Visitors will find frequent flights available from London to Scotland aboard Flybe, a franchise partner of Loganair (tel. 0871/700-2000; www.flybe.com). Flights are from London's Heathrow Airport to both Edinburgh and Glasgow. Ryanair (tel. 353/1-249-7791; www.ryanair.com) flies from Stansted outside London to Prestwick on the west coast of Scotland; and British Midland (tel. 0870/6070-555; www.flybmi.com) flies from Heathrow to both Edinburgh and Glasgow.
Known for consistently offering excellent fares, Virgin Atlantic Airways (tel. 800/862-8621; www.virgin-atlantic.com) flies daily to either Heathrow or Gatwick from Boston; Newark, New Jersey; New York's JFK; Los Angeles; San Francisco; Washington's Dulles; Las Vegas; Miami; and Orlando.
American Airlines (tel. 800/433-7300; www.aa.com) offers daily flights to Heathrow from half a dozen U.S. gateways -- New York's JFK, Newark, Chicago, Boston, Miami, and Los Angeles.
Depending on the day and season, Delta Air Lines (tel. 800/241-4141; www.delta.com) runs two daily nonstop flights between Atlanta and Gatwick. Delta also offers nonstop daily service from Cincinnati.
Northwest Airlines (tel. 800/225-2525 or 800/447-4747; www.nwa.com) flies nonstop from Minneapolis and Detroit to Gatwick, with connections possible from such other cities as Boston or New York.
Continental Airlines (tel. 800/525-0280; www.continental.com) has daily flights to London from Houston and Newark.
United Airlines (tel. 800/241-6522; www.united.com) flies nonstop from Chicago to Heathrow up to three times daily, depending on the season. United also offers nonstop service three times a day from Dulles Airport, near Washington, D.C.
For travelers departing from Canada, Air Canada (tel. 888/247-2262; www.aircanada.com) flies daily to London's Heathrow nonstop from Vancouver, Montreal, and Toronto. There are also frequent direct flights from Calgary and Ottawa. British Airways (tel. 800/247-9297) has direct flights from Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver.
For travelers departing from Australia, British Airways (tel. 800/247-9297) has flights to London from Sydney, Melbourne, Perth, and Brisbane. Qantas (tel. 852/2822-9000; www.qantas.com.au) offers flights from Australia to London's Heathrow. Direct flights depart from Sydney and Melbourne. Some have the bonus of free stopovers in Bangkok or Singapore.
Departing from New Zealand, Air New Zealand (tel. 800/028-4149; www.airnewzealand.com) has direct flights to London from Auckland. These flights depart daily.
Short flights from Dublin to London are available through British Airways (tel. 800/247-9297), with four flights daily into London's Gatwick airport; Aer Lingus (tel. 800/IRISH-AIR [474-7424]; www.aerlingus.com), which flies into Heathrow; Ryanair (tel. 353/1-249-7791; www.ryanair.com); and British Midland (tel. 0870/607-0555; www.flybmi.com).
Some Scotland-bound passengers opt for flights into Manchester, England -- it's closer than London to Scotland's Highlands and islands. British Airways offers frequent flights into Manchester, many nonstop, from various parts of the United States.
If you're driving north to Scotland from England, it's fastest to take the M1 motorway north from London. You can reach M1 by driving to the ring road from any point in the British capital. Southeast of Leeds, you'll need to connect with A1 (not a motorway), which you take north to Scotch Corner. Here M1 resumes, ending south of Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Then you can take A696, which becomes A68, for its final run north into Edinburgh.
If you're in the west of England, go north along M5, which begins at Exeter (Devon). Eventually this will merge with M6. Continue north on M6 until you reach a point north of Carlisle. From Carlisle, cross into Scotland, near Gretna Green. Continue north along A74 via Moffat. A74 will eventually connect with M74 heading toward Glasgow. If your goal is Edinburgh, not Glasgow, various roads will take you east to the Scottish capital, including M8, which goes part of the way, as do A702, A70, and A71 (all these routes are well signposted).
From England, two main rail lines link London to Scotland. The most popular and fastest route is London's King's Cross Station to Edinburgh, going by way of Newcastle and Durham. Trains cross from England into Scotland at Berwick-upon-Tweed. Fifteen trains a day leave London for Edinburgh between 8am and 6pm; night service is more limited, and you must reserve sleepers. Three of these trains go on to Aberdeen.
If you're going on to the western Highlands and islands, Edinburgh makes a good gateway, with better train connections to those areas than Glasgow.
