Spring is a wonderful time of year to visit Scotland and April sees the country come alive and welcome in even more visitors. Easter seems to see the change of the country from being sleepy and closed off to being open and ready!
Scotland in April still sees quite a mix of weather. It is getting warmer, the days are lengthening but don’t be complacent – it can sometimes be gripped by cold weather! It can be variable, that’s for sure!
April sees many flowers peeping through the ground and so anywhere with gardens are a delight in this month
Read on if you’re planning a Spring trip to Scotland and it includes the month of April as this post is for you! We’ll take a look at the weather, what to do, and any festivals happening.
A note from the writer: Hey! I’m Kirsty and I’m a UK travel expert – while I grew up in Scotland, as an adult I now return to visit almost every year – there’s so much to see! Shout (or comment below) if you have any questions about your next trip and I’ll get back to you ASAP.
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Booking in advance – is it advisable in April?
While Spring is technically the shoulder season, April often has Easter which puts it firmly in the busy season! Schools break up for a couple of weeks and Scotland is a popular place to explore.
Accommodation is definitely worth booking in advance in April whether you’re going for a city or a countryside break. Check Booking.com (best for hotels and also has some apartments/cottages) and also VRBO (similar to Airbnb).
If you have any activities or tours you wish to do then it’s also advisable to get these booked. Many will sell out in the busy weeks of April. If you’re worried about the weather, providers such as Viator and Get your Guide offer good cancellation policies (do check the fine print).
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Table of Contents
Is Scotland worth visiting in April?
I may be biased, but I feel Scotland is worth it at any time of the year and, there’s lots to do through all the seasons, but is April specifically any good?
With a long school break, Easter starts to see a marked increase in visitors to Scotland. To be honest, it’s not at summer levels of busy though so I wouldn’t worry too much. Festivals begin to happen, especially some more family friendly ones!
Attractions that have been closed over the winter should be gearing up to open now and welcome visitors. If Easter falls late you might want to double check anywhere specific if you’re visiting early in April.
The days are getting longer and the evenings stay lighter for longer so it makes exploring outdoors a lot easier than it has been in the previous months.
The weather in Scotland can always be a little variable. Expect it to still be cool in Spring. The temperatures will vary depending on where you are in Scotland but as a guide expect highs of around 10-12°C (46-53°F).
Scotland weather in April
As I touched on before, Scotland in the month of April will likely bring cool temperatures. You will always want to be prepared for rain as well.
It’s rare but I’ve also experienced snow in Edinburgh at the beginning of the month – cold snaps can and do happen in the country in April!
As always, you might be lucky with the weather and get sunny days. All kinds of weather are possible in Scotland no matter when you visit!
Where you are based in Scotland will dictate your weather and if you move from one side of the country to the other you can often see different weather patterns. If you’re flexible in your itineraries you could keep to where the weather is best.
Sunset and sunrise times
The days in April are starting to get longer which is much better for exploring outdoors in Scotland. We’re enjoying light in the evenings until well after evening meal time – it will get even later but April is still quite nice!
With the Spring Equinox just having taking place last month the sunrise and sunset times are beginning to equal out all over Scotland. Towards the summer, the further north you go the longer the days get but they are fairly similar in April.
|Apr 1st||6.44 am/7.50 pm||6.46 am/7.56 pm|
|Apr 15th||6.08 am/8.18 pm||6.08 am/8.26 pm|
|Apr 30th||5.32 am/8.49 pm||5.30 am/8.59 pm|
What to pack for Scotland in April
With the weather still being on the cool side and plenty of potential for rain you’ll want to be prepared for a trip to Scotland in April.
- A down jacket is still a great idea to keep warm in spring, especially if you’re heading out for hikes – I like lightweight packable ones
- A waterproof layer is essential for the wet days and should hopefully keep you warm enough when exploring cities.
- Layers can help to combat the different weather eventualities and are good if you feel the cold too. Thermal layers are definitely a cosy option I’d recommend.
- a thermal coffee cup to have with you when sightseeing can help keep you warm inside, especially in the morning
- binoculars are an essential if you’re exploring the countryside or islands so you can spot wildlife
You shouldn’t need any midge repellent as midges aren’t a problem in April. They may start to become an issue towards the end of the month or if the weather warms up enough. They are one of Scotland’s most famous annoyances but you shouldn’t see them while it’s cool.
Festivals and events in April
The UK loves to celebrate Easter and you may find lots of things happening, especially related to kids and the easter bunny!
