Travel In Scotland By Train
Travelling in Scotland is relatively easy. Most of the time I traveled by bus but I did take a train to Stirling from Edinburgh and back again. The trains are excellent but I thought for the distance I traveled it was rather pricy. I would be more inclined to use the bus for such short trips if I were to travel there again.
I caught this train from Edinburgh's Waverly Station which is rather busy train station. I also traveled from here down to London which is really a costly trip. It is a great way to see the British Isles just the same as it goes down some very pretty coastal scenery.Add to your Trip Planner
An Easy Way To Travel Through Scotland
I travelled through most of Scotland by way of bus. The most common agency available is Scottish Citylink. I found this method affordable. My one complaint was that buses were not always that frequent. This was particularly the case in the more rural parts of the region (around Fort William). I would have appreciated being able to reach some of the remote corners in the Highlands but getting a bus there and back was simply not a possibility. My even bigger complaint here was my guidebook (LP) gave me inaccurate information on buses up in the Highlands. I almost got stuck in one corner but got back thanks for some locals. Still if you are traveling between the major cities such as Glasgow and Edinburgh, this is probably the most affordable means.Add to your Trip Planner
Far better than flying.
In September 2015 my dear friend VT member Ravenswing aka Lynne and I were having our autumn tour of Northern Ireland and Scotland which seems to becoming something of an annual event and long may it continue as we have a great time. Having spentmost of our time in Belfast and Enniskillen it was time to move back to the mainland and we had planned a first stop in Glasgow so the question was how best to get there.
I have to say that I am thoroughly fed up of flying within Europe as it is just hassle piled on top of aggravation and with a side order of petty bureaucracy thrown in gratis. Getting to an out of town airport hours in advance of takeoff to go through all sorts of security procedures, paying through the nose for the privelege of actually carrying some baggage, the list goes on and on. These days I avoid it when I can and so we decided on the ferry / bus / train option which sounds like a lot of hassle but runs seamlessly. In the old days the ferries between these parts of the UK were between Larne and Srranraer or Cairnryan but now Belfast to Cairnryan seems to be the preferred route.
We were using the Stena line who I have used before and find to be very good. On the Scottish side you then get a bus connection to Ayr where you get on a train to Glasgow. The reader should know that you don't have to book all these tickets separately as it is an integrated system and one ticket covers you all the way.
To go back to the start we got a taxi from the hotel to the ferryport. There are bus connections but it was too much hassle from where we were stayng and a taxi was not too expensive. Unlike the old days when you humped your luggage aboard with you, it is now checked in as it would be on an aeroplane. You then walk along what seems like about a mile of covered gangway and arrive totally exhausted on board!
Ferries plying the Irish Sea really have come so far since I started using them when they were proper old cattle boats, in fact I believe the very old Isle of Man ferry from that era genuinely was a converted cargo vessel. Nowadays they are clean and comfortable with just about every amenity you could ever want albeit that this crossing is only a shade over two hours.
As is our wont we parked ourselves in the bar and availed ourselves of both the services of that excellent facility and the free wifi on offer. If you don't have your own laptop / smartphone or whatever there are even free internet terminals. The bar is a little more expensive than onshre but certainly not a ripoff like most airport bars tend to be. There is a decent looking cafe, a coffee bar, shops, a spa, kids playspace and a cinema. You can even rent a suite with a bed although why you would want to do that for less than three hours is beyond me.
I am fortunate in that I do not suffer from motion sickness and it was flat calm the day we sailed but if that is an issue for the reader the ships are stabilised. All too soon we were pulling onto Cairnryan port and by the time we had wandered down the gangway our baggage was waiting for us and so we went out to catch the connecting bus.
I propose to end this tip here as it is intended for publication in my Belfast, Northern Ireland and Scotland pages as it is appropriate to all and the way search engines and Virtual Tourist operate potential readers may find it in any of these places. The rest of the journey is not relevant to all those pages but suffice it to say the rest of the journey was equally smooth and we arrived in Glasgow in good order.
As the title of the tip suggests, forget flying, this is the way to go.
