We're often asked by clients what to pack when visiting Scotland. Here are some packing tips to help you have a stress-free luxury holiday in Scotland and make the most of your time whatever the weather!
Here at The Tartan Road, we design bespoke luxury holidays in Scotland. We're passionate about this small country, and we think it's one of the best places in the world to go on vacation.
Scotland’s weather can be very variable, with large temperature ranges and precipitation common in summer. Daytime temperatures in summer can vary from 50F to well over 80F (10C to 26C), and rain is common.
In winter, temperatures can be as cold as 5F in sheltered glens or at altitude, and as warm as 50F on the coast or in cities (-15C to 10C). Snow and ice are regularly encountered in winter, and it can also be stormy with high winds at times.
As you can see, the weather in Scotland varies a lot. Locals often say that we get four seasons in one day, or that "if you don't like the weather, just wait 5 minutes", and this is true.
This weather variability can create challenges for packing, but don't worry - with the right clothing you can enjoy this beautiful country whatever the weather.
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Yes, you read that right - we DO get the sun in Scotland!
Whilst the temperatures might be cooler than you're used to, the sun does shine on bonny Scotland and the UV index can be very high in the summer months.
We recommend bringing a sunhat, sunglasses and high-factor suncream to protect your skin from the sun.
Particularly if you're hiking, you will find that the sun's rays are stronger at altitude, so bear this in mind when heading into the mountains.
When taking part in water sports, be mindful that even if the water feels cool and the breeze on the sea keeps you at a pleasant temperature, the sun reflecting off the water can easily burn your face and hands even if you are wearing a wetsuit or drysuit.
Even on winter trips, if hiking at altitude or venturing out for long periods on sunny days, you will be glad of eye protection at the very least.
Clothing suitable for the outdoors
If you plan to be outside for any length of time during your trip, it is advisable to bring the following:
○ Short-sleeved t-shirts
○ Long-sleeved t-shirts
○ Warm jumper / fleece top
○ Lightweight trousers or leggings (ideally quick-drying, breathable material)
○ Waterproof jacket (and waterproof trousers are advisable if you plan to do longer hikes or hike in poor weather)
○ Sturdy footwear - solid trainers or ideally walking shoes/boots
○ For winter hiking, you will need an ice axe and crampons if venturing into the mountains
Layering clothing can be incredibly useful to allow you to adjust to suit the temperatures and conditions you encounter.
If hiking, please be aware that the weather at altitude can be very different to what you encounter at sea level. Always take enough clothing with you to keep warm, a waterproof outer layer, enough food and water and a means of calling for help. On the islands, the temperature is often a few degrees cooler than on the mainland, and it can be very windy.
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Protection against biting insects
Particularly in summer, visitors to parts of Scotland can be annoyed by biting insects such as 'midges' (flying insects smaller than mosquitoes which can be found in large numbers and give a small, itchy bite) and ticks.
Midges tend to frequent areas away from the coast where the air is still, and will congregate in areas near standing water and in sheltered valleys. They are not harmful but they are annoying, so if you think you will be bothered by them it's advisable to get hold of some repellent. We think Smidge works best, which is widely available in Scotland - they also give a midge forecast to help you avoid the worst-affected areas. Some people also like to bring a head net to keep the midges away from their face.
Repellent also works on ticks, which are small biting insects which do not fly but tend to be around in long grass and ferns, particularly in areas where there are livestock or deer around. Ticks will attach to you for a period and detach once they have 'fed', leaving a small bite. Ticks can carry disease, so it is advisable to check yourself carefully after hiking outdoors and remove any you find as soon as possible to reduce the risk. If you are planning on doing a lot of hiking during your trip, it would be advisable to bring tick tweezers with you as well, so that you can quickly and safely remove a tick if you find one.
Dressing for meals in Scotland
Most restaurants in Scotland do not have a specific dress code, but in general people will avoid wearing sportswear or swimwear to dinner.
Where there is a dress code or any expectation on clothing, it is usually ‘smart casual’, which for men means smart trousers (not jeans or jogging bottoms), smart shoes (no trainers), a shirt and a jacket (no tie required), and for ladies this means a skirt/smart trousers and top or a dress.
Please check with us or ask your restaurant beforehand if you have any questions about the dress code.
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Camera to capture your Scottish adventure
And finally...we can guarantee you'll see some amazing things during your luxury holiday in Scotland, so don't forget to bring your camera to capture all these amazing experiences and look back on them later on!