FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT SCOTLAND IN MAY
Whatever you’re wondering about visiting Scotland in May, we’re here to answer your most commonly asked questions. Is May a good time to visit Scotland? Definitely!
May is in fact the start of the summer travel season in Scotland. However, this month is part of the quieter shoulder season. This means you’ll find less traffic on the roads, less visitors at top attractions and more availability for accommodation around the country.
Read below to find out all the details from our local travel experts.
What are the best things to do in Scotland in May?
Many of Scotland’s amazing attractions are accessible all year long. But as May is the start of the summer season, there are longer opening hours, daylight hours and better weather. This allows you to enjoy and take on more of the fun travel experiences Scotland offers.
Here are the 10 best things to do in Scotland in May:
Drive around the beautiful Scottish Highlands
Admire the natural scenery
Go hiking and walking along the rugged hills, lochs and glens
Sail to one or more of the Scottish islands
Explore picturesque, ancient ruins and castles
Learn about Scotland’s Viking heritage
Taste the various whisky flavours and Scottish delicacies
Meet the abundant local wildlife, such as dolphins, puffins, orcas and more
Immerse yourself in Gaelic culture
Visit the buzzing cities, charming towns and fishing villages
What are the most popular events in Scotland in May?
May is a great month to visit Scotland to attend some of the varied events hosted around the country.
Some of the most popular events in May include:
Spirit of Speyside whisky festival
Islay Festival of Music and Malt
Arran Mountain Festival
Ullapool Book Festival
British Pipe Band Championships
Edinburgh International Children’s Festival
Orkney Folk Festival
Art festivals are also hosted in Glasgow, Perth and Dumfries throughout the month.
Can I attend Highland games in Scotland in May?
May is the beginning of the popular Highland Games show season, which peaks in July and August. Events are still sparse at this time of year, but you’ll find a few to attend, from Glasgow to the Highlands.
Highland games involve a series of traditional athletic competitions (with lots of kilts and bagpipes!). They are usually held throughout the Highlands on weekends and are a great Scottish cultural experience.
What are the best places to visit in Scotland in May?
May is a great month to travel to Scotland and visit its towns, historic sites and natural highlights. More so, you’ll enjoy long daylight hours and fair weather, ideal conditions for exploring.
Here are some of the best places to visit in Scotland in May:
What is the weather like in Scotland in May?
As May is a transitional month between spring and summer, you can expect mild and changing weather in Scotland. On average, there are highs of 13°C (55°F) and lows of 7°C (45°F).
Although May isn’t the hottest month of the year, you can expect some warm days in the low to mid 20s°C (68°F).
What are May temperatures in Scotland?
The average temperatures around the country will be between 7°C (45°F) and 15°C (59°F) in May.
Are there midges in Scotland in May?
If you’re visiting during the summer months, you can expect midges to be out and about. Midges are tiny insects that bite, found especially in the Highlands and islands of Scotland.
May is the start of the midges season, however it is still mild at that time. July and August is usually considered the worst period for midges in Scotland.
They are at their most active in the early mornings and evenings. You can try to avoid being outside in the countryside at those times of the day. Or we recommend carrying the Avon Skin-So-Soft body oil spray, the repellent of choice for Britain’s Royal Marines.
What to wear in Scotland in May?
Like in many of the Nordic countries, Scots have the saying: “There is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing”.
As the weather is expected to be mild in May, we recommend layers. That way you can remove or add clothes depending on the day’s weather. Make sure to bring some lightweight and warm under layers as well a rain jacket.
What are the daylight hours in May in Scotland?
In May, the daylight hours are continuing to grow longer as we slowly approach the summer solstice. This means you’ll enjoy plenty of daytime brightness to explore Scotland to your heart’s content. You can expect 15 to 18 hours of daylight per day in May.
Daylight hours differ based on the time of the month you visit and location in Scotland. In Edinburgh, the sun rises at 5:30 AM and sets at 8:50 PM at the beginning of the month. By the end of May, it grows longer with daylight hours between 4:30 AM and 9:45 PM.