- Family Travel
- Budget Travel
Glasgow has a metro, yesssss. It is a circle line and is the easiest way to get around the city centre and west wnd of Glasgow. Running every four minutes at peak times, it takes just 24 minutes to complete a circuit of the fifteen stations and costs as little as £1.40 for an adult single and 2.60 for a day card.
Siiii Glasgow tiene metro. Es una linea circular y es la mejor manera para moverse por el centro y el west end de Glasgow. Pasa cada cuatro minutos en hora punta y tarda 24 minutos en dar una vuelta completa al recorrido de la linea. El billete sencillo vale 1.40 libra y la tarjeta de 1 día 2.60 libras.Related to:
- Museum Visits
- Castles and Palaces
It is the most economical way to get and move around Scotland from other parts of the UK. Scotland has an extensive bus network that covers much of the territory, but in remote rural areas, adapted to the needs of the locals.
Es el medio más economico para llegar y moverse por Escocia desde otras partes del Reino Unido. Escocia cuenta con una extensa red de autobuses que abarca gran parte del territorio, pero en las zonas rurales alejadas, se adaptan a las necesidades de los lugareños.Related to:
- Historical Travel
Traveling by train through Scotland is very good option especially for short journeys. We did it to go to Stirling and Glasgow from Glasgow Queen Street Station. To Stirling the journey takes about 30 minutes and cost 8.10 pounds. To Edinburgh the journey takes 1 hour aprox and it cost 12.60 pounds.
Viajar en tren por Escocia es muy buena opción sobre todo en trayectos cortos, nosotras lo hicimos desde Glasgow Queen Street para ir Edinburgo y Stirling. Desde Stirling el trayecto dura media hora y el billete ida y vuelta salió por 8 libras y algo. Desde Edinburgo el trayecto dura una hora y cuesta 12.60 libras.Related to:
- Historical Travel
Easy Jet to Inverness
No direct flights to Inverness from Spain, so we flew to London Luton from Málaga the early night and from Luton next morning we took our flight to Inverness. From Glasgow there are daily flights to Málaga with Easy Jet and Jet 2. Inverness airport is located 15km east of Inverness, and is just 20 minutes' drive from the city centre.
No hay vuelos directos desde España hasta Inverness por lo que cogimos vuelo hasta Londres Luton y desde allí volamos hasta Inverness con Easy jet. Desde Glasgow si hay vuelos diarios a Málaga con Easy Jet y Jet2. El aeropuerto de Inverness está situado a 15 km al este de la ciudad,a unos 20 minutos en coche desde el centro.Related to:
- Historical Travel
THE END OF THE LINE - RAIL TRAVEL
Thurso Train Station is the end of the line – quite literally. It is the northernmost Rail Station in Great Britain. Located on Princes Street, this small station is they way to travel south to Inverness where you can then access the entire British rail network. The station was opened on 28 July 1874. It was actually selected for closure in the 1960s, but survives to this day so you can travel to the very top of the UK mainland.
The station itself is open Monday-Saturday 09:50-16:54. For some reason some websites show them opening 1 hour late on Saturday. I base the times on the sign on the wall inside that station. There is a side gate to get to the single platform (of course!) outside of opening hours. You can buy a ticket on the train without any problem.
During opening hours you have:
• Rail staff for any questions, tickets, assistance
• Accessible unisex toilet
• Induction loop at ticket office window (for hearing impaired passengers)
• Luggage trolleys
• Post Box
• Car park (3 spaces, 1 is handicapped) – 24 hour
• Taxi rank
• Public (pay) phone
• 3 cycle racks. (not covered)
They also have Left Luggage Lockers for £3 a day. They are accessible Monday - Saturday 10:00-16:30, closed Sundays
Thurso station is on the Far North Line and is 154 miles (248 km) north of Inverness.
After arriving at Thurso the trains often go back to Georgemas Junction and then on to Inverness in around 3 ½ hours. The journey follows the coast line for most of your journey and is arguably the most scenic rail journey in the UK.
