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What To Wear in Scotland: Complete Scotland Packing List

What To Wear in Scotland: Complete Scotland Packing List

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Wondering what to wear in Scotland for your trip? I’ve created this guide for you so you know exactly what to pack, whether you decide to visit during summer, spring, autumn or winter! I’ve also included links to clothing and products I personally wear and use all year round in Scotland. Read on to learn everything about what to pack for a trip to Scotland!

Knowing what to pack for a trip to Scotland is important for anyone visiting the land of lochs, bagpipes and haggis.

It can also be quite daunting! I completely get it; after planning my first trip to Scotland I was slightly terrified to step on Scottish soil.

The Scots love to analyse the weather. And they love to complain about it. The weather is such a popular topic in Scotland that it can sound terrifying for non-Scottish folk.

Before I moved to Scotland I was living on a ski hill in Canada where temperatures dropped below -30°C [that’s -22°F] so I thought I’d be well equipped coming to Scotland.

Was I? Kind of- but to be honest, Scotland’s weather is nothing like I’ve ever experienced.

Now before you start panicking, don’t worry! I’ve got your back.

I am used to dressing for the weather here. Read on for my personal recommendations for what to pack for a trip to Scotland!

I’ve also created a packing list for Scotland printable that includes everything you need in your suitcase! You can find it at the conclusion of this article.

Read on to discover how to pack for Scotland like a local.

This is the fifth article in my Planning A Trip to Scotland series. To read the first article in the series, click here. To receive all the articles in this series by email, you can sign up here.

What to pack for a trip to Scotland

packing list scotland

Hanging out in my backyard on a cool autumn day

Scotland packing list essentials

  • Travel insurance. First on my Scotland packing list of essentials is travel insurance. I personally use World Nomads as my travel insurance provider. You don’t have to go with them, however, just make sure you get travel insurance with good cover!
  • UK Travel Adapter. Save yourself the hassle and the money by purchasing at least one UK adapter online. There is nothing more annoying than arriving in a new country and not being able to charge your devices! Get one that does it all, like the EPICKA International All In One Travel Adapter so you don’t have to purchase a new adapter for every country you visit.
  • Battery pack. A battery pack is another lifesaver because if you’re in Scotland you’re going to be taking a million photos on your phone which dwindles away precious battery life.
  • Water bottle. I love this collapsible water bottle by Vapur. It’s a great lightweight water bottle to travel with, and you can fold it up when you’re not using it. Space saver!
  • Reusable bags. Pack some reusable bags to use for shopping and bring one to use as a laundry bag. Scotland is very plastic conscious and if you don’t bring your own bags to the supermarket or while shopping, you’ll have to pay for one. Save the planet and save some money by bringing your own reusable bags.
  • Mirrorless Camera. I’ve written a blog post about the camera equipment I use– but very briefly, I love my mirrorless Sony A7III. It’s lightweight, shoots 4K video and is one of the best all-round cameras around. I pair it with the Sigma 16mm F1.4 lens for landscape photography and the Sony E 70-210mm zoom lens when travelling.
  • Sunglasses. You’ll need sunglasses, especially during winter when the sun sits low in the sky and can be blinding if you’re driving or walking in its direction!
Scotland packing list

EPICKA International All In One Travel Adapter | Battery packCollapsible water bottleReusable bags | Sony A7 III | Sigma 16mm F1.4 lens | Sony E 70-210mm lens | Ray Ban sunglasses

You can find my favourite clothing items, Scotland books and packing essentials in my Amazon store. These are all items I’ve personally purchased and recommend.

Click here for the USA store

Click here for the UK store

Backpacks for Scotland I recommend

A good quality backpack is always a good idea if you’re travelling in Scotland- especially if you’re planning on spending time exploring the outdoors.

I love Osprey as a brand; their packs are great quality, built with comfort in mind and they’re stylish too.

For a small backpack, I recommend the Osprey Tempest Small 20L Women’s Hiking Backpack.

For something a little bigger, I recommend this Osprey Tempest Medium 30L Women’s Hiking Backpack. This is the pack I have; it’s perfect for a day hike or for spending the day exploring.

