One of the most frequently asked questions we receive here at Haystack Hostel 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 up north is the perfect way to see the best Scotland has to offer.
Undoubtedly the best way to experience the highlands, is driving. 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 are 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 carshare with someone 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. Want to experience a great Scottish road trip? Try the North Coast 500 for some of the most spectacular views by road. This 516 mile route travels through some of the most beautiful locations in the highlands. It takes roughly between 5 and 7 days, although this depends on what you want to see. If you don’t have access to a car, it is also an excellent route on bicycle.
Trains are a more expensive way to travel, but well worth the cost. A single thicket from Edinburgh to Inverness comes in at around £45. An anytime off-peak return allows you to return anytime within 30 days and comes in at a minimum of £54. Either way, sit back and watch the beautiful Scottish scenery roll by. The most famous train journey up to the highlands is the Caledonian sleeper. This travels from London to Inverness overnight, transporting you from the 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. Tickets from Edinburgh to Inverness on the bus can easily be found for around £14. 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.
Want a little more guidance and information on your trip to the highlands? Then a guided tour is the option for you. At Haystack Hostels, we work with the best tour operators, so come and speak with us at Reception. Day tours from Edinburgh to Loch Ness come in at around £46. There is no better way to learn about the beautiful landscapes you’ll be travelling through with each tour having experienced guides tell you all of their tales and 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 guide to hitchhiking in the Scottish Highlands.
If you have any further questions about visiting Scotland, feel free to contact us via our website.