovely. The care package left at the hotel consisting of maps and suggested eateries was such a delightful bonus. We loved that every aspect of our trip was planned and ready for us once we arrived which diminished any travel stress that one may experience when travelling abroad.

Cynthia, United States

Scottish highlands & isle of skye - winter, march 2023.

We went on the Scotland Winter World tour for 8 days, and overall it was great. We experienced so much and travelled all over Scotland. The detailed information that was provided upon arrival was amazing. Magda was wonderful and knowledgeable and responded quickly to emails and phone calls.

Brett, United States

Edinburgh complete - loch ness, highlands & glasgow - winter, january 2023, everything was taken care of.

Made my trip so much easier! Everything was taken care of and I did not have to worry about a thing! Very professional service!

Jana, United States

Scottish highlands & isle of skye - winter, november 2022, absolutely wonderful.

Our trip was absolutely wonderful! Magda was great to work with and helped us through the whole process. Everyone we worked with from the beginning through the end of the trip was absolutely marvellous.

Rosanne, United States

Edinburgh complete - loch ness, highlands & glasgow - winter, march 2023, our travel consultant was great.

We worked with Rebecca in planning our tour. She was very prompt in answering our questions. Her hotel recommendations were very worthwhile. Our documents arrived in a very timely manner. She also left extra tour information at the hotel for when we checked in.

Colette, United Kingdom

Our travel consultant went above and beyond.

Our tour representative in Scotland was Duncan and he was excellent, going above and beyond to make sure that we had a wonderful holiday even before we stepped foot in Scotland. We did the whisky tour, we had afternoon tea at the Astoria Caledonian, we did a Highland tour and a walking tour of the Royal Mile. All were excellent and along with our accommodation made for a fabulous holiday!

Wendy, Canada

Taste of scotland - castles & highlands - winter, november 2022.

We booked our tour with Rebecca at short notice (week prior). She was most helpful with arranging our hotel, tours and airport transfer booking, and was quick to respond to our questions and booking requests. Thank you!

Javier, United States

Scottish highlands & isle of skye - winter, february 2023, excellent service from nordic visitor.

I want to thank everyone that helped with the trip because it was an excellent service. I will recommend you to people I know, because all of Nordic Visitor's recommendations were great and the hotels and B&Bs were amazing. I will probably do another trip with you guys. I hope you expand your services to more countries.

Stacy, United States

Scottish highlands & isle of skye - winter, december 2022, so convenient.

It was so convenient to have the logistics already planned for us. The accommodation was all nice and the suggested outings were perfect.

Raymond, United States

Beyond our expectations.

Everything was beyond our expectations. We had no worries, Nordic Visitor took care of all the small details I didn't even begin to think about.

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Flights to Scotland

The two biggest international airports in Scotland are in Glasgow, Scotland’s largest city, and in Edinburgh, the capital city and usual starting point for Nordic Visitor tours. Flight times to Scotland are, for example, 6.5 hours from New York City and 1.5 hours from London. Major international airlines with flights to Scotland include (but are not limited to) British Airways, Virgin Atlantic, United Airlines, American Airlines, Delta and KLM.

Scotland and the rest of the UK is on GMT time. If your journey to Scotland involves one or more connecting flights, or if you're crossing several time zones to get here, your dedicated Nordic Visitor travel consultant can add extra nights in Edinburgh to your package so you can rest up after arrival.

Please note that flights to Scotland are not included in Nordic Visitor packages.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT SCOTLAND IN DECEMBER

Whatever you’re wondering about visiting Scotland in December, we’re here to answer your most commonly asked questions.

December is a good time to visit as there is less traffic on the roads and less visitors at popular attractions like Edinburgh Castle. It’s good to be aware that some sites will operate on reduced hours, but you’ll find you have them more to yourself.

It is one of the best months to experience Scotland’s winter wonderland, with Christmas markets aplenty and snow-capped hills.

Read below to find out all the details from our local travel experts.

What are the best things to do in Scotland in December?

A huge benefit is that many of Scotland’s amazing attractions are accessible all year long. What’s more, even with short daylight hours and cooler weather, if you’re travelling to Scotland during the winter months, you’ll find plenty of things to do.

Here are the 10 best things to do in Scotland in December:

  • Drive around the beautiful Scottish Highlands
  • Taste the local whisky flavours at distilleries
  • Admire the stunning, natural scenery
  • Visit the buzzing cities, charming towns and fishing villages
  • Walk along the lochs and glens
  • Explore picturesque, ancient ruins and castles
  • Head off the beaten path in the islands
  • Meet the local wildlife
  • Attend the Christmas markets in Edinburgh and Glasgow
  • Stay up until midnight with Hogmanay, Scotland’s New Year’s Eve celebrations
  • Explore Scotland winter tours to find your perfect match
  • Read on about what to visit and where to go in Scotland during winter

What are the best places to visit in Scotland in December?

December is a great month to travel to Scotland. It’s still easy to drive around and visit the top attractions, including its lovely towns, historic sites and natural highlights.

Here are some of the best places to visit in Scotland in December:

  • Visit, shop and eat your way around the historic capital, Edinburgh
  • Have a wintry walk in Highland Perthshire
  • Admire the dramatic scenery of Glen Coe
  • Meet some of the local wildlife in the Cairngorm National Park
  • See the beautiful rock formations of the Isle of Skye
  • Explore popular historic sites such as Stirling Castle and Edinburgh Castle
  • Try spotting the famous monster at Loch Ness
  • Pop by St Andrews to visit Scotland’s oldest university and the home of golf
  • Roam around the standing stones of Clava Cairns
  • Sail or enjoy a simple walk along the quiet Loch Lomond
  • Visit the picturesque towns of Pitlochry and Dunkeld
  • Check out these classic Scotland holiday packages  to see the iconic castles, cities and mountains
  • Read about the best times to visit Scotland depending on what you want to see or do

What is the weather like in Scotland in December?

As December is the start of winter in Scotland, you can expect mild and wet weather. On average, there are highs of 11°C (55°F) and lows of 0°C (32°F).

Does it snow in Scotland in December?

It is possible you will encounter snow in Scotland in December. In the lowlands it is more likely to rain. However, if you drive into the Highlands you may find more snowfall, especially in Cairngorms National Park.

Is it difficult to drive in Scotland in December?

Winter in Scotland can bring icy and snowy conditions. However, in December, you’re more likely to encounter rain, making it an easy location to do a winter road trip. Just make sure you come ready to drive on the left!

During your trip check weather and road conditions regularly. For your peace of mind, our team is on hand 24/7 should you need to contact us at any point. And if there is an unexpected event or severe weather, we’ll get in touch and modify your itinerary while keeping you safe and informed.

When you book a self-drive tour with Nordic Visitor , your car rental comes with collision damage waiver and a hand-marked map of your route. You also get two named drivers on the insurance policy so you can share the driving with a travel companion.

What are the daylight hours in December in Scotland?

In December, the days are the shortest of the year as we approach the winter solstice.

Early in the month in Scotland, the sun rises around 8:20 AM and by the end of December rises at 9 AM. Throughout the month, you can expect the sun to set around 3:40 PM.

  • Would you rather visit during the summer? Check out these summer tours of Scotland
  • Read about the best places to visit in Scotland for more expert advice

What are December temperatures in Scotland?

The daily average for December is 5°C (41°F). But you can expect average temperatures to be anywhere between 0°C (32°F) and 11°C (55°F).

What to wear in Scotland in December?

Like in many of the Nordic countries, Scots have the saying: “There is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing”.

As the weather is mild throughout the winter in Scotland, we recommend a mix of thin and warm layers.

For a trip to Scotland in December, it is best to be ready for all kinds of weather. From rainy weather to the colder mountain climate, make sure to pack all the necessary clothing. That way, come rain or shine, you can enjoy the natural beauty of the country.

Here is a list of packing essentials for your Scotland tour in December:

  • Lightweight layers
  • Warm jumpers or fleeces
  • Waterproof winter jacket
  • Waterproof trousers
  • Scarf, gloves and a warm hat
  • Sturdy boots for forest and hill walks

Can I see the northern lights in Scotland in December?

In December, it is possible to see the northern lights in remote corners of Scotland, but it is a rare occurrence.

For your best chances of spotting the auroras, we recommend heading north into the “Northern Lights Belt”. You could pick a northern lights tour in Iceland , Lapland or Northern Norway .

  • Check out these Scotland best-selling tours
  • Read about the best lochs and castles to visit during your Scotland tour

What are the most popular events in Scotland in December?

December is a month of celebration in Scotland, so you’ll find some fun Scottish events and festivals to attend around the country.

Some of the most popular events in December include:

  • Christmas markets across the country
  • Irn Bru Carnival in Glasgow
  • Glasgow, Edinburgh and Dundee Santa Dash runs
  • Stonehaven Fireball Ceremony
  • Hogmanay and New Year’s fireworks in Edinburgh, Glasgow, Stirling and more

How to tour Scotland in December?

There are various ways to travel on your Scotland tour in December. Depending on your personal tastes and requirements, you could either go for a guided or self-guided vacation.

Road trip around Scotland December is a great time to visit Scotland on a self-drive tour, which would allow you to stop at the sights you want to see at your own pace. At this time of year, there are fewer visitors and less traffic on the roads.

Pick up your rental car from Edinburgh or Glasgow and drive to iconic locations. You could visit Loch Ness, Inverness, the Isle of Skye and Fort William, amongst many more.

Driving in Scotland is an adventure that you won’t regret! Especially if you book with Nordic Visitor, as we offer collision damage waiver and a 24/7 helpline for emergencies.

Good to note: In Scotland, and the wider UK, motorists drive on the left. If you’re not used to that, we recommend you hire an automatic car or book a private tour.

