How to get to Scotland from London: which way is best?

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For many people coming to Scotland, especially if they’re coming from overseas, getting to London is a good starting point. The next question then is: how to get to Scotland from London?

I’ve done almost all of these options in my travels back and forth to the country that I grew up in. Some of them MANY times!

Overlooking Edinburgh Waverley Train station in the centre of the city

In a small country such as the UK it’s actually not that hard to get to Scotland from England and in particular London. You have a lot of options too from driving, train, coach or even flying. Let’s take a look at some of the best, cheapest and quickest ways and then look at each option in detail:

Some useful links for figuring out your journey to Scotland from London:

The Trainline (best for booking trains and seeing times)
Skyscanner (best for checking flights available)
Discover Cars (for comparing car rental prices)
MegaBus (coach)

What’s the best way to get from Scotland to London?

The train is by far the best way to get to Scotland from London. It’s an easy journey, getting to the train stations are easy and there’s no lengthy check in times. You can enjoy the countryside passing by and the change of scenery as you go from England to Scotland and when you do arrive the train drops you right in the centre of wherever your destination is and you’re ready to start your Scotland adventures.

You can also take a sleeper train to Scotland if you’re looking to save some time and a night in a hotel. There’s nothing better than leaving the bright lights of London and waking up in the remote highlands!

While I’m a big fan of the train it’s not always the quickest (although it can be) or the cheapest so read on if you’re looking for more info on those aspects.

What’s the quickest way to get from London to Scotland

If you’re really looking to maximise your vacation time in the UK you might be wondering what the quickest way is to Scotland from London. The answer is: it depends!

It’s easy to assume that flying is going to be the quickest and easiest way to get there but it’s not always. If you’re just travelling to Edinburgh or Glasgow and you’re starting in central London you’ll likely find the train is quicker.

If you’re just transiting at Heathrow and you’re already at the airport then getting a connecting flight, assuming the times work well, will likely be quicker.

For getting to any other place in Scotland such as Inverness or Aberdeen then flying will be quicker.

To show the difference, here’s the times to Edinburgh from London:

Train: 4 hr 30 mins to Edinburgh no changes (roughly same to Glasgow)

Flight: 1 hr 30 mins + transfer time + check in time

To check which will be quicker for you check Trainline and Skyscanner

What’s the cheapest way to get from London to Scotland

The cheapest flights from London to Scotland are from as little as £20 each way, depending on where you’re going and dates. Remember that if you get a budget flight you’ll need to get yourself to the airport which can be a little out of the way from central London and will come at a cost too.

Another cheap option is the coach. You can tickets to Edinburgh or Glasgow from London for as little as £10-£15 one way. It does take longer but if stretching your budget is important then you’ll not do better! Check out the coach section below.

Let’s take a look at each option in turn:

Getting to Scotland from London by Air

While the UK is small it’s still worthwhile considering getting to Scotland by air. It’s an especially attractive option if you have lots of luggage and don’t mind the costs associated with checking baggage.

It seems like it might be the quickest way to get to Scotland from London and for the Highlands you’ll certainly be right. You might want to bear in mind how long it takes to get to airports from central London and your wait time at the airport in addition to the flight time.

The main airports in Scotland that fly direct from London are:

  • Edinburgh (1 hr 15 mins from LHR)
  • Glasgow (1hr 25 mins from LHR)
  • Aberdeen (1 hr 35 from LHR)
  • Inverness (1 hr 40 mins from LHR)
  • Dundee (1 hr 45 from LCY)

You might also be able to fly to the following with a change (often in Glasgow):

  • Wick (far north of Scotland)
  • Kirkwall (Orkney)
  • Stornaway (Lewis)

LoganAir is the airline that covers much of Scotland and if you want to get yourself to some far flung corners it’s worth seeing if any flights go there.

Getting yourself to Glasgow or Edinburgh is fairly easy and there’s a lot of options from London including with budget airlines and also with carriers such as British Airways.

To get the best idea of what’s available I always suggest either checking SkyScanner or Google Flights.

Don’t forget to factor in getting to and from airports especially since London is large and airports are spread out.

