If you are planning on taking some time out from the hustle and bustle of London life to go somewhere with a more tranquil atmosphere, then Scotland is the place for you.
With its glorious mountains, stretches of wilderness and mysterious lochs, Scotland is seriously the place to be when you need a quick and inexpensive getaway from the British capital. Which leads us to the question; how do you get to Scotland from London?
There are several ways to get to Scotland from London; methods of transport include travelling by train, car, coach or even a short flight will take you there. We will take a closer look at each of these ways to get to Scotland, as well as a few ideas of what to see and do when you get there.
Driving to Scotland from London is harder work than taking the train or a catching a flight but it gives you much more flexibility in terms of stopping on the way. It can also be a cheaper option if you are travelling in a group who are willing to share the fuel costs.
The main routes through England to Scotland are the A1 on the east side and the M6, A74 (M) and M74 on the west. From London it’s approximately a 400 mile drive to Edinburgh. The quickest route is to take the M1 to the A1, or take the M1 to the M6 then onto the A702.
There are some historic routes and tourist routes which help you to make the most of your journey through Scotland, so it is worthwhile to find out more about driving routes in Scotland.
There are also national parks and scenic routes in England where you might want to stop off at on your way to Scotland, such as the Lake District, which will really get you in the mood for your Scottish retreat. It is the ideal place to stop midway for an advisable break as driving to Glasgow from London should take around 7 hours, while it takes 7 and a half hours to get to Edinburgh and a 10 and a half hour drive will get you to Inverness, depending on the traffic conditions. It will also take longer if you stop anywhere on the way.
Train services operate between London and Scotland frequently. Booking in advance always makes for a more affordable journey and you can reach Edinburgh from London Kings Cross in 4 hours and 20 minutes.
Trains services also run from London to Glasgow in 4 and half hours, Dundee in 5 hours and 50 minutes, Aberdeen in 7 hours and Inverness in 8 hours, all from which you can take connections to regional stops too.
You can look for the best pricing and book your train journey online with the Trainline or direct with Virgin trains who operate from London Euston to Scotland from the west coast and LNER (formally Virgin Trains East Coast) who operate from London Kings Cross to Scotland through the east coast.
The Caledonian Sleeper train from London to Scotland is an exciting travel experience to be had in itself! On a London evening, you can board the train and enjoy a nostalgic dining experience in the lounge carriage and then retire to your own compartment for the night. You will be greeted by the steward in the morning who will bring you some tea, and by that time your train will have reached the Scottish Highlands, which is truly a sight to be seen from your train window.
You can also go for a reclining seat which is a cheaper option compared to a compartment for the night. Find out more on the Caledonian Sleeper website or book your tickets with National Rail or the Trainline.
The National Express will take you from London Victoria Coach Station to Glasgow in just over 8 hours, to Edinburgh in 9 hours and all the way to Inverness in just over 12 and a half hours. This coach service from London runs frequently all through the day.
You can also travel with Megabus who operates their services to Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, Inverness, Perth and for Glasgow they offer a sleeper coach service with beds.
Taking a flight from London to Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness or Aberdeen is one of the quickest ways to reach Scotland. It can also be one of the cheapest ways to reach Scotland from the capital, as long as you look out for things such as extra baggage charges and the cost of getting to and from the airports.
Regular airlines such as British Airways and BMI fly to Scotland as well as budget airlines that operate from London’s airports, which are inexpensive and can get you to Edinburgh in just over an hour, although check-in times also have to be taken into consideration. Take a look at SkyScanner or CheapFlights for the best deals.
When it comes to planning on what to see and do once you finally get to Scotland, you will be absolutely spoilt for choice.
From wildlife spotting while trekking through magnificent landscapes, exploring stunning coastal features and castle ruins, to shopping, dining and visiting museums in the city, there is something in Scotland for everyone. Here’s ten ideas to get you started:
On its rolling hills and lush glens, Scotland is home to some fantastic creatures and if you are a nature lover then there are some places that just have to be visited while you are in Scotland. From Highland cows to bottle-nose dolphins, there are some extraordinary creatures that reside in Scotland and the sea that surrounds it, which can’t be found anywhere else in the United Kingdom. Here are some of the wildlife attractions in Scotland:
Trossachs National Park: The nature reserve also known as Loch Lomond has plenty of opportunities to see some great Scottish wildlife in their natural habitats. The views are absolutely stunning and there is plenty to do in the Trossachs National Park, from visiting the villages to climbing and camping.
There are a large variety of animals that can be seen here including Scotland’s native red squirrel, the endangered otter and even the rare golden eagle. There are also plenty of swans and other water birds in the surrounding area so you will be able to capture some great pictures.
