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Although the UK may seem like a small place, it’s actually an extremely diverse group of countries all with their own exciting and unique reasons to visit.
This also means that there’s no one best time to visit the UK.
Choosing the right time to visit the UK can depend on so many different factors – such as whether you’re sticking to one specific region or heading on an epic UK road trip, or whether you want to hit the big cities or spend more time outside enjoying the UK’s beautiful countryside.
To help you decide when to plan your trip for, I’ve broken the UK down into its individual countries and laid out the pros and cons of visiting during different seasons and months throughout the year.
Best time to visit UK:
When is the best time of year to visit the UK?
Best time to visit England:
England is a great all-year-round destination, primarily because of its exciting capital city of London. No matter what month you visit, there’s bound to be something going on in London, from summer festivals and sporting events to Christmas markets and festive light displays (December is a magical time to visit London for Christmas lovers).
While the weather shouldn’t be a huge factor in the right time to visit London or other major cities in England, summer is the best time of year to visit England for those wanting to spend time outside exploring different neighbourhoods, markets and parks.
However, to avoid the heavy crowds and queues try not to plan your trip during the summer school holidays in late-July and August. The shoulder months of May, June and September are a great option for summer travel instead.
In fact, if you visit the UK in June and don’t mind splashing the cash a little, you’ll be able to attend three of the hottest events in the British social calendar; Royal Ascot, Henley Royal Regatta and Wimbledon. So be sure to pack your formal attire.
If it’s more rural England you’re looking to explore, such as visiting quaint country villages, hiking through areas of natural beauty or holding up in a beautiful country lodge with its own hot tub, you’re better off visiting during the summer months (May to September) for a stronger chance of warm weather and little rain, as well as to guarantee everything will definitely be open.
While places will be a bit busier during the peak summer holidays, you won’t need to worry about the crowds quite as much as in the bigger cities.
Notable dates in the English calendar:
When is the best month to visit England?
- Oxford vs. Cambridge Boat Race (April) – rowing race between the UK’s two oldest universities on the River Thames in London.
- St Georges Day (23rd April) – many free events and celebrations across England.
- Trooping the Colour (June) – a ceremony and parade performed by regiments of the British and Commonwealth armies in order to celebrate the Queens ‘official’ birthday.
- Wimbledon Tennis Championships (June to July) – one of the most famous tennis tournaments in the world.
- Henley Royal Regatta (June to July) – boat races and picnics with a formal dress code.
- Royal Ascot (June) – a major horse racing event often attended by the royal family.
- Notting Hill Carnival (August bank holiday weekend) – London’s world-famous celebration of Caribbean history, culture and tradition.
- Bonfire Night (5th November) – Bonfires, festivities and elaborate firework displays in parks all across the country.
- Winter Wonderland (November to January) – there are plenty of Christmas markets and winery pop-ups around the country during the Christmas period, however, Winter Wonderland in London is certainly the biggest and the best in the whole of the UK.
Where to visit in England:
Best time to visit Scotland:
Being the northernmost part of the UK, Scotland can get extremely cold during the winter months, particularly the Scottish highlands in the north of the country, so it’s probably best not to visit these areas during winter unless you enjoy freezing temperatures and dangerous icy roads.
However, if you are planning to visit Scotland during the winter, the capital city of Edinburgh is where you’re going to want to be. November 30th is Scotland’s national day known as St Andrew’s Day, on December 31st the whole of the city goes wild for Hogmanay, Scotland’s famous new years eve celebrations, and Burns Night on January 25th sees more city-wide celebrations to celebrate famous Scottish poet Robert Burns.
Anytime between May and September is the best time for a Scottish road trip, with the weather at its warmest for exploring Scotlands stunning natural landscapes. Plus, you might even be able to catch one of the traditional highland games taking place.
Finally, if you can time your road trip to end back in Edinburgh in August, you’ll be able to see the city at its best with the world-famous Fringe Festival consuming the Scottish capital.
Notable dates in the Scottish calendar:
When is the best month to visit Scotland?
