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What To Pack For Scotland: A Guide For Both Genders In Every Season
If you’re planning to visit Scotland, you will likely have already heard people talk about how you’ll need to pack your umbrella and raincoat because it rains all year and snows in the winter.
You may be surprised to hear that this isn’t necessarily the case, and although Scotland does see its fair share of bad weather, there are times throughout the year where you’re more likely to enjoy a warm, dry trip.
Should you find yourself on one of the many islands along the West coast during the winter or early spring, you’ll likely be glad to have brought a warm hat and a good pair of gloves with you, however; should you decide to visit Glasgow city centre in the height of summer, you’ll likely be thankful for some cool t-shirts and your favourite shorts!
What’s The Climate Like In Scotland?
Scotland’s climate, although variable throughout the four seasons, could generally be described as wet and windy – although this isn’t always the case.
Spring is an interesting time to visit Scotland, as during the earlier part of the season, you’ll want your best rain jacket and some waterproof trousers. But, as the months roll on into mid and late April, you’ll find the temperature starts to get a little warmer, with a lighter breeze.
As it gets into the summertime, temperatures range anywhere from 15C all the way up to 30C on the hottest days. The rainy weather mostly eases off during this time and you can usually (at least for a few weeks of the year) enjoy warm evenings with a gentle breeze while you sit outside in your t-shirt.
During the early Autumn months, you can still expect an odd day of sunshine, but as you move towards October time, you can be assured of regular rain showers and cold, windy days.
The Scottish weather during the winter is often very cold and icy, usually accompanied by a wind that cuts like a knife (especially if you’re on the islands or on the coast). In the Highlands, you can expect to run into snow, and in places like Aviemore there’s plenty of snow-related outdoor activities to try, such as skiing or snowboarding.
Year-Round Scotland Essentials
No matter what time of year you plan on visiting Scotland, there’s definitely a general Scotland packing list that works all year.
Scotland is famous for its beautiful mountains and stunning countryside, so no matter if it’s wet and muddy or hot and sunny, hiking boots or good walking shoes are a must if you want to get the most out of your Scotland trip. Walking shoes are also the secret to enjoying a big city break in Scotland.
Of all the packing tips you’ll receive when you tell people you’re off to Scotland, bringing a good raincoat is absolutely number one. Even on a hot day during the summer, it’s not unusual to encounter heavy downpours of rain that last between ten and fifteen minutes – those are the times you’re glad you brought your waterproof!
It can be tricky to decide what to wear in Scotland, as even on what looks like a nice day, you can often run into cold winds. For this reason, it’s a good idea to have some extra layers underneath, so that if it does start to get a bit windy as the day wears on, you won’t have to call it a day too early.
Of course, if you’re hit with some rain on a warm day, a waterproof coat can sometimes be too hot and stifling and on those days – an umbrella (or “brolly” as the locals refer to it) is the answer. Beware though, as when the wind picks up, you wouldn’t be the first person to arrive back at your accommodation wet, with a broken umbrella!
Scotland Packing List For Spring
There’s nothing worse than ending up with the wrong clothing on a trip, so if you decide to visit in the springtime, your packing list for Scotland should definitely include the items below…
When confronted with a windy day in the spring, there’s nothing quite like a big woolly jumper to keep you cosy as you explore the Scottish highlands or go for a walk in the countryside. Jumpers are definitely a favourite to wear in Scotland, and with the large population of sheep, there’s no shortage of wool!
A windbreaker is an ideal jacket for Scotland’s weather in the spring, as it may not be raining all the time but it’ll certainly be windy most of the time.
Jeans & Shorts
Even if you don’t wear jeans regularly, taking a pair on your trip to Scotland is a good idea. If you find yourself out hiking in the wilderness, it can be a nightmare getting nettle stings or bug bites on your legs if you’re not wearing strong material like jeans. Shorts are also a safe bet, as there’s the occasional warm sunny day during the spring.
Scotland Packing List For Summer
When it comes to the Scottish summer, the things you’ll need will be much the same as what you’d need anywhere else (but as mentioned throughout, don’t forget your umbrella just in case!).
Sunglasses are an essential part of any summer holiday, but this especially rings true if you find yourself up in the mountains, as the sun can often be blinding, making hikes up the mountains slightly more dangerous if you can’t see properly.
Whether or not you decide to go with a sun hat is down to personal preference, but having something to shade your head and face in the afternoon heat will help to keep you cool.
Short-sleeved t-shirts are a must for any summer holiday, and Scotland is no expectation. There’s a saying in the Scottish summertime, and that’s “suns oot, guns oot”, so you’d better not forget that short-sleeved t-shirt to show off those guns!
The west coast of Scotland offers some great beaches such as the one located at Troon. When at the beach, there’s nothing quite like dipping in the sea to cool off. At the majority of Scottish beaches, swimwear is essential, and under the hot Scottish sun, you’ll dry off in no time.
Scotland Packing List For Autumn
As the summer eases off and the autumn sets in, Scotland looks stunning and, although you might get wet, it’s the perfect time of year for long country walks.
Hoodies are a great all-rounder for any occasion and will most definitely help to protect you from the dreaded Scottish midges on your evening walks.
Lightweight waterproof jacket
The weather in autumn is still mostly pleasant, however, you will find that as the months roll on, you’ll encounter more frequent rain showers. For this reason, a lightweight waterproof would likely be best, especially in the earlier part of autumn, such as late August/early September.
Flannel shirts are a universal fashion staple that are also practical and warm. As well as being buttoned up with your best jeans and a nice jacket, they can be worn more casually, such as open with a t-shirt. This is the ideal attire for exploring Scottish nightlife.
Scotland Packing List For Winter
Scottish winters, although beautiful, are often harsh and cold. The items below are the absolute essentials for day-to-day living during the winter.
There’s nothing worse than numb toes when you’re out doing your Christmas shopping in one of Scotland’s big cities, so be sure to avoid this by packing some nice cosy socks (the fluffier the better).
Hats & scarves
The icy winds during a Scottish winter can often feel like they cut through your ears and into your jawbone, and for this reason, you don’t want to leave your accommodation without a snuggly hat and a cosy scarf.
Fleeces are a favourite to go under your winter jacket in Scotland due to the fact that they’re lightweight, cheap, warm, and comfortable. They tend to be softer than jumpers and will fit nicely as one of your many layers.
Thermals layers are a must if you plan on exploring the Scottish mountains during the wintertime, as temperatures can reach far below zero, where even stopping for a water break can leave you chittering.
How cold does it get in winter in Scotland?
Winters in Scotland can be quite cold and temperatures can plummet as low as -10C, although 1C-5C would be more typical during the daytime.
Is Edinburgh rainy?
Edinburgh can be as rainy as any other part of Scotland, so in short – yes! With that being said, the east coast of Scotland does generally experience slightly better weather.
What should I pack for a trip to Scotland?
What to pack for Scotland depends on the time of year, however, there are definitely some essentials that work all year round, such as a light rain jacket or hiking shoes.
Which part of Scotland is the warmest?
The eastern coast of Scotland and the central belt tend to experience the warmest weather, as these areas don’t lie under the shadow of the mountains like some areas in the highlands.