Address: Princes Street, Thurso, Highland, KW14 7DL
It is about a 5-7 minute walk to shops and accommodation (300m/1000ft). You may want to just walk to most places rather then asking for a taxi.
For details of onward bus services, visit www.travelinescotland.com or call +44 (0) 871 200 22 33 (24 hours).
For full details of train times and calling points (stations), please have a look at the National Rail Enquiries WebsiteRelated to:
- Business Travel
Gourock - Dunoon Ferry
This is a great alternative to driving the long way round to reach the Cowal Peninsula and southern Argyllshire.
Ferries leave McInroys Point (Gourock) to Hunter's Quay (Dunoon) every 20 mins or so. No need to book, just turn up and pay on board. The journey is little more than twenty minutes but is enjoyable and worth getting out of your vehicle for.
We were fortunate as a ferry was just loading as we arrived so we literally drove up and boarded!
Cost for two adults and a large motorhome single fare: £32. A little pricey but definitely a good route and got us to places we had never been before.Related to:
- Road Trip
- Sailing and Boating
Take the Ferry to Skye!
Taking the bridge from Kyle of Lochalsh to the Isle of Skye is a quick, but also relatively boring way to reach the island. With a length of approximately 500m (and there is a tiny isle in the middle of the two bridges), you'll be on Skye within a few seconds. In my opinion, this takes away the fun of going to an island.
What you can do instead is to take the ferry from Mallaig to Armadale on the south tip of Skye. It is not exactly cheap, but the 30-minute ferry ride allows you to take in beautiful views of the islands of Eigg and Rum as well as of the coast of the west Highlands. Moreover, you will arrive in a much calmer part of the island and can start discovering Skye from there.
The ferry leaves Mallaig eight (Mon-Sat) or six (Sun) times per day and costs £4.35 per person and £22.60 per car for a single ticket. You have to purchase the ticket in advance, bring the confirmation to the ticket office at the harbour and exchange it for a ticket. This has to be done 30 minutes before your crossing at the very latest.Add to your Trip Planner
The Country of Long Distances
Getting around Scotland can be quite complicated, particularly if you come without a car and want to explore the more remote areas. While there are frequent buses between the larger towns, the local services are at best sporadic. I haven't been to Scotland in winter, but I suppose that some of the services then completely cease to exist. In some of the more popular parts of the highlands you often come across dial-a-bus services for hikers, but the best is to rely on your own vehicle.
Even then, getting around is not easy. There is no need for too many roads in the scarcely populated Highlands and the natural obstacles in the form of mountains rising up to some 1,300 metres or long Lochs prevent road construction anyway. This means that getting from A to B can mean a 5-hour ride even if the two places are only 50km away from each other as the crow flies. Moreover, the majority of roads in the Highlands are narrow (so-called Single Track Roads), steep, curvy and often frequented by sheep or highland cows. Filling stations are found in most larger villages, but if you enter a glen be aware that there could be nothing along the road for the next 50km. In general, one should not attempt to drive in Scotland without at least some experience on roads like these.Related to:
- Road Trip
How to get around Scotland
perhaps this type of transport might help you... at least get to the more far flung areas you are after, quicker so you don't have to spend so much time traveling and connecting?
- Family Travel
- Budget Travel
- Road Trip
Driving in Scotland - urban and rural
Our road trip was pure joy. Even though we were in the car for an average of 8 hours a day, the beautiful scenery and great road network made travelling in the car a fun & relaxing way to see Scotland. We bought a comprehensive road map, fuelled the car, bought chocolate (fuel for us!) and set off! The roads, towns and exits are all very clearly sign posted and we had no trouble finding our destination(s).
> In Scotland, as elsewhere in the UK, driving is always on the left-hand side. On motorways, the left-most lane is the slow lane. Overtaking is on the right.
We noticed numerous signs (regular or electronic) reminding us to "Drive on the left" in 4-5 different languages (English, German, Spanish, French and Italian). These signs are obviously aimed at European visitors to Scotland / the UK who naturally aren't used to driving on the *wrong side* of the road... haha!
