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Touring Scotland by Train: Car-Free & Carefree

A train journey can be a magical experience and Scotland has some of the most spectacular railway journeys in the world. Why not choose an environmentally conscious holiday this year, and admire the breathtaking scenery rolling by your window without the stress of driving? 

Established in Scotland in 2004, Absolute Escapes are award-winning specialists in tailor-made travel to Scotland. Our self-guided Scotland by Train package is a wonderful way to explore the highlights of Scotland without a car. 

Head north into the incredible Highlands, across the famous Glenfinnan Viaduct, and get lost in the beauty of mysterious Loch Ness. What’s holding you back?

Let’s breakdown the most frequently asked questions about our Scotland by Train itinerary.

- How do I travel around Scotland?
Where can I go with a Travel Pass?
When is the best time to travel?
Do I need to make reservations?
Can I upgrade to First Class?
- Can I make a change to my travel plans?
What are the advantages of travelling by train?
How do I get off the beaten track?
How do I get to my accommodation?
Where do I store my luggage?
Is public transport reliable in Scotland?
What are the best travel apps?
How do I book a Scotland by Train holiday?

 
 
 
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How do I travel around Scotland?
 

Our Scotland by Train packages include a Spirit of Scotland Travel Pass. This flexible rover ticket allows you unlimited travel on trains, ferries and a selection of coach services throughout Scotland. Choose from 4 days of unlimited travel over 8 consecutive days, or 8 days of unlimited travel over 15 consecutive days. 

Don’t worry about buying a ticket at the station, a travel pass gives you the freedom and flexibility to travel all over Scotland without booking in advance. Travel stress-free from the comfort of your seat and enjoy the awe-inspiring views!

 
 
 
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Where can I go with a Travel Pass?
 

Technically, you can travel all over Scotland, but we have created a variety of itineraries that allow you to experience the best highlights and attractions without renting a car. Scotland is an ideal country to explore by train, from bustling cities to the breathtaking Highlands and Islands. The modern railway network seamlessly connects the country - with a little help from ferries and buses. 

Our most popular itinerary travels north from the urban maze of Glasgow to the incredible volcanic island of Skye, through the heart of the Scottish Highlands. Board the Jacobite Steam Train (also known as the Hogwarts Express) and venture across the magical Glenfinnan Viaduct with its stunning views down Loch Shiel – one of the most famous examples of railway infrastructure in the world.

If you have something different in mind, we would be delighted to help tailor-make your itinerary - with a little imagination and expert knowledge we will soon have you travelling off the beaten track, travel pass safely in hand.

 
 
 
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When is the best time to travel?
 

Scotland is beautiful anytime of the year, but it’s no secret that trains and ferries can struggle with autumn storms and winter snow, so we recommend travelling from April to the end of September. 

Scottish people live with wild nature and dramatic weather, it’s part of what makes the Highlands and Islands some of the most breathtaking places in the world, but unless you are in the mood for an unexpected adventure, it might be best to avoid the dark time of the year. 

Spring brings warmer weather with its promise of wildflowers, sunshine and songbirds and is a wonderful time to explore Scotland. Summer is lush and green and unpredictable - you might experience four seasons in a day or have brilliant sunshine for weeks. The good news is, the trains will keep running! 

 
 
 
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Do I need to make reservations?
 

With a Spirit of Scotland Travel Pass, you usually don’t have to make any reservations. However, trains on popular rural lines can get very busy in high season, so to get a good seat with a view, you may wish to pre-book one. The simplest way to do this is to go to any Scottish train station with a ticket desk, show your Travel Pass, and ask them to make a seat reservation. Alternatively, you can also give them a phone call. This service is free.

Some coach services require you to make a seat reservation in advance. We will inform you of this when your holiday is confirmed, so you can do so well in advance. There’s usually a small booking fee for this service.

 
 
 
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Can I upgrade to First Class?
 

Unfortunately, the Spirit of Scotland Travel Pass is only valid for Standard Class. If you would like to travel First Class, then regrettably we will not be able to provide you with travel tickets. These can however be purchased online or at the train stations. We would be delighted to provide you with more detailed information if this is something you are considering.

 
 
 
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Can I make a change to my travel plans?
 

