If you’re coming to Scotland from abroad, you’ve probably done your research on the weather situation. It’s no secret that Scotland isn’t the sunniest of vacation destinations. In fact, according to the most recent surveys, rain occurs for over 250 days of the year in the Highlands, and around 175 days further south.
We’ll be the first to say that, if you’re hiring a motorhome in Scotland for a week or more, you might get damp on occasion. But does that mean you can’t enjoy your motorhome holiday? Of course not. Here’s how – and why – you can still enjoy Scotland in the rain.
Why Scotland is a Rainy Paradise
Let’s start with the why. Unlike many other locations, the scenery of Scotland comes alive in the rain. In the Highlands, for instance, the most beautiful time to take in the views is just after a rainstorm, when the mountains sparkle with water, and dozens of tiny waterfalls begin rushing through the rocks and over the cliffs.
In cities like Edinburgh and Glasgow, the rain can make the streets glow with colour and character. Cobbled paths will reflect light from the old, Victorian streetlamps, and the ancient buildings and graveyards will teem with an atmosphere unlike anything you’ve experienced before. With moody skies and liquid sunshine, this country can take on a whole new form, becoming wild, rugged, but beautiful, and full of a personality that is impossible to resist.
What to Do When it Rains
But, hey, we’re not kidding ourselves! We know that most motorhome travellers in Scotland would prefer to be travelling in the basking sunshine, rather than the tipping-down rain. And you know what? You probably will. Sure, the statistics say one thing, but we’ve been based in Edinburgh for several years now, and the weather is often glorious. Seriously. That being said, it can rain. So, what exactly can you do to deal with the situation?
- First Off, Pay Attention to the Weather App
The best advice we can give to newbies in Scotland is that the weather app is your best friend. Use it! The best weather apps can let you know a whole week in advance if you’re going to be facing long spells of rain, so be flexible with your itinerary and try to find places that will avoid the downfall.
- Take the Weather Into Account Before You Make Your Itinerary
Speaking of your itinerary, if you really hate the rain, then take it into account before your itinerary is made. The reason Scotland can be rainy is because the bad weather rolls in from the Atlantic Ocean, and because Scotland lies unprotected, this weather hits the country with far greater force.
This ocean, however, sits on Scotland’s west coast, where the Highland mountains trap the rain and allow it to brew. For those who really want to avoid the rain, then, travelling Scotland’s east coast is going to be a far drier experience, even when it comes down to the cities. Is it a toss-up between Edinburgh and Glasgow? Edinburgh receives 50% less rain than its western counterpart, so choose Edinburgh!
- Pack the Right Equipment
You’re in a motorhome, so already you’re 100% better prepared than most travellers in Scotland! While other holidaymakers will be braving the rain to reach their hotel, your hotel will be carried with you wherever you go, providing ample warmth and comfort even in the stormiest of nights.
That being said, you should still pack appropriate rainy equipment. This includes a raincoat, thick trousers, woolly hats, gloves, hiking boots, hand warmers, hot water bottles, extra pairs of socks, towels, the lot! If you’re well prepared to do a little exploring in the rain, then the chances are it’s never going to become a problem.
- Make a Bad Weather List
Another way you can be prepared for the rain is by making a specific ‘bad weather list’. This should cover every location you’re planning to visit, with a few great indoor activities that you can turn to if the rain starts to fall.
In Edinburgh, for instance, you might be planning to explore Prince’s Street Gardens, climb Arthur’s Seat, or take in the views at the top of Edinburgh Castle. But if the weather is terrible, you can turn to backup activities like visiting Camera Obscura, wandering through the Surgeons Hall Museum, or trying some local favourites at the Scottish Whisky Experience.
It’s impossible to pack everything into a trip to Edinburgh — and every one of these activities is as good as the other — so it’s not like you’ll be missing out on anything. Of course, this ‘bad weather list’ becomes a little harder outside of cities and towns. But this brings us nicely to our last point.
- Embrace the Rainy Life!
There’s an old Japanese proverb that says, ‘rain is only a problem if you don’t want to get wet’. This is exactly the attitude you should embrace if you’re visiting Scotland in 2024. It might be rainy from time to time, but who cares?
We mentioned before about travelling the east coast rather than the west coast to avoid the rain. And this is true. But think about all the beautiful locations you’ll miss if you do that. Loch Ness, the Isle of Skye, Glasgow, Oban, Sandwood Bay – all of these places are quintessential Scottish spots that would be such a shame to miss out on just because of a little water!
The Japanese proverb is a good proverb to live by, but we’re also reminded of another saying, taken from legendary British author Alfred Wainwright. In his words, ‘there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing’. And honestly, we couldn’t have put it better ourselves!