Does it snow in Edinburgh, Scotland?

aerial view of Edinburgh with princess street and Edinburgh castle (old town) covered in Snow in Edinburgh, Scotland

Does it snow in Edinburgh, Scotland? Read on to find out!

The stunning capital of Scotland, Edinburgh is known for its glorious architecture, welcoming atmosphere and great pubs.

It’s not the warmest city in Europe by a long shot, but it doesn’t snow that often, thanks to the UK generally having mild winters and Edinburgh’s proximity to the sea.

Read on to find out about Edinburgh’s winter weather!

Does it snow in Edinburgh?

Snow in Edinburgh isn’t a guarantee, but it does happen occasionally!

The city’s northern latitude makes it colder than many parts of the UK, though significant snowfall is relatively rare.

It’s much more common in the highlands of Scotland.

In Edinburgh, you might experience light flurries of snow that don’t settle – but are quite enchanting as they fall!

If you’re planning a winter visit, check the local weather forecasts and prepare accordingly.

Snow can impact travel plans, although the city is generally better equipped to handle it than English cities like London!

How often does it snow in Edinburgh?

Edinburgh’s one of the most beautiful cities in Britain, and it’s true that it looks all the more appealing under bright white snow.

However, while the city does get snow, it’s not regular like you might find in more northern cities in winter (such as Reykjavik in Iceland!).

Typically, you’ll see snow falling for about 15 to 20 days between November and March. That’s not a whole season of snow, but it’s something!

What’s interesting is that the snow rarely accumulates.

You’re more likely to witness a brief snowfall that melts away rather quickly, rather than a thick blanket covering the city.

When it comes to heavier snowfall, maybe once or twice a season will Edinburgh get a more substantial layer of snow. But even then, it tends to disappear within a day or two!

When does it snow in Edinburgh?

So when does it snow in Edinburgh?

The winter season lasts between November and March, and snow can happen anytime during these months.

Does it snow in Edinburgh in November?

Snow in November can happen, but it’s very unlikely.

You’ll definitely feel the chill in the air, but seeing snowflakes is less likely.

It’s more about wrapping up in warm layers and experiencing the crisp air as you explore the city!

Does it snow in Edinburgh in December?

Christmas market around Scott monument in the city of Edinburgh, United Kingdom

Now we’re talking! December offers a better shot at snow, especially closer to the holidays.

While not a guarantee, if you’re in town for the Christmas markets, you might just see a few flakes!

Does it Snow in Edinburgh in January?

January is when the odds of seeing snow ramp up.

It’s one of the colder months, so if you’re visiting, keep an eye on the forecast.

That said, any snowfall is typically short-lived, melting away in a day or two.

Does it Snow in Edinburgh in February?

Snow can happen in February too.

Just like in January, the snow usually doesn’t stick around for too long, so enjoy it while it lasts!

Does it Snow in Edinburgh in March?

By the time March rolls around, you’re more likely to see rain and sleet than actual snow.

While a late-season snowfall isn’t impossible, chances are you’ll be saying goodbye to winter weather and hello to spring!

Why doesn’t it snow much in Edinburgh?

snow in Scotland
It snows much more in the Scottish Highlands!

You might be wondering, with its northern location, why doesn’t it snow much in Edinburgh?

There are a few factors that interplay to make freezing conditions a rarity.

Firstly, it doesn’t snow that much in the UK and Ireland in general.

Northern English cities like Manchester and Liverpool don’t see the white stuff that often, especially compared to other countries on a similar latitude.

Scotland, where Edinburgh is, sees a little more snow, especially in the highlands – but nowhere near as much as other countries on the same latitude.

This is largely due to the UK’s maritime climate; as it’s surrounded by water, the country tends to stay warmer in winters and cooler in summers than elsewhere on the continent.

This is enhanced by the Gulf Stream.

This warm ocean current from the Gulf of Mexico flows all the way to the British Isles, and yes, it makes winters milder than you’d expect for such a northern location.

Edinburgh is close to the sea, specifically the North Sea and the Firth of Forth.

This proximity to water has a moderating effect on the climate, which prevents extreme temperatures and heavy snowfall.

Second, the prevailing winds play a role.

Often coming from the west and the Atlantic Ocean, they’re usually too warm to allow snow to form regularly.

Last there’s the urban heat effect.

While this is more notable in cities like London (where snow’s even rarer), Edinburgh’s still a large city, and cities generally retain more heat than rural areas.

So even when surrounding regions get a dusting, the city may miss out.

When has it snowed heavily in Edinburgh?

Old Scottish castle on a rock covered with snow in winter. View of Edinburgh Castle, Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom

All that said, heavy snowfall does happen occasionally in Edinburgh!

Notable instances include the winters of 2010 and 2018, when the city did see significant accumulations of the white stuff. In fact, pretty much all of Scotland, Wales and England was covered in snow.

