Autumn in Scotland: Everything You Need to Know

Autumn in Scotland

Autumn in Scotland is an extremely cosy month filled with beautiful colours, delicious food, and temperate weather. The autumn months of Scotland are considered a shoulder season for tourists, making it ideal if you’re looking for a cheaper break with fewer crowds.

In addition to stunning scenery and crisp autumn colours, visiting Scotland during this part of the calendar means you’ll enjoy fresh food, some incredible events, and unique attractions.

Those planning to visit Scotland in autumn can be overwhelmed with questions about how to pack, where to go, and what to see, but don’t worry—we’ll cover everything you need to know to tackle Scotland’s autumn tourist season.

When is Autumn in Scotland?

The people of Scotland say a sombre goodbye to the warm summer months on 1st September and officially herald the beginning of the more cosy autumn season. Autumn lasts for three months, including September, October, and November.

As for when it really begins to feel like autumn? For many Scottish outdoor lovers, the cooler temperatures and fall colours only set in during late September. For the first few weeks, you’ll still feel the last rays of the summer season without as many crowds—talk about a paradise!

Autumn Weather in Scotland

Autumn Weather in Scotland

Autumn weather in Scotland tends to lean on the more temperate side, especially within the first month, before transitioning into a more windy and rainy climate. You can expect daily average temperatures of between 2℃ – 12℃ (41℉ – 54℉) throughout autumn. This average can sway warmer and colder depending on weather conditions and where you are in Scotland.

Daylight hours in autumn decrease the later you visit, with 11 hours of daylight during the first week of September and only 7 hours towards the end of November. If you want to appreciate the sun-dappled golden colours of leaves, then make sure to come before early November to make the most of the daytime.

Dressing for Autumn in Scotland

While the autumnal colours of Scotland are beautiful, the temperamental weather of the season can ruin your outing if you’re not careful. Here are the essentials that you should be packing on your trip to Scotland in autumn:

Warm Hat and Hoodie

If you plan to explore the West Coast or the northern Highlands, packing an extra hat and hoodie will spare you the worst of the autumn rains and winds. Having a hoodie handy when visiting Scotland, no matter what time of year you arrive.

Waterproof Jacket

As autumn carries on, you’ll find that you’ll encounter rain more frequently – especially if you plan to be outdoors. To avoid catching a cold or ruining your favourite warm shirt, bringing along a waterproof jacket to your trip to Scotland is essential.

A Pair of Boots

Scotland, in the fall, especially at the latter end of the season, can get quite rainy and muddy. If your break involves plenty of hiking, climbing, or exploring Scotland and its wilderness, then a thick pair of boots won’t steer you wrong.

Scotland in Autumn — Month by Month

The weather, activities, and events to look forward to in autumn change month by month. Here’s a quick breakdown of what you can look forward to within each month of Scotland’s autumnal season.



September kicks off fall in Scotland with mild weather, sunshine, and plenty to discover. As the transition season, September doesn’t feel too far off from the Scottish summer, but as the month rolls on, you’ll notice golden hues on many trees. September is a superb time to go golfing in Scotland, with the gorgeous courses offered at a discount in the shoulder season.

We’ve written an entire guide on Scotland in September; feel free to check it out if you’re interested.



Autumn’s middle season, October, is a stunning month when Scotland finally sheds its green for a more trendy set of red, yellow, and orange leaves. If you love autumnal colours, October offers the best season without the foreboding winter on the horizon. Scotland also celebrates several unique festivals during October, like the Samhuinn Fire Festival!

If you want to know more about Scotland in October, read our full guide to the month right here.



November offers one of the last changes to truly savour the Scottish Highlands without wearing multiple warm layers, although if you’re planning to tackle Scotland’s Munros, you’ll need to dress up. Visiting Scotland in November offers fewer crowds in many of tourists’ favourite places, making it a top contender for a quiet break.

