How to Get to Edinburgh from London

Visiting the capital of Scotland from London is quite easy and convenient, as you will find several transportation alternatives such as plane, train, car, bus and organized tours.

Ana Caballero

Ana Caballero

10 min read

How to Get to Edinburgh from London

London | ©Phil Fiddyment

After exploring London neighborhood by neighborhood you will surely want to explore other horizons. Getting between the capital of England and Edinburgh is relatively easy, as there are options for all budgets and needs. In general, if you want to get there quickly you can take a direct flight that will get you to your destination in about an hour and a half. The train is also an alternative and offers a route of approximately four hours.

In fact, the best tours in Edinburgh usually choose this means of transportation, because of the amazing panoramic views it offers. The adventurous can get around by rental car or carpool, and if you don't mind traveling for long periods, the bus is also a possibility. Wondering how you could get to the Scottish capital from London? Read on!

1. Organized tour to Edinburgh from London, the most complete alternative

St. Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh| ©Javier Rodriguez
St. Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh| ©Javier Rodriguez

Convenience is a precious gift, especially when you plan to embark on a trip from London to historic Edinburgh. While these cities are not neighbors, every mile that separates them offers a world of possibilities that will enrich your vacation. An organized tour is the most comfortable and complete option, as you will have approximately 16 hours to explore the best things to do in Edinburgh at your own pace.

This way, not only will you be left with the best monuments of London etched in your mind, you will also be able to see the most outstanding castles in Edinburgh and other worthwhile points of interest, such as the baroque palace Holyrood House and the National Gallery of Scotland. The main advantage is that this type of experience usually includes the round-trip train with reserved seats in standard class, in a trip that proposes amazing views for about four hours.

During your stay in the Scottish capital I advise you to dedicate time to:

  • St.Giles Cathedral: a place that will impress you with its impeccable Gothic architecture, where the dome shaped like a royal crown and its beautiful stained glass windows stand out.
  • Dean Village: explore a historic village on the banks of the River Water of Leith, where flour was once produced.
  • Royal Yacht Britannia: discover the former yacht of the royal family, which is moored in the port district of Leith.

Useful information

  • Price: from 252 € per person.
  • Travel time: it is usually done by train, so it takes about 4 hours. Note that the return train leaves Edinburgh around 17:00 and arrives in London at approximately 22:00.
  • Advantages: it usually includes the entrance ticket to visit Edinburgh Castle.
  • Disadvantages: It does not usually include meals, although there is no shortage of alternatives in the surrounding area at lunchtime.

Book a tour to Edinburgh from London

2. Organized tour to Edinburgh with sightseeing bus included, the most fun option

Big Bus and London| ©Chris
Big Bus and London| ©Chris

A good option for those who want to visit a variety of attractions in Edinburgh and enjoy a longer trip, are the organized tours that are combined with a ride on the best tourist bus in the city. The route from London is usually by train, so to make the experience more enjoyable and fun, you can choose between first class and standard tickets.

Note that in first class you can enjoy more spacious seats, Wi-Fi and complimentary snacks. As a general recommendation, be sure to arrive at the station 30 minutes before the train's scheduled departure time. After four hours of sightseeing, get ready to board Edinburgh's best sightseeing bus, an open-top sightseeing vehicle whose free-stop formula allows you to hop on and off wherever you want and enjoy unique experiences.

For example, with your bus ticket you can venture on the best tours of the city's whisky distilleries and visit Edinburgh Castle. You can also explore the old town and marvel at churches, museums and other local attractions.

I assure you that spending 1 day in Edinburgh is enough to take a scenic tour of St Giles Cathedral, Princes Street Gardens, the National Museum of Scotland and you might even see the Queen's Ceremony at the Palace of Holyroodhouse. By 17:00 you will need to be at the designated train station to return to London.

Useful Information

  • Price: from 244 €.
  • Travel time: it is done by train, so you should calculate a journey of approximately four hours.
  • Advantages: you can save money on attractions such as the bus and the cathedral.
  • Disadvantages: if you plan to visit Edinburgh with children, please note that children between 3 and 11 years must be accompanied by an adult.