  • Love the sound of a self-drive adventure? Find out more about Scotland self-drive tours
  • Visit between April and October to  combine a road trip of Scotland and Ireland

Tour Scotland with a private guide Do you want to leave the driving to someone else? You might prefer to be accompanied by your very own local expert throughout your Scotland experience.

A privately guided tour is one of the most exclusive ways to see Scotland and learn all about this beautiful country. You’ll have your own personal guide to show you the best locations and teach you about the local history.

  • Book a privately guided tour package of Scotland
  • Our Scottish small group tours run from May to September if you fancy meeting like-minded travellers

Whatever tour you pick, you’ll take advantage of all our signature benefits. These include charming accommodation, daily breakfast, our Nordic Visitor Scotland Travel Guide, and a hand-marked map with your route and highlights. All our winter tours include a Historic Scotland Explorer Pass so you can pick the attractions you want to visit.

Good to know: Our Scotland itineraries aren’t set in stone. Our Edinburgh-based Scotland experts know the country inside out. They’ll help you see the country your way, tailoring your itinerary and adding all the best excursions to suit you.

  • Find out more about visiting Scotland earlier, in September , October , or November
  • Or visit Scotland later, in January , February , or March

— OTHER DESTINATIONS

See more of northern europe.

  • Like combining culture with nature? Discover Scandinavia
  • Want more stunning road trip ideas? Venture to Iceland
  • Want to meet Santa Claus or try dog sledding? Head to Lapland
  • Keen to go off the beaten track? Explore remote Svalbard

Our Services

Whether you travel independently or with a guide in your Nordic Visitor package, you will receive personalised service from a designated travel consultant and high-quality travel documents. What's more, all self-drive clients receive a hand-marked map that outlines the driving route, overnights and highlights along the way. Travel with ease knowing that Nordic Visitor has close professional relationships with local service providers , which are carefully selected by our staff for their consistently high standards.

Book With Confidence

  • Protect your money & plans with our  flexible booking terms    .
  • 97% of customers say they’d recommend us to friends.
  • We work closely with trusted, high-quality suppliers.
  • Enjoy personal service from Scotland travel experts.
  • Get peace of mind with a 24/7 helpline during your stay.
  • We’re here for you in case of unforeseen circumstances.

Whether you’re looking to add a night in Edinburgh, want restaurant recommendations or have questions about your tour, we’re happy to help so get in touch with our friendly team to answer any of your travel queries.

Our Scottish phone number is +44 (0)131 344 4630

How about a live chat with one of our local travel experts?

Read About Scotland

Best time to visit scotland: your complete guide, summer in scotland guide: what to do and where to go, 7 outlander filming locations to visit in scotland, in focus: skye in the off-season.

Whether you have a single question or a special request, we're here for you.

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Best Places in Scotland to visit in Winter Blog

Scotland is a country to visit in all seasons. Choosing to explore in the quieter months has many advantages. Many of the best places in Scotland to visit in winter see their visitor numbers dip, giving you more space and time to explore. Accommodation prices can be more affordable too, giving the option to splurge on a luxury stay.

The big question is, of course, will the weather behave? Sure it can be unpredictable, so come prepared, and it shouldn't be a problem.  As Billy Connolly once said, "there’s no such thing as bad weather - only the wrong clothes.”

Why not join us as we look at the many benefits of visiting Scotland in the winter months.

How cold is Scotland in Winter?

In Scotland, the winter months are defined as December, January and February, with the latter two being traditionally the coldest. Despite sharing the same latitude as parts of Alaska, Canada and Russia, our winter temperatures average a balmy 5 °C (41 °F) to 7 °C (45 °F).

Couple of hikers at Rannoch Moor

There can be considerable variance when in the Scottish Highlands, however. The coldest temperature ever recorded in the United Kingdom was -27.2 °C (-16.96 °F) in Braemar (1982) and in Altnaharra (1995).

Snowfall in the cities is quite unusual but is far more common in mountainous areas. One of the advantages of touring Scotland at this time of year is the sight of the mountains peaks capped in snow reflected in the shimmering lochs below.

For more information on the weather in Scotland, click here .

Winter Festivals in Scotland

Three major festivals take place in the winter months - St Andrews Day, Hogmanay and Burns Night.

St Andrew is the patron saint of Scotland, and on 30 November, we celebrate St Andrew’s Day by enjoying traditional food and drink. There are torchlight processions and ceilidh dances throughout the country, where you take the floor to exuberantly celebrate Scottish culture. It's all great fun!

Edinburgh Hogmanay Fireworks

One of Scotland’s most important festivals is Hogmanay, where we bid farewell to the year gone past and celebrate the New Year that is to come. There is a tradition of first-footing where we visit neighbours and friends after midnight, bringing some whisky to toast the new year.

An essential part of the Hogmanay celebrations is singing Auld Lang Syne, which loosely means “for the sake of old times”. You can discover the history and traditions of this popular song by reading our Auld Lang Syne, The New Years Anthem blog .

Burns Night

The last of our trio of celebrations takes place on 25 January each year, when Scots gather to celebrate our national poet, Robert Burns . Burns Suppers take place throughout his native Scotland as well as internationally.

A piper addressing the haggis

At these lively gatherings, his memory is toasted with whisky and readings of his poems. A meal of traditional fayre is consumed, which includes a wee taste of haggis, presented in a lavish ceremony.

All over Scotland, local festivals take place throughout the winter months, including the famous Up Helly Aa fire festival in the Lerwick, Shetland. This historic event marks the end of Yuletide and culminates in a massive torchlight procession and the symbolic burning of a replica Viking Longship.       

Top things to do in Edinburgh in Winter

The Scottish Capital turns into a winter wonderland from the end of November to the start of January. There are lots of family-friendly events taking place, including traditional pantomimes, after-dark light trails and the famous Christmas market, of course.

Edinburgh is famed for its Hogmanay celebrations which attract visitors and locals alike. The programme includes a torchlight procession and the iconic Party at the Balls, featuring Basement Jaxx and Scottish DJ Arielle Free.

The climax comes when the bells toll midnight and the New Year is welcomed by a spectacular firework display against the backdrop of Edinburgh Castle .

Edinburgh Attractions

Outwith the festive period, there are lots to keep you occupied on a visit to Edinburgh. There are major attractions such as Edinburgh Castle, Palace of Holyroodhouse and the Royal Yacht Britannia.

Winter view of Edinburgh Castle

A new addition to Edinburgh’s key attractions is Johnnie Walker Princes Street which offers a customised whisky experience through the flavours of Scotland. 

Soak up culture and the arts with a visit to the Scottish National Gallery , where the collection includes masterpieces by Raphael, Titian and Monet. The National Museum of Scotland tells the story of Scotland, from dinosaurs to Dolly the sheep.

If you’re a music lover, the impressive Usher Hall is the venue for the Royal Scottish National Orchestra ’s winter season, providing a varied programme of classical music. Fancy something showier? Head to The Playhouse to see hit musicals straight from the West End.

Connecting Edinburgh’s many attractions is the Edinburgh City Tour which operates daily throughout the year. 

Best day trips from Edinburgh in Winter

The Trossachs

Edinburgh makes the perfect base to see more of Scotland on a day trip. The shorter daylight hours means it’s best to plan your trip carefully to get the maximum benefit.

A popular bus tour from Edinburgh is the Stirling Castle, Loch Lomond and Trossachs itinerary which explores the natural beauty of the Loch Lomond and Trossachs National park, known as “The Highlands in Miniature”.

Glasgow, Scotland’s largest city, is a mere 50 minutes away by train. This friendly city is famed for its fantastic free museums and galleries, beautiful parks and stylish shopping options.    

Highlands in the Winter

Skier at Glencoe

During the winter months, the scenic Scottish Highlands is transformed into a sporting wonderland. All sorts of outdoor pursuits take place, including skiing, snowboarding, curling and skating.

There are five ski resorts in Scotland at Cairngorm Mountain, Glencoe Mountain, Glen Shee, Nevis Range and The Lecht. Cross-country skiing is also available from the Nordic centre in Huntly.

If you fancy doing something entirely different, why not take a thrilling husky sledge ride? Aviemore is the location of the UK’s only working sled dog centre.

Also, in the Cairngorms National Park is a herd of free-roaming reindeer and the Highland Wildlife Park , which is home to polar bears, arctic foxes and leopards.

Enjoy your favourite malt

Couple at Glen Ord Distillery

After a busy day of activities, what could be more relaxing than snuggling up in front of an open fire with your favourite whisky? If you are planning some sightseeing during your time in the highlands, it’s so easy to include a distillery visit to see how it’s lovingly created.  

Discover the traditions of whisky production perfected over the centuries. Your expert guide will explain how whisky is made using three simple ingredients – water, barley and yeast plus time.

After the tour, enjoy a tutored tasting of a dram or two. At some distilleries, a tasty pairing with chocolate or cheese is offered as an option.

Skye in Winter

Black Cuillin Hills

The magical Isle of Skye is famed for its natural beauty, historic castles and iconic landscapes. Discover stories of feuding clans, Jacobite battles and the tragic story of the Highland clearances.  The island is most famously connected to the story of Bonnie Prince Charlie and his escape “over the sea to Skye”.

Visiting the Isle of Skye during the winter months is both convenient and affordable. The 3 day/2 night Isle of Skye and the Scottish Highlands Winter Tour departs weekly with prices as low as £215, including accommodation and breakfast.

Experience Winter Scotland with Scottish Tours

It’s easy to discover the beauty of Scotland during the quieter winter months with Scottish Tours.

We’re here to help you discover the place we call home and take you to the most iconic locations in the land. Our  award-winning tours  offer a full-immersive taste of Scottish life as you set sail on the trip of a lifetime. 

