rail travel in Scotland

We are planning a train trip from Edinburgh to Nairn (close to Inverness. On the way there we are planning on stopping in St Andrew. Do you think we should reserve our train tickets or is it O.K. to purchase as we go. Thanks

Posted by j.c.
NC, United States
868 posts

The advantages of booking tickets: They're cheaper. You don't need to worry about not finding a seat. The advantage of buying as you go: Flexibility. (Which may not make much difference if you are tied to hotel/B&B reservations.) Bear in mind that the price difference between booking early and buying on the day of travel can be very significant. What was 15 pounds may turn out to be 100 pounds. I'd recommend booking and buying early, and using the money saved to buy more stuff when you're shopping.

Posted by Keith
United Kingdom
911 posts

Although the above advice is generally correct, it isn't always and this route is an example where it might not be. However, before talking about prices, are you sure you want to do this journey? Most importantly, St Andrews doesn't have a railway station so you need to go to Leuchars. The price from there to Nairn does not change much however early you buy it. This is a difficult trip by rail and bus might be preferable. Were you planning to stay the night in St Andrews? That would make a difference

Posted by Betsy
Seattle, Wa
2 posts

Thanks, I looked into the bus routes and they seem to be more flexible.

Posted by Barb
Central Florida
483 posts

Hi Betsy,
My family used a combination of rail and bus traveling around Scotland. We purchased bus tickets day-of-travel for the same price as advance. However, I was glad I booked train tickets early. There were significant price differences at different times of day. Sometimes, even one hour made a big difference. Plus, I liked having a transportation schedule to follow. It made it easier to plan our trip. You definitely want to check out length of journey for bus and train routes. Some buses have more stops and take much longer to reach a particular destination. Same with train. We picked out trains and buses that had the least stops/connections and shortest travel time to our next location. Even if you don't purchase advance tickets - still research the transportation schedule. It helped us a lot! We knew what bus/train, what time to leave, number of stops/connections and about arrival time at next location.