Getting

Around

Public transport connects Scotland's cities, while trains and buses serve the regions and flights and ferries connect the mainland and islands.

Arriving by Air

Three main international airports serve Scotland: Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Aberdeen. All are near their respective cities, with adequate transport links, including a tram service between Edinburgh Airport and the city. Glasgow Prestwick Airport handles mainly holiday flights to and from European destinations. Inverness Airport has a small number of flights from Amsterdam in addition to flights from London and other UK airports. Dundee has flights from London City. Scotland’s other mainland airports include Wick, Campbeltown and Oban. The Northern and Western Isles are served by Kirkwall Airport in Orkney, Sumburgh Airport in Shetland, Stornoway Airport on Lewis, and smaller airports on Islay, Tiree, Benbecula and Barra.

Train Travel

International Train Travel

Edinburgh and Glasgow are the main hubs for rail travel to Scotland from the rest of the UK. There are connections at London St Pancras International for Eurostar services from mainland Europe. London North Eastern Railway then runs from London to Edinburgh, Dundee and Aberdeen. Avanti West Coast operates from London Euston to Glasgow and onward to Edinburgh, with some trains continuing to Inverness. The Caledonian Sleeper operates overnight services from London Euston to Glasgow, Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Inverness and Fort William. The Interrail Great Britain Pass offers a good deal on travel throughout Scotland and the rest of the UK for 3, 4, 6 or 8 days within a one month period.

Avanti West Coast

avantiwestcoast.co.uk

Caledonian Sleeper

sleeper.scot

Eurostar

eurostar.com

Interrail Great Britain Pass

interrail.eu

London North Eastern Railway

lner.co.uk

Regional Trains

Lines within Scotland are coordinated by National Rail, with main stations in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Stirling, Perth, Dundee, Aberdeen, Inverness, Fort William and Oban. Thurso is Scotland’s northernmost railway station. The West Highland Line terminates at Mallaig.

National Rail

nationalrail.co.uk

Long-Distance Bus Travel

Long distance coaches connect major towns and cities with each other and with rural areas. Main operators are Megabus and Scottish Citylink.

Megabus

uk.megabus.com

Scottish Citylink

citylink.co.uk

Public Transport

Public transport in Scotland is a combination of private sector and city-operated services.

Most cities operate only bus systems. In Edinburgh buses are complemented by a single tram line and in Glasgow by a single subway circuit and a suburban rail network, all controlled by Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT).

Public transport operators and Traveline Scotland provide ticket information, timetables and safety and hygiene measures for all public transport services across the country, as well as live updates on local services.

Traveline Scotland

travelinescotland.com

Public Transport Operators

Aberdeen: First Aberdeen

firstgroup.com/aberdeen

Dundee: Xplore Dundee

nxbus.co.uk

Edinburgh: Transport for Edinburgh

transportforedinburgh.com

Glasgow: SPT

spt.co.uk

Bus

Urban bus networks are generally fast, frequent and reliable. In most cities, a single fare applies for all bus travel within city limits. Multiple trip tickets and one-day travel passes are available in major cities. These can be bought online and stored on your phone. Single-trip tickets can be bought from the driver when boarding your bus but change is not given so you must pay the exact fare in cash. Public transport in rural areas is less extensive. Timetables are often designed around the needs of local workers and school students, so schedules are less convenient for visitors, with departures early in the morning and in late afternoon or early evening.

Tram

Edinburgh Trams connect Edinburgh International Airport with the city centre. There are plans to extend it as far as Leith by 2023.

Edinburgh Trams

edinburghtrams.com

Subway

Glasgow’s SPT Subway, the only underground rail service in Scotland, comprises a 7 mile (10 km) loop connecting 15 stations in the city centre. Trains run every 4 minutes at peak times.

Tickets can be bought at any subway station. Single tickets are a fixed price and are valid on any journey. Savings can be made by purchasing a return (£3.30) or an all-day pass (£4.20).

SPT Subway

spt.co.uk/subway

Taxi

Cabs can be picked up at taxi ranks or hailed on the street. London-style black cabs display a yellow “taxi” sign which is lit up when the taxi is free. Fares are metered. “Private hire” cars must be booked by phone.

Driving

Travelling by car is by far the easiest way to explore beyond major cities.

Driving to Scotland

The journey to Edinburgh or Glasgow from London or main English ferry ports via the M1 and M6 motorways takes around 8–9 hours. If arriving by car ferry to Newcastle the A1 brings you to Edinburgh in around 2.5 hours.

Driving in Scotland

Scotland’s roads are generally good, with motorways or dual carriageway highways connecting all major towns and cities. In remote areas some roads are single carriageway with designated passing places. Convoys of slow-moving caravans can slow up traffic in peak summer holiday season. Be aware that weather can change rapidly and driving conditions can deteriorate suddenly at any time of year. Driving in cities is not recommended; traffic is heavy and parking can be scarce.

Car Rental

To rent a car in Scotland you must be at least 21 years old (some renters insist on a minimum age of 25) and have held a valid licence for one year. Car rental agencies have outlets at main airports and in major towns and cities.

Rules of the Road

Drive on the left. Seat belts must be worn at all times and children must travel with the correct child restraint for their weight and size.

Mobile telephones may not be used while driving, except with a handsfree system, and third party insurance is required by law.

Overtake on the outside or right-hand lane and give priority to traffic approaching from the right. Give way to emergency service vehicles. It is illegal to drive and park in bus lanes.