Browse our  Scotland Tours  and book online today

scottish winter tours

UK Travel Planning

Visiting Scotland in winter [Things to do + FAQs]

By: Author Tracy Collins

Posted on Last updated: September 1, 2023

Are you wondering whether a trip to Scotland in winter is a good idea or not? This article will convince you that it is. 

Scotland is a diverse and fascinating destination at any time of the year. It offers something for everyone from historic castles and battlefields to cosmopolitan cities to fantastic hiking and natural scenery. 

Adrenaline junkies can enjoy climbing, mountain biking and coasteering whilst foodies can indulge in a vibrant and thriving Scottish food scene. Winter brings additional snow sports as well as unique winter food and drink to sample. 

Whilst a winter trip to Scotland has its challenges, it also offers several unique opportunities for visitors to experience the cultural and historical events and festivals that Scotland is famous for. 

The Glenfinnan viaduct in Scotland in winter.

Advantages of visiting Scotland in winter

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Winter in Scotland can be magical when the hills and glens are covered in snow. The snow-capped Scottish Highlands on a sunny but crisp winter day is an unforgettable experience. 

If you like winter sports you can try snow sports such as skiing, snowboarding and curling. 

You will also encounter fewer foreign and domestic tourists and attractions and transport will be quieter. Plus, it will be too cold for the infamous Scottish midges to bother you. 

As winter is the low season, this is a good time to visit if you want to pick up low cost hotel deals. 

Doug at Glencoe

Scotland in winter can get very cold and you will have shorter daylight hours for sightseeing. Whilst you can get sunny, blue sky days in winter you will inevitably get plenty of rainy days too. 

Driving in Scotland in winter on a Scottish road trip can be challenging particularly in rural areas. You will need to research and plan your routes carefully plus keep up to date with local weather forecasts. 

As it is low season, some attractions may have shorter opening hours whilst some may shut for the entire winter season. 

Things to do in Scotland in winter

Wherever you travel in Scotland in winter, there are lots of things to do and events to visit. 

Edinburgh in winter

Edinburgh is a fantastic destination to visit at any time of the year but in winter, its wide choice of world class museums are ideal for escaping to on a rainy day. 

Visit the impressive National Museum of Scotland and the Scottish Art Gallery (both of which are free), the famous Edinburgh Castle , the quirky Camera Obscura or the small Writers Museum. You can even escape the rain or snow on an underground tour of St. Mary’s Close.  

Edinburgh in the winter is an atmospheric and lively place so don’t dismiss an Edinburgh winter trip. 

🥃 Whisky Distilleries

If you like Scottish drinks and food, you can warm your winter chills with a tour of a Scottish whiskey distillery. There are over 130 whiskey distilleries in Scotland to choose from. 

All tours include tastings with takeaway ‘driver’s drams’ for anyone who is driving and some tours offer soft drinks for children over 8 years old.

You can expect to pay between £5 – £30 per person per tour depending on the size of your party and the size (and reputation) of the distillery. 

On a tour you will learn about the history of whiskey and discover how it is made. Tours end with tastings of between 3 and 7 whiskeys, depending on the distillery. 

Some distilleries such as the Uilebheist distillery near Inverness , offer master classes and food tastings alongside their general tours. 

You can find a full list of whiskey tours in Scotland here.  

Fort William

Fort William is Scotland’s ‘outdoor capital’ but it is not just a summer playground. 

In winter you can try ice climbing, skiing or snowboarding, join a wildlife safari or take the gondola to the Nevis Range mountain restaurant to savour the winter views. You can avoid winter driving by taking the Jacobite train from Fort William across the Glenfinnan Viaduct to Mallaig. 

Glencoe road in winter

Irn-Bru Carnival

Named after one of Scotland’s most popular soft drinks, this three week indoor winter festival is Europe’s largest indoor funfair. 

The huge indoor site in Glasgow offers something for all ages and is the perfect fun day out for all ages. Entrance tickets to the Irn Bru Carnival include ten vouchers for rides but you can purchase more vouchers during the day if you wish. It is one of the best indoor events in Glasgow in winter. 

Up Helly Aa

Up Helly Aa takes place in towns around northern Scotland with the largest event held in Lerwick on the Shetland Isles. It is held on the last Tuesday in January and has been running for the past 150 years. Up Helly Aa is Europe’s largest fire festival and attracts visitors from all over the world. 

The event marks the end of the Yuletide period and consists of torchlit processions by ‘squads’ led by a ‘jarl’ which culminates in the burning of a replica Viking Longship. After this, the squads hit the town to party. 

If you are looking for unique things to do in Scotland, Up Helly Aa should be top of your list. 

Dundee Winterfest

This five week long event takes place in Slessor Gardens in the heart of Dundee. It consists of a ferris wheel, an outdoor ice rink and a vintage funfair plus a Bavarian bar. 

It is a fun, free to enter event for all the family (you just pay for the activities once inside) and is well worth visiting if you are in the Dundee area. 

⛷ Skiing

Scotland is a relatively undiscovered ski destination but there are six ski resorts that offer beginner and advanced ski and snowboard slopes. If you wish to try skiing, most resorts offer taster sessions or short beginner courses with equipment hire available on site. 

Visit the Glenshee Ski Centre near Braemar which is the largest ski centre in the U.K or any of the ski resorts near Aviemore such as CairnGorm Mountain. 

❄️ Snowshoeing

If you prefer something less energetic and want space and time to soak up the scenic mountain views, join a guided snowshoe hike in the Cairngorms. All equipment can be hired from the tour company.

You will learn how to effectively hike and move on deep snow and can visit out of the way areas that other tourists will not be able to reach by car. 

Curling is a very popular indoor winter sport in Scotland and Scottish teams regularly win medals at global tournaments. 

Curling is a team game played on ice where players expertly aim and slide large flat stones across the ice to hit (or be the closest to) a mark. Members of the same team use brooms to vigorously sweep the surface of the ice to control the speed and direction of the stone. 

The sport can be enjoyed by all ages, abilities and genders and is great fun to watch and to participate in. There are curling centres all over Scotland (usually in ice skating rinks) where you can pre book tutored tasting sessions. It is a must do for any Scotland winter itinerary. 

You can find a session near where you are travelling here .

Haggis neeps and tatties

Hogmanay is synonymous with Scotland and is the country’s biggest winter celebration. 

Hogmanay falls on New Years Eve with celebrations often lasting until January 2nd. Festivities start shortly after midnight with ‘first footing’ when people try to be the first person to cross the threshold (or visit the home) of a friend or family member. Gifts such as shortbread and whisky are exchanged which are believed to bring good luck to the householder. 

You will also hear multiple renditions of ‘Auld Lang Syne’, a song based on a poem by the Scottish poet Robert Burns. 

Many cities and towns hold Hogmanay events which include their own local customs such as fireball swinging in Aberdeenshire and torchlit processions in Fife. 

Hogmanay celebrations in Edinburgh include live music concerts, fireworks displays and a street party on Princes Street. All Edinburgh events are ticket only so if you plan on visiting, get your ticket here in advance of your visit. 

Hogmanay is, without doubt, one of the best things to do in Scotland in winter. 

Burns Night

Burns Night celebrates the life and works of Robert Burns and is held every year on his birth date of January 25th. 

Burns Nights celebrations start with the arrival of the haggis to bagpipes followed by a traditional Burns Supper of haggis, tatties and neeps washed down by whisky. During the meal, diners are treated to poems and songs. Most events end with a lively Scottish ceilidh. 

If you are in Scotland for Burns night, we highly recommend trying to attend one of these uniquely Scottish events. 

If you are visiting Scotland in late November and December you will be treated to an array of Christmas markets. 

Scotland’s Christmas markets are free to enter and are an excellent opportunity to pick up local crafts, locally made whiskey or to try a warming mulled wine. 

The Christmas Market in St. Enoch and George Square in Glasgow is one of the biggest and best in Scotland. 

Scotland in winter FAQs 

Although December will be the busiest winter month to visit Scotland, it is also the month in which most festivals and events happen. 

Scotland in December will experience higher prices and busy winter attractions but it will also be a lively, fun and festive time to visit. 

Glencoe in winter

In a word – cold! But you will be pleasantly surprised to discover that Scotland in winter is not as cold as other countries which are on the same latitude. 

The average temperature in December in Scotland is 5 degrees C / 41 degrees F. In January and February, the average temperature is 4 degrees C / 40 degrees F. 

However, it is worth remembering that these are the average temperatures across the whole of Scotland. You can expect much colder temperatures if you travel to the far north of Scotland or to anywhere at altitude. A Scottish highlands winter is not for the faint-hearted!

For example, the lowest temperature ever recorded in Aviemore is -14 degrees C / 6.8 degrees F. 

There will be snowfall in the winter months with an average fall of 5 cm per month – though you can expect much more than this in rural and mountainous areas. For example, the average snow depth in the Glenshee ski area is around 19 cm. 

As well as several snowy days per winter month, you can expect plenty of rainy days. December and January see an average of 7 cm of rain per month, dropping to 5.9 cm in February. You can expect an average of 20 rainy days a month during the winter in Scotland!

Many visitors are surprised how much daylight you will have in winter in Scotland. It does not experience the endless darkness of Scandinavian countries. 

In December, there is an average of 7 hours 4 minutes of daylight which rises to 7 hours 41 minutes in Scotland in January. This increases to 9 hours 41 minutes in February. 

Scotland 6

It is essential to pack carefully for a trip to Scotland in winter. 

Make sure you pack layers, including thermal base layers, as these will keep you warmer than single bulky items. They will also be easier to remove if you go inside a museum or restaurant and need to cool down. 

Pack a warm, waterproof coat and a woolly hat, scarf and gloves. Warm, thick socks are a must; Merino wool socks are lightweight and will keep your feet dry and warm. 

Don’t forget to pack sturdy, good gripping waterproof shoes or boots which will help you navigate snowy, icy pavements and paths. If you can fit it into your luggage, a collapsible umbrella and a torch are also a good idea. 

