The Highlands by public transport

Medieval Cawdor Castle flood-lit at night
Historic attractions ››

Visit famous battlefields and grand forts, ancient burial sites, Neolithic stone circles and standing stones.

A group trek on horseback through the Alvie Estate within the Cairngorm National Park with views to the mountains beyond
Cairngorms National Park overview ››

Explore Scotland's largest National Park where you will find a fascinating landscape and diverse range of wildlife.

Looking over purple heather to a self-catering cottage at Elgol by Loch Scavaig with the Cuillin mountains behind, Isle of Skye
Accommodation ››

Find great deals on everything from luxury hotels to cosy B&Bs, and self-catering options in and around the Highlands.

A car touring near Lochinver, near Sutherland
Travel ››

Whether you are travelling by car, coach, train or ferry, the Highlands are a pleasure to explore.

Sit back and let someone else do the driving, enjoying a journey that takes in the grandeur of the central Highlands and the high Cairngorm mountains. With Inverness as your most northerly point, you can also explore on the way some of Scotland’s most spectacular castles and fascinating attractions. With easy and frequent bus and train services, there are plenty of options to explore Scotland using public transport.

  • People sit outside at a bar by the River Ness, Inverness
    Al fresco drinks by the River Ness, Inverness
  • A woman noses one of a line of whisky glasses, with the bottles in the foreground during a tasting session
    Whisky tasting session at Blair Athol Distillery, Perthshire
  • A couple walking in the Cairngorms National Park
    Cairngorms National Park
  • A group of tourists on a coach tour of the Highlands
    Join a coach tour of the Highlands
  • The city of Perth and the River Tay at dusk
    The city of Perth and the River Tay at dusk

From Edinburgh there are frequent bus and train departures for Stirling which is around an hour away. Stirling Castle dominates the town’s skyline; the town grew up around this once strategically important fortress. Walk up to it by way of the busy shopping streets to reach the atmospheric Old Town, then the Esplanade with its magical views. The castle is a must-see experience and one of the most important residences in Scottish history, a favoured residence of the Stewart kings and queens who held grand celebrations there from christenings to coronations.

Spend the evening exploring the Old Town of Stirling, with plenty of local bars and delicious Scottish restaurants to pick from. Make use of the fantastic accommodation in the area and stay overnight in Stirling.

Stirling lies within sight of the A9, known as the 'Highland road', and your journey continues northwards via Perth for Newtonmore and Aviemore. There are bus and rail services, with a journey time of just over two hours. En route, Perthshire’s woods gradually give way to the open moorland and heathery hill-slopes of the central Highlands, with the Pass of Drumochter, the highest point reached by rail in the UK, leading down to the valley of the River Spey, with superb views of the Cairngorm mountains to the south east.

Break your journey at the Highland Folk Museum at Newtonmore, where domestic life of the early Highland people is brought to life. Visitors to this living history museum can learn how their Scottish Highland ancestors lived, built their homes, tilled the soil and dressed.

Continue on your journey to Aviemore to stay overnight.

Aviemore is a gateway for the Cairngorms National Park with a huge choice of leisure activities. There are regular bus services throughout the day, and a year-round link from the resort to CairnGorm Mountain.

The linking buses run as a 'hail and ride system' from Inverdruie, so you can also get off anywhere and explore the network of paths and walks around. Spend the day exploring some of the exciting attractions in the Aviemore area. Take a trip to the stunning Loch an Eilein, visit the Cairngorm Reindeer Herd or take a trip up the funicular mountain railway to the top of CairnGorm. Again, spend the night in Aviemore.

Inverness is around one hour by train or bus from Aviemore, with pinewood and moorland views and a fine panorama over the inner Moray Firth on the approaches to Inverness. The Highland capital has great shopping, restaurants, pubs and nightlife and also offers the option of visiting Loch Ness. Why not spend the day cruising Loch Ness and visiting the spectacular loch-side ruins of Urquhart Castle? There are combined bus and boat cruises which leave from the city centre and offer a variety of packages including Urquhart Castle, the Loch Ness Centre and Exhibition and wildlife spotting. Spend the night in Inverness.

Fascinating places easily reached from Inverness also include Fort George, Europe's best preserved 18th century fortress, Culloden Battlefield, or the spectacularly scenic Glen Affric, all available on a day tour by bus.

Alternatively, discover the Moray Firth resort town of Nairn which has frequent bus or train services, with its beautiful beaches and a chance of seeing dolphins from the shore. Boat cruises also operate from Inverness and Nairn. Return to Inverness to spend the evening.

Leave Inverness to journey back over the high Grampian hills en route for Perth. Break your journey at the little resort town of Pitlochry, to visit the Blair Athol Distillery at the southern edge of the town, about 20 minutes’ walk from the train station. Most bus services stop close to the distillery. 

Rejoin the southbound services for Perth, an attractive city by the banks of the River Tay. The easy-to-navigate central grids of streets are worth exploring, with plenty of shops, cafés and pubs, as well as a museum and galleries. Spend the night in Perth.

Depart Perth for Edinburgh; there are plenty of bus and train options, taking around an hour. Edinburgh is one of Europe’s great capitals, with a huge range of places to see and things to do and a vibrant cultural life. Compact enough to discover on foot, spend the day exploring the streets and closes of Edinburgh’s Old Town. Visit the iconic Edinburgh Castle and the Royal Mile, and there is also a good choice of historical and ghost walks where you can learn about the fascinating history of Scotland’s capital city.