Railway holidays in Scotland overview

Rail travel is the best way to explore Scotland. Relaxed and wonderfully scenic as they take you through landscapes unscarred by roads, railway holidays also allow you to hop off and on as you please. If you want to climb Ben Nevis, try to catch a photo of the monster in Loch Ness, or tour a few of Scotland’s finest whisky distilleries, it’s easily arranged by our expert tour operators who are able to tailor your itinerary. And if you’d like to try some car free island hopping, jump on the West Highland Line to Mull, Iona and Skye. Our Scotland railway holidays travel guide has more.

Our top Rail holidays in Scotland

Scotland by railway holiday

From £1135 to £1195
8 days ex flights
Experience authentic Scotland independently and car-free

West Highland Line railway holiday in Scotland

From £895 to £965
5 days ex flights
Take the world's best rail journey to the Isle of Skye

West Highlands guided rail tour in Scotland

From £1875
7 days ex flights
Discover Scotland's Highlands & distinctive islands by train
Small group2021: 20 Sep, 2022: 26 Jun, 24 Jul, 18 Sep

Scotland guided rail tour, Skye & Glencoe

From £1875
7 days ex flights
Visit Scottish castles and beautiful gardens by train
Small group2022: 22 May, 12 Jun, 17 Jul

Scotland island hopping holiday, car free

From £1275 to £1375
8 days ex flights
Explore three contrasting Scottish islands car-free

Tour of Britain by train

From £2995 to £3350
16 days ex flights
Explore England and Scotland's cities & landscapes by train.
Tailor made

Map & highlights

There are plenty of tailor made Scotland railway holidays available that allow you to shape your itinerary. Several follow classic routes such as the West Highland Line, via Ben Nevis and the Great Glen, and the coast-to-coast Kyle Line – both ideal for hopping over to the Isle of Skye too. Other destinations you might want to consider include Scotland’s magnificent capital, Edinburgh, and Fort William, terminus for the Caledonian Sleeper and base camp for walking Ben Nevis. You can easily stop off in the Cairngorms National Park too; the main town, Aviemore, is on the London to Scotland sleeper route.
Cairngorms National Park

1. Cairngorms National Park

If you are heading to Inverness from Edinburgh, think about fitting in a day or so in Cairngorms National Park, with Aviemore train station at its heart. Take the funicular railway up Cairngorm Mountain, or go for a more extensive hike up myriad Munros. For another rail experience, check out the Strathspey steam train journey, a two-hour round trip through the national park on a 19th century track.

2. Edinburgh

As well as having a beautifully located main station, Waverley, in between the medieval old town and the 18th century side, the capital is always a wonderful place to visit, as well as being the terminus or starting point for many a railway journey. Edinburgh is cool, boasts classy cuisine, a contemporary arts scene, elegant architecture and a castle bang in the middle. Plus it’s on the coast, for further exploration.
Fort William

3. Fort William

The terminus for the Caledonian Sleeper train, there is nothing like waking up at the foot of Ben Nevis, the country’s highest mountain and a gateway to a world of wilderness adventures. Although the town itself isn’t the prettiest, it has gorgeousness all around, not least Loch Linnhe on the shores of which it is located. As well as the Mamores Mountains, which are less busy than Nevis for hiking.
Isle of Skye

4. Isle of Skye

It’s a shame to go all the way to Mallaig or Kyle of Lochalsh by train and not hop across to the iconic Isle of Skye. Base yourself in Portree, and then explore by foot or hire car to visit the likes of the Old Man of Storr, swim in the famous faerie pool or visit Loch Coruisk, enveloped by the Cuillin Mountains. Local guides are excellent, so do make the most of them.
The Kyle Line

5. The Kyle Line

Running coast to coast between Inverness in the east and Kyle of Lochalsh and the Isle of Skye in the west, this is one of the lesser known beauties when it comes to rail journeys in Scotland. Sit back and watch 120km worth of Highland heritage including the Torridon Peaks, as well as wild heathland where deer hover on the outskirts of remote ancient forests – particularly on the slopes down from Loch Luichart.
West Highland Line

6. West Highland Line

No matter which direction you take this in, picking it up in Mallaig and heading south, or starting in Glasgow and heading up the north coast, this is most definitely one of the most spectacular train journeys. Although only taking five hours, do hop on and hop off over a few days. Zipping through Rannoch Moor lifts anyone’s heart, same with Ben Nevis. This really is a journey into the wilds.

West Highland Line

One of Scotland’s most renowned rail routes, the West Highland Line hugs the west coast, allowing easy access to the Isle of Skye, before heading deep into the Highlands and some of the country’s wildest places. You can complete the 260km journey in five hours – but why would you, when it can so easily be broken up into several sumptuous sections? The West Highland Line passes over the iconic Glenfinnan Viaduct (you’ll recognise it from Harry Potter, if nothing else), stops at Fort William (the ‘adventure hub of the Highlands’), and goes through extravagant mountainous scenery, including Loch Lomond and Trossachs National Park.

Kyle Line

Linking the Kyle of Lochalsh on the west coast and Inverness on the northeast, the Kyle Line ushers you through dramatic Scottish landscapes. From Munros, ancient forests and peaty bogs where deer roam and eagles soar, to picturesque seaside villages such as Plockton and isolated mountain peaks – expect to be glued to your window. Just beyond the Kyle of Lochalsh lies the Isle of Skye, where excellent local guides are waiting to show you areas of this popular Hebridean island well away from the beaten tourist path.
Quote. The secret to a great holiday is that it's great for everyone - you, local communities and nature.
Tourist and Masai

More about Railway holidays in Scotland

Escorted or on your own?

With Scotland rail holidays you can either join a small group tour or travel independently while following a pre-determined route. Small group trips are accompanied throughout by a knowledgeable escort, with fixed dates and itineraries. You not only have a readymade set of travelling companions, but also somebody there to regale you with history and anecdotes about every destination while managing the logistics. Travelling on your own, your accommodation and train tickets will be arranged for you, but otherwise you’re left to your own devices – you can do as much or as little as you feel at every stop along the way.

Car free island hopping

Car free island hopping, or rail ‘n’ sail, is a breeze in Scotland. From Mallaig station at the end of the West Highland Line, you can board a 45-minute ferry over to the Isle of Skye. Seals, dolphins and whales are common in these chilly waters. Oban is another good jumping-off point for the Inner Hebrides. And from Thurso you can extend your trip into the Orkney or Shetland archipelagos with their wondrous birdlife and many great walks. Our seasoned Scotland rail holiday partners know their way around a ferry timetable blindfolded and will ensure you make all the right connections.
Travel Team
If you'd like to chat about Scotland railway or need help finding a holiday to suit you we're very happy to help.
[West Highland Line: Jack Anstey] [Kyle Line: Sorin Tudorut] [Escorted or on your own?: © VisitScotland / Ian Rutherford] [Car free island hopping: Simon Migaj]
Photo credits: [Page banner: 96tommy] [Railway holidays : Jack Anstey] [Small ship cruises : pxhere] [Watching wildlife: eric niven] [Types of holidays : Petr Meissner] [Where to go in Scotland : Nathan Anderson]