Plus, if you plan to do any snow sports, pack some sun cream, sunglasses and lip balm to protect your eyes and skin from the reflective glow of the snow. 

If you can cope with the changeable and chilly Scottish weather, Scotland in winter is a truly magical experience. The hills and glens have an added atmosphere in the wind and rain whilst the snowy Cairngorms and icy lochs create a stunning backdrop for photos. 

Plus, there is nothing better than after a day of cold, windswept sightseeing, retiring to a cosy pub to enjoy a pint of Scottish beer or a wee dram before a roaring log fire. 

We hope this post has convinced you to give Scotland in winter a try!

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TravelAwaits

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7 Reasons Winter Is The Perfect Time To Visit The Scottish Highlands

scottish winter tours

  • Activities and Interests
  • Destinations
  • Seasonal Travel
  • United Kingdom
  • Winter Travel

The Scottish Highlands offer up-close nature, wild and majestic scenery around many corners, history, and adventure. It is where golf was invented, and the national animal is the unicorn. What more do you need for a perfect holiday?

For Scotland’s New Year’s Eve festival, Hogmanay , we hired a car and driver (you can take day trips), headed north to tour the Highlands, and learned why winter is the perfect time to visit. Like us, 8.3 percent of Americans claim Scottish heritage. While you can learn a lot about your family’s clans in Edinburgh and Stirling Castles, getting out into the countryside allows you to gain a love of the land beyond the city experience. Inverness is a logical place to start.

Pro Tip: Be prepared for Scotland’s variable and unpredictable weather. The Scots like to say, “You can experience all four seasons in a day.” Thick socks, hats, and layers of warm, waterproof gear remain a must when traveling in winter, as does an appropriate water and food supply.

Here are seven great reasons that show winter is a perfect time to visit Scotland.

Highland coo in Skye

1. Fewer Crowds

The British Isles are typically crowded. Traveling off-season is the perfect time to explore with space to spare. After passing over the Firth of Forth, enjoy the scenery and start in Inverness with shopping, Inverness Castle, Urquhart Castle and Visitor Center, and Loch Ness to seek out “Nessie,” the Loch Ness Monster. 

From Inverness, you can choose to go north to the Isle of Skye and over 900 islands, or return south towards Fort William, Oban, and the “Bonny, Bonny Banks of Loch Lomond.” In between, stop to visit the Outlander exterior film locations. This is the perfect weather to recreate a photo of Claire traversing the standing stones at Craigh na Dun.

Looking out over Loch Lomond from Inveruglas

Winter in Scotland is, in fact, an excellent time to take photographs. From recreations of looks from your favorite films and shows ( Outlander , Harry Potter , Brigadoon , Skyfall , Disney’s Brave , and The Crown ) to stunning wintry landscapes, be sure to have your camera ready.

Visit Scotland’s six UNESCO World Heritage sites outside Edinburgh, including the Stones of Stenness — standing stones in the Orkney Islands that predate Stonehenge by hundreds of years.

Drive over the Skye bridge to the Isle of Skye and check out The Fairy Glen, Fairy Pools, or Dunvegan Castle. With reduced crowds come reduced prices at some historic homes that make your visit that much more memorable. Take an abbreviated Castle Tour or drive along North Route 500, depending on schedule and weather.

Fort William

But when you stick to the Highlands, you’ll want to wander around Fort William and visit Old Inverlochy Castle, or Neptune’s Staircase , the longest staircase lock in Britain. Have your camera ready for a glimpse of the Jacobite Steam Train billowing across the aqueduct. If you can make the time, it’s worth it to hop on .

In Oban, take a walking tour or wander after enjoying the country’s famous fish ‘n chips at Nories . Then, climb the hill to McCaig’s Tower, the “Crown of Oban,” on historic Battery Hill. This half-circle stone lime wall was built to employ stonemasons during economic downturns and was never used during battle. The location, though, provides excellent panoramic views over Oban, neighboring islands, and the deep, cold waters of the Firth of Lorn.

Edinburgh's Hogmanay on Calton Hill

2. Winter Festivals

On November 30, Scotland celebrates St. Andrew’s Day, the patron saint of Scotland. Locals and visitors alike celebrate with dance, dinner, and cultural displays.

Hogmanay kicks off the New Year in style. While the largest festival remains in Edinburgh, most towns and cities host their own. Loch Ness invites you to follow their social pages to keep up with the party.

Our favorite part of Hogmanay was the torch bearers’ ceremony where each party lit a torch and carried it along a serpentine path in Old City. With music, art, literature, and history alive and well in the statues and actors amongst you, it’s a grand night.

January 25 is Robert Burns Night in honor of Scotland’s national poet. Enjoy your haggis, whisky, and ceilidh dancing, and plan to sleep in the next day.

The Ardnahoe Distillery

3. Warm Up With Whisky

Taste the so-called “Water of Life!” Eat, drink, and be merry at local distilleries where you’ll hear the history of whisky-making as the aroma of the malt, or perhaps the angel’s share, fills the space. Find elbow room at local pubs during the long winter nights. Your older teens may be pleased to learn the minimum age for drinking in Scotland is 18.

Choose from 100 distilleries across five whisky regions and learn about the reasons for distinct tastes, from the original recipe to the barrels that age the batch. Enjoy a dram, or two, and the companionship of locals who can regale you with local legends and folklore.

4. A Great Time To Golf

For many tourists, Scotland is synonymous with golf, specifically St. Andrews Links . Located on the east Scottish coastline’s sand dunes, the weather in St. Andrews can change in minutes but they’ve accommodated for that with firm, fast-draining turf that makes the course one of the best in the world year-round. With four courses open through the winter, determined golfers ward off the cold to make the most of their time on the legendary Old Course or its compatriots, Jubilee, Strathtyrum, and New Course.

Bonus for these hardy souls: It’s half the price to golf in winter as it is in summer.

During your non-golf-playing time, you may enjoy a Golf History Tour , and for the non-golfers, a walking tour that includes Scotland’s oldest university.

Pro Tip: Reservations to play at St. Andrews are required and fill quickly, so book early.

Northern Lights over Cullen Bay

5. Unforgettable Stargazing (And The Northern Lights)

When Scotland’s night skies are clear, the sparkling celestial activity is spectacular. If you’re lucky, you’ll be here when the aurora borealis is active. The further north you are, the more likely you are to see the lights, especially away from town light pollution.

The rugged snow-capped mountains and lovely lochs or beaches make excellent backdrops for the northern lights.

Pro Tip: Download the aurora forecast app before you go.

Our favorite place to stay is Cameron House with its beautiful location and wonderful spa on Loch Lomond. Its light pollution remains low and offers excellent stargazing with clear skies.

Suidhe Viewpoint

6. Hike From Sand To Snow

From the snow-dusted mountain peaks of winter to the craggy shoreline and white sand beaches, as long as you dress properly for the weather and take provisions, winter is a beautiful time to hike through the highlands with walks for all levels.

The unmissable, must-do event in Inverness is viewing Loch Ness from Urquhart Castle.

In Fort William, the must-do for climbers is hiking Ben Nevis , the U.K.’s tallest mountain. The summit panorama includes Scottish Highland lochs and mountains as far as you can see; on a clear day, that’s about 150 miles, sometimes reaching the Irish coast. At 4,411 feet, it’s an 8-hour climb, and many expert climbers pitch a tent for the night to enjoy the breathtaking sunset.

For a less strenuous jaunt, walk to Steall Falls and enjoy the sounds of rushing water before you spot the waterfall. You may recognize this moss-covered area as the setting for a Quidditch match in Harry Potter .

Loch Lomond

In Loch Lomond, visit the viewpoint at Rest and Be Thankful. If you dress warm enough, enjoy a picnic lunch here as you commune with nature. One thing you’ll quickly learn about Scotland is that they offer some of the best hot chocolate — with whipped cream, marshmallows, or both! Ask your hotel for a thermos to take with you for your outdoor adventures.

View from the Lecht Pass on the SnowRoads Scenic Route

Scotland’s five ski resorts vary from excellent beginner learning facilities to serious back-mountain slopes. Glencoe Mountain, aka “White Corries,” is the oldest and contains the gnarliest black-diamond run in Scotland, called “the Flypaper.”

Glenshee Ski Centre spans three valleys and caters to families with great beginner and intermediate runs. It is known for its challenging black run, “The Tiger.” The Nevis Range is the newest and offers spectacular views of Loch Eil and Ben Nevis from Scotland’s only mountain gondola. Their back-mountain runs are meant only for experts.

The Nevis Range Ski Centre

The CairnGorm Mountain resort is Scotland’s most popular, with reliable snow and plenty to do in case of bad-weather days. Lecht Ski Centre caters to families and is known to have the best beginner slopes and facilities in Scotland.

And one of the most beneficial elements of traveling to Scotland in winter? No midges!

For more on the Scottish Highlands, check out these articles:

  • 7 Reasons I Love Exploring The Scottish Highlands By Water
  • 12 Reasons I Loved My 8-Day Bus Tour Through Scotland
  • 6 Charming Small Towns To Visit In The Scottish Highlands

Image of Gail Clifford

Gail Clifford, MD, a physician for 30 years, has traveled to five continents and has visited all 50 United States. An avid traveler, she happily goes on new adventures, especially for birthdays. Multi-generational travel remains a treasured pastime. She currently divides her time between Ireland and the U.S. You can experience more from Gail on her site ABLE Travel & Photo .

Inspired By Maps

The 7 Best Scotland Tours For Unforgettable Adventures That Are Achievable & Affordable

Posted on Last updated: October 13, 2023

Categories Tours , Scotland

The 7 Best Scotland Tours For Unforgettable Adventures That Are Achievable & Affordable

Expert travel storyteller Jordan Adkins, founder of InspiredByMaps.com, brings a decade of adventures across 101 countries and 450+ UNESCO sites into rich, off-the-beaten-path narratives, melding ecological expertise with genuine, seasoned travel insights. His full bio can be found here.