Read more: When is the best time to visit Scotland?

best backpacks for scotland

Osprey Small 20L Women’s Backpack | Osprey Medium 30L Women’s Backpack | Osprey Small 22L Men’s Hiking Backpack | Osprey Medium 34L Men’s Hiking Backpack

Optional extras

  • Umbrella. If you pack a good rain jacket, you may not need an umbrella in Scotland. But if the thought of getting even the slightest bit wet bothers you, I suggest you invest in an umbrella when you arrive in Scotland. They sell them at most tourist shops or supermarkets in Scotland.
  • Buff. I recommend bringing a Buff facemask if you’re planning on heading out into the hills or visiting in winter. If you’re at the summit of a hill or mountain and a strong wind kicks in, you’ll be grateful for the protection!
  • Bug repellent. If you’re heading into the highlands during the summer months you’ll want to be well protected against Scotland’s midges and if you’re going hiking you’ll need protection from ticks. I love Smidge– it’s seriously saved me so many times! You can pick a bottle up in most supermarkets or outdoor shops such as Cotswold Outdoor or Tiso.
  • Maps of Scotland. If you’re looking for general area maps, I recommend these three: Northern ScotlandWestern Scotland and Southern Scotland. If you’re going hiking, make sure you stock up on the correct Ordnance Survey maps. You can also buy these maps in most bookstores in Scotland.

Read more: 50+ places on my Scotland bucket list

how to pack for scotland

Buff facemask | Smidge bug repellant | Scotland Maps: Northern ScotlandWestern Scotland and Southern Scotland

Books about Scotland I recommend

Something I recommend that should be on your Scotland packing list is a good book. I’m a self-confessed Scotland book nerd; Scotland’s history is just so fascinating!

If you want to arrive equipped with some knowledge of Scotland, these are some of the best books about Scotland I recommend:

  • Scotland from Prehistory to Present by Fiona Watson. This is a great book if you want to learn about Scotland’s early history through to today.
  • The Highland Clans by Alister Moffat. If you would like to learn more about the Highland clans in Scotland, this book gives a great summary. All of Alister Moffat’s books are fantastic!
  • Bizarre Scotland by David Long. If you want a book that’s short, easy to read, and full of interesting and quirky facts, this is a fantastic book to read before your trip or on the plane. You’ll arrive with tons of random knowledge to impress your travel partner.
  • Witch Light by Susan Fletcher. If you plan on visiting Glencoe and enjoy historical fiction- this book is a must read. It’s about a ‘witch’ living in Glencoe at the time of the Glencoe Massacre. The language is beautifully poetic and you’ll feel as though you’re right there, in the Scottish Highlands of Glencoe.
  • Lonely Planet guide to Scotland. One of my close friends, Kay from The Chaotic Scot, was the main author for the latest Lonely Planet edition for Scotland! She really knows her stuff- especially when it comes to food.
  • North Coast Journey: The Magic of Scotland’s Northern Highlands by Brigid Benson. If you’re visiting the north western highlands or driving the North Coast 500, this is a great book to have. It also makes a good book for your coffee table so you can reminisce about your time in the highlands.

Books for children

  • Horrible Histories: Scotland by Terry Deary. Scotland with all the boring bits left out! I really enjoyed reading this book myself- so this is a fun one to read with your kids. Reading age: 8+
  • The Story of Scotland by Richard Brassey and Stewart Ross. A beautifully illustrated picture book that covers the interesting bits of Scottish history. The reading age for this book is 9-11 years, but still a good book to read to the smaller ones. I read it to my toddler!

Scotland from Prehistory to Present | The Highland Clans | Bizarre Scotland | Horrible Histories Scotland | Witch Light | Lonely Planet guide to Scotland | North Coast Journey: The Magic of Scotland’s Northern Highlands | The Story of Scotland

What to wear in Scotland

The best answer to the question ”How should I dress for Scotland” is to layer. The weather is changeable, and sometimes you can have four seasons in one day!

How much you pack will depend on how long you’re visiting Scotland, and if you’ll have washing facilities available at your accommodation- so I’ll leave this up to you to decide.

These are items that I wear all year round and what I suggest you pack when visiting Scotland for every season.

