Wondering what to wear in Scotland? The country’s weather is pretty notorious so it’s only natural that the question of what to pack for Scotland comes up a lot. With that in mind, you should be prepared as you’ll end up spending much of your time in Scotland outside enjoying its beautiful cities and breathtaking landscapes.
Scotland is brimming with old walking paths, ancient mountains, deep lakes, winding roads, rocky coastlines, castles, millions of sheep, barrels of whisky, and charming towns it’s the perfect place to lose yourself. It should be no surprise that Scotland is one of our favorite countries in the world. It’s more or less the big brother to Ireland with grander landscapes, prettier cities, more history, and one hell of a culture — kilts and bagpipes are awesome.
Don’t let any poor weather deter you though, there’s no bad weather in Scotland, just the wrong clothes. We’re here to help you out about what to wear in Scotland with our packing list.
What should you pack for Scotland?
There are a number of staple items that I would recommend everyone bring for their trip to Scotland. I’ve been a long time preacher of functionality and packing clothes that can serve multiple purposes. The right outfit can handle just about any environment or weather. Scotland is well known for its wild weather and that will play a large role in what you throw in your backpack or suitcase. We’ve seen some of the craziest wind and rain of our lives in the Scottish Highlands and that should be expected on an extended trip to Scotland.
We all know how to layer with clothing, but in Scotland, it’s crucial to a successful trip. Layers are not usually the most fashionable thing to wear; however, Scots are well known for being laid back and decent clothing will be totally acceptable in the big cities or hiking in the Highlands. When it comes to Scottish outfits and what to wear the vast majority of Scotland is very down to earth and simple wardrobe choices will feel right at home. There is always the odd exception like a night out in Edinburgh, a fine meal in a castle, or an international festival.
It’s often said of the weather in Scotland that you can receive all four seasons in just one day. In the morning it can be sunny and hot, but by noon it can be a cold rain with a strong wind and perhaps even hail. This might make your head explode when packing for your trip to Scotland, but if you keep it simple you’ll travel with no fuss. Travelers to Scotland will spend the majority of their time in Scotland wearing a sweater, jeans, and a pair of boots
In this post, we’ll share with you some packing suggestions and what to wear in Scotland. You’ll have some pictures for outfit inspirations and suggestions to some of our favorite travel products. At the end, you should be able to build your own packing list for Scotland. Then finally we’ll share some of our favorite tips for traveling in Scotland.
What to Wear in Scotland?
What to Pack for Scotland: Essential Items
If there is one article of clothing made for travel in Scotland it’s the wool sweater. Sweaters can make a great travel outfit staple. They’re comfortable, stylish, and warm. It doesn’t matter the season either as most of Scotland is temperate and remains cool year round. This means comfortable day time temperatures during the day and chilly evenings in the summer.
I have a number of sweaters, but my favorites are from organic materials like wool or Alpaca. It’s even become my favorite travel souvenir and I treasure my Scottish wooland Peruvian Alpacasweaters. Ever since then we’ve been living out of them in the Faroe Islands, Iceland, and Ireland.
Scotland has some terrific wool and sweater producers, but it may take a bit of digging. We purchased wool sweaters from independent retailers in Scotland, but good ones weren’t easy to find. In recent years we’ve found that the major tourist shops often sell cheap Chinese versions. Of course, you can still find a great sweater at home. I love this recycled one from Patagonia, one of our favorite outdoor brands.
T-Shirt or V Neck
A classic tee will never go out of style. We suggest sticking with solid colors like black, white, or grey. There’s also the option of a v neck for a more stylish look, but it all depends on personal preference.
A simple base layer like a t-shirt, v neck, or even a thermal is perfect to keep you warm and comfortable. Hiking on a sunny day in the Scottish highlands can be quite warm and we found ourselves shedding layers often.
Keep it simple when it comes to tees. No one needs a fancy designer tee as a base layer. Cameron prefers the grey as it’s super easy to stain the white ones. T-shirts are cheap and we like order new pack before each trip as old shirts look slobbish.
Underlayers are the closest layer to your body and maintain your body heat. When we reference thermals this includes long sleeved thermals and underwear. I always wear quality baselayers when active in cold temperatures. It is a wee bit chilly in Scotland from about late September to April and thermals will certainly help with your layering.
We’ve tried a few different brands, but recently settled on Kora as our favorite pair of thermals. It may be best for us as we need something technical when we snowboard or climb mountains to wick away moisture from our bodies. Kora makes high-performance technical clothing out of quality Yak Wool from the Himalayas — warning they are high priced.