Welcome to Scotland, a country known for its untamed lands, historic forts, and lively traditions. Scotland, a country in the northern part of the United Kingdom, charms tourists with its majestic highlands, lovely lochs, and ancient cities.

Let’s explore the enthralling country of Scotland through the best Scotland tours, where the elements of history, pristine nature, and kind people come together.

In Scotland, multi-day tours are common and draw a sizable number of tourists each year. Scotland is the perfect location for immersive experiences because of its rich history, beautiful landscapes, and cultural heritage. The comfort of having transportation, lodging, and itinerary preparation taken care of on a multi-day tour frees travelers from the responsibility of having to plan everything themselves.

These best Scotland tours frequently visit well-known locations like Edinburgh, Glasgow, Loch Ness, the Scottish Highlands, Isle of Skye, and the North Coast 500 route. They offer the chance to explore ancient castles, learn about Scottish folklore, take in stunning vistas, and become fully immersed in local music and culture.

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Scotland offers multi-day trips to suit a variety of interests and tastes. Some excursions concentrate on a particular theme, such as whisky tasting, where visitors can tour renowned distilleries and see how whisky is produced.

Others emphasize outdoor activities, including excursions such as hiking, wildlife watching, and discovering isolated islands. Furthermore, Scotland’s small size, which enables visitors to enjoy a variety of sights in a relatively short amount of time, contributes to the appeal of multi-day excursions.

Multi-day excursions in Scotland provide a practical and immersive approach to discovering the nation’s stunning landscapes, extensive past, and dynamic culture. Whether it’s a picturesque Highland tour or a whisky-tasting excursion, these tours offer visitors a unique experience.

In conclusion, Scotland entices travelers with its stunning scenery, fascinating past, and lively culture. Scotland has something to offer any traveler, whether looking for natural beauty, cultural heritage, delicious foods, or outdoor experiences. A multi-day tour offers an outstanding chance to explore the nation’s riches and make lifelong memories, whether you’re a seasoned traveler or a first-time visitor. Here are the top six best tours in Scotland.

best tour operators in Scotland - best Scotland tour package - best tours in Scotland - best tour companies in Scotland - best Scotland tours

Page Contents

5 Day Skye & Highland Fling

Country roads of scotland (classic, 9 days), highlights of scotland, scotland’s orkney islands, discover scotland (glasgow to edinburgh), best of scotland (winter, 7 days), treasures of scotland, macbackpackers.

Your five-day award-winning trip will involve castle storming, whisky drinking, ceilidh dancing, and monster hunting. Our guides will take you through the best of Scotland as you meander across the Highlands, guaranteeing an unforgettable experience.

The overnight stays include Inverness, two nights on the Isle of Skye, and either Oban (April to October) or Fort William (November to March). This tour starts and ends in Edinburgh. You have five days to discover the highlands of Scotland while also visiting 15 Scottish cities. An expert guide, transportation, and accommodation are included in the cost of this tour. Here is a look at your full itinerary. 

Day One: cross the iconic Forth Bridges before heading into the highlands. You have the option to swim in Loch Ness before heading into Inverness. 

Day Two: The voyage continues as we head west, crossing the Corrieshalloch Gorge and admiring Torridon’s breathtaking beauty and historic mountains before heading across the river to the Isle of Skye!

Day Three: A full day on Skye! Hike up to one of the island’s more distinctive rock formations. 

Day Four: Waving goodbye to Skye, we take the ferry off the island and visit the Glenfinnan viaduct, the Bonnie Prince Charlie monument, and  Glen Coe before heading to Oban.

Day Five: On our final day, we make our way through Argyll and into the Trossachs National Park. You’ll also visit  St. Conan’s Kirk. Kilchurn Castle (Summer months only). Callander, Doune Castle, Wallace Monument or. Bannockburn Battlefield. 

Spend five full days experiencing Scotland and its stunning highlands. You’ll witness firsthand the Scottish way of life and the intriguing wonders that make this place their home. This tour is offered by Macbackpacker a platinum tour operator. For almost 20 years, MacBackpackers has organized enjoyable, fully guided excursions around Scotland.

Their excursions provided a fun, interesting, and completely different perspective of Scotland and were designed for young travelers and backpackers between the ages of 18 and 39. As you travel along some of Scotland’s most picturesque routes, your guides, who are passionate about their country and its history, will introduce you to this wonderful nation while weaving together the rich tapestry of Scottish history and culture.

Overall you can expect to have a fantastic time as you tour Scotland. This tour has an overall rating of 4.8 stars and is remarked as one of the best tours of Scotland. 

5 Day Skye & Highland Fling by Macbackpackers - best tour operators in Scotland

Insight Vacations

Discover Glasgow’s opulent Georgian architecture, the Military Tattoo’s birthplace in Edinburgh, and the Isle of Skye, the most picturesque island in the Inner Hebrides, by taking a cruise. As you pass by Britain’s most northern point at John O’Groats and take a ferry to the Orkney Islands, join Local Experts on this great Gaelic tour.

On these serene isles, take advantage of a slower pace of life as you explore Skara Brae, a town that is 5,000 years old, and the enigmatic Ring of Brodgar. On this tour, visit the intriguing Heritage Museum or sip a small dram of whisky at the Old Pulteney Distillery in Wick. Take afternoon tea at Blair Castle, which has been the Atholl family’s ancestral home for more than seven centuries, after touring St. Andrews’ lovely cobbled alleys.

You’ll Begin your journey in Edinburgh and finish in Glasgow! Your 9-day tour takes you through Edinburgh, Scotland, and 8 other locations in Scotland. This tour also includes lodging in a hotel and a knowledgeable guide, meals, transportation, and other amenities. Here is your full itinerary.

Day One: Arrive in Edinburgh.

Day Two: Take a day tour of the highlights of Edinburgh.

Day Three: To St. Andrews and the Highland Capital of Inverness

Day Four: Culloden, Loch Ness, and onto Thurso

Day Five:  A Day in the Orkney Islands

Day Six:  Over the Sea to Skye

Day Seven: Pass Through the Scottish Highlands to Glencoe Relaxed Start

Day Eight: Along the Bonnie Banks of Loch Lomond to Glasgow Relaxed Start

Day Nine: The Tour Ends Here. 

Explore Scotland’s true winding country roads on this detailed nine day across the country. You’ll meet friendly locals, learn about ancient Scottish traditions and immerse yourself in Scotland’s intense beauty. Insight Vacations operate this tour. Each moment is extraordinary when you travel with Insight Vacations. You’ll meet, feel, and taste a place in addition to seeing it.

Travel in style and stay in the best accommodations possible when you book with Insight Vacations. With real eating experiences that transport you to a location’s core, learn about new cultures and people with one of the best tour operators. Overall this tour has a high rating of 4.3 out of five stars, and it is considered one of the best in Scotland. 

Country Roads of Scotland (Classic, 9 Days) by Insight Vacations - best tour operators in Scotland

G Adventures

For historians or perhaps those seeking to learn more about their Scottish ancestry, Scotland is an attractive destination thanks to its rich folklore and breathtaking landscapes.

This seven-day journey takes you to all the best cultural highlights, stopping at significant Jacobite sites like Culloden Moor in Inverness, charming locations like the Glenfinnan Viaduct, and giving you time to take in the country’s breathtaking natural beauty in Cairngorms National Park.

In between, you’ll have the chance to sample authentic Scottish cuisine and discover how whisky is manufactured through a tour and tasting excursion. It’s the finest way to simultaneously satisfy your inner whisky connoisseur and history buff.

Your tour starts in Edinburgh and ends in Glasgow. You have seven days to explore 4 destinations in Scotland. Accommodation, an expert guide, meals, and transportation are all included in this tour. Here is your full itinerary. 

Day One: Arrive in Edinburgh at any time.

Day Two: Enjoy an orientation walk of Edinburgh ending in the heart of the city

Day Three: This morning, opt to visit Cairngorms National Park and enjoy a CEO-led hike in Glenmore Forest, ending in Loch Morlich Beach. Or, consider a kayaking excursion or a visit to a reindeer farm with a ranger. After lunch, board a cruise toward Loch Ness.

Day Four: Discover the Isle of Skye with a scenic drive to the Isle, stopping at the Eilean Castle while en route for a snap of the old fortress. You’ll also visit Sligachan and Head north to visit Dunvegan Castle and its Gardens.

Day Five: Visit the Glenfinnan Viaduct, made famous by Harry Potter. Enjoy a forest walk in Ben Nevis, followed by a distillery tour and whisky tasting at Ben Nevis Distillery. Continue to explore Glencoe and learn about this key valley and its importance in Scotland’s history.

Day Six: Enjoy some free time to explore Glasgow. 

Day Seven: Departure at any time.

Spend a full week discovering the beauty of the Scottish highlands and the chance to discover the biggest cities within the country. With a good amount of free time to explore on your own accord and a mix of guided activities for you to choose from, you’ll have the best of both worlds and never be bored. G-Adventures officially operate this tour.

Discover new and exciting locations with G-Adventures! With a large selection of destinations and departure dates, many different trips are available to suit different tastes. Overall this Scottish highlights tour offered by G-Adventures can easily be considered one of the best tours in Scotland. 

Highlights of Scotland by G Adventures - best tour operators in Scotland

Intrepid Travel

Off the northern coast of Scotland lie the Orkney Islands, which are full of secrets and history that can be explored by land and sea. Using Kirkwall as your base, spend five days exploring the best of the Orkney Islands, beginning in the highlands capital of Inverness.

