My husband and I will be flying into Glasgow airport and traveling straight to Stirling. We were going to take a train to Stirling and rent a car the second day. We wanted to avoid the "first time driving on the left side" for a smaller city. I don't know how the train system works. Do I need to purchase our tickets in advance, or can I just get them when we get to the station? Thanks in advance.
If you're flying in to Glasgow, you could just as easily hire your car at Glasgow airport, as it's about eight miles outside the city. To get acclimated to driving on the left, you could drive around the terminal a couple of times before heading out to the M8. It's a bit out of the way, but in order to avoid going through Glasgow on the M8, you could take the M8 west to the Erskine Bridge, cross the bridge, then take the A82 north to the roundabout at Balloch, then take the A811 (signposted Drymen), and follow it directly in to Stirling.
However, if you're going to pick up the car in Stirling, you need to take the bus or a taxi to Queen Street Station (not Central), where you can catch the train. They run frequently, and you don't need to get your tickets in advance. There are about 80 trains per day on that route, so if you miss one, another will be departing very soon.
Stirling has several roundabouts, and there's no way to get out of town without encountering at least one, so check with the car hire company to find out which route you need to take to get to your next destination. As you've probably been made aware, Scottish road signs don't have cardinal directions, so you need to know the name of the next town you're heading for in order to figure out which road to take.
Thanks for the great information! We have already made the car arrangements, so we'll have to use public transport to Stirling. I guess we could also take a bus. Any thoughts on that?
Hi again, Alison,
The airport shuttle from Glasgow Airport will take you to either Queen Street Station for the train, or Buchanan Street bus station, for the bus. I'd recommend the train, as it will get you to Stirling faster. The train journey is less than half an hour. Not every train leaving Queen Street goes directly to Stirling. Check with the ticket agent to find out which platform you should use for a direct trip. Almost all the trains require no change. There are very few throughout the day which require changing trains. Some trains take an alternate route, and will take about 40 minutes to reach Stirling.
Taking the train, as opposed to the bus, will mean that you'll have less hassle with your luggage. Plus, you can move around a bit.
The Airport Express bus from Glasgow Airport is bus number 500. If you can't find the stop right away, just ask. It's well signposted. Cost, I think, is eight pounds.
p.s.: Just had another thought - if you decide to take the bus from Glasgow Buchanan Street to Stirling, you wouldn't have to make your way through Queen Street Station. Your bus to Stirling would be leaving from one of the other ramps at Buchanan Street. National Express and Megabus both serve the route. The tickets would most likely be a little bit cheaper than the train. Both the bus station and train station are close by one another in Stirling, so you should be able to easily find a taxi to take you to your lodging. If you're staying at one of the hotels near to train station, it would be a short walk.
We are using EuRopcar for our rental. I hope that is not one of the ones of "ill-repute".
Thanks for all of the great advice! We will be arriving Wednesday with what looks to be warmer and sunnier than usual weather.
Hi once again, Alison,
Looks as though the Stirling office of Europcar has not had the most stellar of reviews, so make sure that you go over the car with a fine toothcomb before you drive off, and make that every dent and scrape is noted, especially wheel covers/hubcaps.
By the time your holiday is over, you should be comfortable enough driving on the left that you can return the car to Glasgow airport. Make sure that you can do so without a one way drop off charge.
Europcar has been around for years in Britain. They actually bought out Godfrey Davis in the early 1980s. Godfrey Davis, in turn, was the oldest car rental company in Britain, having started in 1920. So they are not a fly by night organization. I rented from them back in the 1970s. Just because one or two renters had a bad experience in Stirling definitely doesn't mean that you will. They most likely rent thousands of cars per year out of that location, so one or two bad reviews isn't bad.
If you don't have GPS in your phone or in the car, there are several shops up on the high street where you can get a good road atlas. There used to be a discount book shop in the Thistles. If it's still there, you can get a good atlas for a couple of pounds. Also, there is an excellent Tesco supermarket just up Burghmuir Road from the train station. You could stop there to stock up on any provisions that you need for your journey.
Once again, very best wishes!
JG - Thanks. I've downloaded the app.
Mike - Great advice. We will video the car as we inspect it. Our phone should be able to "guide" us, but we will probably also get a road atlas.
We leave this morning for a long day of just getting there. Hopefully this tropical storm will not delay any of our flights!
By now, you're probably well in to your holiday in Scotland. Hope you survived the torrential rain the other day. Once you're back, I'd love to hear how you got on. If you're still checking out the travel forum for Scotland, let us know, or you could send a private message through the forum.