In the UK Good Friday and Easter Monday are bank holidays so you might find some places have reduced opening hours – attractions and restaurants tend to still be open though. They can be busy due to people having a long weekend off work and schools being on break.
Easter dates in 2023 are April 7th (Good Friday) – April 10th (Easter Monday)
Edinburgh Science Festival
Saturday 1st – Sunday 16th April 2023
If you’re coming to Scotland with kids then a festival geared towards them sounds like fun no? Mine would have loved this kind of thing with all sorts of science-y events taking place.
From talks for older kids and teens, to activities for the younger ones there’s bound to be something that you’ll find interesting in Edinburgh in these 2 weeks.
See their website here for more details.
Spirit of Speyside
26th April – 1st May 2023
This whisky festival sees many of the Speyside distilleries offer special tours and events. Most of the events attract an entrance fee and you’ll want to buy your tickets in advance.
A must for those who are serious whisky lovers!
Check out what’s on offer at their website here.
Shetland Folk Festival
27th – 30th April 2023
The UK’s most northern Folk Festival is a must see if you happen to be on Shetland at the end of April. Concerts happen throughout the isles and is some of the best in the world.
Check out their website here for more information.
Beltane Fire Festival
30th April 2023
An ancient Iron Age festival takes place each spring in Edinburgh on Calton Hill and its the largest of its kind!
Beltan celebrates summer returning and the fire festival draws on many historic and local traditions.
It happens on the last evening before May and you’ll need a ticket.
See their website here for more information.
Things to do in Scotland in April
Here are just a few ideas of things to do if you’re visiting Scotland in the month of April.
Go to a Whisky Distillery
It’s tempting to talk about family friendly things to do in the country what with it being the school holidays in April, but not all of us want to be around kids!
If you want to escape then you might like to choose a whisky distillery to explore. Some do allow kids though, so be aware of that. Some are strictly over 18s.
All the tours are different but they tend to all show you how whisky is made, tell you a bit about the history of the brand and then allow you to have a tasting too.
Go on the Harry Potter Train
The steam train that goes on the route that the Hogwarts Express took begins its timetable again in April (3rd April in 2023). Be aware that it’s restricted to just the morning timetable this month.
The Jacobite Steam train (aka the Harry Potter Train) goes from Fort William in the Highlands to Mallaig on the west coast. You’ll take in spectacular scenery and end with a short time in the harbour village before returning.
Sometimes the train will slow down when you’re going over the Glenfinnan Viaduct so you can take pictures – that’s the one from the film!
Balmoral Castle also opens its doors again to the public from the 1st of April after being closed over the winter months.
This was the beloved home of Queen Victoria and Queen Elizabeth II when they were in Scotland. Now it’s the home of King Charles III and he’ll spend most of the summer months here. When he isn’t there the grounds and gardens are open for tours.
With the spring flowers putting on a show it’s a perfect activity for April!
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🏴 Scotland Travel FAQ 🏴
Do I need insurance for traveling to Scotland?
YES! I always recommend people take travel insurance when exploring the world!
Check Travel Insurance Master for quote comparisons from different providers.
Do I need a car for visiting Scotland?
YES – If you’re wanting to explore Scotland fully then a car is worthwhile. It will get you to all the best sights and on your own timetable
I recommend DiscoverCars to compare car rental prices in Scotland
How to book accommodation in Scotland?
For hotels I recommend Booking.com
For apartments and cottages check out VRBO
Will my phone work in Scotland?
Perhaps – it depends if you have roaming enabled and beware this can be an expensive way to use your phone.
What to pack for Scotland
Keep yourself dry be prepared for any weather is my motto for Scotland! A rain jacket and comfy shoes are a must.
See my post about what to pack for Scotland
Do I need midge spray for Scotland?
YES – if you’re traveling in the summer months to any of the west coast, highlands, islands or lochs it’s recommended.
Locals swear by Avon’s Skin So Soft!
If you’re sticking to the cities or traveling in winter, early spring or late fall then you likely won’t need it.
What’s the best guidebook for Scotland?
I really like the Lonely Planet Guidebooks
Where to get flights for Scotland
Skyscanner is my first port of call for finding cheap flights to Scotland.
Do I need a visa for Scotland?
Many countries don’t need a visa for visiting Scotland as tourists (USA, Canada, Aus, NZ and Europe) – it’s always best to check first though.