Admire the Neolithic village of Skara Brae, which dates back to before Stonehenge, venture off the beaten path on a leisurely coastal stroll on Shapinsay Island, and round off your days with live music and whisky tastings at neighborhood pubs.

This period of European history has never been more alluring, thanks to a knowledgeable local leader and a group of learners who share your enthusiasm. This adventure starts and ends in Inverness. You’ll experience three Scottish cities over five days. Accommodation, transportation, excursions, meals, and an expert guide are all complimentary on this tour. Here is what the full itinerary for this tour would entail. 

Day One: Meet your tour guide, and then from here, take a train to Thurso, and on arrival, transfer to the nearby port of Scrabster to board a ferry over to Orkney. Then catch a local bus with your group to Kirkwall.

Day Two: Go on a walking tour of Kirkwall with free time in the afternoon.

Day Three: Head off with your travel crew in a private vehicle toward some of the islands’ most historic sites. Start by visiting the Italian chapel. Continue west to the prehistoric village of Skara Brae. Pop into an old schoolhouse building for a picnic lunch of local Orkney produce. 

Day Four: walk down to the harbor to board a ferry bound for the island of Shapinsay. Set off on a coastal walk past Balfour Castle and along the western coastline. Spend the afternoon at leisure. 

Day Five: make your way back to Inverness and depart anytime.

This year’s itinerary is brand-new and improved to give travelers the best possible experience, but please note there are a few things you need to know about this tour. You should bring fall or winter clothing from September through May, as it can get chilly in Scotland. It’s also important to note that the accommodation provided is shared and if you’d prefer private accommodation it is available but at an additional cost. 

This tour offers five days to truly discover the islands of Scotland. It is truly a gift to have the opportunity to make it out to the islands, as few tourists venture out that far. It is truly a remarkable experience you don’t want to miss. That makes this tour unique and one of the best in Scotland. 

Scotland's Orkney Islands by Intrepid Travel - best tour operators in Scotland

Collette Tours

Scotland calls you in with its untamed, sea-sprayed islands and elegant, historically rich castles. At the farm-to-table restaurant of the National Piping Centre, you may learn how to play the bagpipes while having dinner. On a tour of a distillery, sample Scotch whiskey or Admire Isle of Skye’s breathtaking beauty.

Visit the renowned Loch Ness via boat. Explore Skara Brae, a historic site in the Orkney Islands. Contemplate Dunrobin Castle. Meet the sheepdogs of a local family by visiting their farm. Spend some time at leisure in the Victorian city of Pitlochry.

Discover Edinburgh, a majestic city. During an interactive cooking lesson, give Scottish cuisine a contemporary spin. Learn about the friendly sheepdogs, lush, rolling Highlands, and delicious Scotch whiskey of this region.

This tour starts in Glasgow and ends in Edinburgh. With this package, you’ll have 10 days to discover eleven different Scottish cities. Transportation, meals, excursions, an expert guide, and much more are included in the cost of the tour. Here is your full itinerary. 

Day One: Arrive in Scotland.

Day Two: visit the National Piping Centre. After a demonstration and lesson with a renowned piper, it’s your chance to give it a go! Then, join your fellow travelers for a lively welcome dinner at the Centre’s farm-to-table restaurant. 

Day Three:  travel to the Highlands, passing by the beautiful scenery of Loch Lomond. This afternoon, stop by one of Scotland’s whisky distilleries. 

Day Four: Take a stunning drive along the “Road to the Isles” and over to the Isle of Skye. Visit Armadale Castle & Gardens* and the Museum of the Isles to learn about island life and the history of Skye. 

Day Five: Travel through the Great Glen for a Visit to the striking ruins of Urquhart Castle before enjoying a cruise on Loch Ness.

Day Six: visit the Orkney Islands as well as Skara Brae and discover the remains of a Neolithic village.

Day Seven:   visit Culloden Battlefield. You’ll also stop at the majestic Dunrobin Castle with free time in the afternoon.

Day Eight: visit a family-run farm set in the heart of the Highlands. Continue to the vibrant Victorian town of Pitlochry for some time at leisure. End your day in Scotland’s capital city of Edinburgh.

Day Nine: Enjoy a free day in the capital of Scotland!

Day Ten: Departure at any time. 

Experience the true beauty of Scotland over ten days on this exciting tour! You’ll see the top tourist sites and a unique look into life in Scotland. Oh, and don’t worry, you will get to see lots of stunning castles!

Collette Tours offers this tour. Since 1918, Collette has established a name for itself as a travel agency that provides exceptional experiences, outstanding customer service, and a broad range of appeal. Benefits that elevate the guided travel experience are available when using Collette as your travel companion.

In addition to giving you better value for your money, their all-inclusive excursions guarantee that every component meets their high standards. Overall this tour operator is also considered “Gold” for its dedication to travelers. This can be said to be one of the best tours in Scotland. 

Discover Scotland (Glasgow to Edinburgh) by Collette Tours - best tour operators in Scotland

Trafalgar Tours

Discover the best of Scotland, from Glasgow’s unique alleys to Edinburgh Castle. Enjoy the romance and history of the Scottish Highlands and consider the enigmatic depths of Loch Ness before toasting the beautiful lochs, glens, and fabled locals of Bonnie, Scotland.

Start your journey in Edinburgh and finish in Glasgow. Beginning in Edinburgh, finishing in Glasgow! This tour includes a 7-day tour itinerary that visits Edinburgh, Scotland, and 7 other locations in Scotland. This tour package also includes hotel accommodations, a knowledgeable time, meals, transportation, and more. Here is a look at your full itinerary for this tour. 

Day One: Arrive at any time.

Day Two: Discover Enchanting Edinburgh

Day Three: Venture into the Scottish Highlands

Day Four: Explore Culloden, Loch Ness, and the Isle of Skye

Day Five: Journey to Thriving Glasgow

Day Six: Walk the Walls of Stirling Castle, Connect with Locals, Dive Into Culture

Day Seven: End in Glasgow. A full week to truly discover Scotland and all of its four corners. This tour is operated by Trafalgar Tours, known for its well-put-together European itineraries! 

For almost 70 years, Trafalgar has been handcrafting distinctive guided vacations. They were the first to introduce tourists to the local way of life, and they still do so today by offering carefully chosen insider experiences that bring destinations to life.

They open the way by featuring locals who share their lore, culture, and cuisine. Every year, Trafalgar introduces new travel options with more than 230 vacations in Europe, North, Central & South America, Australia, New Zealand, and Asia.

Select from 11 travel types designed to delight even the most experienced traveler. Therefore, Trafalgar offers the ideal selection of tours tailored to your preferences, whether you want to travel with your complete family or discover less-traveled locations in a small group. Overall, count this tour as one of the best in Scotland. 

Best of Scotland (Winter, 7 Days) by Trafalgar Tours - best tour operators in Scotland

Blue-Roads Touring

Scotland is home to a wide variety of beauties, including alluring lochs, eerie glens, and towering mountains. We’ll see some of the nation’s most breathtaking landscapes, intriguing tales, and enduring customs on this trip of the historic Borders and picturesque Central Belt, many of which may be discovered in less-traveled areas off the beaten path.

Are you willing to learn more about Scotland? You should take this journey. Starting and finishing in Edinburgh! You can take a 7-day travel package through Edinburgh, Scotland, and 5 other Scottish locations with the In-depth Cultural Tour Treasures of Scotland. Treasures of Scotland offers lodging, a knowledgeable guide, meals, transportation, and more. Here is your full itinerary for this tour. 

Day One: Meet in Bonnie, Scotland’s picturesque capital. 

Day Two: board the mini-coach and make your way to Doune. Travel through the spellbinding Sma’ Glen en route to Perthshire.

Day Three: set off to explore the vastness of the highlands with a kilted safari ranger with a visit to  the Red Deer Centre 

Day Four: Enjoy a whisky-tasting session to look forward to at the postcard-perfect Glengoyne Distillery. End the day along the western shore of Loch Lomond.

Day Five: take a day trip through the magnificent Glencoe Valley. Visit Glencoe Visitor Centre before returning to Luss. 

Day Six: round off your visit to Loch Lomond with a scenic loch cruise. Make a stop in New Lanark to discover the city. 

Day Seven: you will make a couple of historical stops before the tour ends then your tour will end.

Explore and get to know the true Scotland on this one-week tour. Experience the true Scottish culture and the beauty of Scotland’s nature on this tour. This tour offers a busy itinerary perfect for those looking to take the ultimate adventure. Your tour continues even on your departure day! 

Blue-Roads Touring offers this tour. Imagine a deeper-dived vacation that includes being taken off the beaten path to view each location through the eyes of the residents who call it home rather than just passing through famous landmarks and significant cities.

Blue-Roads has spent more than 30 years designing small group trips that expose you to real encounters and sights you’ll never forget, all while offering the convenience, security, and knowledge that come with a luxury mini-coach tour. This tour has an overall rating of 4,4 out of five stars and is considered one of the best tours of Scotland. 

In conclusion, Scotland is home to a fantastic selection of excursions highlighting the nation’s stunning natural surroundings, extensive history, and dynamic culture. These top six tours in Scotland offer remarkable encounters and a thorough immersion into this incredible nation. These itineraries provide something for every tourist, from the enchanting Scottish Highlands to the historic beauty of Edinburgh and the legendary attraction of Loch Ness. These tours are a terrific option for experiencing Scotland because of their expertly designed itineraries, expert guides, and stress-free approach. You are invited to begin a captivating journey of magnificent Scotland. Your Scottish experience is waiting for you! 

Treasures of Scotland by Blue-Roads Touring - best tour operators in Scotland

If none of these tours work for you in Scotland, please do not worry. There is a wide variety of tour options in the country, and we are confident that there will be something that fits your needs and interests.

Take a look at all the group tours in S c o t l a n d now , which you can sort by private or group, maximum sizing, budget, dates, and much (much more). The team at TourRadar is also always more than happy to answer any questions, provide further information or assist in any way in finding the perfect tour for you.

