Some of our fab students have been asking us how to get to some of Scotland’s most popular tourist destinations which we don’t currently offer trips to. The EAS team sadly has to limit our excursions to an hours radius of Glasgow but the brilliant International Society at Glasgow (ISoc) offers trips which travel the length and breadth of this gorgeous country. Below is a quick how-to guide to touring Scotland and some of the must-see locations! This list is for those of you that want to try and go it alone – no tour bus, no package holiday, just your boots and your backpack and a group of friends.
Perhaps one of the most well known places in Scotland people from around the world come to Loch Ness in search of mythical monsters and wonderful weekend breaks. There are a few ways to reach Loch Ness from Glasgow, the most affordable way (unless you’re taking a tour bus package) is via public transport. You’ll have to strap yourself in for around 5 hours total via a mix of trains and buses to reach Loch Ness.
The easiest route is to travel from Glasgow Queen St Station taking a direct train to Inverness. This leg of the journey lasts around 3 hours and costs around £54.00 for an adult open return ticket. If you have a Railcard the price drops to £35.00 – we strongly advise you investing in a one-year 16-25 Railcard if you plan on travelling around the UK.
Once you reach Inverness a frequent 30min bus service from just next to the Station. The No. 19, 917, and 919 all go towards the Loch.
There are many places you can stay while enjoying your visit to the loch. Hostel World is a great site to use for budget trips with large groups while Air BnB is perfect for those with a bit more cash to spend.
The largest Mountain in the UK Ben Nevis towers at a staggering 1352m (though technically the largest mountain in Scotland is actually underwater!). Ben Nevis is most easily reached via train to Fort William. Again leaving from Glasgow Queen St Station the train journey is a direct 4 hour journey which follows the stunning landscape of the West Highland Way. For an open return journey expect to pay either £35 (Railcard) or £50 (adult). Again Hostel World and Air BnB offer a range of excellent and affordable accommodation for your trip.
If you’re planning on hiking Ben Nevis don’t assume it’s going to be a nice quick wee jaunt up a hill. The climb can be very challenging so make sure to dress and pack appropriately! Check out the official Ben Nevis site for some hints and tips for how to prepare for your trek. The so-called Tourist Route is a 17km hike which takes between 7-9 hours to complete depending on your fitness levels. If 17km seems a little bit out of your comfort zone The Walk Highlands website offers a lot of other wonderful routes around the base of the mountain and the surrounding Fort William area.
Isle of Skye
The Isle of Skye is one of Scotland’s most beautiful jewels, it’s name taken from the Norse for ‘Cloud Island’. There are several ways for you to get to the island and all involve a combination of buses, ferries and trains and accordingly take a while to reach this fabulous place.
Glasgow – Mallaig – Skye
Taking the train from Glasgow Queen St Station get a direct train to the gorgeous seaside town of Mallaig. The journey is around 5 hours long and again return journeys cost between £34-50 depending on your railcard. The route to Mallaig is a stunning excursion along the West Highland way – even crossing the famous ‘Harry Potter’ viaduct near Glen Coe (more info on Glen Coe below!) which make the 5 hour train totally worth it. Once in Mallaig you can grab the Calmac Ferry over to Skye. Calmac offers a range of tickets ranging from saver singles to island hopping packages.
Glasgow – Skye
The Citylink bus travels all the way from Glasgow direct to Skye (over a bridge…it isn’t an underwater bus) and takes a total of 6hours. Single tickets start from £50 so it’s a relatively more expensive option for your island excursions. Again have a look at Hostel World and Air BnB for accommodation.
The final place on our list is the stunning Glencoe, one of Scotland’s most historical and stunning sites. The easiest way once again is to grab a train from Glasgow Queen St and take it to either Fort William or the Bridge of Orchy (£35-50)- from here you can get a connecting bus to Glencoe and drink in the gorgeous surroundings. Again for more info on the area and what to do when you arrive, check out the official site for Glencoe.
Get out there and get exploring!