Skip to Content

Ultimate Scotland Packing List: What to Wear in Scotland

Ultimate Scotland Packing List: What to Wear in Scotland

This Scotland packing list should help you figure out exactly what to wear in Scotland in summer, in winter, and the shoulders seasons in between.

This list is mostly catered for what women should wear in Scotland since that’s really where my expertise lies, however, the general tips in this article about the weather and how to dress for it can help whoever is interested in traveling to Scotland.

Where to Go in Scotland

What to wear in Scotland depends largely on two things: where you are going and what time of year you are visiting.

What you wear in Edinburgh and Glasgow in winter will be vastly different from what you wear in Dundee or along the coast in the summertime.

I have written about all of the things I love in Edinburgh here

If you are traveling by van or want to check out some great road trips, I highly recommend checking out The Whole World or Nothing. Sarah and James and their baby girl Ady have been traveling around Scotland and England for over a year in their van and have shared some seriously beautiful places to see on their YouTube channel

If you are planning a trip to the UK in wintertime, I highly recommend braving the cities. There are fewer tourists, which means no lines to get into the wonderful museums or to explore the top bars and restaurants. I loved Aberdeen in winter and Edinburgh at the end of the autumn/start of winter.

It’s simply magical in the snow as well!

Save the coastal regions and the far north for when the ice thaws and the roads are better for road tripping. 

st giles cathedral edinburgh scotland

Cloudy days with blue skies peaking through can happen quite often if you visit during the autumn months! (it doesn’t make it any warmer though!).

Weather in Scotland Throughout the Year

Scotland can have very different weather in different parts of the country. The weather in Glasgow in November and December will likely be quite different from that of Aberdeen or Inverness. 

In general, no matter what time of year you are there, you can expect some precipitation. Whether it’s mist, rain, sleet, or snow, there’s usually some moisture in the air in Scotland. 

June, July, and August are the warmest times of the year with average highs of about 60°F or 15°C. It’s not exactly balmy beach weather, but it’s great for hiking and exploring. The best part about summer in Scotland isn’t the weather, it’s the daylight. They experience extremely long days with the sun setting close to 10 pm in the evenings.

Autumn sees pretty mild temperatures at around  46°F (8°C) to 57°F (14°C). This is a great time of year for hiking and exploring the forests and more rural areas. It’s not too cold yet and the autumn colors are varied and bright.

The cities and coastal areas of Scotland don’t tend to receive a ton of snow and get temperatures anywhere between 20°F (-6°C) and 40°F (5°C).

However, if you head into the highlands and more mountainous areas of the country, you can expect quite a bit more snow and much lower temperatures. Some roads near Inverness and along the North Coast 500 actually close for some of this time because they are simply too dangerous to drive along.

Spring starts around mid-to-late March depending on the year. The days start getting longer again and the temperatures warm up to what autumn brings. This is a beautiful time of year to visit pretty much anywhere in Scotland.

blue skies and cathedral spires

These blue skies had me thinking it was going to be nice and hot outside, but it was still only about 60 degrees Fahrenheit!

What to Wear in Scotland in Winter

If you are coming from England, Wales, or another country that doesn’t experience a truly cold winter, then I highly recommend reading on about what to expect when you visit somewhere with regular and frequent days of below-freezing temperatures.

A (Truly) Warm Winter Coat

That cute winter coat that you bought from Zara or Mango, the one with the polyester lining and cute buttons that don’t go all the way up to your chin, yea that’s not going to keep you warm in -10°C. 

You need a coat that has down inside it, one that is insulated and covers your thighs, if not even more of your legs. One that has a faux-fur hood that covers almost your entire face

woman in winter coat and scarf

This is the sort of hat/scarf/coat combo you need for winter in Edinburgh!

These coats don’t tend to be particularly cheap, so if you only plan to visit Scotland in winter for a week or so and aren’t really looking to invest in this sort of outerwear, then I recommend sticking to the coat that you have, but bringing a ton of layers.

If you are based in the US, ThredUp is a fantastic place to purchase second-hand, gently-used clothing at a fraction of their at-new prices. I got an amazing North Face coat that I wear in the middle of a Baltic winter (-15°C some days!). It keeps me so incredibly warm and it only cost $80 USD. At full price, this coat is over $300 USD. 

In the UK, you can check on Depop for some great deals on second-hand coats. 

 

Lots of Layers

When it’s really cold outside, it tends to be very warm inside. Or, at least it can feel that way after being out in the wind and cold for a little while.

This means you’ll want to be able to take off your coat, hat, scarf, gloves, and sweater and be cool when you’re sitting next to the fire or in a room that has been well-heated all day long.

Whenever I travel to Scotland in winter or somewhere that has winters as cold as here, I always make sure I have plenty of t-shirts, a few long sleeve shirts, some thin sweaters like this one from JCrew, and then I usually take one thick wool sweater like this one from Ralph Lauren to have for the trip for those very cold days.