Worldwide Multi Day Tour Deals

Politics latest: RAF 'flew into the face of danger to protect civilians', says PM as pilots 'shot down' Iranian drones

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak condemned Iran's "reckless attack" on Israel "in the strongest terms".

Sunday 14 April 2024 16:07, UK

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

  • 'Number of drones' shot down by RAF - Sunak
  • PM condemns Iran's 'reckless attack' on Israel in 'strongest terms'
  • Minister confirms RAF jets flew to Middle East overnight  | What did they do?
  • Dominic Waghorn: UN and G7 will try to choreograph a united call for calm and restraint in Middle East
  • 'Perfectly reasonable' for Starmer not to see Rayner's legal advice
  • Live reporting by Faith Ridler

But before you go, here are the headlines:

  • Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has confirmed that a "number of drones" sent by Iran were shot down by the Royal Air Force in the Middle East overnight;
  • He said: "What we now need is for calm heads to prevail";
  • Members of the G7 partook in a video call today to discuss the developments, which saw Iran launch 300 missiles and drones towards Israel;
  • Health Secretary Victoria Atkins was unable to say whether an airline has been found to send asylum seekers to Rwanda - despite suggesting the scheme will be running "within weeks";
  • Angela Rayner has said she will "do the right thing and step down" if she is found to have committed a crime in the police investigation into her former living arrangements.

We'll be back from 6am with all the latest.

Angela Rayner is set to become the UK's deputy prime minister if Labour wins the next general election. 

Here's what you need to know about the party's deputy leader - from her early life and career in politics to the abuse and controversy she has faced...

Also on the agenda today, we will likely get continued reaction to deputy Labour leader Angela Rayner's admission that she will "step down" if she is found to have committed a crime.

Greater Manchester Police (GMP) confirmed on Friday it was re-examining allegations the deputy Labour leader may have broken electoral law over information she gave about her living situation a decade ago.

GMP made the decision after Tory MP James Daly informed the force of claims made by neighbours that allegedly contradicted Ms Rayner's statement that her property on Vicarage Road, Stockport, was her main residence and not her husband's - as some have claimed.

According to electoral law, it is an offence to knowingly provide false information in a voter registration application form.

Ms Rayner has repeatedly said her house on Vicarage Road was her main address and not Lowndes Lane, the home owned by her then-husband Mark Rayner that is situated about a mile away.

You can read more from Sky News below:

Scotland's First Minister Humza Yousaf has called on the international community to "demand" players in the region abide by UN Security Council resolutions.

Mr Yousaf said he "condemns" Iran's attempted attack on Israel as he has "all and every regional escalation".

"There is not going to be a military solution to the conflict we see in the Middle East, there is only going to be a political and diplomatic solution," he said.

"We know that violence begets violence and therefore it's imperative now that the international community demand - not request, but demand - that all parties abide by UN security resolutions, such as a call for an immediate ceasefire (in Gaza)."

The first minister added: "We can't afford to see any more loss of life, because innocent civilians have already had to pay far too high a price for the actions of a number of countries and therefore we need to see de-escalation as opposed to further escalation in the region."

The Sky News live poll tracker - collated and updated by our Data and Forensics team - aggregates various surveys to indicate how voters feel about the different political parties.

As the local election campaign gets under way, Labour is still sitting comfortably on a roughly 20-point lead, averaging at 43.3% in the polls, with the Tories on 23.6%.

In third is Reform UK on 12.5%, followed by the Lib Dems on 9.4%.

The Green Party stands at 6.3%, and the SNP on 3.0%.

See the latest update below - and you can read more about the methodology behind the tracker  here .

As the fallout from the Westminster honeytrap scandal continues to unravel, Beth Rigby, Jess Phillips and Ruth Davidson explain why contacts are so valuable in Parliament and ask what William Wragg's resignation tells us about Rishi Sunak's leadership.

And, with Labour riding high after two major polls predicted landslide victories at the upcoming election, should Keir Starmer be worried about voter complacency?

Plus, Beth, Ruth and Jess talk about the impact of Dr Hilary Cass’ review into gender identity services for under-18s in England.

👉 Listen above then tap here to follow Electoral Dysfunction wherever you get your podcasts 👈

Email Beth, Jess, and Ruth at [email protected] , post on X to @BethRigby, or send a WhatsApp voice note on 07934 200 444.      

Warning: some strong language. 

By Adam Boulton , Sky News commentator 

Soul searching about the UK's role in the world has broken out again following the publication of a pamphlet by senior diplomats including Mark Sedwill, a former Cabinet Secretary and National Security Adviser.

The World in 2040: Renewing The UK's Approach To International Affairs is being denounced for suggesting the Foreign Office should change its name and tone down its grand headquarters built in 1868 at the height of Great Britain's imperial pomp.

The authors believe a lower profile would befit the reality of our station in the world.

"The UK finds itself today in a changed role as a medium-sized 'off shore' power", the report asserts without explicitly mentioning Brexit.

"Our future has more in common with G20 nations like Japan and in Europe like Norway and Switzerland whose economies are closely linked to major economic neighbours."

Over a year ago, Rishi Sunak made five pledges for voters to judge him on.

The prime minister met his promise to halve inflation by the end of 2023.

But with the general election approaching, how is Mr Sunak doing on delivering his other promises?

You can see the progress for yourself below:

Israel's air defence system is one of the most effective in the world.

The Iron Dome began operating in 2011, largely in response to the 2006 war that ended with Hamas taking control of Gaza the following year.

It uses radars to detect and intercept short-range rockets, missiles and drones.

The Iron Dome was developed by Israel's state-owned Rafael Advanced Defence Systems with US support.

The system consists of a series of truck-towed mobile units placed strategically throughout the country.

By Faye Brown , political reporter

A cabinet minister was unable to say whether an airline has been found to send asylum seekers to Rwanda - despite suggesting the scheme will be running "within weeks".

Health Secretary Victoria Atkins told Sky News's Sunday Morning With Trevor Phillips: "We want them (flights) to take off as quickly as possible... We very much plan to have it within weeks."

Asked whether the government has a carrier yet, Ms Atkins said: "The Home Office is working on this, and so believe you me, the Home Office is ready to go."

"They haven't got one, have they?" Phillips asked.

Ms Atkins said: "We have seen some real progress in the last year with the reduction in small boat crossings by a third... but this is one part of our overall plan to cut illegal migration."

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Science News

Explore a map of the next 15 total solar eclipses.

In case you miss this year’s solar eclipse, there are 14 more in the next 20 years

A map of mostly the eastern hemisphere shows multicolored tracks of 13 total solar eclipses over the next 20 years

This map of eclipse paths from 2024 to 2044 reveals that Australia hit the jackpot: Over just 11 years, the continent (lower right) will see four total solar eclipses — in 2028, 2030, 2037 and 2038.

Alley Interactive, A. Buki

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By Christopher Crockett

April 4, 2024 at 12:00 pm

It’s never too soon to start thinking about the next solar eclipse.

On April 8, the moon’s shadow will sweep across North America , bringing a total solar eclipse over the homes of more than 30 million people ( SN: 1/4/24 ). But even as the shadow departs the continent in eastern Canada, the stage will be getting set for the next total eclipse. And the one after that. And the one after that.

That’s because there’s an order underpinning the mechanics that lead to any eclipse. The breathtaking celestial event is driven by the relentless, repeating rhythms of the Earth’s and moon’s motions. And that means that eclipses of all kinds — not just total solar ones — are predictable across millennia.

Thanks to that predictability, it’s possible to precisely map upcoming solar eclipses. To make this interactive map, Science News relied on NASA’s “Five millennium canon of solar eclipses”  database, a detailed accounting of every solar eclipse from 2000 B.C. to A.D. 3000.

That time span encompasses nearly 12,000 solar eclipses, roughly 3,200 of which are total eclipses. Showing them all would be a bit much. Instead, we show the tracks of the next 15 total solar eclipses, from 2024 to 2044.

In the map, the path for nearly every eclipse (differentiated by color) is marked with three lines: the northern- and southernmost edges of the band in which people will see a total eclipse and the centerline of that band. Along that line, totality lasts longer than near the edges. People in a wide swath to either side of each outer band will be able to see a partial eclipse.

Clicking on a path will offer up some details about that eclipse: The date, the time (in Universal Time ) at which the sun will be eclipsed the longest, the duration of that maximum extent and the width of the eclipse path. And typing a city, landmark or address into the map’s search bar will zoom to that spot, so you can see if any eclipses are due to visit any of your favorite haunts.

And for this year’s eclipse, clicking on any of the white flags along the path will reveal the exact time (also in Universal Time) and duration of totality at that spot.

There is one eclipse here that is a bit unusual. That one will pass through eastern Siberia on April 9, 2043 . On the map, only one line appears — the southernmost limit of totality — because the centerline doesn’t intersect with Earth’s surface. In this “noncentral eclipse,” the centerline and the whole northern half of the shadow will miss Earth entirely, cast off into the depths of space.

Hardcore eclipse fans, intent on seeing every kind imaginable, might want to plan for that one. The next noncentral total eclipse won’t happen until 2459 .

More Stories from Science News on Space

A black and white image of Apollo 17 astronaut Harrison Schmitt standing next to a lunar boulder on the moon.

50 years ago, scientists found a lunar rock nearly as old as the moon

A Hubble Space Telescope picture captures the spectacular view of a star-forming region, the Orion Nebula.

How a sugar acid crucial for life could have formed in interstellar clouds

scottish winter tours

What  Science News  saw during the solar eclipse

total solar eclipse April 2024

​​During the awe of totality, scientists studied our planet’s reactions

Web-like structures are visible in a map of the universe.

