Getting there & away
Superfast Ferries (in UK 0870 234 0870, in Belgium 050 252 252; www.superfast.com) runs a car ferry between Rosyth, 12 miles northwest of Edinburgh, and Zeebrugge in Belgium (17½ hours, one daily). Return passenger fares in high season (July and August) range from €170 in an aircraft-style seat to €566 in a luxury cabin. A car is €239 return.
Car ferry links between Northern Ireland and Scotland are run by Stena Line (08705 707 070; www.stenaline.co.uk) and P&O Irish Sea (0870 242 4777; www.poirishsea.com). Stena Line travels the Belfast−Stranraer route and P&O Irish Sea the Larne−Troon and Larne−Cairnryan routes. There’s a choice of standard and high-speed ferries on the Stranraer and Cairnryan routes, high speed only on the Troon route.
The following prices are advance purchase one-way fares for a foot passenger/car with driver, in high season; fares vary with time and day of departure, and are often less than quoted here.
Larne-Cairnryan1hr2 daily (Mar-Sep) 20/84
Larne-Troon1¾hr2 daily (Mar-Sep) 20/104
From May to early September, Smyril Line (+298 345900; www.smyril-line.com) operates a weekly car ferry between Shetland (Lerwick), the Faroe Islands (Torshavn), Iceland (Seydisfjordur), Norway (Bergen) and Denmark (Hantsholm). It leaves from Lerwick on Monday for Bergen, and on Wednesday for Torshavn and Seydisfjordur. The Lerwick to Bergen crossing takes 13½ hours, Lerwick to Torshavn is 13 hours and Torshavn to Seydisfjordur is 15 hours.
Buses are usually the cheapest way to get to Scotland from other parts of the UK. The main operators are National Express (0870 580 8080; www.gobycoach.com) and its subsidiary Scottish Citylink (0870 550 5050; www.citylink.co.uk), with regular services from London and other cities in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Silver Choice Travel (01355-249499; www.silverchoicetravel.co.uk) operates a daily overnight service from London to Glasgow/Edinburgh, charging from £24 for an Apex (advanced purchase) return. Megabus (0900 160 0900; www.megabus.com) has one-way fares from London to Glasgow from as little as £1.50 if you book well in advance. For info on bus passes and discount cards, see p453.
Drivers of EU-registered vehicles will find bringing a car or motorcycle into Scotland fairly easy. The vehicle must have registration papers and a nationality plate, and you must have insurance. The International Insurance Certificate (Green Card) isn’t compulsory, but it is excellent proof that you’re covered. If driving from mainland Europe via the Channel Tunnel or ferry ports, head for London and follow the M25 orbital road to the M1 motorway, then follow the M1 and M6 north.
Travelling to Scotland by train is usually faster and more comfortable than the bus, but more expensive. Taking into account check-ins and travel time between city centre and airport, the train is a competitive alternative, time wise, to air travel on the London to Edinburgh route. You can get timetable and fares info for all UK trains from the National Rail Enquiry Service (08457 484 950; www.nationalrail.co.uk).
With the opening of a high-speed rail link to the new St Pancras International station, it is possible to travel from Paris or Brussels to London in around two hours on the Eurostar (in UK 08705 186 186, in France 0892 35 35 39; www.eurostar.com) service. From St Pancras it’s a quick and easy change to Kings Cross or Euston for trains to Edinburgh or Glasgow. Total journey time from Paris to Edinburgh is about eight hours.
There is a fast and frequent rail service between London Kings Cross and Edinburgh (four hours, every half-hour). A standard open return costs around £240 but special offers sometimes have single fares as low as £16. The train between London Euston and Glasgow is slower at 5½ hours.
First ScotRail (0845 755 0033; www.firstscotrail.com) runs the Caledonian Sleeper, an overnight service connecting London Euston with Edinburgh, Glasgow, Stirling, Perth, Dundee, Aberdeen, Fort William and Inverness. A standard sleeper berth (sharing a twin cabin) from London to Edinburgh is £110/155 for a single/return, and to Inverness, Aberdeen or Fort William is £135/180. Services to Edinburgh from other parts of England and Wales usually mean changing trains at some point. First ScotRail also has Rail & Sail deals between Edinburgh and Glasgow and Belfast via the ferry crossings at Stranraer and Troon.
There are direct flights to Scottish airports from England, Wales, Ireland, the USA, Canada, Scandinavia and several countries in western and central Europe. From elsewhere, you’ll probably have to fly into a European hub and catch a connecting flight to a Scottish airport – London, Amsterdam, Frankfurt and Paris have the best connections. If flying from North America, it’s worth looking at Icelandair, which often has good deals to Glasgow via Reykjavik.
Scotland has four main international airports of its own. London is the main UK gateway for long-haul flights.