For base layers we recommend they fit snug are made from a non cotton material like nylon or wool. We’ve had a lot of baselayer, but our favorites are wool based layers from Helly Hansen, Smartwool, Black Diamond, and the yak wool from Kora.
Flannel shirts are great mid layers for both men and women. They provide warmth and go well with vests. Most of Scotland is a very relaxed place and with a flannel or sweater you’ll right at home sipping a whisky in the local pub.
This is a travel staple and a great wardrobe choice for both women and men traveling in Scotland. They act as an accessory to your outfit and they’re super comfortable giving you an added layer of warmth. Scotland is known for its windy days so the scarf is wonderful at protecting your neck.
Scarves are especially great for travelers: They can spice up an outfit that you’ve already worn three days in a row and can be thrown into a bag or purse to pull out when the sun sets and the weather gets chilly.
Right after you pack your wool sweater reach for a rain jacket. If we were taking bets we’d make a strong wager you’ll see some rain during your trip to Scotland, it doesn’t get that green without plenty of rain.
You’re going to need an Scottish raincoat or jacket. No matter the season a rain jacket is always essential for traveling to Europe (and the rest of the world). We both have rain jackets made by Kathmandu and Patagonia. They are lightweight, durable, packable, waterproof, and windproof. Any rain jacket will do, but the top dollar ones will hold up and really help in inclement weather.
If you don’t plan on spending all your time outdoors and prefer cities a trench coat is a solid choice. A trench coat is perfect for those looking to maintain style while dodging puddles.
There are only a few travel items I recommend everyone have and one of them is the down jacket. A down jacket is one of those staples and it’s tremendously versatile.
We always recommend you always bring a great packable down jacket on just about any extended trip. With a destination like Scotland it’s a great way to keep warm without eating up too much space in your luggage.
Jeans go with anything, and despite the notion, they are “American” casual the right pair is attractive. The Scots, for the most part do not care what you wear, but showing up to the pub in a damp outdoor wear is a no go.
I see jeans everywhere I travel as well, and it’s definitely not just Americans wearing them. You’ll find plenty of Scots in well-cut jeans, but nothing baggy or ripped.
We stick with the classic look in jeans. That means fitted jeans that are a dark color. No fades, light blues, or rips! That would be the Levi’s 511 for men and 721 for women.
Technical pants like these are water resistant and dry quickly, not to mention they’re comfortable on long walks. Traditionally these pants were pretty ugly, but now times are changing and pants are looking similar to chinos or khakis. If you plan to spend some time outside in the Scottish countryside I would suggest adding these to your Scottish attire.
For women, Tasha likes a pair of hiking pants made by prAna that roll into capris. For men, prAna makes the Stretch Zion Pant, a tremendous pair of hiking pants for a reasonable price. Here are some other great travel pantsfor an international trip.
If you’re spending time in Edinburgh I’d suggest you have some clothes that are appropriate for city exploring. A pair of chinos works on both sexes. It’s a classic look that when combined with a sweater that works well in Scotland. I always pack a pair of these pants in my bag!
Men should opt for more neutral colors like grey, blue, brown or green, but you can break the trend with a deep red, white, or even pink. Women can never go wrong with white, yellow, beige, or light pastel colors.
Hitting the sidewalk and letting the city or Scottish town unfurl around you is one of the best ways to get familiar with a new destination. A comfortable pair of shoes for both men and women are essential when packing your bag for Scotland. However, I wouldn’t recommend packing those terrible clunky hiking shoes or athletic shoes many tourists like to bring.
Europeans are not opposed to sneakers just trainers outside of the gym, so opting for a pair of casual Vans is great. These old school skate shoes have a great look to them that will keep your feet comfortable and look great with a pair of jeans or chinos. Considering most of the Scotland’s towns and cities are made to be walked around be prepared to spend a lot of time in them.
These are great all year round as you can never go wrong with a pair of leather boots. Women can wear them with a pair of chinos and a blouse while men can pair them with just about anything from jeans, chinos, and even a suit.
It’s wet and boggy in Scotland and you can expect a lot of rainy weather so packing a pair of good hiking bootsfor hikes is crucial for protecting your feet. Locals like to wear “Wellies” or Wellington Boots which are big rubber boots. We were fine in a decent pair of boots because we stayed off farms and the really deep stuff.
