6 Amazing Things to Do in Scotland in Autumn

The Big Sky Campers guide to what to do in Scotland in Autumn

Scotland in Autumn can be magical. September and October are great months to visit Scotland. The summer holidays have ended and you can enjoy some of Scotland’s most famous beauty spots without the crowds of tourists. Weather wise Autumn brings cooler temperatures to Scotland. But it is also a time when it can be at its most beautiful – with the golden hues of stunning Autumnal foliage on display. So, Autumn is the perfect time to take a peaceful road trip in Scotland. Explore the national parks, lochs, islands, sandy beaches and over 6000 miles of coastline in Scotland at your own pace. 

landscape-scotland-in-autumn

1. Walking in Scotland’s Autumnal Landscape

In September and October in Scotland, nature lovers can enjoy Scotland’s wild and beautiful landscape in peace and tranquillity. Whilst you are more likely to have some wet days than in the high season, you will also get days with beautiful clear skies and cooler temperatures in which to pursue more vigorous outdoor activities. 

For those up for a challenge, you can bag a munro (climb one of Scotland’s 282 mountains over 3000ft). Famous munros include Ben Lomond, Slioch, and of course, Ben Nevis. If you are trying one of these climbs, please be aware that the nights come in more quickly in October. So make sure to start the climb early enough in the day to finish in daylight. Also, take the right equipment and waterproof clothing and tell someone about your plans before you go (or leave a note on your vehicle).

Autumn-in-Scotand
Stunning-Scotland-in-Autumn

You can take your pick from Scotland’s well established hiking trails. The West Highlands Way has 96 miles of walking trails from Milngavie to Ben Nevis at Fort William, taking in the shores of Loch Lomond along the route. The Rob Roy Way in the Southern Highlands is just under 80 miles of hiking paths from Drymen to Pitlochry. It passes through many places linked to Scotland’s most famous outlaw. Much of it is also suitable for cyclists. You can find information about the different sections of the trail here 

Families may enjoy the Glenfinnan Viaduct Trail where you’ll see the famous railway bridge from the Harry Potter films. It is only 2.5 miles long, so perfect if you have younger children. Our final recommendation is to explore the Fife Coastal Path which will take you along rocky shorelines, sandy beaches, areas abundant with wildlife and historical sites. The path has been divided into manageable sections with walking guides by the Fife Coast and Countryside Trust 

2. Stargazing and skywatching in Scotland in Autumn

Scotland’s wide open spaces mean it has some incredible night skies, with some of Europe’s largest expanses of dark skies free from light pollution. Autumn sees the nights drawing in earlier. Longer nights and still clear skies mean it’s the perfect time to do some stargazing. Nothing beats camping out in a secluded spot, with a wee barbecue going and simply looking up at the massive open skies to enjoy nature’s own light show. In fact, Scotland has the UK’s first and Europe’s second Dark Skies Park in Galloway Forest, the largest forest park in the UK. The Galloway Forest Park is a beauty spot well worth a daytime visit in its own right, but camp up there in Autumn and you will get the most from the night time skies too.  

Northern-lights-Scotland-in-Autumn

There are numerous designated Dark Skies Discovery Sites in places of natural beauty right across Scotland. You can find more information about these as well as stargazing information, tools and tips at Visit ScotlandIf you are lucky you may even see the Northern Lights in October. You can see the Northern Lights in the Cairngorms, Angus and Aberdeenshire. North Ronaldsay, Orkney’s northernmost island was designated a Dark Sky Island in 2021 and is a good bet if you are determined to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights. Even if you are unlucky, you will still be rewarded with views of some of the most dramatic skyscapes in Scotland. 

Coll and the Cosmos, Isle of Coll   October 14th – 15th

This pioneering stargazing event on the Isle of Coll has been jointly organised by the Coll Bunkhouse and Cosmos Planetarium. From the comfort of their 6m indoor planetarium you will learn about the stars and the solar system through an immersive multimedia experience. There will be a range of state of the art astronomical equipment for you to try out or, if you have your own, you can learn how to get the best from it with advice from the experts. 

