12 simply fabulous things to do in Scotland in summer

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A Scottish summer is a spectacular thing. Imagine walking along a quiet beach that wouldn’t be far out of place in the Caribbean or walking through forests with the summer sun creating dappled pools of light on the floor. If you’re visiting Scotland in summer that’s the dream right?

Of course, Scotland doesn’t have guaranteed sunshine in the summer months, and days of rain can descend too, but even then you can have a wonderful time.

I’ve always had fond memories of growing up in Scotland’s summer – long hazy days exploring parks, playing games and even going to the beach. As an adult we’ve often visited in the summer too, taking advantage of wild swimming opportunities, wildlife watching and exploring the countryside. It’s truly a magical time in the country!

As to whether summer is a good time to visit Scotland – yes! It’s the most popular time to visit and with good reason. The weather is warmest (although we can never guarantee dry days!), days are very long and there’s a tonne of things to do. It is the busiest time so there are some downsides that come along with that but you can always find a quiet spot in Scotland!

So, if you’re contemplating a visit, here’s some thoughts on things to do in summer in Scotland in the months of June, July and August:

heather on banks of a river in Glencoe, Scotland in summer
Heather on the banks of the River Coe at Glencoe in the Scottish Highlands

See the heather bloom

Visiting Scotland in summer means you have a chance to see one of its flowers looking its best – heather.

A walk on any upland moors should get you seeing some of this beautiful flower. If you’re just visiting Edinburgh then a good spot to try and escape to is the Pentland Hills which are just outside the city, or even Arthurs Seat if you fancy amazing views of the city.

Go wild swimming in a loch

There are so many wonderful lochs in Scotland and summer is the perfect time for a road trip to explore some of them.

Lots of lochs are great for a small paddle, skimming stones or a spot of wild swimming if you’re feeling brave. I say brave because it can be cold! Some larger lochs have water sports available too if you fancy trying canoeing or paddle boarding.

Be aware of boggy areas and also the tide if you’re in a sea loch. Midges can also be a problem in water side areas so bring repellent.

Camusdarach beach in Scotland in summer

Explore stunning white beaches

You might need to get a bit off the beaten path for this one, but if you do then you’ll not regret it.

As I mentioned before, some of the beaches and seascapes in Scotland look like they wouldn’t be out of place in the Caribbean with stunning clear turquoise seas and white sands. The best bit is that they tend to be deserted too!

One of my favourites has to be Camusdarach beach on the west coast near Mallaig. It’s the one used in the 80s film ‘Local Hero’ and is just stunning. If you’re heading to see the Harry Potter train and viaduct, add it on as it’s not far from there.

Have a picnic in a park

All of Scotland’s cities have wonderful parks to enjoy on a summers day. Pack a picnic, and don’t forget to bring some Irn Bru and perhaps some Scottish shortbread to get some traditional food in there!

In Edinburgh you could head towards Princes Street Gardens or The Meadows and in Glasgow why not try Kelvingrove Park or Glasgow Green on the banks of the River Clyde.

Enjoy fruit picking

Scotland is well known for its berries and fruits and what better way to enjoy them on a summer than heading to a Pick Your Own farm. I have so many joyous memories of doing this when we lived in Scotland.

Raspberries, strawberries, blueberries and much more can be had from lots of farms that open their doors to the public in the summer months. Just grab a punnet and pick what you want, weigh it and pay for what you picked.

castle on isle of rum
A castle to explore on the Isle of Rum

Discover the islands and escape the crowds

Scotland can become busy in the summer months so where should you go to escape the crowds? I suggest visiting some of Scotland’s islands.

Some islands are more popular than others like the Isle of Skye, although you’ll still find some quiet spots if you head off on a walk.

Others get much less visitors and so are great for exploring and losing the crowds. Orkney, great for ancient sites, and Shetland are amazing places to visit in the summer months. Or you could enjoy some of the small Isles like Rum on the west coast – no cars are allowed so it’s a very different place to explore.

Watch the ospreys

Bird spotters love to come to Scotland and there are so many amazing birds to see here. One of the big draws for nature lovers are the ospreys which have returned to Scotland after being absent for a number of years,

We visited Loch Garten in the cairngorms one summer and loved being able to see the ospreys on the live cameras that they had set up.

Festivals

Summer is definitely festival month in Scotland with all sorts that you can enjoy. Here are just some of the more well known events happening:

Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo

Edinburgh is THE place to be in August as there is so much going on. One exciting annual event is The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo which takes place most evenings in August (in 2022 it’s from 5th – 27th August). You’ll see a showcase of military music and display teams and it’s culminated with fireworks.

Street performers at Edinburgh Fringe in summer
Street performers are all around in Edinburgh in summer!

Edinburgh Fringe Festival

One of the biggest festivals celebrating art and culture around. Edinburgh Fringe Festival takes place each August (2022 dates are 5th – 29th August).

You can find comedy, talks, shows, dancing and plenty more to enjoy. Lots of it requires tickets to individual performances but you’ll also see lots of street performers around and that is free to watch.

A traditional Highland Games in Dufftown in Speyside.

Highland Games

These take place all around the country and all over the summer months too. You can watch traditional Scottish dancing, sports and enjoy pipe bands too. The smaller, local shows can be just as interesting as the big ones. Here’s my guide to visiting a Highland Games if it takes your fancy.

Royal Highland Show

Not to be confused with Highland games, the Royal Highland Show is actually a large event celebrating farming, local Scottish food, culture and much more. It’s a huge show and often attended by members of the Royal family.

It’s held at the end of June in Ingliston which is on the outskirts of Edinburgh, near the airport. Dates for 2023 are June 22-25th.

TRNSMT

The biggest music festival in Scotland is TRNSMT which took over from T In the Park a few years ago (I have fond memories of T In the Park as a teen!).

Many of Britain and the world’s most popular acts come to play here as well as some of Scotland’s big names too. It’s held in Glasgow Green in the city of Glasgow at the beginning of July. The next date is 7-9th July 2023.

Book your Scotland Vacation:

Check flights: Skyscanner
Book Car Rental: DiscoverCars
Book hotels: Booking.com
Book Vacation Rentals: VRBO.com

And don’t forget to pick up a guide book!

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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 help people explore her favourite places in Scotland, England and beyond. She cannot stay away from historical sites.

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