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Advice re: rental car from EDI vs. GLA

Hello Very Helpful Forum Members,
We'll initially be staying in Edinburgh for a few days and then spending 10+ days in Western Scotland and the Inner Hebrides (September 2023). I've heard renting a car at the airport and then heading out of the city from there is easier in terms of traffic (and us having some but not a lot of experience with driving on [what for us is] the opposite side of the road!)
Going with that premise....I'm wondering which makes more sense (or if there is even another option):
a) Rent a car at EDI (going to Broadford/Skye) and return it to EDI (from Tarbert) and then take the train from Waverly to London
b) Rent a car at EDI (going to Broadford/Skye) and return it to GLA (from Tarbert) and then take the train from Glasgow Central to London
c) Take the train from Edinburgh to GLA, rent a car (going to Broadford/Skye) and return it to GLA (from Tarbert) and then take the train to London
I realize there are charges for dropping a car off at a different location (option b), but I'm more interested in the time involved and ease of driving.
Thank you for any advice!

Posted by
1376 posts

Hi, ellen.scarr,

I have to admit to being a wee bit confused by your post. Are you referring to Tarbert on the Kintyre Peninsula, or Tarbert on the Isle of Harris? If it's the Harris Tarbert, you will actually be on the Outer Hebrides.

You are absolutely right about driving away from the airport. It is a lot easier than hiring from a city centre location. Either airport (GLA or EDI) will put you on the motorway almost immediately, where you can make a (not too fast, hopefully) getaway.

Depending on your car hire company, there may be no surcharge for picking up at one airport and dropping off at another, since the airports involved are so close in proximity.

Given what you have posted, option "a" would probably be your best bet, unless the cost of hiring a car is cheaper at one airport over another. It is very easy to get from either EDI or GLA to the corresponding train stations. Now you just have to figure out which train journey would be the most convenient for your plans. Trains from Edinburgh terminate at Kings Cross. Trains from Glasgow terminate at Euston. The Glasgow to Euston journey generally takes about an hour longer. Are you staying on in London, or flying out on the day on which you arrive there?

I hope that this at least starts you in the right direction.

Best wishes,

Mike (Auchterless)

Posted by
3279 posts

I am in fact even wondering if this actually means Tarbet, Loch Lomond, as their last previous overnight stop.

Posted by
358 posts

It's not that much to drop off at Glasgow after picking up at Edinburgh - and that will suit your trip. However, personally I think the east coast train is a nicer option.

I guess you mean Tarbet near Loch Lomond - that is going to be easier back to Glasgow as it comes in on the airport side of the city so saves you going through or looping via Stirlingshire

Posted by
2 posts

Thank you all so much for your quick replies and helpful information.
I'm sorry I wasn't clearer...yes, we'll be in Tarbert for the last few days of our trip....Tarbert on the Kintyre peninsula. So dropping off the car at Glasgow airport would be more convenient, although I appreciate the feedback on the trains in the east.
I've been looking at prices on, but having just read another forum entry about Celtic Legend, I will email them to get a quote as well. The one-way charges on are currently listed at $100-250, which seems like a lot!
Thanks again for your help, this forum is amazing!

Posted by
3279 posts

It's only another hour to Edinburgh airport to drop the car off and freeway/motorway all the way, so basically another gallon of gas/petrol.
That way you avoid the drop off fees, and either tram or bus into central Edinburgh from EDI airport.

It is still only half a day or so from Tarbert (Kintyre/Loch Fyne) so I would have thought option a is the most practical.

You weren't to know that there are lots of places called Tarbert or Tarbet in Scotland!

The trains to London from Glasgow are hourly, from Edinburgh half hourly, but the Glasgow trains are usually the cheaper.
The trains from Edinburgh to London Euston are often cheaper than those to London Kings Cross, but take about an hour longer.

Posted by
1796 posts

Last summer we rented at EDI from Arnold Clark which is a Scottish car rental company. It was the best rental experience we have ever had (and no, I do not work for them!) The car was reasonably priced, had no-deductible CDW, and all of their cars come with GPS. The rental woman was very patient about explaining how to use the GPS. We accidentally damaged the side view mirror and there was zero fuss about it when we returned the car. They have multiple locations including a few in England.

Posted by
1376 posts

Hi again, Ellen,

As you're winding up in Tarbert, you could make the last day in Scotland very interesting by taking the ferry from Tarbert to Portavadie, driving around to Colintraive, taking another ferry from there to Rhubodach, then driving down the Isle of Bute to Rothesay, and taking a ferry from there to Wemyss Bay. From Wemyss Bay, you can easily access the M8 for either airport.

All of the above ferries are show up and go - no need to make a reservation.

You could also accomplish the same thing by taking the Tarbert to Portavadie ferry, the B836 over to Dunoon, and the ferry from there to Gourock. Having done both, I'd plump for the Rothesay route.

If you do end up in Rothesay, check out the Gents' loo at the ferry terminal. Wonderful example of Victorian architecture.

Be sure to visit the Tighnabruaich overlook on the A8003, on the hill just north of the village. Beautiful view of the Kyles of Bute, with the Colintraive ferry shuttling across in the distance.

Enjoy your travels!

Best wishes,

Mike (Auchterless)