Scotland’s two principal airports Edinburgh Airport (EDI; www.edinburghairport.com) and Glasgow Airport (GLA; www.glasgowairport.com) are served by nonstop flights, often seasonal, from several North American airports. These include Chicago (United); Newark (United); New York (Delta); Orlando (Virgin Atlantic); Philadelphia (American); and Toronto and Vancouver (Air Transat). If you’re flying across the Atlantic, you can also go through London Heathrow or another European hub, often Amsterdam or Paris.
A Frommers.com study found that the websites www.skiplagged.com, www.momondo.com and www.skyscanner.net consistently come up with the best prices for transatlantic flights; they also will show you a myriad of possibilities when it comes to connections. An alternative for the truly budget conscious is to investigate the lowest transatlantic fares to European hubs and continue from there on one of the low-cost airlines that service Glasgow and Edinburgh (easyJet and Ryanair fly in and out of Glasgow and Edinburgh). Keep in mind, too, that Glasgow and Edinburgh Airports are only 39 miles apart, and the cities are well connected to both airports by bus, so it’s worthwhile checking into the lowest fares to both.
If you’re driving to Scotland from London or anywhere in eastern England to Edinburgh, the A1 is the fastest route. This road heads directly north from the M25, London’s ring road, and crosses into the Scottish Borders before leading into Edinburgh from the east. For Glasgow from London take the M1, which leads northwest from the M25. At junction 19 of the M1, head west to join the M6 to travel west through Birmingham before heading directly north up the west side of England into Scotland. If you’re traveling from the southwest of England the M5, which begins at Exeter (Devon), leads into the M6 at Birmingham. As the M6 crosses the border into Dumfries and Galloway in Scotland, it becomes the M74 and heads directly north into Glasgow. All major routes into northern Scotland lead from either Edinburgh or Glasgow. Remember, Glasgow and Edinburgh are less than 40 miles apart and connected by the M8, so once you get near one you’ll be within an easy drive of the other.
Two main rail lines link London to Scotland. The East Coast Mainline connects London’s King’s Cross Station with Edinburgh via York, Newcastle-upon-Tyne, and Durham. Trains depart at regular intervals throughout the day and cross from England into Scotland at Berwick-upon-Tweed. The journey from London to Edinburgh takes around 4 1/4 hours with some services traveling an additional hour on to Glasgow, and others continuing north to Dundee (an additional 1 1/2 hr.) and Aberdeen (an additional 2 1/2 hr.). The West Coast Mainline leads from London’s Euston Station for Glasgow by way of Preston, Oxenholme in England’s Lake District, and Carlisle. Trains depart roughly every hour throughout the day and take around 4 1/2 hours to reach Glasgow. London North Eastern Railway (www.lner.co.uk) provides service along the East Coast Mainline; Virgin Trains (www.virgintrains.co.uk) provides service along the West Coast Mainline.
In addition, a Cross Country route leads from Penzance in Cornwall, England through Plymouth, Exeter, Bristol, Birmingham, Leeds, and other cities to Scotland. For more information on this service, contact tel. 08477/369-123 (www.crosscountrytrains.co.uk).
If you’re traveling to Scotland by train from continental Europe, you’ll probably connect through London’s St Pancras Station, hub for high-speed Eurostar train services (www.eurostar.com) from Paris, Brussels, and Amsterdam, traveling to the U.K. via the Channel Tunnel.
Train routes from Edinburgh and Glasgow lead across the rest of Scotland and are mostly operated by ScotRail (www.scotrail.co.uk; tel. 08457/550-033). ScotRail also operates Caledonian Sleepers, overnight trains between London’s Euston Station and Scotland that offer both seated and sleeping berth accommodation. Services can be booked up to 12 weeks in advance either by telephone or online.
By Bus (Coach)
Long-distance buses, or “coaches” as they’re known in Britain, are the least expensive means of reaching Scotland from other parts of the U.K. The majority of routes and services are operated by National Express (www.nationalexpress.com; tel. 0871/781-8181), which links with most decent-sized communities in the U.K. The budget operator MegaBus (www.megabus.com; tel. 0871/352-4444) also runs long-distance coach services to Scotland from a limited number of U.K. destinations. In London, most coaches depart from Victoria Coach Station at 164 Buckingham Palace Rd. and take 8 to 8 1/2 hours to reach Edinburgh or Glasgow, and often make the trip at night. It’s always wise to make reservations in advance, especially during peak times such as the summer months and over the festive season. National Express offers the Skimmer Pass for unlimited travel throughout Britain for 7 days, £69; 14 days, £119; and 28 days, £199.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.