Best time to visit Scotland to avoid midges: plus tips on where to go to miss them

This article contains affiliate links. This means that if you buy or book after clicking, I may get a commission.
This is at no extra cost to you. Thanks!

If you’re planning a visit to Scotland you might have heard about some small irritating bugs that can make or break a trip here – yes, highland midges (also known as Scottish midges). Perhaps you’re wondering about the best time to visit Scotland to avoid midges and escape the biting? Read on to find out how you can get away from them!

Growing up in Scotland I would always see black clouds of insects when out playing and strive to get away from them as quickly as possible. I grew up in central Scotland where it wasn’t always a terrible problem though.

As an adult I started exploring the west coast of Scotland and the islands more and oh my, that was an experience!

cloud of midges in Scotland
You can see the midges here, protected from any wind by the foliage

Midges can certainly be an unpleasant part of this wonderful country, and especially in areas where tourists love to visit and in the season when it’s busiest. It’s no wonder then that they have a bit of a name for themselves!

Let’s take a look at these biting insects, from the safety of our home, and I’ll share some of the ways to avoid them and the best time to visit to avoid midges.

What are midges

Midges are really tiny flying insects that are found in many areas of the world but there are quite a lot in various parts of Scotland.

Although only small, about the size of a pin head, they fly in swarms which make them quite unpleasant. The worst thing though, is that they bite and can leave you scratching and itching when in a midge heavy area and for a few days afterwards.

Midges like still weather that isn’t too cold so anywhere where you’re walking and it’s sheltered you might find them. They also like water, from rivers to lochs and the sea so you’ll find them there too.

view over Scottish Highlands

Best time to visit Scotland to avoid midges

Midges are most prevalent in late spring to early autumn in Scotland and their peak time is the summer – the exact time when Scotland’s weather can be the best.

Similarly, the kind of weather that they love best is still, warm days. Not quite fair huh?

If you want to avoid midges completely then early spring, late autumn and winter are the best times to visit Scotland.

island of rum on Scotland's west coast
The Isle of Rum on Scotland’s west coast is notorious for midges – should you still go though>

Where are midges a problem in Scotland?

If you’re visiting in high midge season then the next question on your lips is probably about where they are a problem.

You’ll find that the worst places are

  • Highlands, particularly on the west coast, not so much on the east near Inverness
  • the west coast – all along the west coast from the very north to the south in Dumfries and Galloway suffer.
  • Islands – many of Scotland’s islands are on the west coast and suffer from midges. The Isle of Rum is apparently the worst for midges – I’ve been a few times and had mixed experiences – it’s not always as bad as you might think!
  • Lochs – midges like water so inland lochs, especially where it’s a bit sheltered can be heaven for Scottish midges

Best places in Scotland that don’t have midges

You might be wondering now if it’s worth visiting Scotland in the summer months at all now and pondering your plans. Don’t worry, Scotland isn’t covered in midges all over the country. There are plenty of places where you’ll be free of them and won’t need to worry at all.

If you want to avoid midges on a trip to Scotland then your best options are to stick to the cities, towns and explore the East coast.

Other ways to avoid midges

If you’re travelling to to an area that is well known for midges and in the peak season for them there are still some ways that you can avoid them. Don’t feel like you should not visit at all, yes they can be irritating but you might not suffer much and you can miss so much of beautiful Scotland by worrying about them!

Midges don’t like windy weather so coastal or hill walks when there is a breeze might be fine for you. They’ll still hang around in areas where they are sheltered though so be aware that you’ll not avoid them completely.

There are some insect repellents that are useful for if you’re in Scotland. Many locals swear by a moisturiser called Skin So Soft by Avon so if you can get some of that it’s worth bringing it along! You can get it on Amazon and lots of local shops sell it too.

While they might look a bit crazy, midge nets that come down over your face will help if you’re visiting somewhere that could be quite midge heavy. Camping in the west coast of Scotland where you’re not moving all the time would be one situation where it might be worth having on hand. I have personal experience of this!

Photo of author

Kirsty Bartholomew

Kirsty has been getting lost around the world for over 30 years and writing about it for 10 of those. She loves to explore the UK and Europe and has a particular penchant for historical sites.

Leave a comment