Getting to Scotland
GETTING TO SCOTLAND BY PLANE
There are a growing number of European and long-haul destinations served by the five international airports in Scotland:
- Aberdeen Airport – 8 miles north west of the city
- Edinburgh Airport – 10 miles west of the city
- Glasgow International Airport – 8 miles west of the city
- Glasgow Prestwick International Airport – situated 30 miles south west of Glasgow
- Inverness Airport – situated 7 miles north east of the city
- Dundee Airport – situated a few miles from the city centre with domestic flights to Birmingham, London & Belfast
No airport in Scotland, except Glasgow Prestwick, is connected to the rail network, meaning travellers have to use a dedicated bus service to the city centre, or take a taxi. If you are flying into Edinburgh airport a new tram-line has now opened and carries passengers between Edinburgh Airport and Edinburgh city centre. Passengers arriving at and departing from Prestwick may use their boarding pass to claim a 50% discount on single train tickets between the airport and any station in Scotland.
GETTING TO SCOTLAND BY TRAIN
There are four day train operators linking Scotland with England:
East Coast – operate frequent services from London Kings Cross to Edinburgh via Peterborough, York and Newcastle. Some services extend directly to Aberdeen, Dundee, Leuchars (for St Andrews), Glasgow and intermediate stations.
Virgin Trains – operate frequent services from London Euston and Birmingham to Glasgow via North West England and the Lake District and slightly less frequent services from Birmingham to Edinburgh via North West England and the Lake District. Some services also call at Edinburgh.
CrossCountry connects Aberdeen, Glasgow and Edinburgh to Birmingham via Leeds, Sheffield and the East Midlands. Many services continue on to Reading and the South Coast, or through Bristol to South Wales or South West England.
Transpennine Express – operate services between Glasgow/Edinburgh and Manchester (and Manchester Airport)
NIGHT / SLEEPER TRAINS
ScotRail – operate the overnight Caledonian Sleeper linking London Euston with all Scottish cities including Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, and many other towns along the way including principal towns in the Highlands. There are two Caledonian Sleeper trains which leave every night (except Saturdays) from London Euston.
The Lowland Sleeper – departs Euston at approximately midnight (2300 on Fridays), and divides en-route for either Glasgow or Edinburgh.
The Highland Sleeper – departs Euston at around 2000 hours, and divides en-route for Aberdeen, Inverness or Fort William.
Note if you are intending to use the Caledonian Sleeper to an intermediate destination between the Central Belt and Perth or Dundee (e.g. Stirling, Perth, anywhere in Fife, Dundee or up the Angus coast, but NOT Aberdeen or Inverness) – the Highland train will drop you off at an unsociable time in the morning possibly before any other public transport is running. For this reason it is often more convenient to use the Lowland train to either Glasgow or Edinburgh and use a daytime service to complete the journey. In addition, passengers who wish to travel in the seated coach to any destination on the West Highland Line to Fort William must change coaches at Edinburgh Waverley.
For international travellers, Scottish Rail passes are available, as are BritRail passes.
GETTING TO SCOTLAND BY CAR
The main road linking Scotland and England is the M74/A74 (M) motorway which runs from Glasgow to the English border north of Carlisle. The A1 road links Edinburgh and the North East of England; however, this road is single carriageway in some areas and not considered the best route into Scotland. Hence the place name “Scotch Corner” on the A1 where traffic heading for most Scottish destinations turn to cross the Pennine hills on the A66 to enter Scotland via the M6 and M74.
GETTING TO SCOTLAND BUS
Bus and coach services are the cheapest way to get to Scotland from England, but are also the longest and the least comfortable. National Express is the main operator, with services from most major UK cities to Glasgow’s Buchanan Bus Station and Edinburgh Bus Station.
GETTING TO SCOTLAND BY SEA
Scotland is served by numerous ferry services from mainland Europe and Northern Ireland, ferry operators include:
DFDS Seaways ferry – from Amsterdam to Newcastle provides the primary service from mainland Europe to North East England, from where you can drive or take the train to Scotland.
Stena Line ferries – link Belfast, Northern Ireland to Loch Ryan port in Scotland, which is near Stranraer.
P&O Irish Sea ferries – link Larne in Northern Ireland to Cairnryan, near Stranraer and Troon in Ayrshire.