Book an Edinburgh sightseeing bus tour

3. How to get to Edinburgh by plane, the quickest option

Plane to Edinburgh| ©Colin Brown
Plane to Edinburgh| ©Colin Brown

Air travel is the fastest way to get between London and Edinburgh, but there are certain factors to consider. You'll find direct flights that get you to your destination in less than an hour and a half, but keep in mind that you'll have a better chance of getting a non-stop route when you book in advance. Generally, there are options starting from 57 € that depart from different London airports to Edinburgh Airport.

The first thing you should check is which airport your flight departs from, as there are a total of six airports in the perimeter of London known as Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Luton, London City Airport and Southe. You will find different options to move around including:

In general, you can arrange a private transfer from your accommodation to London airports, or opt for a shared transport alternative that allows you to save a couple of euros.

The cheapest flights are usually those departing from Stansted Airport, and the most expensive ones depart from London City Airport. A trick is to choose affordable airlines such as British Airways and carry light luggage, for a couple of days a personal item or a carry-on bag is enough. At your destination you can take advantage of the different transfer options between the airport and Edinburgh that include private or shared transfers, streetcar, bus and cab.

Useful information

  • Price: from 57 €, depending on the airport and airline.
  • Travel time: a direct flight takes about an hour and a half, it can be extended if your itinerary has stopovers. In addition, you must add the transfer time between urban areas and the airport, as well as airport procedures.
  • Advantages: Edinburgh Airport and the city itself are more relaxed in terms of tourism, so you can escape the chaos for a couple of hours and customize your itinerary.
  • Disadvantages: if you opt for a flight with stopovers, be aware that it can take up to 26 hours to get to Edinburgh and tire yourself unnecessarily. Some flights are operated by airlines such as Pegasus Airlines and Norwegian Air International, which make stops at locations such as Sabiha Gökçen in Turkey or Stockholm.

Book a private airport transfer

4. How to get to Edinburgh by train, the option with the most frequent schedules

Edinburgh by train| ©Adrian Lasso
Edinburgh by train| ©Adrian Lasso

Transportation in and around London is quite friendly and accessible, with a variety of schedules to organize your trip freely. I recommend you to book your tickets in advance, this way you will find better prices and schedules. In general, the most expensive options are in the evening, weekends and holidays. If you want to go comfortably you can buy a first class pass with all the comforts, it is completely worth it if you want to enjoy a relaxing vacation.

There are different companies that operate this trip, among them LNER, which usually leaves every hour and offers a comfortable four-hour trip. On the other hand, Avanti West Coast offers departures every four hours and Caledonian Sleeper twice a week, both options have routes that extend up to six hours. This is because they usually change carriages in Preston, which can be a bit tiresome and tiring.

Additionally, the first train usually leaves at 5:45 am and the last one at 11:50 pm, during the day you will be able to appreciate English landscapes and charming villages. In fact, as you get closer to Scotland you will notice a change in the scenery, with steeper hills and even some sheep grazing.

Note that the best London tourist cards have options that include discounts on public transport or passes to move between cities, such as the London Pass. Another popular alternative is the British Rail GP Pass, a pass that allows you to save on trains in England, Scotland and Wales.

Useful information

  • Price: from 27 €.
  • Travel time: between four and six hours, depending on the company selected.
  • Advantages: you can enjoy amazing panoramic views and save a couple of euros.
  • Disadvantages: the trip is more tiring and if you buy last minute in high season you can find high prices.

Buy the London Pass

5. How to get to Edinburgh by carpooling, a different alternative

Driving a car| ©Jackson David
Driving a car| ©Jackson David

Sharing the trip with other people can make the experience more enjoyable, the best thing is that the cost is also shared among the travelers on board. Generally, the most used applications are BlaBlaCar and CarpoolWorld, as they connect drivers with passengers looking to travel to the same destination. It is advisable to keep in touch through the application's messaging system, where you will be sent the specifications of the route, the fixed price and departure time.

It can be the opportunity to live a different experience and meet new people safely. Of course, it is advisable to carry moderate luggage and arrive early at the meeting point, to maintain a pleasant atmosphere. In addition, it is important to respect the rules on board. Please note that you can select round-trip or one-way trips.

Useful information

  • Price: from 29 €.
  • Travel time: approximately 7 hours and 45 minutes.
  • Advantages: it is a multicultural experience, where you will make new friends and enjoy a quiet trip.
  • Disadvantages: in case of last minute cancellation, it is difficult to find an alternative. I recommend you to opt for drivers who have the option of booking confirmation.

