Scotland in February: tips for visiting

Muddy footpaths still bring you to amazing views and if you’re planning to visit Scotland for the views and landscapes this is especially true. After months of rain and snow February is going to definitely bring you some muddy footpaths if you come to visit!

Scotland in February is more than just lots of muddy walks though. It’s perfect for visiting the cities as you’ll find that they are much quieter than the summer months.

I’ve often visited in February since our anniversary falls then and I can conclude it has a lot going for it, especially if like me you don’t like to be just another tourist in the summer throngs.

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.

View over Scotland's Borders from Scott's view. Photo taken in Scotland in February
Scottish Borders in February – one of our more recent trips

If you’re wondering if it’s worth visiting in this cold and short month then this post if for you. Read on for our tips of things to do in Scotland in February, festivals and weather thoughts.

Booking in advance – is it advisable in February?

It’s low season for winter in Scotland, but half way through February the UK schools have a weeks holiday which can see prices rise and it get a little busier.

Accommodation is worth booking in advance if you have specific places to stay in mind but you’ll find you probably have a little longer to do so with a winter vacation. Check (best for hotels but also has some apartments/cottages in their listings) and also VRBO (for cottages and apartments).

You might wish to book any activities closer to the time, especially if you’re worried about weather. Many providers such as Viator and Get your Guide offer good cancellation policies though so you shouldn’t worry if you do want to lock in your booking.

Is Scotland worth visiting in February?

I love Scotland at any time of the year but visiting in the winter is a little different since it’s free from so many tourists that can hamper the popular spots in high season. While they might not be completely empty you’ll not be fighting off too many people!

February brings a short week long school holiday that can see some places, specifically family friendly spots, that might get a little busier. Festivals are not lighting up the calendar yet but there are a few things going on to keep an eye out for (see below)

If you’re planning a winter trip in Scotland then you’re probably expecting to have cold days and you’ll get that in February along with damp and probably a bit of rain. And wind. The short days that are still present in February are the most difficult part of exploring Scotland as it really means you have a short window of time to get around and see what you want to see. The days are starting to get a little longer in February, but it’s still an early sunset.

Scotland weather in February

Scotland in the month of February will almost certainly bring cold, damp days. Whether you get rain on your trip of sunny days the cold will almost always be there. Snow, frost and ice can also be present in February, specifically in the mornings after a cold, clear night. Winds and storms can also be an issue.

It’s always a good idea to keep an eye on weather apps and the news for any inclement weather or to plan your days.

The weather in Scotland can change depending on where you are and if you move from one coast to another it might be completely different. If you’re flexible in your plans and don’t mind traveling you could certainly go where the weather is best.

Does it snow in Scotland in February? Yes, it can snow, but there are no guarantees of it happening. You might see snow on higher ground and hills even if the lower areas and cities don’t.

Sunset and sunrise times

The days are short in Scotland in February, although getting longer.

The further north you go the shorter the days will be although they are starting to shift and get closer now we’re getting nearer to the Spring equinox.

Feb 1st8.07 am/4.45 pm8.18 am/4.42 pm
Feb 14th7.40 am/5.13 pm7.49 am/5.13 pm
Feb 28th7.07 am/5.44 pm7.14 am/5.45 pm

What to pack for Scotland in February

You’ll be looking at cold days and long nights so you’ll want to be prepared for all weathers if you’re going to Scotland in February.

  • A down jacket is a great idea to keep warm – I like lightweight packable ones
  • A waterproof layer to go over the top will also be essential for the wet days and waterproof trousers make sense if you want to go walking into the hills.
  • layers are great and can help to combat the different weather eventualities. Thermal layers are definitely a cosy option I’d recommend.
  • Hats, gloves and a scarf are always good in the winter
  • a thermal coffee cup to have with you when sightseeing can help keep you warm inside
  • binoculars are an essential if you’re exploring the countryside or islands so you can spot wildlife

One thing that’s good is that you WON’T need any midge repellent as midges won’t be a problem in February. While they can be one of Scotland’s most famous annoyances you’ll not see them in winter months.

Festivals and events in February

February is a quiet month with regards to events in Scotland but here’s a few to take a look at:

Celtic Connections

From 19th Jan – 5th Feb this is a Celtic music festival held in Glasgow. There’s lots of music performances with different genres and would be a great intro to Scottish music! Check out more info here.

Valentines Day

14th February is Valentines Day and as such you might find that there’s a bit of a rush on restaurants on that day.

It’s not celebrated in Scotland in quite the way that it seems to be over in the US but you’ll see lots of references to it in shops and restaurants. You might even find some sweet treats in a local bakers that are special for the month.

You might also like: Edinburgh in Winter

Things to do in Scotland in February

Here are just a couple of ideas of things you might like to consider if you’re visiting through the month of February.

Check out the sunset on the west coast

With Valentine’s Day taking place in February you might be looking for something romantic to do. With the sun setting in the west it’s a great place to go to catch a beautiful evening and perhaps even enjoy a romantic stroll on one of Scotland’s amazing beaches.

Don’t forget the sun sets quite early in February though!

Jedburgh abbey with a dog
Jedburgh Abbey is dog friendly

Visit the Borders Abbeys

Lots of attractions can be closed in the winter months but on a recent trip in February we managed to tick off visiting all the Scottish Borders abbeys and had a great time doing so.

The Abbeys are open in the winter months and there’s a lot of history to see. From Melrose Abbey where Robert The Bruce’s heart is supposed to be buried to Dryburgh Abbey which is where Sr Walter Scott is definitely laid to rest.

Each one is different and what’s nice is that they are within striking distance of Edinburgh making a great day trip. They are also dog friendly too which is a bonus if you’re planning to explore with your pooch.

Scotch whisky experience on Royal Mile
Royal Mile in Edinburgh – February can bring quieter moments in the busy Old Town

Explore Edinburgh’s Royal Mile

While it’s still busy in Edinburgh, February sees quite the marked drop in tourist numbers and as such it’s a great time to get yourself to those parts that are, at other times, teeming with people.

The Royal Mile is quite touristy but there’s a lot to see and if you take yourself off down little side streets of the Old Town you can also find inspiration for many writers over the years (including JK Rowling – she write the Harry Potter novels around here and you can tell) and quirky graveyards with stories about loyal dogs (Greyfriars Bobby)

Watch some Rugby

February sees the start of the Six Nations tournament pitting Scotland, Wales, England, Italy, Ireland and France against each other. When Scotland plays at home it’s at Murrayfield which is a huge stadium in Edinburgh (one of it’s famous landmarks).

My husband is a huge rugby fan which is why this is on my radar – if you can’t get tickets to watch it, find a local pub that’s showing it on the TV and be prepared for an epic atmosphere!

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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

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.

If you need a SIM for use in Scotland I recommend GiffGaff which you can get and set up before traveling.

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.

Photo of author

Kirsty Bartholomew

Kirsty Bartholomew is a travel expert and has been getting lost around the world for over 30 years and writing about it for over 10 of those. She loves to help people explore her favourite places in Scotland, England and beyond. She cannot stay away from historical sites.

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