Scotland Packing List Essentials

  • T-shirts
  • Long sleeve tops. For layering underneath a t-shirt or as a stand-alone.
  • Cardigans. I recommend packing a couple of lightweight and warmer cardigans that can be worn buttoned up or unbuttoned that you can layer over a t-shirt.
  • Sweater/ Hoodie. Something to throw on if it’s cool but not cool enough to wear a big winter jacket, or to throw on at the end of the day when you’re relaxing in your hotel!
  • Gym leggings. I practically live in my gym leggings in Scotland. They’re great for around the house, hiking and exploring, and catching up for a coffee with friends in the city. I love my black leggings from The North Face. They’re incredibly durable [I hiked the length of Scotland in mine and they’re still going strong] and if you do get caught in a shower they will dry quickly. I also love these tights from The Gym People.
  • Jeans. I wear jeans a lot in Scotland. You can dress them up or down; pair skinny jeans with a nice top if you’re going out for dinner or with a t-shirt for casual day attire.
  • Sweatpants/ track pants. I suggest packing a pair of sweatpants to chuck on at the end of the day when you want to relax.
  • Windproof Rain jacket. It’s essential you have a good quality rain jacket when visiting Scotland- you may rely on it a lot! I love my Rab Women’s rain jacket and in my opinion, it’s the best rain jacket for Scotland travel. It’s extremely lightweight and uses stretch Pertex Shield+ fabric, a high-quality fabric that is stretchy and breathable making it a super comfortable and durable rain jacket. It’s great if you’re going hiking and it’s stylish enough to wear in the city too. It’s suitable for all seasons due to its lightness.

Read more: When is the best time to visit Scotland?

What to pack for Scotland for each Season

What to pack for Scotland in Winter (December, January & February)

Average temperature: -5°C (23°F) to 11 °C (51.8°F).

The winter months in Scotland can certainly be chilly! Combine that with rain and wind- well, you need to be prepared. You might get the odd day where the temperature jumps to 15°C, however, winter is the most consistent season in Scotland so expect low temperatures and rain. It usually snows in Scotland from January onwards [more common the further north you go], and a few days of light snow can be expected around January/February in Edinburgh. The daylight hours also drop drastically, leaving you with between just 6 and 8 hours of light.

These are some of the items I love that get me through the winter months:

  • Super warm winter jacket. My duck-down jacket from The North Face is hands down the best investment I’ve ever made. It’s a little longer and covers my bum and thighs, and keeps me snuggly warm in any climate in Scotland. I wear this mostly in winter, late autumn and early spring. My husband loves his Rab Microlight Down Jacket for hiking and outdoor activities in the winter. He’s also a fan of Superdry winter jackets, which are more suited for streetwear or exploring cities and towns.
  • Windproof rain jacket. If your warm winter jacket isn’t waterproof, pack a light outer waterproof shell.
  • A scarf, hat and gloves. I love Barts beanies! I have this unisex beanie. I also love The North Face’s Etip gloves; they are light gloves that allow you to use touchscreen devices while wearing them.
  • Sleepwear. Buildings in Scotland are usually well-insulated, so just pack a pair of cotton long-legged pajamas and a t-shirt, or a long-sleeve if you are a particularly cold sleeper.

Our wardrobe during winter

My typical wardrobe during winter

what to pack for scotland for men during winter

What my husband wears during winter

What to pack for Scotland in Spring (March, April & May)

Temperature: 7°C (45°F) to 13 °C (55°F).

The spring months are my favourite time of the year in Scotland, particularly April and May. While March still resembles winter, the daylight hours are more generous and you’ll start getting your t-shirt days from April. The spring colours are in full force come May, making it the prettiest month in Scotland (in my opinion(. Occasionally you’ll get a little snow in early spring. The key for spring is layering and having a warm winter jacket you can bundle on if the temperature does drop.

Read More: 50 Travel Tips for Scotland

As well as the essentials, you should also pack:

  • Light scarf. Something that is medium weight.
  • Gloves. The North Face Etip gloves are perfect for spring.
  • A chunky and warm cardigan. I like the chunky knits from H&M.
  • A few lighter cardigans or a jersey/hoodie. For when you’re out exploring during the day and it cools down. I live in my Kiwi and Haggis hoodie (not for sale online, and currently only available to purchase from our tour van), but any hoodie will do!
  • A medium jacket. Something a bit warmer to wear at night when it cools down.
  • A midi dress. Great for dressing for the city or going out for dinner.
  • SPF 50 sunscreen. In Scotland, it’s called ‘sun tan lotion’ in case of any confusion!

Our wardrobe during spring

My typical wardrobe during spring

What my husband wears during spring

What to pack for Scotland in Summer (June, July & August)

Temperature: 15°C (59°F) to 17°C (63 °F).

Summer in Scotland can be just as confusing as winter, if not more! Scotland does tend to get a few days per year where the temperature shoots up to 30-33°C [in 2018 and 2019 there were record heat waves in Scotland]. It can also drop right down in temperature, blow a gail and rain!

The sunlight hours are also massive- expect the sun to rise at around 4am and set around 11pm!

