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Edinburgh to Speyside?

My husband and I are planning to travel to Scotland this coming January 2023. We're wanting to get from Edinburgh to the Speyside area to do the Speyside Whisky Trail. We would definitely prefer not to drive so we're looking for insight into how to make that trip without renting a car. We looked up a itinerary that would take us via train from Edinburgh to Inverness (where we'd stay the night) and then we could take a train from Inverness to Elgin where we then would have to take a bus to the Craigellachie area. Seems complicated. Should we rent a car once we get to Inverness just to make that part easier? Any insight would be so appreciated!

Posted by
1145 posts

Hi, jnels123,

It's quite possible that Rabbies will not be running that tour in January. That month is not a major tourist time (except for January 25th.!). (And January 31st. in Shetland!)

A lot of your visit will be weather dependent. Chances are you won't see too much snow, but daylight hours will be short. You may want to contact the individual distilleries to find out what their tour times will be during the time that you're there.

Given that the Speyside area, in particular the distillery area, is fairly spread out, you may want to consider hiring a car, even though it's not your preference. However, if you're going to be sampling the whiskies at the distilleries, it may be a good idea to find lodging in the heart of Speyside, and take a taxi to and from the individual distilleries. If you do hire a car, it would be best to hire it from the Inverness Airport, so that you don't have to drive in the city. Not to worry, the roads in Speyside are not heavily travelled!

Look into distillery tours from Elgin or one of the nearby towns. This one, for example:

Note what they say about distilleries being closed or having reduced hours in winter.

Elgin would make a good base, as there are several good hotels and guesthouses, plus a decent selection of restaurants. Plus the cathedral is well worth a visit.

Best wishes for your holiday!

Mike (Auchterless)

Posted by
856 posts

Also remember the rules about drink driving in Scotland are very strict - another reason not to hire a car!

Posted by
1411 posts

Not only is January not that common for tourism, the problem you need to remember is that is the middle of winter and transport can be seriously disprupted by snow and other weather conditions.

Posted by
2148 posts

Oof, next time I need to fully read the post before answering. Sorry, jnels123, I didn't see that you are traveling in January.