It was also a small challenge for us during our initial day of driving: when you are in a city, driving on the left comes naturally as you can simply follow the car in front of you. But once you are driving in the rural areas where you might not encounter another motorist for many miles, it's easy to make mistakes and such mistakes cause a number of accidents every year.
> Unless otherwise signposted, maximum speed limits on UK roads are:
Motorways: 70 mph / 112kph.
Dual carriageways: 70 mph / 112kph.
Built-up areas: 30 mph / 48 kph
Outside built-up areas: 60 mph / 96 kph
It is also compulsory to wear seatbelts (front & back) in Scotland.
One of the great pleasures about driving in Scotland is of course the beauty and relative isolation of the Highlands and other rural areas. Driving on these roads really is fun, with marvellous scenery awaiting us around every corner - but these aren't roads for driving anywhere if you're under time pressue!
During most of our driving trips through the Highlands, the roads were single track with passing places. Even if this seems a little scary at first, this system works really well with a little thought & consideration.
> If you encounter a car approaching you, stop at the first passing place you come across to allow the other motorist to pass. If the other driver reaches a passing place before you do, they will stop to allow you to continue. People will usually give you a quick wave or nod of appreciation at these passing places: just a small act of courtesy between motorists.
> On dual carriage ways, we often saw a truck or bus ahead of us and as soon as the driver noticed a queue forming behind him, he would pull into the next parking area to let us pass.
> As fantastic as these roads are, long drives can of course be very tiring. Thankfully, there are rest-stops and parking lay-byes every couple of miles, so it's easy to stop and stretch your legs regularly.
> Another hazard of course is the need to watch out for sheep or cattle crossing the road. Most farms have stone walls or fences, but there's always the exception.
> In winter, many of these beautifully winding but dangerous roads are prone to ice: you'll notice that especially in corners or in forests there are ridges in the road. These were carved into the concrete in an effort to prevent ice forming there.Related to:
- Road Trip
- Family Travel
- Romantic Travel and Honeymoons
Getting around cheap!
Book your bus destinations at least the night before and you will get amazing deals. In July '05 we got a coach bus from Glasgow to Aberdeen, a transit bus from Aberdeen to Braemar and return to Aberdeen, coach from Aberdeen to Dundee and then Dundee to Glasgow (staying overnights) and the total cost was under 30GBP!!! That's currently about $70 CAD.Related to:
- Budget Travel
- Road Trip
Scotland Self Drive - Travel Help, Tips and Advice
Planning a trip to Scotland? Thinking of renting a self drive car? Think about the problems:
Congested cities, often starting your journey in the centre of Edinburgh or at busy airports. You are on the "wrong" side of the road, on unfamiliar roads, road signs you cannot even guess at. Maybe you are tired from the flight. And what about the language - words like petrol, boot, cats eyes, give way and clearway? And what about all the symbols? (Have a look at my other tips).
To make matters worse, the rental company seem uninterested and don't even show you the vehicle controls - they seem more keen to sell you insurance, as if they almost want you to scrape the car.
The chances of you scraching the side of the car in the first day are very high - what a wrotten start to your vacation!
If only you could have a local expert drive your car for the first few hours or a day - to "show you the ropes", like how to negotiate roundabouts, how to find a parking place or your hotel, how to get out of the city unscathed and in the right direction. If only someone would take the time to show you how to drive safely and to enjoy it - the rest of your route would be a pleasure.
Well, the car rental firms seem uninterested - but I would like to help. So, if you would be interested in some help, how to drive in Edinburgh or Glasgow, and how to enjoy these cities - and get your vaction off to a great start, just ask!
This tip was created because so many people we know from the US have had bad experiences when renting cars - and I want people to have a great first impression of Scotland. I want you to start relaxed and in control. I think it would be great to teach you how to drive in the UK, how to know the road, roadsigns and tips on what to avoid. Where to get good food and how to save fuel, where to park and what to do if you have a problem. It is not a lot to ask, is it?
So, if you are thinking of renting a car (or hiring as we say here), write to me for help! See my other tips here too - and best of luck!Related to:
- Historical Travel
- Women's Travel
- Road Trip
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