Keen to know more about Scotland in November? Read our complete guide to the month’s attractions here.

Autumn Events and Things to Do in Autumn

Scotland in autumn may have fewer crowds than in summer, but rest assured that the month is filled with amazing events and things to do. Here are some activities you should consider adding to your itinerary when visiting during autumn.

Indulge in Food Fresh from Autumn Harvest

Indulge in Fresh Food

Autumn is the perfect time to visit Scotland if you’re a foodie. Autumn is typically when much of Scotland’s produce is harvested, and venison game is hunted, making each meal you eat as fresh as possible. Indulge in pumpkin, parsnip, lobster, deer, grouse, and pheasant like you never have before!

There are several food festivals throughout Scotland in autumn, covering whisky to traditional cuisine—be sure to make time for at least a few when exploring places to visit in autumn, you won’t regret it.

See the Cairngorms National Park Draped in Autumn Colours

Cairngorms National Park

As October breaks in Scotland, the beautiful Scottish Highlands change into their autumn colours. There’s no better place to appreciate the visit to Scotland during this transition than the Cairngorms National Park. The national park is filled with unique activities set in a gorgeous orange, red, and yellow backdrop.

While you may need to bring a jacket, taking autumn walks through Scotland’s largest national park is necessary. As you go through forest trails, don’t be surprised to see red deer, red squirrels, and grouse frolicking in amongst the fallen leaves. If you don’t scare them away with the crunching of your footfalls, magical moments await you—be sure to take your camera!

The Trossachs National Park, Handa Island Nature Reserve, and Tentsmuir National Nature Reserve are all fantastic locations in the Scottish Highlands if you want to see the natural beauty of Scotland in autumn.

Attend Scotland’s Autumn Events

Throughout the autumn period, Scotland is alive with incredible cultural events. If you want something special to attend as you explore Scotland, take a look at these Scottish events.

Royal National Mòd (13 – 21 October 2023, Paisley)

This Eisteddfod-inspired international Celtic festival is one of the best ways to learn and enjoy the rich Celtic culture of Scotland. The event highlights the superb talent of locals, who go out of their way to sing, dance, and perform traditional Gaelic songs, dances, and stories.

The event is a real hidden gem, complete with fantastic food and drinks to enjoy while admiring the practised performances. The town of Paisley sits just outside of Glasgow and is easy to add to a day of sightseeing.

Samhuinn Fire Festival (31st October, Edinburgh)

Samhuinn Fire Festival

Only a few people know that the spooky holiday of Halloween actually originated in Scotland as the Celtic festival of Samhuinn. The Samhuinn Fire Festival is the reinvigoration of this once-celebrated Scottish tradition, complete with fantastic fire-play shows and musical ceremonies.

The event takes place in Edinburgh on the top of Calton Hill, where the festivities take place around a large fire that can be seen from all over the city!

The Braemar Gathering (7th September, Braemar)

Braemar Gathering

The Braemar Gathering is a royal celebration of Scottish clans and the many sports and competitions they would play to find out the strongest and most talented among them. Expect marching bands playing Scottish songs, unique games you’ve never seen before, and an incredible atmosphere.

Every year, the Braemar Games are attended by members of the Royal Family, making it one of the most popular events on the Scottish calendar—so don’t be surprised if you can’t find a parking space in the car park.

Glasgow Whisky Festival (11th November, Glasgow)

Glasgow Whisky Festival

As winter’s bad weather begins to set in during November, one of the best ways to combat the cold is to enjoy a wee dram of whisky. You can go just that in spades at the Glasgow Whisky Festival in Glasgow, one of the largest opportunities to taste delicious whisky from all over the country!

Bring along friends and family and indulge in some of Scotland’s finest single malts and blends.