Roads were slick, public transport faced disruptions, and schools were closed.

But it’s worth noting that even in these “heavy” snowfalls, we’re talking about a few inches—not feet!

If you’re a history buff, you’d be interested to know that one of the most memorable snow events occurred way back in 1963, known as the Big Freeze.

The city was practically brought to a standstill!

But such events are more the exception than the rule.

Most years, the snowfall is moderate and often melts away within a day or two.

What’s it like when it snows in Edinburgh?

But say you do experience snow in Edinburgh. What can you expect?

For starters, the city takes on a quieter atmosphere.

The snow dampens sounds, making your walks along the cobbled streets even more peaceful!

Next, the landmarks. Imagine the Royal Mile, Arthur’s Seat, and even the iconic Edinburgh Castle with a light dusting of snow—it’s a sight to see!

While the city’s main roads and tourist spots are generally cleared quickly, the cobblestone streets and pathways can get slippery. So, sturdy, water-resistant footwear is a must!

Also, expect some transport delays.

Buses may run on reduced schedules and taxis might be harder to come by.

If the snowfall is really heavy, workplaces and schools might be closed – so parks and open spaces might be busy with locals building snowmen and having snowball fights.

Weather in Edinburgh in winter

Edinburgh’s winter weather is on the milder side compared to other parts of Scotland, but temperatures can still dip – it’s important to dress warmly!

However, the averages hover above freezing, which is why you won’t see much snow.

Here’s what you can generally expect:

MonthAverage High (°C (°F))Average Low (°C (°F))Average Rainy Days
November9°C (48.2°F)3°C (37.4°F)10 days
December7°C (44.6°F)1°C (33.8°F)11 days
January6°C (42.8°F)1°C (33.8°F)11 days
February7°C (44.6°F)1°C (33.8°F)8 days
March9°C (48.2°F)2°C (35.6°F)9 days

Things to do in Edinburgh in the snow

aerial view of Edinburgh with princess street and Edinburgh castle (old town) covered in Snow in Edinburgh, Scotland

Here are some of the best things to do in Edinburgh when it snows!

Take a snowy hike up Arthur’s Seat

If the snow is light and the skies are clear, consider a trek up Arthur’s Seat.

The panoramic views of a snow-dusted Edinburgh are simply unforgettable.

Just remember, the path can be slippery when snowy, so wear boots with a good grip!

Explore the museums

If you’d prefer to stay warm while still enjoying the snowy vistas, Edinburgh’s museums are a great option.

They generally stay open throughout snowfall – check out The National Museum of Scotland and the Scottish National Gallery.

Sip on a warm drink at a café with a view

If the snow has you in the mood for something cosy, head to The Elephant House or Wellington Coffee.

These cafes not only offer an extensive menu of warm beverages but also feature large windows perfect for snow-watching!

FAQs about snow in Edinburgh

Traditional Red Telephone Booth along the Royal Mile in Edinburgh Old Town on a Foggy Winter Night

Here are some answers to FAQs about snow in Edinburgh.

Does Edinburgh have snow?

Yes, Edinburgh experiences snow, although it’s often light and may not settle.

The city’s geography and climate make significant snowfall relatively rare, but you can still experience light flurries, especially in the winter months.

What months does it snow in Edinburgh?

Snowfall in Edinburgh primarily occurs between November and March, with January and February being the coldest and most likely months for snow.

However, the amount and duration of the snow vary each year.

Is snow rare in Edinburgh?

Significant snowfall is relatively rare in Edinburgh.

The city’s proximity to the sea and the influence of the Gulf Stream contribute to milder winters.

While you can see snow, heavy accumulations are uncommon.

Does it snow in Edinburgh at Christmas?

Snow in Edinburgh at Christmas is infrequent.

While the notion of a white Christmas is romantic, statistically it’s not very likely.

That said, light snow or flurries are possible, adding to the festive atmosphere.

Which month is coldest in Edinburgh?

January is typically the coldest month in Edinburgh, with average temperatures ranging between 1-7°C (34-45°F).

This month also stands a higher chance of experiencing snow, although heavy snowfall is still uncommon.

Will it snow at Christmas in Scotland?

The likelihood of snow at Christmas varies across Scotland.

In Edinburgh, it’s relatively rare due to milder coastal temperatures.

However, in the Highlands and other northern regions, the probability of a white Christmas is higher.

So, does it snow in Edinburgh?

This guide should have demonstrated the likelihood of snow in Edinburgh – it can happen, but it’s not super common – although you can head up to the highlands for a higher chance of snow!

That said, if you want guaranteed thick snow each winter, you’ll need to head elsewhere in Europe, such as Switzerland or Norway.

But don’t worry if the weather’s rainy rather than snowy when you’re in Scotland – Edinburgh has plenty of charm whatever the weather!

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