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What to wear in Scotland in Winter (December, January and February)

What to wear in Scotland in Winter (December, January and February)

Do you want to know what to wear in Scotland in Winter? Then you have come to the right place. So whether you are going to the cities like Glasgow, Edinburgh or Aberdeen or heading to the countryside or Highlands we will tell you exactly what you should pack for Scotland in December, January and February.

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Weather in Scotland in Winter (December, January and February)

Winter in Scotland is classified as December, January and February. However even November and March can feel pretty Wintery.

And as you would expect from any European country in Winter, Scotland can get very cold in Winter, especially the further North and higher altitude you go. But how cold is it?

How cold is Scotland in Winter?

View of Winter festival in Edinburgh scotland at night
What to pack for Scotland in Winter

There is no denying it, Scotland in Winter is cold. The average maximum temperature throughout the Winter months (December, January and February) is only 5°C /41°F which definitely feels chilly.

Generally speaking the average temperatures in Scotland in Winter range from -5°C/23°F to 5°C/41°F. However if really does depend on the region you are traveling to and the month of travel to how cold it actually is.

For instance Edinburgh tends to be warmer than Glasgow and Aberdeen in Winter, and the Highlands are significantly colder than all of them on the higher ground.

Generally speaking you should always be prepared for some ice and snowy conditions if you are visiting Scotland in Winter as well as plenty of wind and rain.

If you visit spans two seasons be sure to check out our other posts:

How rainy is in Scotland in Winter?

So now you know the temperatures you can expect in Scotland in Winter, we will turn our attention to the rainfall.

If you are traveling to Scotland in Winter you can expect anywhere between 10-15 days of rainfall in each month with January usually (but not always) being the rainiest.

But again, depending on where you are will depend on the amount and frequency of rain fall. For instance the West coast of Scotland is generally the wettest part of Scotland in Winter. While the North is more likely to get snow.

Does it snow in Scotland in Winter?

Given the temperatures that max out at around 5C, snow is a relatively common occurrence in Scotland in Winter. Generally speaking you can expect anywhere between 10 – 20 days of snow throughout Scotland in Winter.

However in the highlands this number can exceed 40 days of snowfall. For this reason Scotland is actually a great place to go for Winter Sports. This guide is intended as a top level what to wear in Scotland guide. However if you plan on doing Winter sports in Scotland such as skiing we recommend you check out our dedicated Winter sports posts:

  • ULTIMATE Ski Capsule Wardrobe
  • What to wear snowboarding.

Note: For more specific guidance on what to wear in Scotland and UK in Winter check out our regional guides:

Note: we always recommend checking the forecast at your destination(s) 7 days out from travel to make sure there are no expected weather fronts i.e. heatwaves or cold snaps.

How do local people dress in Scotland in Winter?

All Scots from Glasgow to the Highlands know the important of good coats and lots of laters in their Winter Capsule Wardrobe.

Generally speaking local Scots tend to dress practically in Winter given the wind, rain, ice and snowy snowy conditions the country experiences. So if you want to dress like locals in Scotland you should prioritise dressing for the weather before concerning yourself with fashion.

What to Wear in Scotland in Winter

So now you know what to expect of the weather in Scotland in Winter we will turn our attention to what to wear. The guide is split out into men, women’s and shoes section to make for easier navigation.

When looking at what to pack for Scotland in Winter, layers are going to be your best friend no matter whether you are traveling in December, January and February.

We always recommend not overpacking when traveling however this can prove trickier in Winter due to the layers required. For tips on how to pack light in Winter check out our guides on the 54321 packing method and the sudoku packing method here.

What to Wear in Scotland in Winter for Women

Woman in Winter clothes stood overlooking edinburgh skyline
What to wear in Scotland in Winter

Thick Coat

A coat is my number one pick for any Scotland Winter packing list. While a smart coat can be nice such as a classic wool winter coat, we recommend packing a more practical coat to fit in with the locals and to cope with the weather.

For this reason we recommend packing something that is insulated for when the temperatures drop below freezing, and has some water proofing and wind resistance for coping with both snow and rain.

