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Highlands by train

Hi. We will be arriving in Edinburgh early in the am on a Wed in Sept, and have to be back in Edinburgh on Saturday afternoon. We'd rather take the train than rent a car.

Would really appreciate thoughts on the following itinerary: Day 1 (Wed): Edinburgh to Fort William (jet lag day); Day 2: Glen Coe by bus from Fort William; Day 3: train from Fort William to Inverness; Day 4:train from Inverness to Edinburgh

Is this doable? Any other suggestions? Are there stops along the way from Fort William to Inverness on the train? Or is it better to go straight to Inverness and explore from there?

Thanks in advance.

Posted by
15554 posts

There is no train between Fort William and Inverness. It's a bus.

I have taken the train from Glasgow to Fort William and it is a beautiful trip.

I did something similar a few years ago. It's doable but I felt as if I just saw the highlights. I'm back in Scotland now, for the third time, really seeing this beautiful place.

Posted by
9771 posts

Hello — are you arriving into Edinburgh on the first day from overseas? (I.e. overnight flight from say the U.S. or Canada, or will you be arriving from elsewhere in Europe?)

Posted by
3122 posts

Is there some reason why you don't want to see the sights of Edinburgh? I understand the wish to get out and see the countryside, but your proposed itinerary would be really exhausting. You only have three nights (Wed, Thurs, Fri) and your first day you're apparently coming off a transatlantic redeye, its that right? You've dubbed it jet lag day. If it were me I'd spend the first night in Edinburgh after enjoying what Edinburgh has to offer during that first day. Then I'd choose someplace within 2-3 hours by train for Thurs & Fri nights. Pitlochry or St Andrews might work.

Posted by
3 posts

Thanks for the replies. We have to be at a work conference on Sunday, and have spent time in Edinburgh recently--we love it.

I think we've settled on taking the train to Fort William, hiring a car for a day to see Glen Coe, bus to Inverness, and train back to Edinburgh. I haven't been able to find car rental places that allow you to pick up in Fort William and drop off in Inverness.

Posted by
1188 posts

You won't find one way rentals from Fort William to Inverness as none of the big rental companies are in Fort William as far as I know. If you are happy to drive here, then you would give yourself much more flexibility if you just rented a car in Edinburgh and returned it there at the end of the trip. Bus from Fort William to Glencoe is basically going to be the Citylink coach that runs between Glasgow and Fort William. Check the Citylink schedule as there are not that many services each day and you will probably want to book a seat as these coaches are used for long distance travel and get very, very busy in summer. Unless you have a pressing reason to go to Inverness, then personally I wouldn't bother. It's very much a working town and not very pretty. With so few days, I'd be tempted to use Fort William as a base and do side trips from there. For example Glen Etive is stunning and well worth hiking about. You could also get out to the Ardnamurchan peninsula - a really beautiful, unspoilt area with stunning beaches. If you like hiking then check out

Posted by
9771 posts

Ok but remember to get the train to Fort William, you have to first get to Glasgow....

Posted by
85 posts

I just rode the Scotrail trains Edinburgh >> Glasgow Queen St. >> Fort William today. The trip is spectacular in scenery. The four-carriage train was almost completely full on a Monday morning. Saw lots of cattle, sheep, horses, and some deer. The train passes by several beautiful lochs and the wild Rannoch moors country, truly breathtaking. You see Ben Nevis just before arriving in Fort William. I thoroughly recommend the train journey, often voted top rail trip in the world.