The largest 3-D map of the universe reveals hints of dark energy’s secrets

A chromolithograph of the sun during the total solar eclipse in 1878

How a 19th century astronomer can help you watch the total solar eclipse

About a dozen people with their backs turned to the camera watch the August 21, 2017 eclipse. The people are looking up into the sky at a white sun with a black dot in the center. The sun is at the top center of the image. The sky is dark blue gradually darkening to midnight at the upper corners of the picture. The horizon is yellow and orange as if at sunset. Several people are taking pictures with cell phones held aloft. One person at the center right in the back of the group wears a red hooded sweatshirt with an Adidas logo on the back and a skirt.

During a total solar eclipse, some colors really pop. Here’s why

Close up image of the Milky Way's central black hole showing magnetic field lines seen in polarized light

A new image reveals magnetic fields around our galaxy’s central black hole

Subscribers, enter your e-mail address for full access to the Science News archives and digital editions.

Not a subscriber? Become one now .

COMMENTS

  1. Scotland Tours available in the Winter

    Day Tour from Inverness to most notherly point, John OGroats, Loch Fleet, explore Dunrobin Castle and enjoy stunning scenery on this tour from Inverness. Scotland Tours available through out the winter time, from November 1 to March 31. Tours from Edinburgh, Glasgow and Inverness.

  2. Scotland Winter Tours & Travel Packages 2024/2025

    Scotland winter tours from Nordic Visitor allow you to experience many of the top highlights on a custom-made self drive holiday or privately-guided tour. Based in Edinburgh, our Scottish travel experts create Scotland winter vacations with a personal touch, taking care of all your local travel arrangements and suggesting the best things to do ...

  3. Scotland Winter Tours

    Explore the best winter tours & trips to Scotland. Choose from 9 unique tour itineraries with 9 past traveller reviews from 4 leading tour operators. December is the most popular month to join a winter tours & trip to Scotland with 98 departures starting between October 2024 and March 2025.

  4. Magical Winter Breaks in the Scottish Highlands

    Cosy B&B on the Isle of Skye. If you join us on one of our multi-day winter tours to the Isle of Skye, you will stay at our deluxe Bed & Breakfast The Skye Inn , situated in a quiet corner of the picturesque town Portree. The grand dining room, large open fire, comfy sofas, and first-class island hospitality offer the warmest of welcomes.

  5. 10 Best Scotland Tours in December 2024

    What people love about Scotland Tours in December. Allison Fredericks 3 Jan, 2024. 5. Excellent experience. Fiona was so knowledgeable and fun and lovely. Best of Scotland (Winter, 7 Days) Keeran Potgieter 15 Feb, 2024. 5. The trip was absolutely amazing our tour guide JP (Jaun Piere) made the tour to be honest. 10/10 would definitely do again.

  6. 10 Best Scotland Winter 2024 Tours & Trips

    Find the best tours & trips in Scotland in Winter 2024 with TourRadar. Choose from 35 tours with 3523 real tour reviews. Book now and save with TourRadar.com! ... Best of Scotland (Winter, 7 Days) 4.4 (33 reviews) Excellent experience. Fiona was so knowledgeable and fun and lovely. Destinations ...

  7. A Guide to Visiting Scotland in Winter

    With regard to water, bear in mind that you should take 2 litres per person per day, and each litre weighs 1 kg. I take two bottles on my winter walks: one insulated Thermos for a cup of hot tea down the road, and a tough metal water bottle to stay hydrated. 4: Take walking poles.

  8. Winter Holidays Scotland

    Let us Take Care of The Details. Our winter holidays comprise a mix of guided small group (max 8) and private departures. The winter walking tour to Orkney and our wildlife tour both enjoy the small group vibe of shared experiences with like-minded travellers, while the skiing holidays and our Cosy Cairngorms trip are available for you to book ...

  9. Scotland Winter Tour Packages 2024/2025 : Nordic Visitor

    Visit Scotland with an expert travel agency in Edinburgh. Book Winter Tours in Scotland with a tour company offering tailor made self drive, guided, independent, bus and group itineraries.

  10. Best of Scotland (Winter, 7 Days) by Trafalgar with 33 Tour Reviews

    Start in Edinburgh and end in Glasgow! With the In-depth Cultural tour Best of Scotland (Winter, 7 Days), you have a 7 days tour package taking you through Edinburgh, Scotland and 6 other destinations in Scotland. Best of Scotland (Winter, 7 Days) includes accommodation in a hotel as well as an expert guide, meals, transport and more. Expand All.

  11. Winter Holidays & Road Trips in Scotland

    Embrace winter in Scotland and fall in love with snow-capped mountains, freezing lochs, and warm, Highland hospitality. Travel through beautiful, serene landscapes and visit cosy pubs with roaring fireplaces and traditional cuisine on a bespoke tour of the best of winter in the North.

  12. 3 day winter tour of Scottish Highlands and Isle of Skye

    3-6 Day Tours. 2 Day - Glen Coe, Loch Ness & The Jacobite Steam Train. 3 Day Tour - Isle of Skye & The Highlands. 3 Day Tour - Winter Highlands & The Isle of Skye. 3 Day Tour - Loch Ness & Isle of Skye. 4 Day Tour - Mull, Iona & Staffa Puffin Experience. 5 Day Tour - Isle of Skye, Loch Ness & Inverness. 5 Day Tour - Winter Wonders of Scotland.

  13. Scotland in Winter: What to Do and Where to Go : Nordic Visitor

    1. Visit Edinburgh in the winter. Edinburgh, Scotland's capital, is a great destination in the winter for a city break. Edinburgh Castle is opened all year long and if you're lucky a bit of frost may brighten the darker winter days with white dust along the crags.

  14. Isle of Skye & Scottish Highlands

    A Stunning Winter Self-Drive Tour in Scotland. This spectacular Scottish road trip begins in Edinburgh, Scotland's majestic capital city, and explores the magnificent Highlands & Islands. You will travel north to Stirling, Glencoe & the Isle of Skye and then onward to Inverness and mystical Loch Ness, exploring a selection of the country's ...

  15. Visiting Scotland in Winter: My Best Tips for the Perfect Trip

    When visiting Scotland in winter, it's important to dress warmly! Layering is the key - you want to aim for three layers: an undershirt or thin base layer, then a mid-layer like a fleece pullover, and finally, a waterproof jacket. Insulated boots and gloves are also great items to bring with you.

  16. Award-winning 3

    3-8 Day Tours. Our Isle of Skye, Loch Ness, Inverness, Oban and the Highlands tours begin from 2 nights and take in the best that Scotland has to offer. We stay in authentic, cosy B&B's and explore the bloody history, exciting myths, clan culture and awe-inspiring castles in Scotland. Our multi-award winning tours of Scotland will drive you ...

  17. Isle of Skye and the Scottish Highlands Winter Tour

    Tour Summary. Isle of Skye and the Scottish Highlands Winter Tour. 3 day / 2 night tour. Scotland's rural grandeur, myths and legends come to life on this epic quest that starts in Edinburgh and takes in the unrivalled beauty of the Scottish Highlands. Discover a spectacular landscape of snow-capped mountains reflected in still lochs.

  18. 13 BEST Things to do in Scotland in Winter: 2024 Guide

    Try snowshoeing in the Scottish Highlands. Enjoy a winter road trip on the West Coast. Dive into history at Edinburgh Castle. Enjoy a day trip to Loch Ness. Warm up with a whisky tour. Try your hand at ice climbing in Kinlochleven. Explore Loch Lomond by foot.

  19. Scotland in December : Tours & Travel Ideas 2024 : Nordic Visitor

    VISITING SCOTLAND IN DECEMBER. Interested in Scotland tours in December? We've got you covered. At this time of year, you could visit Scotland by taking a scenic road trip or touring with a private guide.Travel to Scotland in December to enjoy the winter beauty of the Scottish countryside, with fewer crowds at major attractions and less traffic for scenic drives in the Scottish Highlands.

  20. Best Places in Scotland to visit in Winter

    Highlands in the Winter. During the winter months, the scenic Scottish Highlands is transformed into a sporting wonderland. All sorts of outdoor pursuits take place, including skiing, snowboarding, curling and skating. There are five ski resorts in Scotland at Cairngorm Mountain, Glencoe Mountain, Glen Shee, Nevis Range and The Lecht.

  21. Visiting Scotland in winter [Things to do + FAQs]

    弄 Whisky Distilleries. If you like Scottish drinks and food, you can warm your winter chills with a tour of a Scottish whiskey distillery. There are over 130 whiskey distilleries in Scotland to choose from. All tours include tastings with takeaway 'driver's drams' for anyone who is driving and some tours offer soft drinks for children over 8 years old.

  22. 7 Reasons Winter Is The Perfect Time To Visit The Scottish Highlands

    For Scotland's New Year's Eve festival, Hogmanay, we hired a car and driver (you can take day trips), headed north to tour the Highlands, and learned why winter is the perfect time to visit. Like us, 8.3 percent of Americans claim Scottish heritage.

  23. The 7 Best Scotland Tours For Unforgettable Adventures That Are

    Here are the top six best tours in Scotland. Page Contents [ hide] 5 Day Skye & Highland Fling. Country Roads of Scotland (Classic, 9 Days) Highlights of Scotland. Scotland's Orkney Islands. Discover Scotland (Glasgow to Edinburgh) Best of Scotland (Winter, 7 Days) Treasures of Scotland.

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    Prime Minister Rishi Sunak condemned Iran's "reckless attack" on Israel "in the strongest terms". Watch political reaction in Sunday Morning with Trevor Phillips from 8.30am.

  25. Explore a map of the next 15 total solar eclipses

    This map of eclipse paths from 2024 to 2044 reveals that Australia hit the jackpot: Over just 11 years, the continent (lower right) will see four total solar eclipses — in 2028, 2030, 2037 and 2038.