The Best Things to do in Scotland in the Spring

The 10 Best Things to Do in Scotland in the Spring

Spring is the best time to escape the crowds in Scotland – just don’t forget your raincoat. As the winter draws to a close, March and April see temperatures rising, the wildflowers are blooming in the Highlands, and the snow is melting on the Munros. 

By early May, the days are long and sunny, but leave it too late, and by June, the summer crowds have well and truly established themselves everywhere from Edinburgh to Shetland. The weather in springtime ranges from sunshine to downpours, so you’ll need to be prepared for every eventuality, but there’s always a whisky distillery nearby to take shelter in.

With so many things to see and do, you might not know where to begin. So we’ve compiled our list of the absolute best things to do in Scotland in spring for you. Stick to these fun springtime recommendations, and there’s no doubt you’ll have an amazing time exploring this gorgeous corner of the United Kingdom!

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The 10 Best Things to Do in Scotland in the Spring

1. Walk the Ramparts of Edinburgh Castle

Best Things to do in Scotland in Spring: Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh is glorious in spring, and the city’s famous castle is one of the best places to visit in Scotland at this time of year. It’s particularly lovely when the sun is shining and you can wander the ramparts and enjoy views of the city from the volcanic rock this fortress was built upon. And if it rains, you can just pop inside the National War Museum

Edinburgh Castle can trace its history back to the Iron Age, when Scotland’s earliest inhabitants fortified Castle Rock. Medieval Scottish kings built the castle you see today, and even in the 21st century, the British Army is still stationed here.

It’s a magnificent piece of Scottish history and the perfect place for a springtime excursion!


2. Hike to Arthur’s Seat

Cool Things to do in Scotland in Spring: Arthur’s Seat

Escape Edinburgh with a hike to Arthur’s Seat, where you’ll have incredible views over the capital from the top of the extinct volcano that towers over the city. Arthur’s Seat is one of Edinburgh’s most famous natural landmarks, rising to a height of 250 meters above sea level and offering an expansive panorama for those who make it to the summit.

Situated in Holyrood Park, it’ll take you about 2 hours to get there and back again from Edinburgh’s Royal Mile. It’s a tough but beautiful walk, and in spring, you’ll (hopefully) miss the worst of the weather and see the hillside resplendent with wildflowers as the sun starts to shine on Arthur’s Seat. 


3. Tour through Glasgow’s Pollok Country Park

Unique Things to do in Scotland in Spring: Pollok Country Park

A visit to the nation’s largest city is one of the must-do things in Scotland in spring, and you’ll love seeing the cherry blossoms in Blythswood Square and Glasgow Green. But the best place to visit is Pollok Country Park, where Glasgow’s greatest public space is shaking off the cold of winter and springing back into life. 

This is the city’s largest green area, with 146 hectares of woodlands, parkland, and gardens to explore. Take a stroll through Pollok Country Park, hit the mountain biking trails, and bring a picnic when the sun is out. 

And if it rains, then you can duck into The Burrell Collection, a magnificent museum housing the vast collection of antiquities, artwork, and oddities amassed by Sir William Burrell in the 19th and 20th centuries. 


4. Hike in Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park

Fun Things to do in Scotland in Spring: Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park

A visit to Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park is one of the coolest things to do in spring Scotland. Located just 45 minutes north of Glasgow, in March and April you’ll not only escape the summer crowds, but you can beat a hasty retreat to the city if the weather isn’t cooperating. 

Protecting around 720 square miles of Scottish lochs, glens, and highland scenery, there are endless opportunities for hiking in this national park. The West Highland Way, John Muir Way, and the Rob Roy Way all pass through the region, and there are countless Munros to bag, including Ben Lomond, which rises to a height of 974 meters above sea level. 


5. Stargaze in Galloway International Dark Sky Park

Scotland in Spring Bucket List: Stargazing

The days might be getting longer, but the skies are still dark in Scotland, and spring is an excellent time for a spot of stargazing. One of the best places to visit in Scotland in spring is the Galloway International Dark Sky Park, where, on a clear night, you’ll be awed by the sight of the Milky Way. 

This dark sky reserve in southwest Scotland is far from any light pollution, and Galloway Forest Park – which is also home to woodland, lochs, and wildlife – is a popular stargazing spot. Dark Sky Rangers run tours in the areas, or you can book a campsite, turn off the lights, and just take in the night sky. 


6. Drive the North Coast 500

Must do things in Scotland in Spring: North Coast 500

The North Coast 500 is one of the top things to do in Scotland, and there’s no better time of year to tackle this spectacular road trip than spring. The NC500 offers just over 500 miles of epic driving in Scotland’s far north, starting and ending in Inverness, the nation’s most northerly city. 

