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Travel in Scotland

Is it easy to travel within Scotland without a car?

Comments

  • HorizonsHorizons Member, VisitScotland Ambassador ✭✭✭✭
    It is possible to do so, I've seen large parts of the country without knowing how to drive. The main issue is that public transport services are not very frequent in the remote areas so you won't have a ton of options to get in / out. I supplement public transport travel with local tour guides to be able to get to places that are impossible to reach by bus.

    I recommend reading my preferred 1-week itinerary for Scotland by public transport, this thread on Scottish castles reachable without a car, this other thread on why I found ScotRail's Spirit of Scotland travelpass not worth the money and a full list with links to details of all parts of Scotland I've been to (each linked post contains public transport logisitics).

    Happy to help with any specific questions.
    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, Speyside)

  • spootsspoots Member ✭✭
    edited February 15
    It is :)

    Train:
    The main rail routes in Scotland connect the seven cities together.  There are many services between Edinburgh and Glasgow, and from those cities trains run to Stirling, Perth, Dundee, Aberdeen and Inverness.  All of these cities have direct services to England - Edinburgh and Glasgow have many to the rest of the UK.

    There are also train services to large towns such as Dumfries, Lanark, Galashiels, Livingston, Coatbridge, Cumbernauld, Falkirk, Alloa, Dunfermline, Kirkcaldy, Arbroath and Fort William.  The Caledonian Sleeper provides an easy, overnight route from London to both the Highlands and Lowlands.

    Trains meet the ferries at Ardrossan, Largs, Wemyss Bay, Gourock, Oban, Arisaig and Mallaig, and the station at Thurso is a short taxi trip away from Scrabster ferry terminal.

    There are plenty of scenic rail routes, including:
    -the Borders Railway from Edinburgh to Tweedbank
    -Glasgow to Oban past Loch Lomond
    -Glasgow to Mallaig, over the Glenfinnan Viaduct
    -the main route to Inverness through the Cairngorms
    -Inverness to Kyle of Lochalsh via Plockton
    -Inverness to Thurso and Wick - 'The Far North Line'

    There are also sometimes steam trains on the spectacular line over the Glenfinnan Viaduct between Fort William and Mallaig on The Jacobite.

    Bus:
    If you're travelling by bus, then the main operators are Stagecoach, First, and Scottish Citylink.  Stagecoach and First provide many of the main regional routes in Scotland (there are also local operators such as McGills (in Inverclyde) with their own routes), while Citylink provide longer-distance coach services, such as to Skye and Campbeltown. 

    Train companies:
    Scotrail (for all services in Scotland): https://www.scotrail.co.uk/
    Caledonian Sleeper: https://www.sleeper.scot/
    Virgin Trains East Coast (for services to Newcastle, York and London): https://www.virgintrainseastcoast.com/
    Virgin Trains (for services to the Lake District, Birmingham and London): https://www.virgintrains.co.uk/
    CrossCountry (for services to Newcastle, York, Yorkshire, the Midlands and the South West): https://www.crosscountrytrains.co.uk/
    The Jacobite Steam Train: http://www.westcoastrailways.co.uk/jacobite/jacobite-steam-train-details.cfm

    Bus companies:
    Stagecoach: https://www.stagecoachbus.com/timetables
    First: https://www.firstgroup.com
    Scottish Citylink: http://www.citylink.co.uk/
  • HorizonsHorizons Member, VisitScotland Ambassador ✭✭✭✭
    edited February 15
    Lovely answer @spoots, very comprehensive (and worthy of being a sticky thread in it own right IMO)!

    I suppose I can do a wee bit of data completeness.

    Train companies:
    Transpennine Express (connects Manchester Airport to Edinburgh mostly via the VirginTrains route)

    Bus companies:
    National Express and Megabus provide long distance coach services across Scotland and the UK including some intercity travel in Scotland.

    Ferry companies:
    CalMac is the main ferry company to all islands except Orkney and Shetland. Northlink connects these two archipelagos to the mainland. Orkney is additionally connected by Pentland Ferries (fastest car transfer) and John O'Groats passenger ferry.
    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, Speyside)

  • spootsspoots Member ✭✭
    Thanks for your kindness!

    Ooh, I missed out TransPennine, thanks :)


  • hurleyhurley Member ✭✭
    Thanks for all the great info I feel much more confident to book travel now that i know i dont have to rent a car
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