I often get asked about the best way to travel in Scotland so I’ve wrote this guide to answer your questions and hopefully make the planning stage of your holiday a bit easier.
Scotland is very well connected. Trains connect all 7 cities as well as many of the towns and villages. Buses will take you to almost anywhere that the trains don’t reach. Ferries link you to the islands and you can hire cars in all of the major cities and towns. It’s easy to travel around Scotland – you just have to know how.
For a more indepth look at your travel options as well as a whole heap of tips and advice you can have a read of the other blogs in the resources section but to begin with here is a quick overview of websites you’ll want to look at.
Traveline Scotland is a one stop shop to help you plan your journey. By putting in your start and end destination you can discover the variety of routes and modes of transport available. The website includes rail, bus, coach, ferry and air so you can choose which you prefer. Also, you can uncheck options you don’t want and it gives you the times of departure and arrivals. It might not be as handy if you are overseas and still planning but it’ll give you a rough idea of the best way to get to each place. It really comes in handy while you are here and want to take day trips, squeeze in a trip to an island etc. There is also an app – I’d definitely recommend it.
Scotrail is the place to buy your train passes and check times/stations. If you are overseas you can buy your passes before you come from the Britrail site. The two main lines travel from the north to south in the east and west. There are a few particularly beautiful routes which take you through some of Scotland’s most stunning locations.
There are four major coach operators operating long distance in Scotland. These are Scottish Citylink, Stagecoach, National Express and Megabus. Each have their own offers and special deals, sometimes depending on when you want travel, how many are in your group and your age. Local buses operate in and between most of the cities, towns and villages and are usually regular in urban areas.
Caladonian MacBride operate the ferries from the Scottish mainland to around 26 of the islands off the east coast. Argyll Ferries operate ferries from Gourock to Dunoon and can be combined with rail tickets from Glasgow. For those wanting to visit the Orkney and Shetland islands you can arrange tickets via NorthLink Ferries or Pentland Ferries. Orkney Ferries and the Shetland Islands Council website allow you to arrange travel between the islands themselves.