I’m a leather boot fiend and love a classic boot. If you’re looking for the best boots for Scotland check out an affordable option like Clark’s or Timberland for leather boots. However, if you want quality and boots to last a lifetime check out Chippewa, Danner, or Red Wings boots all manufactured by hand in the United States.
We’ve learned to love our feet with a good pair of socks. You will want to keep your feet nice and dry while you walk around. Most importantly wool socks stay fresh for several days as they have natural antimicrobial properties.
We travel with a couple pairs of the Darn Tough Merino socks and our feet have never felt cold or wet. As a bonus, they’re produced in Vermont!
Despite preconceived notions Scotland does occasionally have sunny days. It’s important if you’re driving to in Scotlandto have a pair sunglasses. There are a lot of options for sunglasses and everyone should own at least a pair. It’s best to make sure they do have UV protection for the health of your eyes.
We made our first investment in quality polarized sunglasses with a pair of SMITH Optics Lowdown 2. Truthfully, not everyone needs to invest $150 in a pair of sunglasses; however, we love ours and will never buy cheap ones again. Of course, there are always more affordable options!
You’ll need something to stash your photography gear, hand sanitizers, papers, phones, and anything else that you need for a full day out when traveling. Saddleback Leather makes some of the best quality backpacks – hands down and fantastic for Scotland. They aren’t cheap by any means, but they are quality.
Saddleback Leather even ensures their products with a 100-year warranty. They only use sturdy materials on their bags including full grain leather, pigskin lining, and marine grade polyester thread.
We always recommend bringing a travel towel when you’re on the road, Scotland is no exception. If you plan on staying in hostels or more budget accommodation you’ll often need your own towel. Consider a towel an essential for your Scotland packing list.
The biggest complaint about travel towels is that they often feel nothing like the plush cotton towels we are accustomed to at home and in hotels. However, with the PackTowl you can forget about all of that because they set out to create a towel that mimics its cotton counterparts with the technical features of a travel towel.
What Women Should Wear in Scotland
If you want a stylish look that will keep you warm I’d suggest picking up a peacoat. A peacoat is great for providing warmth and looking great, perfect for a day of exploring Edinburgh While we love our down jackets for their warmth and convenience they aren’t the best looking things in the world and you’d look pretty silly wearing one with a dress or suit.
Long Sleeve Cardigan
This is one of my favorite items to wear in Scotland. A cardigan has a great relaxed style and look plus it keeps you warm. They’re also light enough to eat up minimal room in the suitcase. I pack one during any season in Scotland as it be combined with a coat in winter, and it’s rarely too warm in the summer.
While the Scots dress casual they are still presentable in public. You’ll see most women will wear a nice dress shirt, blouse, or sweater on cooler days. Should you get the rare warm summer day they’ll definitely bust out the summer dress.
Most women should shy away from graphic tees or short sleeve shirts instead use a light blouse for the day to day. It’s a perfect item to wear in the summer as the right blouse is super cool and comfortable.
This all depends on the season, but in the spring or summer a pair of capris are perfect for Scotland. Women gravitate towards light colors or earthy tones during this time so go with a pastel or brown colored capri.
Rompers are probably one of my favorite travel outfits because they’re stylish, comfortable, and practical. You really can’t go wrong here and I’d suggest throwing at least one or two rompers in your suitcase for Scotland. They’re great for a night out on the town in Edinburgh or Glasgow and surprisingly great for Scottish attire.
Make sure to pack a nice black dress for nights out. It’s a travel staple and takes up almost no room in your suitcase.
A pair of black flats is always great to have in a suitcase. They’re stylish comfortable and they take up minimal space in your luggage. My tip, stay away from heels on your day to day as many Scottish towns have cobblestone streets and you don’t want to break an ankle trying to look good. Just let the locals impress you with their skills of walking in heels.
Scotland is, for the most part, an unpretentious affair (we spent the vast majority of our time in hiking boots). If you plan on spending any time in Edinburgh you’ll likely want a decent pair of dress shoes or casual shoes. We have a whole post on women’s travel shoesfor the ladies!
No need for push up bras when you’re active. I always bring a few pairs of sports bras when I’m traveling. It’s easy to forget bringing a sports bra as you might not be headed to the gym, but they’re tremendous for active days. I love this one from Patagonia as it provides support in a more a subtle cut.
