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Tour by public transport


Last week I returned home from my first ever roundtrip in Scotland and I absolutely loved it! For those of you that are as terrified as I am with driving on the left side of the road, or just like to relax while making your trip, I wanted to write a quick breakdown post of how I travelled in hopes to help out. I'm going to make a next attempt next summer for East Scotland and up to the Orkneys, this is more the west.

I flew in to Glasgow, but you could definitely do it from Edinburgh as well, whatever you prefer.
From Glasgow I didn't waste any time since I was returning there on the last day, and I took the Airport Express bus, which stops at a few places around the city, including the train stations Central and Queen Street. In Queen Street I hopped on the train to Stirling.
(If you get there in the afternoon you have a chance of an offpeak ticket, cheaper!) I didn't prebook this ticket as you don't have a real set time... my plane for instance had an hour of delay. (Bummer!) Glasgow-Stirling takes about half an hour, I believe Edinburgh Stirling is about the same.
While you could very well stay in Stirling for the day, I dropped off my bag and then went on to Linlithgow to see the castle ruins. You can buy a return ticket and with a little luck off peak as well. Was about 8 pounds.

My next day I spent in Stirling, walking around and using the hop on hop off bus (4 pounds) to go to places like the William Wallace monument which is a bit of a walk out of the town centre. It is doable, I walked up and used the bus to go back.
In the afternoon I took the train to Inverness. This one I did prebook as you can get it cheaper that way, it was about half price if booked earlier. Do check with your accomodation if you can check in late cause it's quite the trip. It's a very lovely, scenic route and I got the 'silent' train with plug ins for phone and strong wifi. Yay!

Inverness is a late arrival, so it was just off to the b&b. My full day I spent with going to Culloden battlefield by bus. (It does not start at the bus station but at the Queen Street post office! 4 pounds). From Culloden you can walk to the Clava Cairns, it's about 2 miles but it's a nice walk and not too hard to do. When back in Inverness, go up to the Castle, visit the Leaky's bookshop or do the Ness walk. I combined all three but was pooped by the end of the day.

Next morning I had prebooked the train to Kyle of Lochalsch with an additional reservation of the Citylink bus to Portree on Skye. This trainride is promoted as one of the most scenic routes and it is definitely not a lie. About 2 hours on the train and an hour by bus and you are in Portree, giving you an afternoon to spend there. I did some hiking, with a bit of luck you can also take the bus to a location, but public transport is not at it's best on Skye. I opted for a guided tour with Skye Bus tours and was absolutely amazed at all of Skye's beauty. It's a full on tour stopping at Fairy pools, Fairy Glen, Neist point (I opted for Dunvegan castle and the seal trip), old man of storr, Curraing etc...

From Portree I took the bus to Fort William which took about three hours. Prebooked once again. Here you could also take the bus and catch the ferry to Malaig instead, I opted for Fort William. Did some hiking and a bit of souvenir hunting. 

My last stop was Glasgow. I hopped on the train from Fort William to Glasgow and spent my last day there before having to board the plane again to go home. 
Things went very well and apart from a ten minute delay of one train it was all amazingly on time work.
I saw a hell of a lot and am so stoked I want to go back when I can.

I hope this gives some inspiration for trips by public transport!


  • VisitScotlandLiamVisitScotlandLiam Member, Administrator, Moderator, VisitScotland Staff
    @Adsagsona Sounds like you had an incredible trip!  Thanks for posting such an in depth and informative thread about it, do you have any pics from the holiday?  We'd love to see them!
    Lead vocalist & rhythm guitarist for The Bright SkiesSpotify, Twitter, Facebook, SoundCloud, YouTube.
  • HorizonsHorizons Member, VisitScotland Ambassador ✭✭✭✭
    @Adsagsona That is absolutely wonderful! Thank you for the great description of your stops, I find myself mesmerized by the views each time I take a bus or train across Scotland. I echo @VisitScotlandLiam in request pictures, if possible and glad I could help thrash out some ticket logistics way back in January. :smiley:
    I'm Anirudh, an Indian travel blogger who has explored a lot of Scotland by public transport. My blog. Find me on Facebook | Instagram

    Best of Scotland in 1 week itinerary (fully by public transport)

    My Scotland travels (includes EdinburghSkye, HarrisMullArranOrkneyLoch Lomond, Islay, Oban, DunoonSpeyside)

  • AdsagsonaAdsagsona Member ✭✭
    @VisitScotlandLiam Thank you! I tried to write it in an easy manner to help other people out. You never know if someone wants to try it too :). I'll post some pictures, I hope to find how to haha.

