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Is it possible to see all the sights using public transportation?
Planning a visit to England, Scotland & Ireland for 3+ weeks.

Posted by
4841 posts

Trains and buses go lots of places in the British Isles but you're limited to their schedules. We used bicycles + buses in Western Ireland in 2011, but the cycling itself was a big part of the trip. Planning our Scotland trip for this summer, we decided we needed to rent a car for maximum flexibility on routes and timing. As Rick notes in his book, for Skye you need a car, and much of the Highlands & Islands appear to have infrequent bus/ferry service.

We only have 2 weeks this time, and even with 3+ weeks, I don't know if you're going to be able to see "all" the sights in any one of those countries, let alone all three! Within cities and going between major cities, public transportation should work for you. If you're going to more remote places and sights, you may need to consider a day tour or other options. Happy planning & travels!

Posted by
16849 posts

In general, you can expect public transport in Britain to work for even fairly small towns, but cars give you more freedom in rural areas. Ireland has less train service and more bus, or is also a place where we like to rent a car. BritRail Passes are often a good value to cover your longest train rides, but the combined BritRail+Ireland pass is not.

If you have Rick's guidebooks for these countries, then the start and end of each chapter summarizes arrival and departure for that town by train, bus, or car. Many maps in the books include trains; on the colored maps, trains are the thin black lines. You can also get British rail maps at National Rail and detailed schedule info when you're ready for that.

Posted by
3418 posts

We loved using the trains (and the occasional bus) in England, Wales and Scotland during our 40+ trips there. We liked not having to worry about driving on the other side of the road, trying to drive straight drive, paying VERY high petrol (gas) prices, finding or paying for VERY expensive parking, navigating, etc. True- you do have to work with 'their' schedule. And you can't stop just anywhere. But we did not find that limiting. And we enjoyed watching the scenery go buy outside the train. Hubby would listen to his music and I would read or sketch.

Ireland does not have the extensive rail network. We did a group tour there.

Posted by
5546 posts

No, you can't see ALL the sites. You can see a lot of really great sites. But if you have your heart set on seeing the Calanais Standing Stones on Lewis it's going to be hard. Basically, the west of Scotland has fewer train connections and the buses don't run that often. However, you can go to Edinburgh and Glasgow. You can also get to Inverness and Oban, both of which offer great day tours. You can get to Pitlochry by train and tour a distillery. But if you have your heart set on the peaty whiskys of the west, it will be more challenging.

I suggest that you think about what's more important for your visit in the different countries and then make the call.