Getting to Scotland from London by Train

The train is always my favourite way of travelling, not only from an experience point of view but also from an environmental. Unfortunately it can be a little more expensive than flying, especially when compared with the budget airlines (see below for cost cutting tips). Time wise it stacks up well against flying and is quicker than car or bus

When you start to consider the ease of getting the train from central London (mostly Kings Cross, occasionally from Euston) and being dropped off in the centre of Edinburgh, Glasgow or wherever your destination is, sometimes it’s actually not too expensive at all. It’s certainly one of the most convenient ways to travel to Scotland!

It’s worth checking out First Class tickets for your journey as well – you normally get a small meal onboard and drinks plus a lot more room in your seat. I’ve often upgraded when travelling to Edinburgh and can recommend – it’s not as expensive an upgrade as you might think as well! You also get access to the lounges in the train stations which are a good way to start your trip.

Another option is to get a sleeper train and this is a great idea if you’re short on time and if you also want to save money by travelling overnight. The sleeper train can also drop you way into the Highlands, including Inverness and a great way to get so far North.

How to buy train tickets from London to Scotland:

My recommended platform is The Trainline which I use all the time when booking train tickets. It will book all trains from different providers and show you all the options.

You can check train times and see the different prices easily. Once booked, you get the ticket sent to your app and it’s all very simple.

You’ll need to check out Caledonian Sleeper direct to book compartments on the overnight sleeper train.

Tips for cutting costs on the train to Scotland:

If you know the dates and times that you wish you travel then you can book train tickets up to 12 weeks in advance. The cheapest tickets are released at this time.

A railcard might help to bring costs down. They are not just for UK citizens, they can be bought by overseas visitors too. They can reduce rail costs by up to a 1/3 and although they do cost upfront, sometimes you’ll save more than it costs.

Tip: when doing searches on Trainline you can choose to add a railcard and see what the cost of the journey is with and without the card. This will help you see if it’s worth getting one.

There are a few different ones depending on your status such as Young Person, Senior Citizen etc.

If you’re travelling as a couple then the Two Together card is a good idea and one I’ve used often. You need to always be travelling together but for many people this will be happening anyway.

You can buy the railcards at Trainline or at the Railcard website

Getting to Scotland from London by Bus

The cheapest and most budget way to get to Scotland from London is the bus and there are several coach companies who do the trip, most doing a few departures each day.

I’ve done long distance coach journeys in the UK a lot and used a few different operators. It’s not the most glamorous and comfortable way to get to Scotland, I’ll admit it now, but it’s perfectly doable and for the cost it’s well worth considering.

Be aware that you’re looking at 8/9+ hours of journey ahead of you but like the train option you’ll at least be picked up from Central London (Victoria Station) and dropped in a central area of your destination.

It’s also worth noting that buses don’t often allow more than one piece of luggage to be stowed away per person, but do check individual operators.

How to book a coach from London to Scotland

The following operators do several options to different cities in Scotland. You can book tickets online and you’ll get sent the confirmation by email.

National Express (for Edinburgh and Glasgow)
MegaBus (for most Scottish cities – will require a change)

family at Scotland border
You can cross the border from England to Scotland if you go by car

Getting to Scotland from London by Car

Finally, it’s also an option to take the car from London to Scotland.

If you’re considering renting a car from the airport then you’re looking at a 7-8 hour car journey to Edinburgh.

The pros of this are if you’re planning to explore more of England on the way up and if you’re really looking to explore under your own steam once in Scotland. For trips to the highlands and out in the countryside a car is definitely recommended.

It’s also a good idea if you have a lot of luggage and don’t want to navigate public transport with that.

If you’re coming to the UK from overseas and are renting a car for your Scotland trip and you’re NOT planning to explore England, it might be an idea to get a connecting flight to Scotland and rent from there. Since the journey by car is such a long way, and fuel is quite expensive in the UK it might be a cost effective way of doing it.

How to rent a car from London to Scotland:

I recommend checking out Discover Cars which is a company I use to compare and check prices of car rental from different providers.

Book your Scotland Vacation:

Check flights: Skyscanner
Book Car Rental: DiscoverCars
Book hotels: Booking.com
Book Vacation Rentals: VRBO.com

And don’t forget to pick up a guide book!

Photo of author

Kirsty Bartholomew

Kirsty has been getting lost around the world for over 30 years and writing about it for 10 of those. She loves to help people explore her favourite places in Scotland, England and beyond. She cannot stay away from historical sites.

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