Aberdeen (ABZ; 0870 040 0006; www.aberdeenairport.com)
Edinburgh (EDI; 0870 040 0007; www.edinburghairport.com)
Glasgow (GLA; 0870 040 0008; www.glasgowairport.com)
Glasgow Prestwick (PIK; 0871 223 0700; www.gpia.co.uk)
London Gatwick (LGW; 0870 000 2468; www.gatwickairport.com)
London Heathrow (LHR; 0870 000 0123; www.heathrowairport.com)
A few short-haul international flights land at Dundee (DND; 01382-662200; www.dundeecity.gov.uk/airport), Inverness (INV; 01667-464000; www.hial.co.uk) and Sumburgh (LSI; 01950-461000; www.hial.co.uk).
There are many airlines serving Scottish airports. The main ones:
Aer Arann (RE; 0800 587 2324; www.aerarann.com)
Aer Lingus (EI; 0870 876 5000; www.aerlingus.com)
Air France/Cityjet (AF; 0870 142 4343; www.airfrance.co.uk)
Air Malta (KM; 0845 607 3710; www.airmalta.com)
Air Transat (TS; 020-7616 9187; www.airtransat.com)
Atlantic Airways (RC; 08701 999 440; www.flyshetland.com)
bmi (BD; 0870 607 0555; www.flybmi.com)
bmibaby (WW; 0870 264 2229; www.bmibaby.com)
British Airways (BA; 0870 850 9850; www.britishairways.co.uk)
Centralwings (C0; +48 22 558 0045; www.centralwings.com)
Continental Airlines (CO; 0845 607 6760; www.continental.com)
Eastern Airways (T3; 0870 366 9100; www.easternairways.com)
easyJet (U2; www.easyjet.com)
FlyBe (BE; 0871 700 0123; www.flybe.com)
FlyGlobespan (GSM; 0870 556 1522; www.flyglobespan.com)
FlyWhoosh (WEA; 0871 282 6767; www.flywhoosh.com)
Germanwings (4U; 020-8321 7255; www.germanwings.com)
Highland Airways (HS; 0845 450 2245; www.highlandairways.co.uk)
Icelandair (FI; 0844 811 1190 ; www.icelandair.com)
Jet2.com (LS; 0871 226 1737; www.jet2.com)
KLM Cityhopper (UK; 0870 507 4074; www.klmuk.com)
Lufthansa (LH; 0870 8737 747; www.lufthansa.co.uk)
Ryanair (FR; www.ryanair.com)
Scandinavian Airlines (SK; 0870 60 727 727; www.flysas.com)
US Airways (US; 0845 600 3300; www.usairways.com)
Wideroe (WF; +47 8100 1200; www.wideroe.no)
Zoom Airlines (OOM; 0870 240 0055; www.flyzoom.com)
Many airlines compete on flights between Australia and New Zealand and the UK and there is a wide range of fares. Round-the-world (RTW) tickets are often real bargains and can sometimes work out cheaper than a straightforward return ticket.
Expect to pay anything from A$2000 to A$3000. Adding a connecting flight from London to Edinburgh should only add around A$100 to the cost of the ticket.
Flight Centre (133 133; www.flightcentre.com.au)
STA Travel (134 782; www.statravel.com.au)
Flight Centre (0800 243 544; www.flightcentre.co.nz)
STA Travel (0800 474 400; www.statravel.co.nz)
Zoom Airlines flies direct to Glasgow from Vancouver, Toronto and Ottawa (up to five a week, year-round), and from Calgary and Halifax (once or twice a week, May to October only). Charter operator Air Transat has one direct flight a week from Toronto to Edinburgh (May to October) and Glasgow (April to October), and weekly flights to Glasgow from Calgary and Vancouver (May to October).
There are more than a hundred flights a day between London and Edinburgh and Glasgow, and several daily from other UK airports. BA has flights to Glasgow and Edinburgh from London, Birmingham and Manchester, and to Aberdeen and Inverness from London.
EasyJet flies from London to Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness and Aberdeen, and from Bristol to Edinburgh and Glasgow. Air France/Cityjet flies from London City to Edinburgh and Dundee; bmibaby has flights from Birmingham, East Midlands and Cardiff to Edinburgh and Glasgow, and from Birmingham to Aberdeen. Eastern Airways flies from various English airports to Aberdeen and Inverness. Prices vary a lot. A standard economy return ticket from London to Edinburgh or Glasgow is around £250, while budget airlines offer flights for as little as £20 one way, travelling midweek and booking a month or two in advance.
BA flies from Londonderry to Glasgow. EasyJet has direct flights from Belfast to Glasgow and Edinburgh. There are daily flights from Dublin to Edinburgh and Glasgow with Aer Lingus. Ryanair flies from Dublin to Glasgow Prestwick, Edinburgh and Aberdeen. FlyBe flies from Belfast to Glasgow, Edinburgh Aberdeen and Inverness.
SAS flies from Copenhagen and Stavanger to Aberdeen, and from Stockholm to Edinburgh and Glasgow; and Wideroe has flights to Aberdeen from Bergen and Stavanger. Ryanair flies from Oslo and Gothenburg to Glasgow Prestwick.
STA Travel (800 781 4040; www.statravel.com) has offices in major cities.