On single-track roads which are wide enough for only one vehicle, pull into the nearest designated passing place on your left, or wait opposite a passing place on your right to allow an oncoming vehicle to pass. You should also use passing places to allow drivers to overtake.

Scotland’s legal alcohol limit for drivers is lower than the rest of the UK’s, at 50 mg of alcohol per 100ml (0.05 per cent BAC). Avoid drinking alcohol completely if you plan to drive.

Cycling

The trails of the Scottish Highlands are perfect for off-road riding, and there are great networks for mountain bikers across the country, not just in the Highlands. For a slightly less energetic ride, gentle, traffic-free trails follow old canal towpaths and former railway lines; perfect for families. 7Stanes trails span the entirety of southern Scotland. Find traffic-free city and countryside bike routes on the website of the UK’s National Cycle Network, Sustrans.

7Stanes

forestryandland.gov.scot

Sustrans

sustrans.org.uk

Bicycle Hire

Off road, touring and city bikes, bikes for younger children, and electrically assisted e-bikes can be rented from companies like Biketrax in Edinburgh and EBS Cycle Centre in Dundee. Nextbike is a cycle sharing scheme with 500 bikes available from more than 60 locations around Glasgow.

BikeTrax

biketrax.co.uk

EBS Cycle Centre

electricbikesscotland.com

Nextbike

nextbike.co.uk

Bike Touring

Several companies operate guided and self-guided bike tours around Scotland. Wilderness Scotland offers guided cycling tours in scenic areas such as the Cairngorms, the Hebrides and the Great Glen, with a convenient support van to carry your luggage.

Wilderness Scotland

wildernessscotland.com

Walking and Hiking

With a vast network of clearly way-marked footpaths, Scotland is a fantastic destination for walkers and hikers. Check the Scottish Mountaineering Club, Scotways and Ramblers for information specific to your route.

Scotland’s mountains are easy to reach but bad weather can strike at any time, so planning and good preparation are essential. Ensure you have good hiking boots, warm waterproof clothing, a map and a compass. Tell someone where you’re going and when you plan to return.

Walking is also an easy and enjoyable way to explore Scotland’s compact city centres such as Edinburgh, Glasgow and Stirling, where most of the key sites are within walking distance of one another, and smaller cities such as Aberdeen, Dundee, Inverness, Perth and Stirling.

Boats and Ferries

There are no international car ferries direct to Scotland. However DFDS Seaways sails from Amsterdam to Newcastle in the north of England, only 100 km (64 miles) from the Scottish border. P&O Ferries sails between Larne in Northern Ireland and Cairnryan, around 130 km (80 miles) south of Glasgow and Stena Line sails from Belfast to Cairnryan.

For island hoppers, Caledonian MacBrayne (Calmac) offers passes valid for 8 days, 15 days or one month on its routes to western isles including Arran, Barra, Coll, Eigg, Harris, Islay, Mull, Raasay, Skye and Tiree. NorthLink Ferries sails to Stromness in Orkney from Scrabster and from Aberdeen to Kirkwall in Orkney and Lerwick in Shetland. Pentland Ferries offers car ferries to South Ronaldsay in Orkney from Gill’s Bay, west of John O’Groats. John O’Groats Ferries operates a passenger-only service to South Ronaldsay. Smaller, independent ferry services operate between smaller islands and the mainland.

Caledonian MacBrayne

calmac.co.uk

DFDS Seaways

dfds.com

John O’Groats Ferries

jogferry.co.uk

NorthLink Ferries

northlinkferries.co.uk

P&O Ferries

poferries.com

Pentland Ferries

pentlandferries.co.uk

Stena Line

stenaline.co.uk

Need to know Getting Around

At a Glance

Public Transport costs

Need to know Getting Around

Speed Limit

Need to know Getting Around

GETTING TO AND FROM THE AIRPORT

Airport Distance to City Public Transport Journey Time Price
Edinburgh 8 miles (13 km) Airlink 100 Bus 45 mins €4.50
Tram 30 mins €6.50
Glasgow 8 miles (13 km) Airport Express 500 Bus 15 mins €9.00
Aberdeen 7 miles (11 km) Jet Service 727 Coach 30 mins €3.70

Need to know Getting Around

JOURNEY PLANNER

Plotting the main driving routes by journey time, this map is a rough guide to driving between Scotland’s main towns and cities. The times given reflect the fastest and most direct routes. Allow extra time for driving in bad weather and beware of rapidly changing weather conditions.

alt image

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Aberdeen to Inverness 2.5 hrs
Edinburgh to Glasgow 1.25 hrs
Edinburgh to Dundee 1.25 hrs
Edinburgh to Aberdeen 3 hrs
Edinburgh to Inverness 3.5 hrs
Edinburgh to Stirling 1 hr
Glasgow to Stirling 3.5 hrs
Glasgow to Oban 2.5 hrs
Inverness to Fort William 1.5 hrs
Inverness to Wick 2.75 hrs
Perth to Inverness 2.5 hrs

Need to know Getting Around

SCOTLAND BY BOAT

Cruising on the Caledonian Canal and around the island and mainland ports of Scotland's scenic northwest coast is a fabulous way to see some of the country's finest scenery.

Caledonian Discovery

Operating two 12-passenger hotel barges, Caledonian Discovery offers one-week cruises on the Caledonian canal and the Great Glen Lochs.
caledonian-discovery.co.uk

Hebridean Island Cruises

If you are looking to explore Scotland’s Isles in style, these luxury all inclusive cruises tour the Western Isles aboard the Hebridean Princess, an elegant small cruise ship with just 30 cabins.
hebridean.co.uk

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