If you're going via the west coast, trains leave London's Euston Station for Glasgow, by way of Rugby, Crewe, Preston, and Carlisle, with nearly a train per hour during the day. Most of these trains take about 5 hours to reach Glasgow. You can also take the Highland Chieftain, going direct to Stirling and Aviemore and terminating in Inverness, capital of the Highlands. There's overnight sleeper service from Euston Station to Glasgow, Perth, Stirling, Aviemore, Fort William, and Inverness. It's possible to book a family compartment.
Scotland is served by other trains from England, including regular service from such cities as Birmingham, Liverpool, Manchester, Southampton, and Bristol. If you're in Penzance (Cornwall), you can reach Glasgow or Edinburgh directly by train without having to return to London.
Orient Express Trains & Cruises has launched its fifth train in Britain, the Northern Belle. You get great luxury, except for one oversight: There are no berths. Making about 20 departures a week, the Northern Belle carries 252 passengers and feeds them in six stately dining rooms evocative of a Scottish country home. In addition to its runs in England, the train features weekend jaunts up to Scotland, with departures from Liverpool, Manchester, and York. What about taking a bath? Stays in hotels will be part of the itinerary. For reservations, call tel. 0845/077-2222 in the U.K., or 800/524-2420 in the U.S. You can also go to www.orient-express.com.
By Train from Continental Europe -- Britain's isolation from the rest of Europe led to the development of an independent railway network with different rules and regulations from those observed on the Continent. That's all changing now, but one big difference that may affect you still remains: If you're traveling to Britain from the Continent, your Eurailpass will not be valid when you get there.
In 1994, Queen Elizabeth and President François Mitterrand officially opened the Channel Tunnel, or Chunnel, and the Eurostar express passenger train began twice-daily service between London and both Paris and Brussels -- a 3-hour trip. The $15-billion tunnel, one of the great engineering feats of all time, is the first link between Britain and the Continent since the Ice Age.
So if you're coming to London from say, Rome, your Eurailpass will get you as far as the Chunnel. At that point, you can cross the English Channel aboard the Eurostar, and you'll receive a discount on your ticket. Once in England, you must use a separate BritRail pass or purchase a direct ticket to continue on to your destination.
Rail Europe (tel. 877/272-RAIL ; www.raileurope.com) sells direct-service tickets on the Eurostar between Paris or Brussels and London. A one-way fare between Paris and London costs £107 to £210 in first class and £49 to £146 in second class.
In London, make reservations for Eurostar by calling tel. 08705/186-186, and in the United States it's tel. 800/EUROSTAR (387-6782; www.eurostar.com). Eurostar trains arrive and depart from London's Waterloo Station, Paris's Gare du Nord, and Brussels's Central Station.
Travel Accommodations -- BritRail (tel. 866/BRIT-RAIL [274-8724]; www.britrail.com) has an offer for visitors to Scotland that promises to save money. When going from London to Scotland, a typical traveler often pays not only for a train ticket but for that night's sleeping accommodations as well. But BritRail has created the Caledonian Sleeper Packages to eliminate the excess spending. Passengers travel overnight from London to either Scotland's Lowlands or Highlands and sleep on the train. Travelers receive a wake-up call the next morning, along with tea or coffee. The sleepers have all the basics: air-conditioning, toiletries, a sink, and an electric outlet. Nonsmoking units are available. Travelers should make reservations for sleeper cars.
By Bus (Coach)
Long-distance buses, called "motorcoaches" in Britain, are the least expensive means of reaching Scotland from England. Some 20 coach companies run services, mainly from London to Edinburgh or Glasgow. The major operators are National Express, Scottish Omnibuses, Western SMT, Stagecoach, and Eastern Scottish. It takes 8 to 8 1/2 hours to reach Edinburgh or Glasgow from London.
It's estimated that coach fares are about one-third of the rail charges for comparable trips to Scotland. Most coaches depart from London's Victoria Coach Station. If you're visiting between June and August, it's wise to make seat reservations at least 3 days in advance (4 or 5 days if possible). For timetables, available from London to Edinburgh, contact National Express (tel. 08717/818181; www.nationalexpress.com) or Rapsons (tel. 0871/2002233; www.rapsons.com). Travel centers and travel agents also have details. Most travel agents in London sell coach seats and can make reservations for you.
If you're traveling by bus in the United Kingdom, consider purchasing a Britexpress Card, which entitles you to a 30% discount on National Express (England and Wales) and Caledonian Express (Scotland) buses. Contact a travel agent for details.