Travel Guide: From London to Scotland

Embark on an unforgettable journey from the bustling heart of London to the serene landscapes of Scotland's majestic Highlands. Immerse yourself in the captivating tapestry of England and Scotland, adorned with a diverse array of landscapes, charming towns, and rich history waiting to be explored.

The Glenfinnan viaduct
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Lisbeth Wahl

Lisbeth is part of our team of travel consultants. She has lived in London for over 25 years and has had the chance to travel and explore the wonders of Scotland on numerous occasions.

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Numerous options exist for planning a trip from London to Scotland, with various noteworthy destinations along the route. In this blog article, we'll try to go through and answer the three main questions below, as well as give you some itinerary ideas.
 

Interested in visiting England and Scotland? Have a look at our recommended tours.
 

How to travel from London to Scotland?

There are many ways to travel from London to Scotland. You can choose travel type based on what's important to you, like speed, cost, or the chance to see more of the UK. This guide covers different ways to get to Scotland: by train, coach, car, and plane.

 

Travelling by train

Happy group of friends traveling by train and walking on the rail plateform.
Photo: Andresr via canva.com 

 

The British railway system criss-crosses the nation, linking major cities and charming smaller towns. Big cities like London and Birmingham are connected by speedy trains, while regional trains serve the quieter locations. Hop on a train to explore both London and further north to Scotland, with the option to pause in towns along the way for a more indept English experience. You also have the choice to head directly to Scotland. The journey from London to Edinburgh takes about four to six hours, treating you to scenic views along the east coast. If you're looking to save time, consider the Caledonian Sleeper train for a comfortable overnight adventure of approximately eight hours.

 

Travelling by coach

One of the cheapest ways to get from London to Scotland is by coach.  There are several departures throughout the day and even into the night. The journey time is longer than by train,  about 10 hours, to Edinburgh and 13 hours to Inverness. If you're an adventurous traveller, looking to immerse yourself further in the UK's diverse landscapes, you have the option to plan your route and explore various cities by hopping on different buses. This way, you can uncover hidden gems and truly make the most of your journey.

 

Travelling by car

For those seeking a more independent adventure, renting a car allows you to traverse from England to Scotland on your own terms. For a swift journey, opt for the M1 and A1 route, cutting the travel time between the two capital cities, London and Edinburgh, to approximately eight hours. However, if you're in no hurry and desire a scenic escapade, you can plan a course through some of the UK's renowned and captivating cities. Keep in mind that many rental cars have manual transmission. Additionally, remember that in the UK, driving is on the left-hand side of the road, so take a moment to familiarize yourself with this unique experience before you hit the road. Whether you choose the direct path or the winding roads, a road trip promises an enriching and rewarding adventure.

 

Travelling by plane

For those eager to reach Scotland swiftly, flying from London stands as the most convenient option. Direct flights to Edinburgh can prove budget-friendly, depending on your timing when making the booking. The flight time is between 60 and 90 minutes. Flights depart from London City Airport, Heathrow, Gatwick or London Stansted airport and touch down at Edinburgh Airport. Once there, a brief tram, bus, or taxi ride whisks you into the heart of the city centre.

Should your sights be set on Inverness, consider catching a flight from London, opening up a gateway to Scotland's captivating northern landscapes. Embracing the skies ensures you waste no time in experiencing the allure of this remarkable destination.

 

What are the highlights of a London to Scotland itinerary?

Now that you know how to get to Scotland, we would like to introduce you the different regions you might encounter on your journey. From major cities to idyllic countryside, the UK’s magnificent landscapes invite you to explore. So, let’s dive right in:

Discover London’s Charms

St James Park in London with view on the London Eye
St James Park, London. Photo © Whitemay via canva.com

 

London, the capital of England and the UK, is full of exciting things to see and do, whether you love art, history, or shopping. But remember, London is big and there's a lot to see, from the oldest parts in the City of London to the fancy West End and the historic City of Westminster – you might need plenty of time to see it all! Here are some must-see spots in London:

  • London Eye

  • Big Ben

  • Tower Bridge

  • Piccadilly Circus

  • Harrods

  • St. Paul's Cathedral

You can also check out famous museums like the Tower of London, British Museum, National Gallery, and Natural History Museum to learn about history and art. We’ve put together a walking tour itinerary, where you get to see the best of London in just one afternoon. If you're looking to save money while exploring London, our team has put together a list of the Top 10 Free Attractions in London

 

Dive into the history of the West Midlands

Birmingham
Birmingham Photo © Trabantos via canva.com

 

Located in the centre of England, the West Midlands is nicknamed “The heart of England”. The region is rich in history, culture, and breathtaking landscapes including the picturesque Cotswolds. The region is also the birthplace of the Industrial Revolution. Here are our must-sees in the West Midlands:

  • Birmingham, the second largest city in the UK

  • Stratford-upon-Avon, the birthplace of Shakespeare

  • Warwick and its castle

  • Dudley, the capital of the Black Country

  • Sutton Park, one of Europe’s biggest urban parks

 

Outstanding nature in the Northwest of England

Lake District
Lake District Photo © Bnoragitt via canva.com

 

The Northwest region has wonderful landscapes filled with lakes, incredible wildlife, and revolutionary cities with great history to discover. The region also boasts iconic cities such as Liverpool where the Beatles resonate in the streets or Oasis in the streets of Manchester. There is a lot to explore in this region. Here are our must-sees in Northwest England:

  • Lake District National Park, England’s largest National Park

  • The vibrant city of Liverpool

  • Manchester, the original Modern city

  • Blackpool, seaside town of Northwest England

  • The historic city of Chester

 

Explore the captivating region of Yorkshire

The Shamble in York
The Shambles, York. Photo : John Robinson via flickr.com

 

If you’re looking for varied landscapes in the United Kingdom, Yorkshire is the place to explore. Known for its Roman and Viking heritage, as well as its Norman castles, Yorkshire is an ideal location for anyone looking to hike the picturesque Yorkshire Dales. Discover the region’s captivating countryside, big cities, small, charming towns & villages, rolling hills and stunning coastlines. Here are our must-sees in Yorkshire:

  • York, the jewel of this county

  • North York Moors, a beautiful wild area

  • Yorkshire Dales National Park

  • Whitby, a very popular seaside town

  • Harrogate, a pretty historic town

 

Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland

Victoria Street in Edinburgh
Victoria Street, Edinburgh. Photo © Exg3D via canva.com

 

The capital city is located in central-eastern Scotland. Edinburgh is considered as one of the most beautiful cities in Europe thanks to its rustic buildings, cobbled streets, classic architecture, and castle perched on top of a rock overlooking the city. Stroll around the city and visit our must-sees in Edinburgh:

  • The Royal Mile, in the heart of Edinburgh Old Town

  • Edinburgh Castle located on top of Castle Rock

  • Arthur’s Seat, an ancient volcano

  • The real Mary King’s Close

  • Museums: National Museum of Scotland, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art

 

Explore the wonders of Scottish Highlands

Scottish Highlands
Scottish Highlands Photo © HarryJBurgess via Canva.com

 

The Highlands are an ideal destination for your next adventure after visiting Edinburgh. It has been named one of National Geographic’s “Best of the World” destinations for 2023. The Scottish Highlands have many natural wonders for you to discover. Here are our must-sees in the Scottish Highlands:

  • Inverness and the legendary Loch Ness

  • The medieval castles of Isle of Skye

  • Torridon, the most dramatic mountain scenery

  • Glencoe, famous valley of the Braveheart movie

  • Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park

 

When is the best time to travel?

One of the clichés about the United Kingdom is that the weather is always cold and rainy. Obviously, we’re a long way from tropical temperatures, but the weather tends to be mild most of the year. The UK can be visited at any time of the year as each season has its own charm and there are no extreme temperatures.

Hyde Park in Spring
Hyde Park, London. Photo © Vladislav Zolotov via canva.com

Summer (June, July & August)

The summer months see the hottest temperatures of the year. These temperatures tend to be between 20 and 30 degrees.  This is the driest time of the year, although, you can expect showers now and then. This is also the busiest time to travel in the UK, there are also many festivals and events such as the Royal Regatta, Wimbledon, Royal Ascot races and the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

 

Autumn (September & October)

With the start of the new school year in September, the summer crowds are beginning to disperse, and the weather is still as pleasant as it was in August. It is therefore a great time to visit the UK. You can admire the beautiful colours of the leaves as you travel across the country. If you are a food lover, there a few food festivals across England to mark the harvest. Cooler temperatures arrive in October and some sites start to close for winter.

 

Winter (November, December, January & February)

Winter is the coldest and darkest period of the year. It can be rainy and cold, from 0 to 5 degrees, so you might want to pack some warm clothes if you decide to travel during this period. November is the start of the Christmas season, when you can enjoy the bright decorations and charming Christmas markets in many cities and towns. Capital cities like London and Edinburgh have wonderful Christmas markets and carnivals.

 

Spring (March, April & May)

March is when the mild temperatures of Spring begin to appear and the wonderful cherry trees are in bloom. It can be sunny with the arrival of spring flowers, both on the ground and on the trees. The clear sky can disappear and be replaced by grey clouds and rain. Sometimes, in the UK, weather cannot be predicted. The sites closed during winter start to reopen. In Spring, there are also many festivals and events such as the London Marathon which takes place on a Sunday at the end of April with thousands of participants.

By Authentic Europe - Specialist in tours to Europe / Aug 30 2023

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