There are two types of deer that can be seen in Trossachs National Park: the roe deer and the red deer. Red deer, which are the largest land mammals in Britain, were hunted exclusively by the Royal family and were therefore protected from becoming extinct. Now red deer roam the park and are a real delight to see. The smaller roe deer were not so fortunate and were hunted by the medieval population as source of food, but fortunately now they are protected on nature reserves, saving them from being wiped out completely.
Glen Coe: Glen Coe’s beautiful landscape has been featured in many films as well as being is a popular nature destination for many. Ancient volcanoes and glaciers have carved jagged mountains out of the land and it is really an impressive place to visit. The steep-sided valley of Glen Coe is famous for its waterfalls and mountain trails, making it the perfect place to visit if you are a nature lover.
Isle of Skye: Everything you want in a Scotland nature trip can be found in the Isle of Skye. There are castles, breathtaking landscapes, rivers and plenty of wildlife on this fifty mile long island which is the largest of the Inner Hebrides. There is so much to see on the Isle of Skye, it can’t be done in one day, also it is one of the few locations where you can go whale-spotting in the UK.
Loch Ness: The idea of a glimpse of the Loch Ness Monster has brought tourists as well as scientists from all over the world to visit the deep, freshwater loch, which is the second largest in Scotland after Loch Morar.
Affectionately known as ‘Nessie’, the Loch Ness Monster has been repeatedly sighted and scientists have come up with the theory that the sightings are of giant eels. To this day we still don’t have an explanation for the Scottish folklore tale that is backed up with over a thousand eye-witness accounts, whether it is a giant eel or some prehistoric creature that has survived to live beneath the murky, mysterious depths of the loch.
Myths and legends aside, Loch Ness itself is a sight for sore eyes and this stunning landscape is also overlooked by Urquhart Castle.
Scotland has a rich history and is home to some fantastic castles that were built centuries ago as homes for Scottish lords and ladies. Here are some of Scotland’s castles that you must visit, especially if you are a history or architecture enthusiast:
Edinburgh Castle: Scotland’s most famous castle, Edinburgh Castle is built on Castle Rock and has defended over 26 sieges in its 1100 year history and holds the record for Britain’s most besieged place. Although the castle was built in the 10th century by David I, it was used as a military base for many centuries before the structure that we now know as Edinburgh castle was built. Edinburgh castle has been involved in most of Scotland’s history and a trip to Scotland would be incomplete without seeing it. There is much to see and do in the castles from having a hot drink in the tea rooms or expanding your historical knowledge at an informative exhibition.
Urquhart Castle: Overlooking Loch Ness, built in the 13th century, Urquhart castle is one of the most visited castles in Scotland and has been involved in many conflicts in the past leaving it now in ruins. It was destroyed in 1692 in the Jacobite wars but this doesn’t stop many people travelling to the site to admire the ruins of the once great castle that played a role in the Wars of Scottish Independence. Urquhart Castle is most certainly on of the top ten things to see in Scotland.
Stirling Castle: This castle built between 1490 and 1600 is on Castle Hill providing a stunning view. Stirling Castle is another of Scotland’s more important and famous castles, as many Scottish kings and queens have been crowned here. This castle has much to see and there are many exciting events to attend where guides dressed up as historical characters will tell you all you need to know about the place.
Dunrobin Castle: Built in the Scottish Highlands, this beautiful castle is a real jewel of Scotland and a visit there makes a wonderful day out. Built in the late 1300s, Dunrobin Castle has served as a residence for some prominent Scottish nobility. Apart from the great sights, this castle has a delightful café and a wonderful gift shop so you can be sure to get a souvenir to remind you of your time at the castle.
Scotland isn’t just home to some great castles which have stood for centuries; in fact there are many more architectural gems to be observed and enjoyed. Here are some that you should probably add to your sightseeing itinerary:
The Kelpies: Two 30 metre high giant horses heads is not something you see every day. Kelpies are a type of marine shape shifting spirit from Scottish folklore, who usually transformed into horses and this is what these striking sculptures depict. Unveiled in April 2014, sculptures are to be found in Helix Park by the M9 Motorway and are a tribute to the horse powered industrial heritage of Scotland.
Glenfinnan Viaduct: Completed in 1901, the Glenfinnan Viaduct is a 116 metre long crescent shaped concrete viaduct with 21 arches that support the railway line 30 metres above the River Finnan. This stunning architectural feat has featured in the film; Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, it has also been included in the design on £5 notes.
With a distance of 403 miles (650 kilometres) between London and Glasgow, obviously travelling to Scotland on foot isn’t an option as it would take at least 115 hours of non-stop walking to get there! But we hope with the other methods of transport we have mentioned, you will be inspired to take a trip to the main cities in Scotland and even beyond them to take in the beauty of the Scottish Highlands too.