6. How to get to Edinburgh by rental car, the option that offers the most freedom

Car Rental| ©Brock Wegner
Car Rental| ©Brock Wegner

If you don't want to skimp on expenses and just want to enjoy the best things to do in Edinburgh at your own pace, you can travel from the capital of England by rental car. In London you will find many reliable options to book a vehicle with the specifications of your preference, either a small car or a family alternative.

The journey will take you around six hours and you can cut back on the A1 road, however the scenery on this road is less than memorable. For an unforgettable getaway through Britain I recommend the M6 where you can appreciate the contrast between London and Scottish landscapes, as well as consider quick stops in York, Newcastle and other nearby cities. At all times you should drive on the left channel, also do not forget that the cost of tolls and gasoline can go from 125 €.

Once in Edinburgh I recommend you to make the most of every second with plans such as:

  • A tour of the locations of Outlanders, where you will discover the story of a gripping series that revolves around very beautiful places in the city as the fishing port of Dysart, Blackness Castle and the manor of Hopetoun House.
  • A visit to the best castles in Edinburgh, including Edinburgh Castle, Stirling Castle, Dunnottar Castle and its cliffs, among others.
  • A trip to the magical corners of Harry Potter in Edinburgh, among which stand out the Spoon Coffee Shop where the writer used to sit for hours to create, the George Heriot School that inspired Hogwarts and Greyfriar's Cemetery where names were adopted for the saga.

Useful information

  • Price: from 10 € per day. It is a journey of more than 600 kilometers, so the cost of gasoline and tolls is around 125 €.
  • Travel time: about six hours.
  • Advantages: you can organize the itinerary to your liking and move easily in Edinburgh.
  • Disadvantages: it can be somewhat expensive.

Book the Harry Potter tour of Edinburgh

7. How to get to Edinburgh by bus, the less recommended alternative

Edinburgh Bus| ©Michele Parisi
Edinburgh Bus| ©Michele Parisi

If you are looking to save money, the most convenient option is the bus that connects London and Edinburgh. The main disadvantage is that you have a journey of almost 10 hours ahead of you, which can be exhausting. You will have to balance comfort and economy, besides this means is not always the cheapest. If you buy it months in advance you can find tempting prices from 16 euros, but as the date approaches you will find routes up to 60 euros.

On board you will have Wi-Fi, toilets and plugs, which can make the trip more enjoyable. The landscapes are also very beautiful and will steal your sleep, in general I recommend you to check the details before booking, as some of them are not comfortable at all. For a long trip it is important to prioritize comfortable, spacious and reclining seats. Keep in mind that there are different companies that complete this route, among which stand out:

Useful information

  • Price: from 16 €.
  • Travel time: between 9 and 10 hours.
  • Advantages: you can save a couple of euros, especially if you book in advance. Also, if you take a night bus you will save a night's accommodation.
  • Disadvantages: the journey is too long and tiring.

We compare the options to go from London to Edinburgh

  • Organized tour from London
  • Duration: the journey between the two cities can take approximately 4 hours.
  • Price: from 252 €.
  • Highlight: may include entrance to Edinburgh Castle and the city sightseeing bus.
  • Organized tour from London with Edinburgh sightseeing bus included.
  • Duration: the journey is by train and can take about 4 hours.
  • Price: from 244 €.
  • Highlights: Usually includes the first class option with all amenities, as well as a panoramic tour on the Edinburgh sightseeing bus.
  • Plane
  • Duration: about one and a half hours.
  • Price: from 57 €.
  • Highlight: direct flights are the best option, as stopovers can unnecessarily lengthen the itinerary.
  • Train
  • Duration: between four and six hours
  • Price: from 27 €.
  • Highlight: the panoramic views are amazing.
  • Shared car
  • Duration: about six hours
  • Price: from 29 €.
  • Highlight: be sure to communicate through the app's messaging system.
  • Rental car
  • Duration: about six hours
  • Price: from 10 €, gas can cost you at least 125 €.
  • Highlight: you can customize the itinerary to your liking.
  • Bus
  • Duration: between nine and ten hours
  • Price: from 16 € if you buy in advance.
  • Highlight: usually includes WiFi on board.