Buses in Scotland
All of Scotland’s major towns and cities are served by short and long-distance bus services. Long-distance buses are known in Britain as coaches and are a popular way to travel across the country.
Most of the inter-city and longer distance coach services around Scotland are provided by:
Tickets for these services can be bought in advance by phone, online, in stations and often on board. For busy routes and when travelling at peak times, such as weekends or national holidays, it’s a good idea to book as early as possible to guarantee a seat.
Coach Discount Fair Options
If you plan to do a lot of travelling by coach, save money with multi-journey tickets, such as:
- Explorer Pass – offers unlimited travel on Scottish Citylink network.
- Megarider – offered by Stagecoach and provides unlimited travel within certain areas.
- National Express Brit Xplorer Pass – ideal if you’re planning to travel in England and Wales too. This ticket gives you unlimited travel throughout Britain on National Express coaches.
Driving in Scotland
Driving around Scotland is a great way to explore. You can set your own pace and stop off wherever takes your fancy. Whether you choose to hire a car or bring your own, you’ll never forget the magical scenery you pass through as you travel Scotland by car.
Before you get going, you need to know the Scottish driving laws and regulations.
WHAT SIDE OF THE ROAD DO I DRIVE ON IN SCOTLAND?
Always drive on the left hand side of the road.
WHAT IS THE SPEED LIMIT IN SCOTLAND?
Speed limits are often signposted – look out for a circular sign, with a red border and number (in miles per hour). If there’s no signpost, national speed limits apply. These are:
- 70 mph (112 km/h) for cars.
- 60 mph (96 km/h) for cars towing caravans or trailers.
- 70 mph (112 km/h) for cars.
- 60 mph (96 km/h) for cars towing caravans or trailers.
- 30 mph (48 km/h)
- Be aware though, it’s quite common around residential areas and particularly near schools, for a clearly signposted 20 mph (32 km/h) maximum speed limit.
OUTSIDE BUILT-UP AREAS
- 60 mph (96 km/h) for cars
- 50 mph (80 km/h) for cars towing caravans or trailers.
Find out information about speed limits for all types of vehicle.
Driving in Scotland Questions
If you’re coming from a European Union country – as long as you have a valid licence, you can drive any type of vehicle listed on your license in Scotland.
If you’re coming from outside the EU – as long as you have a valid licence from your own country, you can drive any small vehicle (eg car or motorcycle) in the UK for up to 12 months.
Check you are eligible to drive in Scotland.
WHAT IS THE DRINK DRIVE LIMIT IN SCOTLAND?
Driving under the influence of alcohol is taken very seriously in Scotland and the UK and there can be heavy penalties for those found to be above the legal blood/alcohol limit.
As of 5 December 2014, the legal limit has been lowered to 50 mg of alcohol in 100 ml of blood (from 80 mg of alcohol).
Read more about the drink-drive limit in Scotland.
WHAT INSURANCE AND REGISTRATION DO I NEED?
If you’re bringing your own car, you’ll need:
- Vehicle registration or ownership documents with you at all times.
- Insurance – every driver on the road in Scotland must have at least third-party insurance cover.
- If you’re going to be here for more than six months (during a 12 month period), you’ll need to be aware of rules on number plates that have symbols not used in the UK.
WHERE CAN I HIRE A CAR OR CAMPERVAN?
There are a number of companies to hire a car from in Scotland – or you can hire a campervan, motorhome or caravan.
Find out more about vehicle hire in Scotland.
WHAT ARE THE MOST SCENIC DRIVING ROUTES IN SCOTLAND?
There’s beautiful scenery to explore wherever you visit in Scotland.
Pass farmland, woodland and rolling hills in the south and east, see towering mountains stretching above you in the rugged west and north and stop to wander along paradise beaches on Scotland’s islands.
HOW DO I PLAN MY DRIVING ROUTE AROUND SCOTLAND?.
Plan your own road trip using:
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO DRIVE AROUND SCOTLAND?
You could spend as long as you like exploring Scotland. Scotland is a relatively small country so it shouldn’t take you too long to travel between destinations, and there will be lots of great places to stop and visit en route..
WHERE CAN I FIND A PETROL STATION ON MY DRIVING ROUTE?
In the cities, you’ll often find 24-hour access at fuel stations. In the countryside, there are fewer fuel stations, so it’s best to keep your vehicle topped up if travelling in remote areas.
Petrol stations provide unleaded petrol and diesel. Fuel is priced by the litre.
- Find a petrol station
WHERE CAN I FIND AN ELECTRIC CAR CHARGE POINT OR LPG FILLING STATION?
WHERE CAN I FIND PUBLIC OR CUSTOMER TOILETS?
If you need a bathroom break during your journey, you can find toilets which are open near you throughout the year using the interactive map.
WHAT IS IT LIKE DRIVING IN WINTER IN SCOTLAND?
Scotland’s coldest months tend to be December, January and February, when the average maximum temperature reaches around 5°C (41°F). Freezing temperatures are common during the winter and snow falls during 15 to 20 days on average.
If you’re you planning on driving in the winter months it’s best to be prepared:
- Find information on winter driving.
- Check the weather forecast before setting off.
- Find public transport options using Traveline Scotland
WHERE CAN I FIND INFORMATION ON PARKING?