As you head north, you can expect these hours to stretch out longer. For example, in Lerwick, the capital of Shetland Islands, the sun rises at 5 AM and sets at 9 PM in early May. Later in the month, the sun rises at 3:50 AM and sets by 10:15 PM.
Does it snow in Scotland in May?
It is unlikely to snow in Scotland in May. It is however possible that you'll still find snow at the top of mountains, when driving or hiking.
Can I see the northern lights in Scotland in May?
In May, it is unlikely you’ll see the northern lights. This is because during the summer months there are few hours of proper darkness. During the winter months, when daylight hours are shorter, it is possible to see the aurora borealis in remote corners of Scotland, but it’s still rare.
For your best chances of spotting the auroras, we recommend heading north into the “Northern Lights Belt” between October and March. You could pick a northern lights tour in Iceland, Lapland or Northern Norway.
What to pack for Scotland in May?
For a trip to Scotland in May, it is best to be ready for all kinds of weather. From warm days to windy and rainy weather, make sure to pack all the necessary clothing. That way, come rain or shine, you can enjoy the natural beauty of the country.
Here is a list of packing essentials for your Scotland tour in May:
Lightweight layers, including t-shirts, long sleeve shirts, and shorts
At least one warm jumper or fleece
Waterproof jacket or shell layers
Light scarf and gloves
Warm hat and sun hat or cap
As well as these essentials, be sure to bring good sturdy walking or hiking boots depending on what activities you may want to enjoy.
How to tour Scotland in May?
There are various ways to travel on your Scotland tour in May. Depending on your personal tastes and requirements, you could either go for a guided or self-guided vacation.
Road trip around Scotland
May is a great time to visit Scotland on a self-drive tour, which would allow you to stop at the sights you want to see at your own pace. At this time of year, the road conditions are good for touring and you’ll enjoy long daylight hours to drive and explore.
Pick up your rental car from Edinburgh or Glasgow and drive to iconic locations. You could visit St Andrews, Loch Ness, Inverness, the Isle of Skye and Fort William, amongst many more.
Depending on the amount of time you have, there are many options and regions of Scotland you could visit. Do an express tour into the Highlands in 5 days or take 2 to 3 weeks to do a complete tour, including the northern and western isles.
Driving in Scotland is an adventure that you won’t regret! Especially if you book with Nordic Visitor, as we offer collision damage waiver, free GPS, and a 24/7 helpline for emergencies.
Good to note: In Scotland, and the wider UK, motorists drive on the left. If you’re not used to that, make sure to hire an automatic car or you could join a guided tour.
Join a small group tour of Scotland
Do you want to leave the driving to someone else? Between May and September, you could opt to join a small group tour. This way you could explore the highlights of the Highlands and the Isle of Skye with like-minded travellers.
A small group tour offers an enriching experience, allowing you to get the most out of your trip thanks to the expertise of a local guide. What’s more, you’ll be travelling alongside 14 people at most, so the trip is still personal for you.
Learn about Scottish history and culture with a private guide
On the other hand, you might prefer to be accompanied by your very own local expert throughout your Scotland experience.
A privately guided tour is one of the most exclusive ways to see Scotland and learn all about this beautiful country. You’ll have your own personal guide to show you the best locations and teach you about the local history.
Whatever tour you pick, you’ll take advantage of all our signature benefits. These include charming accommodation, daily breakfast, transportation, such as car rental and ferries, our Nordic Visitor Scotland Travel Guide, and a hand-marked map with your route and highlights.
You’ll also have activities, like entry to castles and distilleries, included in some packages. All our self-drive tours include a Historic Scotland Explorer Pass or a Scottish Heritage Pass so you can pick what sites you want to visit.
Good to know: Our Scotland itineraries aren’t set in stone. Our Edinburgh-based Scotland experts know the country inside out. They’ll help you see the country your way, tailoring your itinerary and adding all the best excursions to suit you.
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