Long Johns

Long underwear is an absolute must for your Scotland packing list if you are visiting in winter. I tend to wear these under a pair of jeans and if I know I’m going to be outside hiking or near the coast, I will wear the top under a t-shirt and thick wool sweater. 

Long Johns are essential if you plan to be spending a bit of time outside during the winter in Scotland. I also loved them when traveling to Copenhagen in winter.

They are the perfect lightweight piece of clothing to pack, even if you are traveling carry-on luggage only. The set rolls up nice and small and can be shoved to the bottom of your bag.

But if you are going to be sightseeing all day and you don’t want to be shivering or constantly looking for a cafe to warm up in, then you’ll want to layer these under your clothing for the day.

 

Wool

“Cotton kills” is a phrase I heard for the first time when hiking up a glacier in New Zealand.

Don’t wear cotton socks in a cold place. Don’t wear cotton close to your skin at all in cold weather. Because despite how cold you may feel, your feet, your armpits, and plenty of other parts are sweating anyway.

When you sweat, you make your clothing a bit wet. This then gets nice and cold when you are outside and then you simply cannot get warm again. 

So be sure to pack wool socks, wool gloves, a wool sweater, and try to make sure your long johns are silk or lightweight wool.

what to wear in scotland in winter is a hat, scarf and good walking shoes

Wandering the streets of Edinburgh in December means bundling up!

Sturdy Walking Shoes

Whether you are wandering the cobbled streets of Edinburgh or you’re hiking along the Scottish Borders, you will want to have shoes that are comfortable for walking in and that have a nice warm lining.

These boots are the best thing I’ve ever purchased.

They are fleece-lined, waterproof at the bottom, and have a solid grip for ice and mud. They are my go-to winter boots and I wouldn’t travel to Scotland during the wintertime without them!

A sturdy pair of hiking boots that are waterproof would be great. If you are just planning to be in the city, a good leather boot with a sturdy sole will keep you dry. Just make sure they can handle some ice and grit getting on them.

I would avoid sneakers not because they don’t have good enough grip, but because they don’t tend to be waterproof and because you’ll have very cold ankles!

 

Gloves, Hat, & Scarf

Like I mentioned above, do your best to pack waterproof or at least quick-drying fabrics. This is especially important for your outerwear like gloves, hats, and scarves.

For me or for anyone that will be away from the cities doing some hiking, I recommend a snood like this one instead of a scarf. A snood will allow you to cover up your face from the wind and will still keep your neck warm, too.

A hat is essential for the cold and wind and for all of the precipitation you will without a doubt experience on your winter trip to Scotland. A good quality winter hat is well worth the investment.

I personally prefer wool mittens to gloves. Keeping those fingers close together keeps the warmth and circulation going a lot better than a pair of gloves, or worse, a pair of fingerless gloves. Put your phone away and worry about it again when you are in a place warm enough to take your gloves off.

building in edinburgh scotland with blue skies

The cities and beaches in Scotland really come alive in the summer time, so be sure to plan your trip well in advance.

What to Wear in Scotland in Summer

Packing for summer means a lighter bag, thinner clothes, but still plenty of waterproof options thrown in there.

Comfortable Walking Shoes or Sneakers

If you are traveling to Scotland in summer and planning to explore cities, a comfortable pair of cute sneakers or other walking shoes will be perfect.

It never really gets warm enough to warrant a pair of sandals, but if you’ve checked the weather just before your trip and you see anything over 70°F (20°C), by all means, pack your summer sandals.

Most of the cities in Scotland are covered in cobbles, so rubber-soled shoes fare best on this, especially when they are wet from a summer shower.

If you are heading out into the countryside or to the coast, a pair of hiking shoes or running sneakers will be fine. It can be a little bit rocky by the coast, so just be aware of that as you pack for Scotland.

 

Lightweight Rain Jacket

You can expect warm temperatures, but you’ll still want to be prepared for windy coastlines and rainy days. I love my Columbia rain jacket for summer trips to Scotland (and England for that matter!).

You want something that is both a windbreaker as well as a waterproof jacket. You likely won’t be stuck in total downpours, but there is a fine mist and humidity that lingers in the air at this time of year, especially by the coast.

edinburgh castle

There is no real dress code to worry about when thinking about what to wear in Scotland, even in places like the castle or around the pubs. You can get as dressed up as you’d like or stay as casual as you want, too.

Thin Layers

I find that the temperatures fluctuate so much throughout the day in Scotland in the summertime that I am constantly putting a jacket on top, then half an hour later I’m taking off my jacket and my sweater and I’m just in a t-shirt.

I highly recommend bringing thin layers for your summer trip to Scotland. For me, that means a t-shirt, a thin sweatshirt, and a rain jacket. 

I will usually wear at least two of those things during the day and then probably all three in the evenings and early mornings.

If you are going hiking to higher altitudes, you will likely want to bring a thicker sweatshirt or hoodie with you because when you get to the top of these hikes, it can get pretty windy and chilly up there.