The circular route takes in the best of the Northern Highlands, including the Applecross Peninsula, Ullapool, the Castle of Mey, Thurso, John O’ Groats, and more. You’ll visit crumbling castles, sandy beaches, and dramatic lochs while camping out, staying in quaint bed and breakfasts, and stopping in a fair few distilleries along the way. 

This is one of Scotland’s most popular sightseeing attractions, to the point where summers are just unenjoyable on the NC500. That makes March and April the perfect time to beat the traffic, as long as you don’t mind a few rainy days of driving. 


7. Have a Wee Dram at a Distillery

What to do in Scotland in Spring: Distillery

You can’t visit Scotland without visiting a distillery, and even if you don’t drink, it’s still worth stopping off at some of the best distilleries in Scotland to learn about the fascinating history of Scotch whisky. In spring, you’re going to need a few rainy-day activities on the itinerary, and we recommend saving a distillery tour for when the clouds burst. 

The Scots have perfected whisky distillation as an art form, and there are an incredible number of distilleries to visit. In Edinburgh, there’s Johnnie Walker Princes Street and the Scotch Whisky Experience, which are perfect for amateur whisky lovers. 

In Glasgow, you’ve got the Clydeside Distillery and Auchentoshan Distillery, and way up north, you’ve got the Wolfburn Distillery in Thurso, the Glen Moray Distillery in Speyside, and the Dalwhinnie Distillery in the Highlands. Each region has its own unique blends, and the Scottish isles are renowned for world-famous brands like Jura, Talisker, and Arran. 


8. Ride the Hogwarts Express

Scotland in Spring Thigns to do: Hogwarts Express

Scotland is home to one of the world’s most scenic railways, and spring is the best time to beat the crowds to the best seats on the train. The Jacobite Steam Train – better known as the Hogwarts Express for its starring role in the “Harry Potter” movies – is a heritage railway that takes travelers from Fort William westwards to Mallaig. 

You’ll depart in the shadow of Ben Nevis before enjoying scenic views from the window as you traverse 41 miles of the West Highland Line, including the beautiful Glenfinnan Viaduct. You can make the return journey on the same day, or hang out on the west coast in Mallaig. 


9. Go on Safari in Shetland

Best Things to do in Scotland in Spring: Shetland

Closer to Oslo than it is to Edinburgh, Shetland is the most northerly landmass in the United Kingdom. This remote archipelago can be reached by plane or ferry, and in spring, the islands are shaking off the winter darkness and bursting into life. 

Brave the rough crossing from either Aberdeen or Orkney, and you’ll be rewarded with a destination that’s super quiet in spring. The summer crowds are still far off, and you’d have to be crazy to enjoy the cold winter weather and high winds!

But at this time of year, wildflowers are blooming, the days are getting longer and longer, and “Voar” (as Shetlanders call spring, in their unique dialect) is the perfect time to spot wildlife, including seals, otters, and orcas. 


10. Escape the Summer Crowds on the Isle of Skye 

Best Things to do in Scotland in Spring: Isle of Skye

Most travelers plan a trip to the Isle of Skye in summer, when the days are long and the weather’s at its warmest. But wrap up warm and you’ll find that actually, spring can be the best time to explore Scotland’s most famous island, not least because you’ll escape the summer crowds. 

Fairy glens and rugged mountain slopes are bursting with wildflowers as spring arrives, while waterfalls are at bursting point, too, as the winter ice begins to melt. Misty cliffs are perfect for a moody springtime walk, while iconic sights like the Old Man of Storr, Dunvegan Castle, and the Quiraing are suitably steeped in mystery, and drizzle, this time of year. 

The Isle of Skye is connected to the mainland by the Skye Bridge, so there’s no need to brave rough ferry crossings. And if the rain doesn’t let up, you can always spend your vacation in the Talisker Distillery!

There you have it! The best things to do in Scotland in spring. What’s your favorite thing to do in Scotland at this time of year?


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Author

  • Richard Collett

    Richard is an award-winning travel writer based in Southwest England who’s addicted to traveling off the beaten track. He’s traveled to 75 countries and counting in search of intriguing stories, unusual destinations, and cultural curiosities.

    Richard loves traveling the long way round over land and sea, and you’ll find him visiting quirky micronations and breakaway territories as often as he’s found lounging on a beach (which is a lot).

    When he’s not writing for BBC Travel, National Geographic, or Lonely Planet, you can find Richard writing for the Wandering Wheatleys or updating his off-beat travel blog, Travel Tramp.

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