As well as the essentials, you should also pack:

  • 2-3 singlets. Great for layering or those hot days we sometimes get!
  • 1-2 pairs of shorts. Bring a couple of pairs of shorts because we sometimes do get temperatures around 30 degrees (86 Fahrenheit).
  • Dress with short sleeves. For exploring the city or going out for dinner. You can always wear some tights underneath if it cools off in the evening.
  • A medium jacket. Something a bit warmer to wear at night when it cools down.
  • SPF 50 Sunscreen. Important at this time of year!

Our wardrobe during summer

My typical wardrobe during summer

What my husband wears during summer

What to pack for Scotland in Autumn (September, October & November)

Temperature: 8°C (46°F) to 14°C (57°F).

Winter and autumn in Scotland are the wettest months, hence why it’s important that you have good waterproofs. Autumn is also one of the prettiest seasons in Scotland, so it’s guaranteed you’ll want to spend some time outside. Daylight hours do start to dwindle, as well as the temperature. It’s a season where you’re likely to add a layer, remove it, add it again, and so on!

As well as the essentials, you should also pack:

  • Light scarf. For travel in September.
  • T-shirts. Particularly in September, as we can get warm weather!
  • Medium scarf. For travel in October and November.
  • Medium gloves. For October and November travel.
  • Beanie.
  • Warm cardigan.
  • Warm jacket. Particularly if you’re visiting in October and November.
  • Sunscreen. Mostly for the month of September where we have sunshine.

Our wardrobe during autumn

My typical wardrobe during autumn

What my husband wears during autumn

Best shoes for Scotland

The footwear you bring largely depends on what activities you’ll be doing in Scotland. I recommend packing at least 2 pairs of footwear: a pair of comfortable walking shoes for exploring cities and towns, and a pair that is a bit sturdier for hiking and spending time outdoors.

These are the best shoes for Scotland travel:

Best walking shoes for Scotland

If you’re visiting in the warmer months and you’re sticking to exploring cities and villages, I recommend packing a pair of trainers that you don’t mind getting a little dirty.

Cities can get a little muddy, especially in parks. If it rains, there will be puddles thanks to the uneven, cobblestone streets. Make sure the soles of your shoes are waterproof.

I like the Merrell Women’s Bravada 2 Waterproof sneakers. They’re stylish, comfortable, water resistant and have good grip. It’s a good all-round shoe. These sneakers are not suitable for wide feet, however.

I also like Sketchers trainers for travelling. These are great for the plane and for strolling through towns or villages. They’re breathable and if they do get damp they dry pretty quickly. They’re super easy to wash in the washing machine too.

My husband likes Nike trainers, Converse, or Vans as a casual shoe, and hiking boots if he plans on going for a nature walk.

Best boots for Scotland

If you’re visiting in the cooler months, I highly recommend investing in a pair of Timberland boots or something similar.

They’re perfect for navigating cobblestone paths in small towns and cities, and they can handle small hiking excursions. They have great grip, they’re waterproof, warm and best of all, they’re stylish.

For women, I recommend the Timberland Women’s Liden boot, and for men, I recommend the Timberland Men’s Premium Waterproof Boot.

Whatever shoes you bring to Scotland- make sure they’re waterproof. It wasn’t until I moved to Scotland that I learned the hard way that some of my shoes had holes in the soles!

Best hiking boots for Scotland

If you’re planning on going hiking in Scotland, I love and recommend my Scarpa Terra hiking boots. They also have a similar boot hiking boot for men.

I hiked the length of Scotland in these boots in 2018, and they lasted me around five years with heavy usage. I wear these boots all year round. 

I pair them with merino wool socks when I’m hiking or travelling Scotland. Merino wool regulates your temperature, ensuring your feet won’t overheat or get too cold. I recommend Smartwool socks to go with your hiking boots. They have socks for both men and women.

If you’re planning on hiking in Scotland I highly suggest you break in your hiking boots well before coming to Scotland. Whenever I buy a new pair of hiking boots my feet always break out in blisters- I don’t want this to happen to you on your holiday!

I always carry Compeed Blister Plasters with me when I travel. They act like a second skin if I do get a blister, and allow me to carry on even if I get extreme blisters!

Good walking shoes for Scotland

Merrell Women’s Bravada 2 Waterproof Sneaker | Skechers Women’s Sneaker | Timberland Women’s Premium Waterproof Boots | Timberland Men’s Premium Waterproof Boot | Scarpa Terra Women’s Hiking Boot | Smartwool Women’s Hiking Socks | Smartwool Men’s Hiking Socks | Scarpa Men’s Hiking Boot | Compeed Blister Plasters

What to wear for going out in Scotland

The great thing about Scotland is that the attire is pretty casual.

