There are many ways to travel around Scotland but travelling by train is a preferred option. Why? You simply cannot witness some of the scenes that the rail routes offer on any other form of transport. Even Scottish locals like to embark on some of these routes every once in a while. Check out our short list of some of the most scenic and popular train routes in Scotland below.
The West Highland Line
Perhaps the most iconic train route in Scotland, the West Highland Line has merited the title as the ‘World’s Best Train Journey’, as voted by readers of Wanderlust Magazine, and it’s not hard to see why. The route begins at Glasgow, passing through Glaswegian suburbs and along the banks of Loch Lomond, with the option to continue the line at Oban, where it branches off, or journey further north to Fort William and Mallaig. The West Highland Line travels through some of Scotland’s most staggering mountain landscapes, lochs and heather moors – some parts of the country you’ll only be able to witness via a train journey.
The Kyle Line
If there is any way to truly experience the heart of the highlands, it’s travelling on the Kyle Line. Departing from Inverness and ending at Kyle of Lochalsh, the Kyle Line is 2 and a half hours of mountains, forests, lochs, moors and rural villages. This route passes along the southern bank of the Beauly Firth, through the town of Dingwall and the small village of Garve, where Ben Wyvis can be carefully be spotted. Travellers will know when they have reached Kyle of Lochalsh as the view of the Isle of Skye is unmissable. Kyle of Lochalsh is the gateway to the Isle of Skye and other western islands.
Like the Kyle Line, the Far North Line also departs from Inverness, only it heads further north towards Thurso and Wick. This route passes through the more wild and remote areas of Scotland like the Flow Country, one of the world’s last wild places, stretching across Caithness and Sutherland. But as one of the longer train journeys – lasting 4 hours or more if heading to Wick- there’s still plenty of landmarks to spot along the way, including Skibo Castle just across the Dornoch Firth, just after Tain and Carbisdale Castle shortly after Culrain. If travellers leave the train at Thurso, they can catch the ferry to the islands of Orkney, or if continuing on to Wick, there’s the option to take the bus to John o’Groats, the most northernly point of British mainland.
Unique compared to any other railway line in the whole of the UK, the Borders railway line is the longest new domestic line to be built in the UK in over 100 years. It was only in 2015 that this line reopened after closing in 1969 when it was then known as the Waverly Route. The line runs for 30 miles from Edinburgh, through Midlothian and into the Scottish Borders lasting around 55 minutes. Since reopening in 2015, 7 new stations have been added to the route, allowing passengers to hop off at Eskbank to visit Rosslyn Chapel or visit Sir Walter Scott’s home in Tweedbank. The entire route is encompassed by rolling hills and charming villages.
The Strathspey Railway
The Strathspey Railway is one for real railway enthusiasts, offering an experience like no other. Not only does the route take in some of Scotland’s best sights like the Cairngorm Mountains, passengers travel on a tradition steam train in comfortable vintage carriages with the option to dine as well. The Strathspey Railway was brought back to life in 1978 by a group of volunteers after being closed in 1965. The route travels for 10 miles on a restored section of the original Highland Railway Line, departing from Aviemore and passing along the west side of the Spey Valley to Boat of Garten.
Our team of experts at Best of Scotland Holidays have put together the ideal West Highland Train Journey package, Scotland’s most popular train route.
This package combines the iconic route with time to explore attractions of the capital city, Edinburgh, an optional boat and bus tour of the Inner Hebrides islands of Mull, Iona and Staffa, an option steam day trip, plus much more.