As the country’s capital, Edinburgh is often the starting point for Scottish rail tours before heading further afield to Glasgow, Inverness and the West Highland Line. Looking for the best train holidays in Scotland? You’ve come to the right place. All aboard!
Scotland’s rugged and wild countryside makes it the perfect place for an epic train adventure.
The symbol of Scotland
Got a few hours to spare? Hop on a Scottish rail train from Edinburgh Waverley in the Old Town and ride across the iconic Forth Bridge to the town of Fife on the other side of the Firth of Forth. Built in 1882, this cantilever railway bridge is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and officially recognised as a symbol of Scotland. Tickets are relatively cheap and you can spend a day around the base of the bridge in Queensferry, the Lothians, and Fife.
A British national treasure
One thing that should be on your bucket list is a luxury ride on the Flying Scotsman, the nation’s favourite record-breaking locomotive. The express passenger train made its first visit north of the border in 16 years earlier this year, with hundreds of fans lining up to see it pass over the Forth Bridge. Tickets sold out in just a few hours, however organisers have said there will be more excursions planned over the Scottish summer festival season and for the following year. Tickets aren’t cheap, but it really is a once-in-a-lifetime experience!
Crossing the Borders
Borders Railway offers trips around the enchanting regions of Edinburgh, Midlothian and the Scottish Borders. The brand new railway connects Edinburgh with Tweedbank, stopping in at villages such as Eskbank, Newtongrange, Gorebridge and Stow. You can visit beautiful abbeys, historic castles and wander around some of the region’s lush green parks. It’s less than an hour direct from Edinburgh to Tweedbank, so you’ll have more than enough time to pack a picnic and explore the surrounds.
Over to England
The route from Edinburgh crossing over the English border to Carlisle takes around two hours. You can detour over to Dumfries, where Scottish poet Robert Burns spent the last years of his life, and visit the array of ancient castles, abbeys and museums in town.
A magical trip west
From Edinburgh, you can catch a 45-minute train to Glasgow. Spend your day sightseeing in Scotland’s largest city, or else jump on another train and set off on the West Highland Line, made famous as the scenic route that Harry Potter takes to Hogwarts. The West Highland Line takes you to Mallaig and passes over many sights you’ll recognise from the film, such as the Glenfinnan Viaduct, Loch Shiel, Loch Eilt and Ben Nevis. Before reaching Malliag Bay, you can stop off at Fort William and take a ride on an old-fashioned Jacobite Steam Train, or Arisaig to visit one of the Highland’s best beaches.
The northern sights
"There are plenty of Scottish rail trips departing from Inverness, in the north of Scotland. The Kyle Line takes passengers through typical Highland villages such as Plockton and the incredible Achnashellach Forest before finishing at Kyle of Lochalsh. During your 2 and a half hour journey, you’ll be treated to stunning views across the Isle of Skye, the coast of Loch Carron and the Torridon Peaks. If you want to go even further north, you can head all the way up to Wick (approximately 4.5 hours from Inverness) past Foulis Castle, Invergordon and several distilleries where you can stop in for a cheeky whisky – after all, you are on holiday!"