3. Book Festivals in Scotland in September and October

Book festivals in scotand in Autumn

Tidelines, Irvine, Ayrshire 21st-24th September

Community-run literary festival with an eclectic mix of writers from travel, social history, to crime fiction and children’s events. This year is the 10th anniversary of the festival and there is a bumper programme of events catering for all sorts of literary tastes.

Wigtown Book Festival, Wigtown, Dumfries & Galloway 22nd Sept to 1st Oct

Officially designated as Scotland’s National Book Town (yes, we have one!) this small town in Dumfries and Galloway in South West Scotland hosts over 200 with appearances from best selling authors and literary based events for both adults and children. When you are not at an event you can browse the independent book and antique shops that line the streets of the town. 

Wigtown is 3 hours from Edinburgh so can easily be included on a few day’s circular route looping in Glasgow, Ayr and Galloway Forest Park on the way. If you had a week or so to spare you could also easily visit the Isle of Arran or Gretna Green. 

Portobello Book Festival 5th – 8th October, Portobello, Edinburgh

This is a locally organised book festival on the coast in Portobello, just 3 miles from Edinburgh city centre. The programme will be announced in early September. Portobello’s Victorian and Georgian architecture provides a charming setting for the festival, along with a vibrant high street of independent businesses and 2 miles of golden, sandy beach. 

4. Take a Whisky & Distillery Tour in Scotland in Autumn

If you fancy a spot of whisky tasting after all that brain fodder, not far from Wigtown is the Bladnoch Distillery, the world’s oldest privately owned Scotch Whisky distillery. It has a visitor centre and runs a number of different tours and tasting sessions. For total whisky fanatics, Autumn is the perfect time for a whisky tasting trail. You can follow the Malt Whisky Trail which follows the River Spey from the sea to its source. This fascinating journey through Speyside Whisky country visits 8 distilleries along the way. 

Scotland-in-Autumn-whisky-tours

5. Art & Musical Events in Scotland in October

Callander Jazz Festival 30th Sept – Oct 2nd

Scotland’s largest rural jazz and blues festival returns with another amazing line up set in the beautiful Trossachs. There will be over 50 gigs over three days in this spectacular Autumnal setting. Perfect to combine with a visit to Loch Lomond and the other beauty spots of the Trossachs National Park.  

The Enchanted Forest 5th October – 5th November  Pitlochry, Perthshire  

This sound and light show in a woodland setting is a breathtaking experience that has attracted over half a million visitors in the two decades it has been running. This year’s show is on the theme of ‘Into the Deep’. It will transport you to a wondrous world, with its stunning visual displays set to music deep in the Autumnal woodland of Faskally Wood. 

Things to do in Scotland in Autumn the Enchanted Forest

6. For lovers of history & castles – places to visit in Scotland in Autumn

Scotland in Autumn castle

September and October are great months to visit Scotland but it is always handy to have a wet weather activity in mind as a backup. There’s an abundance of museums and places of historical interest to visit in Edinburgh, such as Edinburgh’s famous Castle. But why not venture further afield to explore Scotland’s great history? Our Castle Lovers itinerary is a 7 day suggested itinerary starting in Edinburgh. It combines places of natural beauty with castles.   

Other amazing historical buildings to explore include Culzean Castle in Ayrshire, perched on a cliff top or Glamis Castle, the setting for Shakespeare’s Macbeth. Scone Palace, in Perthshire, explores Scotland’s royal history and Abbotsford, Melrose, is the ancestral home of Scotland’s famous novelist, Sir Walter Scott. 

Want some help planning your visit to Scotland in Autumn?

Highland-cow-Scotland

If you are thinking about a touring holiday in Scotland in one of our campervans, Big Sky Campers are here to help you.  We are very happy to help you with any route ideas.  If you are planning a special trip, or simply just don’t have the time to plan your own itinerary, we also provide a full itinerary planning service.  If you are interested in this service, or just want to hire one of our lovely campervans, please get in touch via our website. You can also book one of our campervans for hire in Scotland directly on our site.  

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