Find out more information on:
All aboard! Travelling around Scotland by train is often a rewarding way to see the very best of the country. Once aboard a train, you can sit back and enjoy your journey to some incredible destinations.
ScotRail are now increasing the number of services that they operate.
- Wearing a face covering in stations and on trains is no longer mandatory.
- Don’t travel if you feel unwell. If you develop Covid-19 symptoms, do not go to a station or board a train.
- Plan ahead carefully when buying tickets at a station and when boarding.
- It might take longer to buy a ticket at the station so try and purchase your ticket in advance through the ScotRail app, website or by downloading the new ScotRail app, mTickets. This will reduce contact and your waiting time.
- Using mTickets and the ScotRail Smartcard means you don’t have to use paper tickets.
- You can buy your ticket online or via the ScotRail app and collect it on your Smartcard.
- There are two ways to get a ScotRail Smartcard. You can sign up online (16 and over) or download an application form (under 16’s only). You’ll be given the option to choose a photo or non-photo Smartcard when you apply. ScotRail will send your Smartcard by post and try to have it with you within five working days.
- ScotRail recommend that you use your own hand sanitiser when using ScotRail trains and stations. You will find hand sanitiser dispensers at the following stations:
WHERE CAN I GO BY TRAIN?
There are rail connections to each of Scotland’s seven cities. The rail network links many of towns and villages across the country with main lines running north and south through the east and west, but you’ll find it is most dense in the central belt.
You can buy tickets at:
- Train stations
- From major travel agents
- Over the phone and online with a credit or debit card.
If the ticket office at the station is closed, there is usually an automatic ticket machine, but you can also buy a ticket on board from the inspector using cash or a credit/debit card. However, the inspector cannot always issue discounted or special offer tickets.
There are seven different types of train tickets available for most journeys:
- Anytime tickets are unreserved standard class tickets which can be used at all times of the day.
- Off-Peak tickets allow for cheaper travel during specific hours when the trains are not as busy.
- Super Off-Peak tickets is a great way to save on your train fare and is valid between 11:00 and 14:59, and after 20:00, Monday to Friday.
- First Class tickets allow for travel in carriages with extra space, electrical sockets for laptops etc, and sometimes include complimentary refreshments.
- Advance train tickets allow you to buy online or from a ticket office around twelve weeks before you travel. The earlier you book your tickets, the more money you’ll save.
- Groupsave tickets allow for cheaper travel if you’re travelling with a group of 3 or more.
- Kids for a Quid tickets are valid at the weekend or on any off-peak service. For every paying adult, up to four children can travel for just £1 return.
Be sure to check the luggage, bicycle and animal guidelines in advance if you wish to use these facilities.
DISCOUNT FARES AND PASSES
ScotRail trains offer ticket discounts which are available based on various categories including age, group travel, advance bookings, and time of travel.
ScotRail also offer flexible travel passes and other passes for the benefits of travellers. These include:
- Spirit of Scotland Travelpass – gives unlimited train travel within Scotland. The pass is also valid on some buses in certain regions, on all Caledonian MacBrayne ferries and gives discounts on Northlink ferries to Orkney and Shetland.
- Highland Rover and Central Scotland Rover – flexible tickets offering unlimited train travel and travel on other modes of public transport.
- Rail and Sail tickets – combines rail and ferry tickets for great value in one ticket and can be purchased from ScotRail.
Scotland’s only subway is located in Glasgow and is known as ‘the Clockwork Orange’ due to its bright exterior. It’s a cheap and efficient way to travel around the city and several stations also provide a park & ride facility.
Singles, returns, all day and 7-day tickets are available from all Subway ticket offices and automatic machines, whilst other tickets and passes covering multiple days can be purchased online from the Strathclyde Partnership for Transport.
Flying between Scotland’s main and regional airports is often the quickest way to get around, particularly when travelling to the islands.
Scotland has a number of main airport hubs based in the cities and smaller airports on the islands.
This is a list of all of the main passenger airports, but there are other smaller airports across the country:
- Edinburgh Airport
- Glasgow Airport
- Glasgow Prestwick Airport
- Dundee Airport
- Aberdeen Airport
- Inverness Airport
- Wick John O’Groats Airport
- Kirkwall Airport
- Sumburgh Airport
- Campbeltown Airport
- Oban Airport
- Islay Airport
- Tiree Airport
- Stornoway Airport
- Barra Airport
- Benbecula Airport
You can find more information on Scotland’s airports and transfers and decide where you want to fly to!
The best way to find the most competitive fares is to search on comparison sites such as:
GETTING AROUND SCOTLAND BY FERRY
VISITING THE ISLANDS
Anyone visiting Scotland’s islands is:
- Encouraged to take two lateral flow tests before travelling.
- The first test should be three days before you travel.
- The second test on the day of travel.
- If you test positive, you would be able to take a more-sensitive PCR test to confirm the result before cancelling your visit.
- Find out more on details around how to order a rapid lateral flow test.
- You can order the lateral flow kit directly from the UK Government.
Travel between Mainland Scotland and Orkney and Shetland is now permitted. Although no longer mandatory, it continues to be strongly recommended that face coverings are worn in ports and ships.
If you have any enquiries or want to keep up to date with all the latest travel information, please visit NorthLink Ferries Coronavirus help page.moss