Some of our favorite brands of coats for Scotland include:

Click here to shop coats for Scotland.

For more information on how to pack Winter Coats for travel check out this post

Hat, Scarf and Gloves

Winter accessories are a must for Scotland in Winter. Again you will be doing lots of outdoor activities in Scotland whether it is wandering around cities, visiting Christmas markets or doing winter sports. Therefore you will need to protect your extremities from the cold.

I would recommend taking with you a matching scarf and gloves set that match your winter coat to finish off the look. But be sure to get gloves that are touch screen compatible so as you are likely to be taking lots of photographs.

Click here to shop winter accessories

If you plan on doing winter sports check out this packing list.


Depending on where you are traveling to in Scotland and what activities you are doing once you get there will depend on what type of trousers you require.

For instance if you plan on going in hiking in places such as the Highlands or the Cairngorms we recommend taking either walking trousers, ski trousers or some thicker lined leggings depending on your itinerary.

For cities we recommend a combination of thicker trousers such as jeans, cordouroy trousers or even some thick wool pants.

Jeans are perfect for sightseeing during the day. And as you will see all varieties of jeans on the streets of Scotland just pick the style you feel most comfortable in.

If you want a smarter pant then we love a regular black pant (we love the Athleta Brooklyn ankle pant for travel) or a thick wool pant.

Skirts and Dresses

I personally find it a tad too cold to wear a dress or skirt to sightsee in Scotland in Winter. However I personally like to change into a dress for dinner.

As the nights can be very cold, I recommend wearing a sweater dress or a jumper dress, paired with thick tights and boots with a good sole that can cope if there is ice on the ground.

And one of the things I love about Scotland is that it is quite a liberal and multicultural place so you can wear the length of dress you feel most comfortable in whether that is mini, midi or maxi.

Click here to shop dresses for Scotland in Winter.


A loose blouse works for the evenings or days layered with a cardigan or sweater.

Click here to shop blouses

T Shirts

T Shirts are a great base for Scottish cities in Winter. T Shirts that are plain or are lightly patterned are easier to make work as part of a capsule wardrobe. However graphic or slogan t shirts won’t be out of place on the streets of the major cities in Scotland.

Click here to shop t shirts.


After a coat, layers are going to be the most important part of your Scottish Capsule wardrobe in Winter. For a week in Scotland, or a week in the UK more generally I would normally pack 3 types of top layer.

For Scotland in Winter I would pack layers such as cardigans, hoodies and sweaters.

Hoodies are a great casual top layer for sightseeing in the day at places such as museums and galleries and out in the National Parks. However I like to have something smarter for evenings.

I personally never travel in Winter without a merino wool sweater. Merino wool is one of my favorite fabrics to include in a Winter capsule wardrobe. That is because it provides extra warmth as they are an insulating fabric but is also compact unlike a thick knit. Therefore it is easy to pack and doesn’t take up a lot of space in your case.

Shop layers for scotland here.


It doesn’t matter where I am traveling to in Europe a pashmina is always on my packing list. A pashmina can be used as a scarf or lovely accessory but can double up as an added extra layer.

For those planning on spending a lot of time outdoors I recommend packing a thicker pashmina.

Click here to shop pashminas.


For those traveling to Scotland in Winter we recommend packing thicker Pjs such as flannel pjs.

Thermals (optional)

Whether you need a thermal base layer really depends on your planned itinerary and how much you feel the cold.

Personally I feel the cold very easily, so I always wear some merino wool thermals for Scotland in Winter. However my husband would only wear in the North and when out in the snow but wouldn’t use in cities.

Click here to shop merino wool thermals.

Underwear and Socks

Goes without saying. If you plan on spending outside either hiking or visiting Christmas Markets then we recommend packing either thicker hiking socks or thermal socks such as those made of merino wool.

Shop merino wool socks here.

What to pack for Scotland in Winter for Men

The packing list for men is quite similar as the ladies packing list for Scotland in Winter and we recommend packing:

Thick Coat

A practical warm coat with some insulation as well as being water and win resistant is a good idea for Scotland in Winter.

T Shirts and Shirts

A mix of long and short sleeve t shirts is a good idea, as well as a button down shirt for fancier restaurants.

