Scotland by Rail – Up Close and Personal

Trains in Scotland

North Briton special from London to Kyle of Lochalsh

Traveling through Scotland can be an incredible journey. From historic sites to modern city centers, the country offers something for everyone. If you’re traveling on a budget, consider touring Scotland by rail. Not only are trains less expensive, but they also offer a type of vacation experience that you wouldn’t find traveling by car.

What Are the Benefits to Train Travel?

-You can see more of the countryside.  Often, when traveling by car, the driver is concentrating so hard on the road that much of what there is to see passes them by. Traveling by train allows each person in your group to see the country as it should be seen. While trains do run through cities, they also travel through parts of the country not accessible by car, allowing you to experience incredible views and insider looks of cities near the train stations (some with short stops where you can hop off and absorb a small bit of the local flavor).

sept 07 - exploring scotland - train - steam train!

Exploring Scotland on a Steam Train!

-You can visit more cities in a shorter amount of time.  Many rail passes offered in Scotland allow you to get on and off the train as you wish. You virtually become your own tour guide! Rather than driving to a city, seeing the sites, spending the night, driving to another city and so on, you can hop off of the train in one city, stay for a few hours and catch the next train.

-You have a chance to make new friends and gain insider information.  Public transport is widely used in Europe and the UK. Because of this, your chance of running into locals on your train is practically guaranteed. If you are comfortable introducing yourself to strangers, this can be a great way to learn about Scotland. While travel books and websites can give you much of the information you need to know, nothing beats talking to a local resident. Get the inside scoop on where to eat and what to see, and you’ll have a more authentic Scottish experience.

Caledonian Sleeper Car – Wikipedia

-Sleeper cars save you money on hotel fare.  If you are planning on touring the country, rather than only staying in one or two major cities, book a seat on a sleeper train. Sleeper trains are both comfortable and safe, and save you from having to book an expensive hotel room in several cities.

What Types of Trains and Passes are Available?

ScotRail is by far the most popular train service within the borders of Scotland. Travelers can purchase season tickets for unlimited travel; a flexipass is good for ten rides along a chosen route, or a zonecard allows for unlimited travel on the train, subway, some ferries and most buses. The ticket type you choose will depend on how long you plan on traveling and how many stops you might like to make.

If you desire a sleeper car, purchase a ticket for the Caledonian. You can purchase a single journey aboard the Caledonian or a flexipass allowing for ten journeys. If you plan on spending the night in a city, booking a one way pass aboard a Caledonian will allow you to comfortably rest in your sleeper car enroute!

Traveling off-peak will allow the budget-conscious to save money on tickets, as will purchasing tickets in advance. You can utilize the experience of a travel agent for booking your seat, or you can do so quite simply on the website.

Traveling abroad can be an amazing vacation. If you’re on a budget but don’t want to sacrifice quality, seeing Scotland from the safety and comfort of the rail is a choice to be pondered. It’s an amazing option that many travelers neglect to consider—mistakenly so.

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