- Burns Night (January 25th) – a country-wide celebration of famous Scottish poet Robert Burns.
- Highland Games (between May and September) – traditional Scottish sporting tournaments dating back hundreds of years… expect plenty of kilts and bagpipes!
- Edinburgh Festival Fringe (August) – the largest arts festival in the world with thousands of performances spanning theatre, music, dance, comedy, opera, circus and much more.
- The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo (August) – a series of performances by British Armed Forces, Commonwealth and international military bands outside Edinburgh Castle.
- St. Andrew’s Day (30th November) – Scottish national day with country-wide celebrations.
- Hogmanay (31st December) – Scotland’s new years eve celebrations.
Where to visit in Scotland:
Best time to visit Wales:
Temperatures in Wales don’t vary too much throughout the year, with slightly warmer summers and chiller winters. However, there’s no need to worry about extremes in weather when deciding on the best time to visit Wales – just remember to pack a few layers no matter when you visit.
The spring season of March to May is a great time to visit Wales. 1st March sees countrywide celebrations for St David’s Day, Welsh national day, while during Easter there’s no shortage of family-friendly activities such as easter egg hunts and visits from the easter bunny.
The spring is also a great time to visit Wales as it’s when the Welsh countryside starts to bloom with colourful flowers, including plenty of bright yellow daffodils, Wales’ national flower.
During the warmer summer months you can pay a visit to some of the country’s gorgeous beaches or take part in outdoor activities such as horse riding, mountain biking or ziplining. There are also plenty of camping areas in Wales for outdoor lovers.
Finally, if you’re looking for snow-topped peaks in the UK, head to Snowdonia National Park in Wales during the winter. Wrap up well and take a hike through the beautiful snowy mountain range, then end the day with a hot drink by the fire in your cosy countryside cottage.
Notable dates in the Welsh calendar:
When is the best month to visit Wales?
- St Dwynwen’s Day (25th January) – a romantic celebration of the Welsh patron saint of lovers.
- St. David’s Day (1st March) – the Welsh national day celebrated with parades and celebrations.
- International Dylan Thomas Day (14th May) – a celebration of the life and work of Welsh poet Dylan Thomas.
- Royal Welsh Show (July) – the UK’s biggest agricultural show.
- Green Man Festival (August) – unique welsh music festival with folk-music, film, comedy, theatre and poetry.
- National Eisteddfod (August) – festival celebrating Welsh literature, music and performance which takes place in a different location each year.
- Cardiff Winter Wonderland (November to January) – large Christmas fair with an ice rink, fairground rides, street food and bars.
Where to visit in Wales:
Best time to visit Northern Ireland:
Much like the rest of the UK, Northern Ireland is a pretty destination to visit throughout the year, with its cool cities and beautiful natural landscapes.
However, with its northern location, the winter months can get a little colder so might not be the best time to visit depending on where in the country you’re visiting.
Northern Ireland’s stunning Causeway Coast is not one to miss, but with the strong winter winds and temperamental weather, a road trip along the country’s northern coast might be better suited to the warmer months of May to September.
A trip to Northern Ireland’s capital city of Belfast is doable all year round, with outdoor activities such as hiking up Cave Hill or taking a walk down the banks of the River Lagan, as well as plenty to do indoors too including the Titanic Museum, Ulster Museum and the MAC.
The month of March has to be the best time of year to visit Ireland, with cities such as Belfast going wild with parades and numerous parties to celebrate St Patricks Day on March 17th. However, you should also expect large crowds and hiked up prices, and don’t forget to book accommodation far in advance.
Notable dates in the Irish calendar:
When is the best month to visit Northern Ireland?
- St Patricks Day (17th March) – national day with country-wide celebrations and parties.
- Balmoral Show (May) – Northern Ireland’s largest agri-food event.
- Anniversary of the Battle of the Boyne (12th July) – holiday in Northern Ireland.
- Belfast International Arts Festival (October/November) – the city’s longest-running international arts event with performances and events at venues all across the city.
I hope this post has helped you decide on the best time to go to the UK.
Let me know if you have any more advice in the comments below…
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