Chinos/ Jeans

Jeans are great for sightseeing in Winter for cities. You may want to add a smarter pair of chinos or smart wool trousers to the packing list too for nights out and fancier dinners.

And for hiking or outdoors activities we recommend looking into getting some walking trousers or even ski trousers.

Shop men’s travel chinos here.


A hoodie, jumper and sweater alongside the jacket are the perfect layers for 7 days in Scotland.

Underwear, Socks and Pjs

Including thicker socks and potentially some thermals if you feel the cold.

You can probably leave the thermals at home unless you are in the mountains or plan to do lots of hikes etc or spend time outdoors at night.

Best Shoes for Scotland in Winter

Two friends hiking in Scotland in the snow
What to wear in Scotland in Winter

Ankle Boots

Ankle boots are my number one pick for Scotland in Winter. They are easier to pack than knee high boots and if you select the right pair are waterproof and come with good soles.

To cope with the likely snow and ice, we recommend picking something like a Chelsea boot or Dr Martens with a thick sole with good grip.

Click here to shop ankle boots.

For tips on packing boots click here.


Sneakers are the perfect shoe for Scotland all year round especially in the cities such as Edinburgh and Glasgow. That is because they offer good arch support and cope well with hills and cobbled stone streets.

My favorite brand of sneakers for walking are are Hoka and AllBirds as these are great for walking in. However sneakers with waterproofing can be good for Scotland in Winter.

A great brand for water resistance sneakers is Ecco. These have many waterproof and water resistance versions but we like this one.

Note: hiking boots are only really necessary if you plan on going on hikes outside of the city or doing more winter sports activities such as visiting the highlands and cairngorms or any other countryside location in Scotland.

What to pack for Scotland in Winter (Non Clothing)

How to dress in Scotland in Winter for Special Events

The main special event in Scotland in Winter is the Christmas Markets and Hogmanay. Both of these activities will involve spending lots of time outdoors at night which is very cold. Therefore layers including thermals will be necessary as well as thick coats and winter accessories.

What to wear to Hogmanay in Scotland ?

View of fireworks over Edinburgh at Hogmanay
What to wear to Hogmanay in Scotland ?

Generally speaking you can wear your normal sightseeing outfit to go to Hogmanay. Hogmanay is celebrated throughout Scotland but with huge outdoor celebrations in the cities such as Edinburgh.

As the celebrations are external you are going to need lots of thick and insulating layers. We recommend wearing a thick coat, winter accessories, a fleece, thermals and thick trousers and warm boots with thick socks to Hogmanay.

Also remember clothes should be water proof and wind resistance. January tends to be the coldest month in Scotland so you need to be prepared for the elements at night.

Other than this there are no special events in Scotland in Winter that requires special packing requirements.

Scotland Winter Packing List

So just to recap here is our complete list of what to add to your Scotland Winter Packing List

  • Waterproof and Wind resistant Coat or jacket
  • Scarf, Gloves, Hat and ear muffs
  • Thermal base layers – preferably merino wool
  • T shirts
  • Thicker weight trousers such as jeans, wool trousers or corduroy trousers. And outdoor trousers if going on a Winter sports holiday.
  • Merino Wool Thermal socks
  • T shirts
  • Layers such as sweaters, fleeces, jumpers and hoodies
  • Warm Nightwear i.e. thick flannel pjs.
  • Ankle Boots with a good sole for icy conditions.
  • Sneakers
  • Hiking boots – if doing outdoor activities.
  • Medication and Documentation
  • Back Pack
  • Compact Travel umbrella
  • Travel Adaptor
  • Toiletries
  • Camera
  • Battery Pack
  • Sunglasses
  • Travel first aid kit including blister plasters
  • Lip Balm

FAQs About Scotland in Winter

Can you wear jeans in Scotland in Winter?

You can absolutely wear jeans in Scotland in Winter. In fact they are an essential on any Scotland Winter packing list for cities.

However for countryside and winter sports vacations we recommend picking a trouser that can get wet.

Have you been to Scotland in Winter? What did you wear? We would love you to tell us in the comments below!