What Men Should Wear in Scotland
I’d look pretty ridiculous wearing a T-shirt or a flannel out to a nice meal in a castle or estate. Men should pack at least one or two dress shirts for a trip to Scotland. I like to stick with a classic color like blue or white that will never go out of style. If not in a casual sweater I find most Scots men can be found in a nice dress shirt often with a tie after work it’s a classic look with the cuffs rolled up.
I recently ordered a new selection of shirts and ties from the Tie Barand so far I’ve loved my clothes. All stylish, nice quality, and affordable. Plus their online website makes it easy to order a new wardrobe with suggestions for what matches and inspirations for outfits.
A henley is a great clothing choice for Scotland. It’s lightweight yet provides some warmth from the wind and it’s more appropriate than a long sleeve graphic shirt or technical clothing.
A technical long sleeve shirt looks great and is typically well constructed. You should look for a nice blend of synthetic materials that allow for quick drying. A long sleeve shirt like this allows for greater comfort moving from chilly mornings into warm days. It’s a great travel shirt as it avoid wrinkles, resist stains, and looks better than relaxed tee.
It’s a good shoe to have in the summer as the right pair can be worn with a low cut sock that shows ankle for a more relaxed look. It’s perfect for a night out while you listen to live music or you can go with those leather boots I love.
You won’t look out of place in Scotland with a suit and for that matter the greater Europe. Whether standing at a cafe bar, sipping cocktails in Copenhagen, sitting down for a fantastic meal on the Isle of Skye, or catching a show at the Paris Opera there is no denying it’s best done in a suit. Check out these options from Perry Ellis.
The right watch is the perfect accessory for men. I’m not a fan of big gold watches and find them to be overstated. Opt for something more stylish and modern like this leather and silver watch.
As a plus, they’ll match a pair of brown boots lending to more versatility in everyday life. I just picked up this one from Michael Kors and think it’s a perfect blend between casual and formal.
Electronics To Pack For Scotland
You will definitely need an adaptor for your electronics on your packing list for Scotland. We always keep one handy in our carry-on bags, that way we can charge electronics on arrival or at the airport.
You’ll need the British “Type G” three prong adaptor for the United Kingdom.
A high-quality camera is an important packing item for Scotland if you want some great shots while on your vacation We travel with a bunch of cameras, but the one we universally recommend is the RX 100.
They make a number of models at different price points, but it’s a simple to use point-and-shoot camera that anyone can operate. It also takes superb images with a 20mp resolution and full manual controls.
While I love having a good real book when I travel sometimes it’s just not practical because of the weight. I’ve recently switched to a Kindle Paperwhite which is small and compact, plus it has a backlight for reading at night without a harsh glare.
Many of the big tourist sites have self-guided tours. Like the Museums and UNESCO World Heritage Sites, I find it’s always nice to have your own personal earbuds to stick into your ear for these tours. No one wants to stick dirty headphones over their head or use disposable ones that you’ll toss away after, just wasteful.
I love traveling with a power bank to make sure my phone never dies. The majority of the time I don’t need to use it on long flights as some of the nicer airlines provide entertainment systems with USB ports! We also make sure to find a charging point during layovers, but getting to a new city without your hotel reservations and map can be a major pain in the ass.
Accessories For Scotland
As Lonely Planet Pathfinders who regularly go on assignment for the guidebook company we love to have a physical guidebook when traveling. We spend enough time attached to our phones in everyday life and planning our trips.
Once we reach a destination like Greece we put the phone away and pick up a guidebook to help with our trip.
We’ve suffered through enough red-eye flights to never forget to pack a travel pillow for international flights. My favorite travel pillow is the Cabeau Evolution Pillow, but we break down more of our favorite travel pillows here.
Packing cubes are great for any backpack or suitcase. They keep all of your clothes and toiletries organized. I’ve had these Eagle Creek cubes for three years now and think they were worth the investment to stay organized and create space in my luggage.
For the women, I suggest traveling with a theft-proof purse that is blackand stylish to hold belongings. Cameron has a great passport walletthat holds his passport and credit cards so he never leaves it anywhere.
These are small but essential travel necessities for Scotland as they can be crucial to your sleep. Whether you’re flying in business class, sleeping in a hostel, or in the cabin of a ferry a good pair of earplugs will help you sleep. You also never know if you may have noisy neighbors, have a room on the ground floor, or a train passes by in the middle of the night.