A Spirit of Scotland Travel Pass gives you total flexibility - hop-on hop-off as much as you like! Absolute Escapes will create a personalised itinerary based on your wishes and interests, and book your favourite accommodation throughout the country - you will have the freedom to travel on any off-peak services you choose.

Our comprehensive Information Packs include detailed sightseeing recommendations and local first-hand expertise, so you can make decisions confidently. We also include timetables for train, bus and ferry services, so you are never left wondering how to get to your destination.

 
 
 
 
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What are the advantages of travelling by train?
 

Leave the car behind and embrace an environmentally friendly way to holiday in Scotland without compromising your experience. Scotland is well-connected and it has never been easier to travel by public transport. Here are our reasons why you should ditch the car next holiday:

- Travel stress-free - avoid hair-raising single-track roads, navigating new places and the small problem of driving on the wrong side of the road!

- Embrace your fellow travellers - trains are sociable; strike up a conversation with a sheep farmer, Lobster fisherman or primary school teacher, and get properly acquainted with Scottish culture, you might just make a friend for life!

- Eco-friendly points - help reduce your carbon footprint and choose to travel green this year. The environment will thank you.

- Enjoy the comfort & views - sit back, relax and admire the awe-inspiring views, or take full advantage of the onboard facilities and service. Most trains now offer free Wifi.

- Unique experiences - Scotland is home to two of the world's greatest train journeys - The West Highland Line and Kyle of Lochalsh Line - and many many more incredibly scenic rail voyages.

 
 
 
 
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How do I get off the beaten track?
 

There are endless possibilities when it comes to travelling around Scotland by public transport, and you will find a train station or bus stop in every corner of the country. You could stop in Aviemore in the majestic Cairngorms National Park and spend days climbing mountains, or take a ferry to the remote islands of Coll and Tiree, small enough to cycle around. You may have to slow down and experience the landscapes on foot, which might just be good for the soul.

Depending on your interests, we would be delighted to tailor your Scotland by Train holiday and give you advice on what’s possible in your time frame. Some experiences might be a short local taxi journey away, and in this case, we will provide you with contact details.

 
 
 
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How do I get to my accommodation?
 

For our Scotland by Train packages, we prioritise central accommodation near the train station, close to shops, amenities and restaurants. You may wish to take a short taxi journey to your accommodation, which will be the easiest way to travel with your luggage, and we will provide numbers for local taxi companies who can collect you.

Alternatively, there are almost always taxis waiting at the stations in Scotland, who will be able to assist you.

 
 
 
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Where do I store my luggage?
 

You will find designated luggage compartments onboard most trains. It’s also possible to store smaller pieces of luggage in the overhead racks and underneath the seats. Some ferries will have designated areas for luggage, but otherwise, you will find plenty of space onboard.

For Scotland by Train, we recommend travelling with a wheelie suitcase, so you can carry your luggage along the platforms and store them away safely without too much hassle. You might also want to travel a bit lighter, making the whole experience more enjoyable.

 
 
 
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Is public transport reliable in Scotland?
 

Scotland’s public transport network is both reliable and accessible. You will find plenty of staff members at bus and train stations and ferry terminals, who can answer your questions and point you in the right direction. Official information desks and friendly locals dressed in yellow vests will ensure you are well-informed. 

Absolute Escapes also has a 24-hour emergency contact number, which you are welcome to use if you are concerned. We will reach out to you as soon as possible if we are made aware of a change in your travel schedule and assist you. 

 
 
 
 
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What are the best travel apps?
 

It has never been easier to stay up-to-date with travel information, simply download these apps on your smartphone or iPad and you won’t miss any travel news again. 

- Traveline Scotland - public transport information. Use the excellent journey planner and download timetables for local buses and trains.

- Trainline - information about train disruptions and live train tracking as well as current timetables.

- Calmac - the latest sailing information and weather reports, to help you stay on top of your current ferry status.

 
 
 
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How do I book a Scotland by Train holiday?
 

We would love to talk to you about your Scotland by Train itinerary. On our website, you will find information about suggested itineraries, sightseeing attractions, highlights and accommodation.

Send us an enquiry with your wish list and we will do the rest - leaving you free to enjoy an unforgettable, stress-free holiday. 

If you have any questions about Scotland by Train which we haven't covered above, please don't hesitate to get in touch. You can call our knowledgeable team on +44 (0)131 610 1210 or email enquiries@absoluteescapes.com.

Sine Nielsen

 
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