The United Kingdom is a fascinating country to visit, with a lot of diversity and variation to be found in places like England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Over in Northern Ireland, visitors can admire ancient Norman castles and stunning mountain landscapes. In Wales, rolling hills and charming coastal villages shine the brightest. Up in Scotland, mighty lochs and extraordinary historic sites are some of the top things to see. Meanwhile, England is home to a rich spectrum of cities, ranging from the enormous metropolis of London to scenic locations like Bath and Oxford.
Many visitors to the United Kingdom choose to spend most of their time solely in London, and it’s easy to see why. One of the biggest and most popular cities in the world, London has a lot to offer. It has a long list of must-see monuments and locations like Buckingham Palace and Big Ben, as well as being home to the many shows of the West End, multiple expansive parks and green spaces, and some of the best restaurants and shopping areas in the whole of the UK. However, if you’re planning a trip to London, it’s worth adding some day trips into your travel plan in order to see a little more of what the UK has to offer.
Many day trips from London go to nearby locations like Bath, Windsor, or Oxford, but it’s perfectly possible to go much further. In fact, you can even do day trips from London to Scotland, visiting either Glasgow or Edinburgh for the day. Many people don’t even consider this to be an option, as they just assume that Scotland is too far from London to be possible for a day trip visit, but if you take a flight or high-speed train, you can actually make this dream day trip a possibility. Here’s how to do it.
Getting to Scotland from London
If you choose to go to Scotland for a day trip from London, you’ve only got two choices available: you can take a train or a flight. Scotland is about 400 miles away from London, so it’s much to far to drive for the purposes of a day trip. Another important factor to consider is that if you really want to make the most of your day, you’ll need to set off early and plan to arrive back in London quite late at night as well. Otherwise, you simply won’t have enough time to actually explore the city.
Getting to Scotland from London by Train
The train is generally considered to be the best option for day trips to Scotland from London. The United Kingdom has a strong network of railroads and some very fast and reliable trains, so it's easy to get all over the country in this way. The train you take to Scotland will depend which city you're visiting:
- Train to Glasgow - If you'd like to visit Glasgow for a day trip from London, you'll be traveling out of London's Euston station on a Virgin Trains service. The journey will take around four hours and 30 minutes, so it's a long trip, but you'll be able to travel in comfort on board a Virgin train, complete with Wi-Fi access and on-board dining. The trains start running from around 5:30am, so you can be in Glasgow before 11am and have some time to explore the city and see the sights before heading home.
- Train to Edinburgh - If you choose to travel to Edinburgh for your Scotland day trip from London, you'll be traveling out of King's Cross station. Again, the journey will take over four hours on the London North Eastern Railway service, so you'll need to set off early in the morning in order to give yourself around 5-6 hours in Edinburgh before catching the train back home.
Getting to Scotland from London by Plane
It's also possible to catch direct flights from various London airports, including Stansted, Heathrow, and Luton, direct to Scottish cities like Glasgow and Edinburgh. The flights only take a little over an hour, so this is one of the fastest ways to get to Scotland and can be used for a day trip. The only issue with taking flights to Scotland for your day trip is that you’ll need to add on the time needed to get to and from the airports, as well as the time required to check-in.
Tips for Your Scotland Day Trip from London
- Plan and Prepare - If you’re going on a Scotland day trip from London, you need to be prepared for the fact that you won’t get much longer than about six hours in either Edinburgh or Glasgow to actually explore, see the sights, and experience what these cities have to offer. This won’t be anywhere near enough time to see everything or really get a full experience, but you can still get a lot done in a single day. The key is to plan everything out in advance, do your research online, find the top two or three things you really want to do and prioritize those activities.
- Sightseeing Buses - Sightseeing, hop-on and hop-off tourist buses run around both Glasgow and Edinburgh, and these could be a good option for your day trip. These buses are affordable, convenient, and run all around the city. They allow you to see a lot of sights in a short amount of time, so are very popular with people visiting on day trips. If you really want to see as much as possible in just one day and don’t mind paying the extra money for the bus ride, these tours are a good option.
- Things to Do in Edinburgh - The main things to do in Edinburgh include visiting Edinburgh Castle, admiring the views from Arthur's Seat, and visiting the Palace of Holyroodhouse. Fortunately, all of these big landmarks are quite near the train station. Edinburgh's Old Town district is right by the station too, so you can see a lot of the historic and beautiful side of the city with relative ease when traveling on the train for a day trip. There are some excellent pubs all around the Old Town area and some charming little shops if you’d like to buy a souvenir or two to take back home.
- Things to Do in Glasgow - If you choose Glasgow as your day trip destination, some of the top sights include Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, which is a short journey away from the main train station, Glasgow Cathedral, which is quite close to the station, and the Riverside Museum, which isn't too far away either. If you're looking for things to do near the station, you can visit the Gallery of Modern Art, take some photos at the People's Palace, or head over to the fascinating Glasgow Necropolis. George Square is also a great place to walk around.