Scotland in Summer

29th June 2021

“There’s just no place like Scotland when the sun it out.” - Ashley Jensen,

Summer in Scotland has arrived! And how glad we are to see it. We wash away our cares on the sandy shores of a loch and we can smell freedom in the air as we wander through forests bursting with life and colour.

There are so many great reasons to visit Scotland in summer and lots of places that are best visited between June and early September. It is the busiest time of year, particularly in places like Skye and Edinburgh but there are plenty of quieter locations you can visit on your tour if you’d like to beat the crowds. 

Here is a guide to getting the most out of your Scottish summer vacation including the best places to visit and what to expect from Scotland’s summer months.

Luskentyre Beach, Harris, Scottish Summer
Luskentyre Beach, Harris

Those long summer days!

Due to our northern location, Scotland is blessed with very long summer days - sunset isn’t until 9-10pm and the light often lingers for an hour or so after that. Eating dinner outside followed by a whisky nightcap is a very pleasant way to enjoy this.

If you’d like to experience the best of our long days, include a visit to the island of Orkney in your tour itinerary where the daylight lasts until near to midnight in June and July… and the sunsets that follow can be spectacular. While you are on Orkney look out for seabirds such as Arctic Terns, Guillemots and Razorbills. Seabirds, seals, whales and if you are really lucky, Orca, can be spotted while on board the Pentland Ferry crossing over to Orkney - this really makes the journey part of the experience.

Orkney St Magnus Cathedral
St Magnus Cathedral, Orkney

See amazing wildlife on the Isle of Mull

We love taking our guests to Mull during June and July because this is the time of year when you will have a chance of spotting the very best of Scotland’s wildlife. Golden 

eagles, white-tailed eagles, an array of seabirds, otters, seals and even whales can be found flying above or swimming by this beautiful little island.

You will find one of our favourite accommodation partners on the Isle of Mull, Pennygate Lodge, our guests always love their stay here. Read more about the Isle of Mull and its sister island Iona.

The summer is a great time to visit our islands because it will be warm enough to head out onto the deck while on the ferry - this is where you’ll have the best chance of spotting basking sharks! Basking sharks are the world’s second largest fish and seeing them over the side of your ferry is a mind-blowing experience. The sea around the Isle of Mull is a Mecca for basking sharks who prowl the Scottish waters during the summer. Of course by prowl, I mean they float around and filter in plankton through their ginormous mouths. They may be scary looking creatures but large mammals aren’t on their menu (much to the relief of our seals!)

Our 8 Day West Coast & Wild Highlands tour is perfect for anyone looking to meet some Scottish wildlife.

Basking Shark Scotland Wildlife
Basking Shark - David Mark

Speaking of the weather… 

In terms of temperature the average highs are up to 67°F during the summer, but it is not unusual for temperatures to reach the low 70s. There is a fair amount of sunshine too and usually less rain that the rest of the year. Although sometimes it is slightly wetter than the spring. 

Scotland definitely isn’t the place to go for a lazing by the pool holiday, but we would recommend packing sun screen, shorts and t-shirts for your summer vacation. You should also bring long trousers, jumpers and a rain jacket… you just never know with Scotland! As Outlander’s Sam Heughan says ‘Scotland is about layering. The weather changes every 10 minutes.’

The summer weather means we are in even greater spirits than normal. We are all so grateful for warmth after a rainy and cold winter. I don’t think anyone appreciates a sunny day more than a Scot! As soon as it hits 65°F expect to hear the phrase ‘Taps Aff’ which translates as ‘tops off’ - a little joke we have about Scottish men who go into full sunbathing mode at the first hint of summer. Hopefully you won’t actually see too much of this however… sadly Scottish men aren’t all as handsome as Mr Heughan.

Eilean Donan Castle

Back on the mainland, we always enjoy a summer trip to the famous Eilean Donan Castle. It really seems to come alive in summer. During the day the sun illuminates this proud stronghold, displaying the fine stone work of its winding bridge, leading towards its sturdy towers. 

Whereas at dusk, the fading lights creates the illusion of looking onto to a colourful, romantic painting. The purples, greens and pinks of the sunset soften the edges of this ancient castle, which rests on the spot where three lochs meet. Your mind can’t help but wander back to warm summer evenings, centuries ago, picturing the Lords and Ladies of Kintail hosting grand banquets with loud music and even louder jovialities.

If you are a keen photographer this might just be the photo of the holiday! The castle’s car park is the perfect spot to get a fantastic sunset shot with the castle in the foreground. The nearby Balmacara Mains is a great place to stay if you are planning a late evening visit to the castle. Breakfast in the conservatory overlooking Loch Alsh and the Isle of Skye really is something special.

Eilean Donan Castle Summer Vacation
Eilean Donan Castle

Walking Holidays

Hiking and walking in Scotland is growing in popularity every year because there are so many different regions offering beautiful rural routes. Even though we are a small country, there are a huge number of hikes, trails and easy walks all over Scotland. Our Welsh and English neighbours are starting to have an issue with overcrowding in Snowdonia and the Lake District… but for us there are great walks everywhere you go! This means it is unlikely you will find that your route is overly busy as long as you avoid Ben Nevis (our largest mountain). We really are lucky in this respect.

Nothing beats a cool breeze on your back as you enjoy a woodland walk on a hot summers day - we would recommend a visit to the Rothimurchus Estate. I would happily spend a whole day here, wandering through the beautiful Caledionian Pine woods of the Cairngorms. You could also take a look at our 7 Day Best of Scotland Tour with Walking, departing June 2022.

Walking tour, Scottish Highlands
Walking in the Cairngorms

Finding the quieter spots

As I mentioned previously, popular tourists spots like Skye and Edinburgh can be very busy during the summer. However, if we do take you on tour there, our drivers are experienced in knowing the less crowded beauty spots to take you to. If you crave the peace and quiet, we would recommend heading to the remote Ardnamurchan Peninsula or visiting the far north counties of Sutherland and Caithness. An itinerary that includes a mix of the ‘bucket list’ locations and quieter areas is a good option. 

Ardnamurchan Sanna Bay, remote Scotland
Sanna Bay, Ardnamurchan

A great tour which involves everything mentioned in this blog, is our 14 Day Hebridean Widllife, Neolithic Orkney and Highlands Tour. Having a full two weeks to travel around Scotland really allows you to explore it in depth… this tour event dedicates a full day to visiting our jolly Scottish Puffins! We use Turus Maras who have been running puffin tours to Staffa and the Treshnish Isles since 1973.

Puffins, Scottish Islands
Scottish Puffins - Brian Thomson

I am never more happy, never more at peace, than when sitting by a loch-side on a summer’s night with good friends and family beside me. Scotland in the summer is a truly wonderful place. At Best Scottish Tours, we would love to share this experience with you. We hope to welcome you to Scotland on a balmy summer’s day and show you our country at its very best.

We miss you, Scotland misses you. We can’t wait to welcome you back.

Orkney beach, Scottish Islands
Isle of Orkney

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