Explore Scotland’s Outdoors

Explore Scottish Outdoors

The fantastic Scottish outdoors is one of the country’s main attractions and sits at the top of the to-do list for many visiting Scotland. Autumn, a shoulder season for activities, presents the perfect opportunity to partake in the great outdoors with fewer crowds, lower prices, and a mild climate. Here are the top activities that Scotland’s outdoors have to offer:

Go Wildlife Watching

Wildlife Watching

Scotland is home to amazing wildlife, from seals lazing on Scottish beaches to golden eagles surveying the landscape from above. Wildlife watching is delightful when you get to enjoy walks through the autumn foliage, with leaves crunching underfoot. Certain nature parks and centres also have bird hides and other enclosed spaces to observe Scotland’s diverse wildlife without disturbance.

Boat Tour off Scotland’s West Coast

Take a Boat Tour

The Inner and Outer Hebrides are beautiful regions of Scotland to explore, especially during autumn. During autumn in Scotland, boat trips can take you out to islands filled with Scotland’s birdlife, including puffins, eagles, gannets, and kittiwakes. If you keep a keen eye out over the waters, you may also be able to spot orcas, dolphins, and seals!

Hike up Scotland’s Munros

Hike Scotland's Munros

Munros are mountains that exceed 3,000 feet in height and are one of the biggest challenges you can undertake while in Scotland. Autumn is a superb time to test your mettle against behemoths like Ben Navis and Ben Lomond for several reasons: the mild temperatures, the absence of midges, and the spectacular view of autumn colours in the surrounding hills.

Check Out These Autumn Havens

From numerous events held throughout autumn to unique attractions that blossom as the year begins to end, certain parts of Scotland are considered the most beautiful places to see between September and November. If you want to know what the highlights are of Scotland’s autumn months, make sure to visit these Autumn havens.


A favourite spot for tourists visiting Scotland in the Autumn is Perthshire. This region of Scotland is known as “big tree country” and has gorgeous nature trails that take you through towering trees draped in their autumn colours. Highland Perthshire is beautiful whenever you visit, but especially so in autumn.


Edinburgh is filled with amazing attractions that no one should miss out on during the autumn season. As most of Scotland’s tourists leave back home, you can enjoy major hot spots of the city without fear of overcrowding. The Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh Castle, Arthur’s Seat, and more are yours to explore!

Loch Lomond

Loch Lomond sits with the Trossachs National Park, a beautiful national park that accommodates many adventurous souls with activities galore. If you plan to visit Scotland in early autumn, you’ll find that many of the fantastic summer activities like waterskiing are still available, but cheaper and less busy than usual.

Fort William

Scotland’s outdoor capital is perfect for everyone, whether you want to enjoy a walk to appreciate fall Scotland or scale one of Scotland’s intimidating mountains. There are events and festivals taking place throughout the Autumn season at Fort William that are perfect for nature lovers and outdoorsy types to take advantage of.

Frequently Asked Questions

Have a few burning questions about visiting Scotland in Fall? Don’t worry, and we’ve answered some of the frequently asked questions about exploring Scotland in Autumn right here.

Is Autumn a Good Time to Visit Scotland?

Absolutely! Early autumn is considered to be one of the best times to visit Scotland. Not only does the summer weather persist until the end of September, but you’ll also encounter fewer crowds at Scotland’s major attractions, pay less during the shoulder season, and enjoy the full autumn glory of Scotland’s landscape.

How Long Does Autumn Last in Scotland?

Autumn lasts for 3 months on the Scottish calendar, although the season only feels like it begins at the end of September and ends within the first few weeks of December. Suppose you want to make the most of Scotland’s autumn colours and cosy atmosphere. In that case, October is the best time to enjoy your vacation—especially with events like the Samhuinn Fire Festival and Royal National Mòd.

What is the Cheapest Time of Year to Visit Scotland?

The cheapest time to visit Scotland is its off-peak seasons, usually between November and March. There is an inflationary period during December, with the festive holidays generally driving up prices, but before and after everyone does their holiday shopping, it is the cheapest.

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