    @Horizons Thank you! The views are absolutely stunning, that is for sure. You were a great help in starting me off with the public transport for sure! Be prepared to be bombarded again in a few months haha :D I'll try for the pictures!
  • AdsagsonaAdsagsona Member ✭✭

    In order: Mark's war (Stirling) - Stirling castle - Stirling bridge - Wallace Monument - Clava Cairns - Culloden battlefield - Linlithgow palace

  • AdsagsonaAdsagsona Member ✭✭
    And as an addition, pictures I managed to take from the train, always such a beautiful landscape :smiley:

  • AndyfanAndyfan Member
    Hi! We (myself , husband and 26yr  old son) want to do a wildlife/scenery tour of Scotland, by train, including steam trains, stopping here and there at hotels and b&b’s . We have just under 3 weeks available, starting July 25th 2019. We are a bit hampered by hubbys mobility - he can manage limited walking distances. We would start in Leeds,head to Edinburgh, and go from there. 
    Absolutely any advice/tips welcome! We keep looking at maps and there’s so much to see! We need to calm down and remember we can do more the next year lol ! 
  • Hi Andyfan, I live on the north coast and love travelling by train in Scotland. There are different train ticket types offered by Scotrail which might be of interest for supporting your adventures:

    I’d love to visit the west coast and go on the Jacobite steam train:
    scothighlands |
  • AndyfanAndyfan Member
    Thanks for the links scothighlands ! 
  • ShaHam2901ShaHam2901 Member
    edited December 2018
    @Adsagsona Thanks for all of this information!!  I’m planning my own trip to Scotland this April.  I want to use Glasgow as my base (intend to fly in and out of the city) but want to see some of the countryside and especially Skye.  The landscape on Skye that I’ve seen in pictures and videos has been drawing me there for a few years.  I’ve been a bit anxious since I’ve never been there before, but all of your tips and information has allayed some of my anxiety about traveling alone in a different country.  I’ll definitely be following your footsteps in the very near future.  Thank you!!
  • HorizonsHorizons Member, VisitScotland Ambassador ✭✭✭✭
    @ShaHam2901 From personal experience and everyone else I have heard back from who has taken a solo trip, there is little for you to worry about. If you are planning to use public transport (for the most part) for your trip, check out this other thread where @Adsagsona and community members helped iron out a practical itinerary. Happy to provide feedback on yours if you have an idea of what you're planning to see (apart from Skye). Glasgow remains the gold standard for a trip's starting point.

    Call Skye Scenic Tours asap to get yourself on a day tour, they are one of the best in Scotland. If the weather is nice & sunny, consider taking the ferry to Tarbert on Isle of Harris along with a day trip with the local tour company Harris Scenic Tours (and a nip in to the distillery to get your hands on some of the world's best gin) The views I've seen on both these day trips are beyond stunning.
    I'm Anirudh, an Indian travel blogger who has explored a lot of Scotland by public transport. My blog. Find me on Facebook | Instagram

    Best of Scotland in 1 week itinerary (fully by public transport)

    My Scotland travels (includes EdinburghSkye, HarrisMullArranOrkneyLoch Lomond, Islay, Oban, DunoonSpeyside)

  • FullStopNextChapterFullStopNextChapter VisitScotland Ambassador ✭✭✭
    @ShaHam2901 - Scotland is on the whole a good place to live, work and travel but as with any travel plans, always take care to stay safe. 

    I have friends who do not drive and still enjoy plenty of adventures in Scotland using public transport. I may take a little more planning but they always enjoy their experience. 

    You will find the people here very friendly and easy to spark up conversations with, in a pub, on the street for directions or even in a queue. Almost like you won't be on your own. 
    Join in my new chapter over on the blog. Discovering all things that make Scotland the place everyone wants to visit. 

  • Thanks for all of the advice!!  I have a tentative itinerary which includes a tour to Skye and the highlands and also plan to take the train to Edinburgh.....I have to see the Kelpies!  And I have found a great walking tour of Glasgow that will wind down my stay.  Now just to put it altogether😊
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