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Wondering what to wear in Scotland? With these packing tips you’ll take the right clothes, regardless of the weather. Read on tot find out what they are!
What to Wear in Scotland
Written by: Tammy Lowe
The average maximum temperatures in Scotland vary between 5°C/41°F in the winter, and in the summer, 19°C/66°F.
A common belief is that it’s always rainy and cold in Scotland, and that’s true to an extent–but believe it or not, it can get hot in the summer.
Always, always, always check the weather forecast before your trip. Once you’ve researched the weather, you can focus on creating a travel capsule wardrobe, which should easily fit in a carryon suitcase with the help of packing cubes to compress your clothing.
An old Scottish saying goes, “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only the wrong clothes,” so hopefully this Scotland packing list below will help you bring the right clothes on your trip.
The Western Highlands
A combination of rolling mountains, valleys, and Atlantic winds make the West Highlands one of the wettest and windiest places in Europe–although hardy Scots like to refer to this weather as “atmospheric.” So as you can imagine, rain gear is a must when visiting this part of Scotland.
Due to the potential for strong winds, an umbrella is probably only useful for comedic effect, so instead, I’d recommend a windproof rain jacket, rain trousers or gaiters, and waterproof shoes, or even rubber boots during especially wet seasons.
Find out how to choose hiking boots and the five styles TFG readers voted as their favorites!
Columbia Pardon My Trench Rain Jacket
While it may be rainy in the West, it could be completely dry and sunny in the East, so when visiting cities like Edinburgh or Aberdeen, you could experience very warm summer days and clear, dry winter days.
Winters will always be cold so a warm jacket, warm socks, woolly hat, and gloves are always advisable.
During the summer, you can walk around in a t-shirt and shorts but since rain can always appear, maybe take a light rain jacket and an umbrella with you.
Take a look at these stylish and Insta-friendly travel raincoats for women!
The Northern Highlands
If you are visiting the highest peaks in the Cairngorms, you may experience snowfall and blizzards in the winter, and in the summer, mist and torrential rain.
The coldest ever recorded temperature was -27.2°C/-17°F in Altnaharra. But as another saying goes, “If you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes,” as it can literally change from hail to sunshine within that timeframe.
Unless you’re going skiing, I’d recommend visiting this area between April and July, as your chances of warmer and drier weather are significantly better.
In the mountains, however, you should always be prepared for any weather, so rain gear and warm layers–like long-johns and a fleece jacket–are recommended.
Check out more clothing tips on what to pack for Scotland in summer!
The Outer Hebrides
If you saw an image of the Outer Hebrides for the first time, you might be surprised to discover that they are actually in Scotland because these little gems boast turquoise waters and white sandy beaches.
Spring and summer are the best time to visit, when temperatures should be sunny and dry. But this being Scotland, it can get windy and rainy quickly. The average temperature is 6°C/43°F in the winter and 14°C/57°F in the summer, so even though it may be sunny, you should definitely consider taking warmer clothes with you.
Find out what the best travel pants for women!
As you can see, there is no golden rule for exactly which clothing to take, so it’s best to pack for any weather condition and all seasons. That said, whatever you do, don’t forget your rain gear!
Do you have any tips to add on what to wear in Scotland? Please comment below!
For more Europe packing tips, please read:
- What to Pack for Trips to Scotland
- 5 Wardrobe Essentials for a Summer Trip to Madrid
- Clothing Tips for Traveling to Scotland in the Summer
- Planning a Summer Barcelona Vacation?
Suggested travel resources:
- Lonely Planet Europe on a Shoestring
- Lonely Planet Scotland (Country Guide)
- Travel Shoes for Europe
- The Best Carry-on Suitcases for Europe
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Author Bio: Tammy is a travel blogger and adventure junkie. She has endured the Everest Base Camp trek, abseiled down a skyscraper, cycled down the world’s most dangerous road, and trekked through the mosquito-infested Amazon jungle. You can follow her adventures on her blog Tammy & Chris on the move or on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest.
Planning a trip to Scotland summer 2023. Very happy to have found this post (and a few others that will help in preparing for this adventure). Love your blog! I’ve read it for years now.
Howdy! I could have sworn I’ve visited this blog before but after going through a few of the articles I realized it’s new to me. Nonetheless, I’m certainly happy I stumbled upon it and I’ll be book-marking it and checking back regularly!|
Helpful information for planning my trip next August in Scotland! My greatest challenge is packing for the equestrian part of my trip. I’ll be participating in the Lauder Common ride so fairly formal riding attire is required. I’m planning on carry on only so I might end up wearing my boots and helmet 😆
Just got back from Scotland (Aug 2022) and was surprised how hot it was in places! Def recommend packing layers, maybe a dress or even shorts for those hot summer days but bring a fleece and waterproof jacket in case the weather turns.
I present my challenge.
5 weeks. Mid- Late May 2 weeks in Scotland, touring (car/B&B).
Late May to mid June1.5 weeks in Sweden & 1 week in Denmark ( both work – business casual).
Plus 4 days (yes, you read correct +36 hrs each way) in transit.
And I want to try to go carry-on.think I’m kidding myself…
Hi Belinda, have a look at this article on packing for a business trip: https://www.travelfashiongirl.com/business-trip-packing-list-for-minimalist-fashionistas/ Also have a look at this article for some packing tips: https://www.travelfashiongirl.com/my-packing-secrets-do-i-really-travel-carry-on-only/ Hope these help! Good luck with the packing! Have a fantastic trip! 🙂
I’m traveling to Iceland and Scotland in one trip – with a lot of hiking, but some city stuff too. Will have to check a bag because my trekking poles and some hiking gear is not allowed in a carryon, but I’ll still want to pack light. I have a Scottish friend here who also said that an umbrella would be pointless in the West Highlands due to wind, and to invest in a good rain coat with hood. I’m hoping that just using layers will be warm enough for Iceland, so I don’t really have to pack for two different trips. Thanks for all of your tips – I did a three week trip to Morocco earlier this year with one carryon bag.
Have a great time Patti! The trip sounds wonderful 🙂
Thank you so much for this packing list! We are headed to Scotland at the end of September and I was completely overwhelmed with trying to decide what to take on the trip. This list helps me narrow down my choices considerably!! Love your website! VERY HELPFUL!
Exactly what time of year do the Scots consider winter?? Trying to figure out what to wdo ar in late September. Also regarding coats at that time– will a thin fold-up rain jacket and/or pack able light vest suffice?? Previous Europe rain gear but not sleeves or warmth as I’m seeing in pics here.
This was SO helpful! I followed your guide on our trip to Scotland, Ireland and Prague in May and even purchased recommended waterproof Uggs! Love all you do!
Yay! Glad it helped you Kristina 🙂
We are based in NE England and heading to north Northumberland at the end of May. Have you any tips on multitasking clothes for sun & rainy weathers (which we will probably see!)
Hi Melanie, this post should help: https://travelfashiongirl.com/10-step-packing-guides/10-step-guide-to-packing-for-different-climates/
This was very helpful. I’m so glad I found this and all of your packing info before my trips this summer. Thank you!
Glad you liked it Diane 🙂 Have an awesome time!
Great blog post on what to wear with changing temps- the base pieces are perfect and can be packed in a small space! Love the beanie hat- I’m going to look for that for my Fall travels-hoping Scotland is on my Fall to go list! Thanks for the suggestions!
You’re welcome! Glad you liked the post 🙂