 

Umbrella

I never travel anywhere in the UK without an umbrella. 

Whether I’m hiking around the Lake District, enjoying the small towns in the Peak District, exploring Edinburgh, or road tripping around Northern Scotland, I always bring a small umbrella with me that I can fit in my purse.

Umbrellas are generally perfectly fine to pack in your carry-on as well, which makes it easy to add to your luggage at the last minute. 

I have this one which I’ve had for a few years now and I don’t go anywhere without it. You simply never know when the skies will open up in the UK and even those tiny misty rains will eventually soak you through if you don’t put your umbrella up.

Jean Jacket or Blazer

In addition to a windbreaker or rain jacket, you may want to consider packing a lightweight jacket that is good for an evening at the pub or good for exploring the cities by day. 

I absolutely love my jean jacket. It’s from the Gap and I picked it up at a second-hand shop a few years ago. It’s thicker denim, which means it will continue to last me several more years to come. Here is a very similar version of that jacket from Hudson.

It also means that it is a good weight to wear not only during Scottish summers but in spring and autumn on my other travels around Europe.

Jeans and Shorts

Just like with the thin layers you want to pack for your upper body, you’ll want to consider packing both long trousers like jeans as well as shorts. 

I usually wear my jean on the airplane or train journey and then pack a pair or two of shorts as well as one or two dresses depending on whether or not they’re threatening a “heatwave” (anything over 80°F/27°C tends to get this title in the UK).

I like longer skirts and dresses since they will keep my legs a little bit warmer than shorts during the day but still keep me cooler than jeans if it does get a little bit too warm.

Shorts are also a good idea if you are going to be doing any walking or hiking. You can definitely start to get a little bit hot if you are working up a sweat on the trails and longer trousers can sometimes feel stifling. 

woman walking in autumn leaves in scotland

The leaves change colors so beautiful around Scotland, but you’ll want to make sure you pack a decent jacket and some comfortable walking shoes!

Scotland Packing List for Spring or Autumn

The shoulder seasons of spring and autumn tend to have similar weather, wet and cool. 

You will want to pack just like you might for autumn and spring in any country you visit. Think cool days and colder evenings. Plan for rainy and cloudy days and some occasional sunshine and pockets of warmth.

Jeans or Similar Style Trouser

I love a good pair of skinny jeans with an ankle boot when I visit the cities in Scotland during the shoulder seasons. They pair easily with anything that I want to throw on over the top. 

I have never experienced a day so warm at this time of year in Scotland that I wished I had shorts or any form of bare legs. Jeans or trousers are definitely what you’ll wear most at this time of year in Scotland. 

I would recommend at least two pairs of trousers depending on the length of your trip. You want to be able to have a backup pair if you spill anything (I always spill something). For a trip longer than three or four days, definitely consider packing three pairs unless your Airbnb has a washing machine.

T-Shirts

The weather in late spring and early autumn isn’t much different from the summer weather. You can experience nearly all four seasons in a day, so you want to have t-shirts to layer with beneath sweaters or hoodies.

I found that inside restaurants and pubs, especially busy ones, it was usually warm enough to strip down to just jeans and a t-shirt (maybe that’s all the whiskey though?).

Sweaters

Thin sweaters like this one from JCrew or cropped hoodies like this one from Asos are great layers to pack for a trip to Scotland during this time of year.

You will definitely want at least one thin sweater or long sleeve shirt and one thicker sweatshirt or wool top.

I love this Lacoste wool sweater that I bought a few years ago. It has lasted me several winters already and it is the perfect autumn and early-spring layer over a t-shirt and under a thinner jacket.

woman by the beach

The coast can feel particularly cold at these times of year, so if you are planning a beach walk, be sure to bundle up!

Waterproof Jacket

Something like the Columbia rain jacket I mentioned above is the perfect option for when it’s still a little bit warm but windy during this season.

If you are visiting in March or November, you’ll want something thicker. 

I love my The North Face Thermoball coat. It’s small enough to shove into my luggage when it’s warm enough not to need it, but it is incredibly warm on those evenings when the temperatures drop. 

Sturdy Waterproof Walking Shoes

Just like in summer, you’ll want shoes that are sturdy for all of those cobbles. But you’ll really want to make sure you pack something like these LL Bean boots so that you have dry feet for your trip to Scotland. 

These boots are perfect for those shoulder seasons (but are also fantastic when it starts to get icy or snowy!). You can use them just like you might use a pair of wellies (rain boots) or you can style them with a pair of skinny jeans and head out on a casual walk in the countryside. 

They aren’t a replacement for hiking boots. If your plans include more rocky hiking and climbing, these won’t cut it. In that case, you should pack proper hiking boots and an additional layer closer to the North Face coat than to a simple waterproof top.

 

Umbrella

Did I mention I never travel to Scotland without an umbrella? It really is essential. Just don’t forget it at the pub.

Check out My Vide from a Long Weekend in Edinburgh