Hanging Toiletry Bag
It’s always a good idea to keep your toiletries organized and separated from your clothes. So we love always travel with a toiletry bag; however, Scottish bathrooms can be cramped and small. If you are limited on counter space a great option is to buy a hanging toiletry bag. This style of bag tends to a have better organization system with a variety of sections for storage than the traditional option.
You Need This To Travel in Scotland!
We never travel without travel insurance with World Nomads. Natasha is a bit of a worry wart and would rather stay safe than sorry. World Nomads offers incredible flexible and great plans!
You never know if the worse could happen while you’re abroad and often your insurance plan at home will not cover medical emergencies abroad. Having the peace of mind that we have a good backup plan helps us sleep at night.
What Not to Wear in Scotland?
This shouldn’t need to be said, but please do not wear a fanny pack it’s 2019
We touched on this earlier, but it should be noted that athletic clothes are meant for the gym or being active. Walking around in a pair of athletic shorts, tank top, or running shoes is frowned upon by most Irish. Don’t get me wrong you can wear what you want when it’s hot out, but you’ll be instantly pegged for being a tourist.
For the most part you’ll find shorts on very few Irish, as in almost none. That being said attitudes are changing and with global warming I’m sure they’ll warm up to the idea, pun intended.
White Athletic Socks
Europeans do not wear white socks. Try to wear patterns, black socks, or to match your socks to your pants.
Packing For Scottish Weather
Scotland is a tiny country; however, regions can vary greatly in weather conditions between short distances. It all has to do with the notoriously unpredictable weather in Scotland. A common Scottish phrase that continues to be reiterated is “There’s no such thing as bad weather, just the wrong clothing” As we’ve said you can experience all four seasons in one day.
What to wear in Scotland in the Spring?
The springtime can be one of the best seasons to visit Scotland as temperatures are mild and range from 7°C (45°F) to 13 °C (55°F). It’s a good time to catch some sun, but showers are still frequent. As always you don’t want to be caught without a rain jacket.
What to wear in Scotland in the Summer?
As should be expected this is the warmest time of year in Scotland. You can expect long summer days as Scotland is extremely high North. Temperatures range on average from 15°C (59°F) to 17°C (63 °F). It’s always a good idea to have some warm weather clothing for outdoor activities during this time.
What to wear in Scotland in the Fall?
Autumn weather is probably the most varied time of year in Scotland and can go from mild and sunny to cold and rainy in a matter of hours. It’s why many people ask us what to wear in Scotland in September. On average temperatures range from 8°C (46°F) to 14°C (57°F).
What to wear in Scotland in the Winter?
Scotland’s weather doesn’t vary all that much considering how far North the country is located. In the winter time, the average temperature high floats around 5°C (41°F) just above freezing. Snow does fall, but it’s mild in most of the low-lying areas of Scotland. The highlands do receive snow in the higher elevations.
A Few Tips For Your Scotland Trip
When is the Best Time to Visit Scotland?
In my opinion, the best times to visit Scotland are April, May, and September – but it all depends on what you want! June-August is high season, but it is also summer in Scotland and the cities are buzzing with locals and tourists alike. It’s also the best chance for sunny weather in Scotland.
However, my personal favorite time to travel Scotland is during the fall months. It’s during September when you get the last of summer and beautiful products in season the cherry on top is that tourism is slowing down.
Freedom to Roam
One thing to know when you take your trip to Scotland is there is no such thing as trespassing. Everyone has the right to roam along the countryside, including farms. The“freedom to roam” is the public’s right to access public or privately owned land for recreation.
This doesn’t include houses, gardens, or military bases, so don’t go squatting on someone’s porch, but it does allow people to enjoy the land and inland water for their own well being. The only stipulation is that you must do so responsibly and safely.
So, mind the sheep and close the gate!
Just a Wee Drink
There are two things you need to know about the people of Scotland. They are some of the friendliest people on earth and they like to drink. Don’t be surprised when you hear the classic line “oh, it’s just a wee drink” or “how ’bout a wee dram o’ whisky.”
Although, Scotch is of national pride and an amazing spirit it is not what the Scottish drink every day. The most popular drink these days is gin and beer. So, we got to make friends and relive our days of African safariwith some gin & tonics.
What To Wear in Scotland Summary
It’s best not to forget things like medications, toiletries, and any other personal items that you yourself might need when you travel. However this is a general Scotland packing list for all to go off of.
Remember that Scotland isn’t the end of the world, and if you forget something it’s likely you’ll be able to find it when you get there.
Enjoy your trip! Sláinte!
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