Visiting Scotland in May is like a dream come true for many people. In my opinion, this is the best time to visit Scotland as you are likely to experience some of the best Scottish weather available, with fewer crowds, the same incredible scenery with so much to do.
Whether you are looking for a road trip, mountain climbing, beach walking, or castle visiting, we have it all. It doesn’t matter if life is not back to normal yet; Scotland offers space and social distancing to everyone. May in Scotland means the countryside is waking up, there is new growth on the trees, castles and attractions are open.
Did you know Moray is one of the most heavily forested counties in the UK? All this means the countryside is a vibrant green, but you still get tantalising views of rivers and mountains that would otherwise be invisible when the trees are in full dress in all their green leaves? Ask me for the best river walks with views that you will not get during Summer.
Weather in May in Scotland
My motto when travelling anywhere is to be prepared and that other old chestnut of taking layers with you!! That might have been written for Scotland. Seriously though expect average maximum temperatures to range from approximately 7°C (45°F) to 13 °C (55°F). May is a beautiful time to visit, with daffodils, bluebells and rhododendrons coming into bloom. With sprightly wildlife and a milder breeze in the air, there are plenty of activities to enjoy.
I can only speak for myself, but as Scotland is full of so many stunning historical buildings, we all tend to stick to all the well-known sites when we have time to explore as tourists. However, please take my advice and find the time to slow down and spend more time visiting or checking out the lesser-known sites. The true Scot in me loves the fact that many of these are free, and because they are quieter or maybe because I have more time to reflect, I think they are more evocative. I could include Spynie Palace and Rait Castle and my new favourite Auchindoun.
The Bishops of Moray used the majestic Spynie Castle before Elgin Cathedral existed. Even Elgin Cathedral itself is so often driven past and often not visited by people which is a mistake. Spynie Palace being well and truly off the beaten track is hugely historic and relaxing so well worth the time to see.
Likewise, Rait Castle is a comparatively small Castle ruin situated not far from Cawdor Castle. Hard to find, and most likely, you will be the only visitors; your visit is still worthwhile for the Castle building and tranquil location, not to mention the views. All this despite the rather macabre story relating to the Laird’s daughter whose Father cut off her hands, so not surprisingly, she supposedly haunts the Castle to this day. There are three Castles close together here Cawdor, Rait and the private Castle of Kilvarock. These Castles include the same family names we see today and are of a similar appearance.
However, Historic Environment Scotland can influence your choice of buildings to visit, from obscure Bell Tower to Highland Forts and so much more. Just in our area alone, there is a choice of 55 locations or more.
What else happens in Scotland in May
Early May starts with the International Spirit of Speyside Whisky Festival at the beginning of May, a true celebration of all things whisky.
For those visiting mid-month, you have the fantastic opportunity to enjoy the first Highland Games of the year at Gordon Castle. If you see mid-month, skip over to Gordon Castle and spend a wonderful day enjoying these special events.
Other benefits of visiting Scotland in May
Traditionally, this time of year is low or shoulder season in Scotland and many parts of the World. Therefore expect fewer crowds, but businesses are open and keen to engage. Take the time to slow down and absorb Scottish history in more depth, such as Culloden Battlefield or the scenery such as Loch Ness.
Enjoy some of the fresh local produce Scotland is famous for, but most of all, relax and enjoy and feel grateful for the opportunity to spend time in Scotland and return home, planning to return!