Traveling to Scotland in January 2024 | Is it Worth It?

Winter in Scotland is always a gamble when it comes to weather, and any traveler needs to be prepared for any possible outcome. If you are thinking of traveling to Scotland in January and want to know what to expect from the Scottish winter weather, what to pack, important dates/holidays happening that month, and, in general, whether Scotland is worth the visit during one of the most unpredictable months of the season, then keep reading this post

Weather in January

scotland in january

Scotland in January is usually quite windy and rainy, especially in the southern part of the country. On some special occasions, it can also be snowy. If you are looking for a proper winter experience with snow and blizzards, then I would highly suggest not staying in the capital and heading straight up North to the Highlands. The average temperature during this season in the cities is between 7 and 2 °C, depending on where you are. The further towards the mountains you go, the colder it will get.

What to Pack?

Since January weather in Scotland can be unpredictable, it is important to be ready for anything. What you need to pack will really depend on your plans. If you are thinking of spending lots of time outdoors, in nature or in the mountains, be prepared for harsh weather conditions. Pack waterproof boots, warm jackets, thermal clothes, hats, thick socks, gloves, and a scarf—everything you need to withstand heavy Scottish winds and rains.

If you are mainly planning to stay in cities like Edinburgh and Glasgow and spend lots of time indoors, I would suggest layering your clothes. This way, when it gets too warm, you can easily take things off without needing to roast like a turkey. Don’t forget your umbrella, or even better, a waterproof poncho that you can easily put on/take off whenever it’s needed. Be prepared properly, as you would not want to destroy your Scottish experience by wearing inappropriate clothes and freezing all day.

As a reference, here is a picture of me and how I would dress if I were going for a several-hour walk around the city.

Important Dates and Events

January in Scotland is relatively a slow, quiet month. People are “sobering up” after Christmas and New Year, and the city calms down from the tourist crowds. Yet, there are some important dates in January that I would love to mention in this article.

Hogmanay (31.12 – 01.01) – New Year celebration. Most places will be closed or working part-time hours, with limited availability of transportation. Need more information on Hogmanay? Then here is another blog post that explains everything you need to know about Scottish New Year.

Up-Helly-Aa (Last Tuesday of January) – A huge, pagan fire festival that marks the end of Yule and takes place in Shetlands. During this day, people march together in a torchlight procession and, in the end, burn a galley. A pretty impressive experience.

Burns Night (25/01) – A day celebrating the most famous Scottish poet, Robert Burns. The typical Burns Night celebration involves eating haggis, reading R. Burns poetry, dancing, and singing. The celebration is pretty big in Scotland, so if you have a chance, definitely try to experience it in a proper manner.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Visiting Scotland in January

We’ve discussed the weather, what to pack, and the events to expect, so let’s now examine the advantages and disadvantages of visiting Scotland in January.

I like finding positive things around me, so I’ll start with January’s advantages:

  • Low Season: Traveling and accommodation are cheaper (perfect for those on a budget. By the way, I have an article about how to stay on budget when traveling in Scotland; check it out!)
  • Less Crowds
  • Beautiful Winter Scenery and Nature: Especially if you can get outside the city and visit some countryside.
  • Possibility of Seeing Northern Lights: Even in the capital, although chances are quite low.
  • Winter Sports: Such as skiing and snowboarding.

Now, let’s look at the disadvantages:

  • Unpredictable Weather: (Once, I ended up opening my umbrella over ten times in two hours).
  • Shorter Days: You don’t get much sunlight. It can go for a few days without the sun coming out.
  • Tricky Winter Driving: You have to be extra careful.
  • Mountain Trekking Recommended Only for Very Experienced Hikers

To conclude (Scotland in January)

If you are looking for a nice, quiet winter break and you don’t mind rain, then Scotland in January is the place to go. My mum always used to say, “It’s not about the weather, but the clothes you wear.” Scotland offers so many different activities, both outdoors and indoors, for families or single travelers. I am sure you will find plenty of things to do no matter which season you choose to come. Enjoy winter and have a safe journey.

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