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1st timer to Europe needs help with rail from London to Edinburgh

Will be taking the rail from London to Edinburgh the beginning of June 2018. Which rail line would you recommend? Is 1st class better (worth it) and can you reserve window seats? I'm confused after looking at several sites where one can buy tickets. and Would you recommend one site over another?
We take the rail to Edinburgh on Sunday and fly home from Edinburgh on Wednesday, so it's a very short stay. (We are in London 1st off with friends) I wish we had time to take the rail to the Highlands to Mailaig - the awesome rail ride I didn't find out about till after I booked the airfare home.
I guess it's too ambitious or impossible in 2 days.

Any help/suggestions will be appreciated. Thank you.

Posted by
832 posts

I've always wanted to take the Caledonian Express sleeper car. Save a night's hotel and get an extra day in Edinburgh.

Posted by
1356 posts

Look up and reserve train tickets on the UK National Rail website: http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/ . It includes all the rail companies in the UK. I just looked it up, for Sunday 3 June, the fare, if purchased now, would be 142 pounds and it would take about 4 1/2 hours. Do not know what the cost of flying would be.

Posted by
1988 posts

The company that operates the direct through trains between London (Kings Cross) & Edinburgh is > https://www.virgintrainseastcoast.com
I would suggest that you book with them if you are intending to make it one journey from London (KGX) > EDB. However, you will probably find it easier to find the fares on www.nationalrail.co.uk and should be able to select a specific train for about £49 - if you book now.

BUT - I would also consider splitting the journey at York and possibly staying overnight.https://www.visityork.org/

Between KGX & YRK are other train companies who may have cheaper advance booking seats available at lower prices than Virgin. When you look at the fares on www.nationalrail.co.uk and click ‘Details’ - it will tell you which company operates the train. You may find fares from KGX > YRK for as low as £18.40. Likewise, between York & Edinburgh, another company also has trains = www.crosscountrytrains.co.uk and these will also show up on the National Rail website. (I would rather use the Virgin Trains on this leg). Fares for this leg can be had for around £20 if you book now.

This short video will show you the difference between 1st & 2nd class on Virgin:>
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fVoWSTHcnmo

Posted by
2953 posts

Since you only have Mon & Tues in Edinburgh, make the most of the city. Some other trip in the future, you can go out to the highlands and smaller villages. Edinburgh is beautiful and has lots to see and do, most points of interest conveniently located along the Royal Mile. I'd say to start and the castle and work your way down. In the evening, you can get a great view of the skyline if you book dinner at the Tower Restaurant, located in the National Museum.

Posted by
2 posts

Thanks for the tips!!

I think we will book a dinner at the Tower Restaurant in Edinburgh. It sounds like a lovely plan.
and yes, we will have to save the Highlands for another trip.
We have gone with Virgin Rail lines. We signed up for an email or text because their inexpensive tickets haven't been posted yet. They will notify us when they do. I was surprised at that since all say to hurry up and purchase before the price goes up.

I trust we'll have a good train trip.
Thank you all!

Posted by
10 posts

If you can get an inexpensive first class ticket (you sometimes get offers for only a £10 charge - or on occasion when I've travelled at an unpopular time, I've got 1st class CHEAPER than standard!), go for that. 1st class on VTEC is pretty decent (though not as good on Sundays as weekdays). If you can't get a good price, they sometimes offer on the day upgrades for a small charge.

Posted by
95 posts

I am in the very preliminary stages of planning a family trip to Scotland. Kudos to the original poster and the great tips that have resulted from the queries.