The country is beginning to wake from its winter slumber, wildlife is beginning to burst into life and the days start to lengthen. And in Scotland they really to do get longer! While it’s not the hive of activity that summer can bring, visiting Scotland in Spring can be an ideal time to come.
I’ve always loved watching the seasons turn, get warmer and come to life and while growing up in Scotland, the winter can seem never ending, the eventual Spring is wonderful! Now I’m a tourist, I appreciate the beauty as well as the relatively quiet sites.
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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Many people ask if spring is a good time to visit Scotland? Absolutely! Many attractions start to reopen after the winter season but it’s still much quieter than the summer months.
Surprisingly, the weather is often the driest in the Spring too, although of course, being Scotland you’re likely to experience some wet weather! Always bring a jacket or an umbrella!
Midges, small biting flies, will come out towards the end of the spring, especially if it’s been wet so bear that in mind if you’re traveling to the west coast. In general though, Spring can be a good time to avoid midges.
There are so many things to do in Scotland in Spring, let’s take a look at some of them:
Enjoy the wonderful flowers on show
Spring means just one thing to many people and that is blooming flowers. Scotland is no different and if you visit in the spring months you’ll see a variety of flowers making the area a real spectacle to see.
Daffodils are a real sign of spring to me and you’ll see them planted in open spaces in cities, along roadsides and in people’s gardens. You’ll see them around March to April in Scotland.
Princes Street Gardens in Edinburgh is a great place to see them blooming – if it’s a nice day I recommend a picnic!
With the abundance of woods in Scotland you can be sure that you’ll find some bluebells to walk amongst in the springtime too. They begin to bloom in late April but peak in the month of May.
If you’re visiting Loch Ness then I recommend Urqhart Bay at Drumnadrochit where there’s an old wood you can take a walk in. Bluebell spotting and a bit of Nessie spotting thrown in!
If you want to see cherry blossoms then the best places to go are some of the large open spaces in the cities. May is probably the best time to see them in Scotland.
In Edinburgh try The Meadows which is a large open park area just south of the Old Town and often is a delight with trees in blossom. In Glasgow try Kelvingrove park around the art gallery.
If you’re traveling out of the cities on your Scotland trip then the chances of seeing more wildflowers gets higher.
If you want to explore some unique habitats then the machair should be on your list. It’s a grassy plain that can be found in some parts of North West Scotland, but notably in the Outer Hebrides. In Spring you’ll find it has an abundance of wild flowers blooming.
Experience some traditional festivals
In Scotland we love ourselves a good festival and any old excuse to get the music playing, our feet dancing and our taste buds tingling with food and drink! Spring time has a number of interesting festivals you might like to bear in mind:
Scotland, and the UK, celebrate Christian festivals and easter is no different. If you’re visiting at easter time then you’ll find yourself welcome at churches for the Easter services if you’d like to attend.
If you are traveling to Scotland with kids look out for Easter egg hunts, rolling eggs down a hill or even Easter bonnet competitions. Many places put on child friendly events since the schools are closed at this time.
Beltane fire festival
In Edinburgh, at the end of April/beginning of May, there is a fire festival to mark the beginning of the summer period. It’s a Celtic Pagan festival and it’s run by volunteers and features fire work, dancing, processions and drums. It takes place around Calton Hill which overlooks the city. See more details here.
Knockengorrach festival takes place in the south west of the country, in Galloway, and is a Ceilidh festival so perfect if you’re looking to get dancing to some traditional country music or enjoy listening to some classic country folk music. It’s family friendly and takes place in late May.
Go dolphin spotting
My absolute favourite wildlife activity in Scotland is watching out for dolphins and there are loads of places around the coast where you can go on boat tours to spot them.
If you’re in the highlands and around the Inverness area you should definitely consider heading to Chanonry Point on the Black Isle (not an island – no boat trip needed). It’s a place where the dolphins come regularly very close to shore and are really easy to spot.
This area can get really busy in the summer months when the dolphins are more active but you should still be able to see them on a spring trip and it should be much less busy!
Taste some whisky
April is actually Whisky Month and there’s even a festival that takes place in Speyside, one of Scotland’s biggest whisky regions, each spring.
Whether you attend the festival or not, there’s never a good excuse to not learn about the wonderful fire water that Scotland is so famous for. Even if you don’t drink, like me, it’s really interesting to find out how it’s made and the history of it and you can learn in so many distilleries around Scotland.
They are all around the country, on islands and in remote areas. If you’re in the highlands you might like to see what distilleries are around near Inverness.
Play a round of golf
Scotland is famous for golf and, as you can imagine, in high season it can be busy to play at the Old Course in St Andrews.
If you want to play on the Old Course you need to enter a ballot to get tickets – if you try in the quieter months like in Spring you might have a better chance. If not St Andrews has a lot of other courses to enjoy though!
Drive the NC500
Fast becoming Scotland’s most famous driving route, the NC500 is booming in popularity.
This means that it’s becoming better to attempt the drive in the slight off season when it’s a little less busy. Spring months would be perfect for that, especially if you try and miss the bank holidays.
The days are getting longer which make for plenty of opportunities to explore as you drive round whether you like going for hikes or just exploring the coastal beaches.
Visit Balmoral Castle
Balmoral Castle is the Queen’s country estate in Scotland and it’s open for visitors from Spring until August.
While you won’t see the Queen there, (She comes each year in August) you’ll get chance to enjoy the amazing grounds and gardens with the spring flowers blooming. There’s an exhibition to enjoy, you can take afternoon tea in the coffee shop and there’s even an option to get a tour of the estate by Landrover!
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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.