So what do I wear going out? Usually, I’ll wear jeans, a nice top and a jacket. Sometimes I’ll wear a dress and pair it with black leggings if it’s cold. I tend to dress pretty casually. I’m all about comfort!

If you’re used to dressing up to the nines when you hit the town you won’t look too out of place in Edinburgh and Glasgow. Anywhere else you may turn a few heads!

To give you an idea of what is acceptable to wear out for dinner, check out the following image for some inspiration from my wardrobe:

clothes to wear going out for dinner in scotland

My husband tends to wear a polo shirt and a pair of jeans or chinos when we’re going out for dinner. He will wear a long coat, denim jacket, or bomber jacket depending on the weather.

My recommendation for footwear for men is leather boots, but my husband is a fan of sneakers such as Converse or Vans. Here’s an example of what he wears on a night out:

What should you NOT wear in Scotland?

As well as knowing what to pack, it’s useful to know what not to wear in Scotland. Here are a few suggestions of what to leave out:

High heels

As I mentioned before, attire in Scotland is very casual. When I go out for dinner in Edinburgh I’ll often wear jeans and a nice top with a jacket, or a nice dress with leggings. If I wear heels at all, they’re usually wedged boots with a small heel (just like the ones in the image above). I never wear stilettos, and I don’t recommend you pack them!

I sometimes see women wearing stilettos in Edinburgh or Glasgow on a night out, but watching them struggle walking over cobblestones gives me the fear. It’s not worth the risk of rolling an ankle.

Unless you’re going to a swanky restaurant in the city, there’s no need to dress up to the nines.

Waterproof pants

Unless you’re going hiking, I don’t recommend you wear waterproof pants over your bottoms. If it rains, a long rain jacket and/or an umbrella will be enough if you’re exploring cities and villages in Scotland.

I’ve only ever had to wear waterproof pants when it’s rained when I’ve been out hiking; there’s no need to wear waterproof pants these if you’re in a city. You’ll look a bit strange!

Read more: 10 Must-Sees in Scotland You Can’t Miss

Swimwear

Unless you want to have an ice bath, I don’t recommend bringing your swimming trunks unless you’re planning on going somewhere with a heated pool or hot tub. The temperature of the ocean is what Scots like to refer to as ‘baltic.’

But hey, if wild swimming is your thing, go for it!

A kilt – maybe!

The Scots only tend to wear kilts to special occasions, such as a wedding. You’ll see pipers playing on the streets in Edinburgh fully kitted out in their kilts, but that’s about it.

Scots don’t generally wear kilts as an everyday outfit, but you know what? It’s your holiday and if you feel like wearing a kilt, just do it!

You may get the odd laugh or an eye-roll, but the Scottish are generally pretty humorous folk and may have a wee giggle at your expense.

Free Scotland Packing List Printable

Planning a trip to Scotland?
I’ve created the ultimate resource to help you plan your own trip- the Planning a Trip To Scotland course! Created by myself and Lonely Planet author Kay Gillispie, this course features 70+ videos covering every aspect of creating your itinerary and booking your trip.

Scotland itineraries

If you are in the planning stages of your Scotland trip, be sure to check out my itineraries. They cover all of the must-sees plus some of my favourite hidden gems in each area.

This is the fifth article in my Planning A Trip to Scotland series. Be sure to read the next article in the series, What Not To Do When You Visit Scotland, or sign up here to have the whole series emailed to you.

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Pamela

Thursday 21st of March 2024

Your site is awesome and has been very helpful in knowing what to pack and sites to see. Love your comments and descriptions. Thank you.

Sam

Monday 18th of March 2024

Hi there! I’m not able to sign up for the printable packing list, is it still available?

Yvette Webster

Thursday 21st of March 2024

Sorry there was a glitch on my site and the sign up form wasn't showing- it should be working now :)

Ione Farrar

Sunday 16th of July 2023

Wonderful article, thank you! For other readers of this blog, the book Witch Light is titles The Highland Witch in the US. I’ve seen it called Corrag in other countries. This book is excellent. I didn’t want to finish it.

Margaret

Saturday 24th of June 2023

Hi Yvette - Very helpful article for our first trip to Scotland. However, the item links to Amazon show most things - jacket, adapter, leggings, etc. - no longer available. Any updated recommendations? Thanks

Peggy Linville

Wednesday 29th of March 2023

Thank you. I know this will help with packing. Can't wait to get there.