One of the most frequently asked questions we receive here at Haystack Hostels is “How do I get to the highlands”. Over the last few years the highlands of Scotland have grown in popularity thanks to their representation in television shows such as Outlander as well as access to previously unreachable areas becoming easier every year. If you find yourself in Scotland with a couple of free days to fill, a trip to the highlands is the perfect way to see the best Scotland has to offer.
How to Get There
Driving is undoubtably the best way to experience the highlands as it allows you to stop at all the points which are inaccessible by train or bus. Driving to the highlands from Edinburgh couldn’t really be easier, once over the Forth Road Bridge, following the A85 followed by the A9 is a straight road for almost 2 hours of driving surrounded by the beautiful Scottish landscape. As you near the Cairngorm National park, the mountains grow increasingly larger and more dramatic making for stunning views. Renting a car in Scotland can also be reasonably easy, by booking in advance for long term rentals prices can be as low as £12 a day. However, if you only staying for a short period the price of renting a car can vary immensely depending on the time of year. Another option is to find someone to share a car who is already going to the highlands, check forums and websites like couch surfing to see if anyone is looking for a travel companion. This is not uncommon, and the only cost then is paying your share of fuel.
Tip – If you’re in the mood for a great Scottish road trip head up and attempt the North Coast 500 for some of the most spectacular views by road. The route of 516 miles travels through some of the most northernly locations in Scotland and takes between 5 and 7 days. However, if you don’t have access to a car, it is also an excellent route on bicycle and can even be walked.
With the cost of train tickets in Scotland rising every year, trains are becoming one of the more expensive ways to visit the highlands. With a single from Edinburgh to Inverness coming in at around £45 and an anytime off-peak return allowing you to return anytime within 30 days coming in at a minimum of £54 it is certainly worth going for the later. One of the most famous train journeys up to the highlands is the Caledonian sleeper, travelling from London to Inverness overnight, transporting you from the hectic chaos of city life to the peace and tranquillity of the highlands. So if you find yourself growing tired of your time in London and are looking for something simpler, hopping on a Caledonian sleeper Scotland is great way to wake up somewhere completely different.
Thanks to companies like Megabus, getting to the highlands by bus can be a very cheap option. From Edinburgh to inverness on the bus can easily be found for around £14 and by booking in advance and searching around for a good deal pries can go as low as £5. The bus will take the exact scenic route that you would in the car however you will miss out on any stops on the way that you would want to make. However, for such cheap prices you can’t complain.
If you want a little more guidance on your trip to the highlands, then a guided tour is the option for you. There are many companies through Edinburgh providing tours lasting from 1 to 10 days. Haggis Adventures is our Number one choice for a highland tour with their one-day Edinburgh to Loch Ness tour coming in at only £46. There is undoubtably no better way to learn about the beautiful Scottish landscapes you’ll be travelling through with each tour having experienced Scottish guides tell you all of their tales and Scottish legends.
For those who don’t have a penny to spare but are determined to see the Highlands no matter what, Hitchhiking can make a good last resort. If you’re interested in the possibility of hitchhiking in Scotland check out our last blog post.
If you have any further questions about visiting Scotland, feel free to contact us via our website.