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Edinburgh up to Inverness

Hi Forum folks!

My friend and I will spend our first two nights in Edinburgh (9/18 and 9/19) and on 9/20 head up to Inverness (to use as a base) for 2 nights. We have booked a flight out of Edinburgh on 9/23 at 1:30 pm for Ireland (Shannon). Wondering if we should take a train up to Inverness and rent a car once there to tootle around (vs just renting a car in Edinburgh, driving to Inverness and then back). On the 2nd Ireland leg of this trip, we will be doing LOTS of driving, so taking a train is a nice break. I've also heard the train ride is scenic.

When taking the train back to Edinburgh, the train schedule will not get us back to the airport in time for our 1:30 pm flight that same day. If we do the train, our plan, as of this moment, would be to take an afternoon train from Inverness back to Edinburgh on 9/22, spend one last night there and have an easy transfer the next morning to the airport.

P.S. I've already driven from Edinburgh, counter clockwise through St. Andrews to get to Inverness on a previous trip.

Any thoughts? Advice, suggestions?

Thank you!

Posted by
6365 posts

It's 180 miles each way, which is 4 to 5 gallons of petrol/gas- £24 to £30 each way.
You should get an advance train fare of £18 each (£13 each if you're lucky) each way, and both get to enjoy the scenery without one of you having to concentrate on the road.

So, if you want a break from the driving, on a purely money crunching basis, it makes sense.

Posted by
30 posts

Thanks for your reply. Financially it certainly does make more sense and most importantly, much more relaxing. I'd much rather take the train, even though it means returning back to Edinburgh for an additional night. We will then be set up for an easy transfer over to the airport late next morning. We have a longish travel day (once we arrive at Shannon we are getting a rental car and driving up to Westport).

An additional ? ........does anyone know if it's possible to take the train into and out of the Inverness airport? I'm assuming we might have more car rental choices there. Although, I understand that some car rental companies would meet us at the train station in Inverness.

Thank you!

Posted by
6365 posts

Yes hourly (sometimes half hourly) Inverness to the new Inverness Airport station (opened in February)- trains to Aberdeen.
You can book a through train ticket from EDI, even a through ticket which includes the airport shuttle bus.
It's a 12 minute walk on a dedicated path from the Airport Station to the car rental counters. Also a regular shuttle bus meets all trains.
Three car rental counters at the airport.
The cars are straight outside the terminal.

See this thread- https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/scotland/inverness-airport-railway-station

Posted by
358 posts

You don't say why you are going to Inverness - that might decide whether to drive or train. If it's just to go there, I would train it. But without a car it's a bit tougher to explore that area

Posted by
30 posts

I wanted to use Inverness as a base for the short amount of time we will be there, 2 nights. I've been before, but my dear childhood friend, also travel companion on this trip, has not. I thought we'd stay in Inverness, or nearby, and use the car to go to Culloden (I'm a Gordon and found Culloden heartbreaking but so historically significant that I am excited to be visiting again-it's been 11 years since my last visit). We would then tootle around to some other sights with our remaining time. We will be spending two weeks in Ireland after this short visit in Scotland and will be doing lots of hiking and lots of outdoorsy type of stuff in County Donegal, Westport and Ennis. This is the reason why I didn't want to go too far afield (eg. Isle of Skye, Oban, etc.) and have similar experiences to what we will be doing while in Ireland.