The simple yet sustainable way to explore the best tourist spots and hidden gems in Scotland
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- 11 October 2019
West Highland Line / credit: Scotrail
Here are just some ways to see the most stunning and interesting parts of the country via rail, bus, coach and ferry
When it comes to exploring Scotland, it's as much about the journey and admiring the stunning landscapes on your way to your destination. Many of us are looking for simple ways to make travelling more sustainable, and using public transport is an easy step to get started.
Scotland's public transport network is far-spread and cost-effective; you'll find that travelling to the main tourist spots is a piece of cake and, with a little careful planning, remote areas are readily accessible too.
All aboard! With rail connections to each of Scotland's seven cities, the railway offers dozens of unforgettable journeys with great service and amazing views.
On the West Highland Line, known to millions as the railway that took Harry Potter to Hogwarts, stop off at Arisaig to take a walk along one of the Highlands' best beaches, then explore the charming Mallaig Bay at the end of the line. Or take one of Britain's most rural railways, the Far North Lines which connects Inverness with Thurso and Wick at the northern limits of the Highlands.
Alternatively, start your adventure in Glasgow and make your way along the south west coast, travelling past glorious golf courses, brilliant beaches, and the land that inspired Robert Burns. With the unlimited Spirit of Scotland Travelpass you can hop on and off at any stop. You can even include a little venture to the Isle of Arran on this trip. Or enjoy one of the other scenic routes around the south of the country: see the best of Ayrshire and Dumfries & Galloway along the Glasgow-Kilmarnock-Carlisle Line. The Borders' Railway will take you through the breath-taking landscapes of Edinburgh, Midlothian and the Scottish Borders, to discover its rich history and thrilling outdoor activities.
By Bus or Coach
Travelling by bus or coach is one of the best ways to see the country, visit places you didn't expect to and keep your travel costs down. All of Scotland's major towns and cities are served by short and long-distance bus services and there are even more ways to save if you plan ahead, book early or explore multi-journey tickets. You really are spoilt for choice when it comes to scenic routes across Scotland…
Why not try a stunning route from Glasgow, through Scotland's west coast and down through the Kintyre peninsula to Campbeltown, one of Scotland's five whisky regions? Or an epic route through the west coast and into the Highlands passing some of the most iconic sights in Scotland, including Loch Lomond, Glen Coe, Ben Nevis and the rugged landscapes of the Isle of Skye. Travel around the beautiful East Neuk of Fife including Leven, St Monans, Anstruther, Crail and St Andrews, to soak up the unique coastal views and pretty fishing villages.
Scotland has some of the most stunning and diverse island retreats in the world, with each group of islands having its own unique experiences, character and history.
Regular ferry connections run from the mainland to the islands on the west and north coasts of Scotland, and also between the islands themselves.
There are frequent services on the Firth of Clyde and to the Inner and Outer Hebrides, sailing to over 20 destinations. Mainland ports which serve the islands in the west include Oban and Kennacraig in Argyll, and Mallaig and Ullapool in the Highlands.
Book tickets in advance wherever possible, although you can normally buy foot passenger tickets on the day of travel. If planning on making multiple ferry journeys, you can consider purchasing an Island Hopscotch ticket, or opt for a great value Rail and Sail ticket.
There are nightly ferries from Aberdeen to Lerwick in Shetland, with stops en route on alternative days to Orkney's main port, Kirkwall. Once on the island, hop around Shetland's inter-island by ferries run in conjunction with the local council. There are also regular ferry services running from Scrabster in Caithness to Stromness on Orkney.
So there's no excuse to not get out there and see the whole of Scotland without the need for a car.
For more information and inspiration on getting around Scotland by public transport, visit visitscotland.com