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Edinburgh to Inverness: Rail & Hike

5 Days & 4 Nights 5 Read 1 reviews
  • Experience the best of the Highlands between Edinburgh and Inverness on foot and by train
  • Stay in the heart of Edinburgh, Scotland's historic capital city
  • Choose from varied walks, on forest trails and among castle grounds
  • Take a tour of Scotland's smallest distillery, Edradour, in Pitlochry
  • Ride the train from Edinburgh through beautiful countryside to meet the sea at Inverness
Connect two of Scotland's bucket-list destinations - Edinburgh and Inverness - on this short break rail & hike trip. Combine scenic rail journeys with a variety of relaxed walking options in the heart of Scotland. Wander cobbled streets in cosmopolitan Edinburgh, Scotland's capital city, where there's plenty to see and do; visit the Botanic Gardens, walk up Arthur's Seat, or Carlton Hill for unrivalled views over the city. Leave city life behind for the tranquility of Blair Atholl, a small village of charming stone cottages with Blair Castle and it's sprawling gardens and grounds at it's heart. Choose from a variety of walks on woodland trails or head into the hills along Glen Tilt. Enjoy walking along forested riverside paths to the bustling town of Pitlochry, where you can spend a leisurely afternoon visiting one of the town's distilleries. Another scenic rail journey will see you gliding through the Cairngorm National Park to reach Inverness. Discover the city, it's riverside walkways and coastline and sample a pint of local ale or fresh seafood in a cosy pub with castle views. If you have longer to explore Scotland by train we recommend our Highlands & Isle of Skye: Rail & Hike trip, or treat yourself on our Luxury Highlands & Isle of Skye: Rail & Hike trip.
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What To Expect

Travelling by train is a simple and flexible way to ensure you experience as many of Scotland’s highlights as possible on this short break itinerary. Enjoy a scenic rail journey from Edinburgh, through the forests of Perthshire and the Cairngorm mountains, to the iconic Highland city of Inverness. This Rail & Hike holiday is perfect for first-time and experienced walkers alike with a variety of optional walks to choose from.

Trip Style:

Self Guided | Go at your own pace on an independent holiday.


Rail & Hike | Mix the joys of travel by train with the best walks accessible from the trainline. Travel inn-to-inn by train and enjoy hikes from the each stopping point. Allows you to see more of the destination as you are travelling overland but also on foot. Very sustainable way of travelling. Train fare included - no baggage transfers as take bags on the train.

This trip is suitable for:

Solo Travellers, Multi-Generational, Mixed Abilities, Groups > 10, First Timers

As a guide, we would suggest that the minimum age of traveller this holiday would be suitable for is: 10 Years

Ideal if you have an interest in:

  • Historical Journeys


  • Most Popular
  • Classic

Grade & Terrain

This trip is graded easy to moderate and includes optional daily walks from 4.5 km - 24 km. As all walks are self-guided, you will be responsible for navigation, decision-making and safety during your trip. The terrain can be rugged underfoot on rolling terrain, but not too strenuous and generally on good tracks, paths or quiet country roads. You should enjoy a good level of fitness to make the most of this trip. 

There is one optional walk on the trip which is graded harder than the overall trip grade of easy to moderate. The Storr Dam to Portree Walk, 13 km, route is graded as moderate to strenuous, due to the rough nature of the terrain (it's pathless at times) and the navigational skills required to complete the walk. The latter is also not advised in bad weather. However, you can skip this route by choosing the more relaxed walk up to The Old Man of Storr.


The majority of the walks suggested on this trip (with the exception of Skye) are way marked and we supply you with maps and route notes so you can easily find your way.

Accommodation Information

Included in the trip are 4 nights of accommodation in hand-picked 3-4* small hotels, B&Bs or guesthouses. We carefully select friendly accommodations offering great value, food and a warm welcome. The properties we normally use are detailed in the itinerary, however these are subject to availability and when they are fully booked alternatives of an equal standard will be offered. We book en suite rooms as standard. If there are no en suite rooms available in an overnight location, we may book a room with shared facilities, but we would always inform you in advance if this was the case.

You can add extra nights at any point during your stay. We particularly recommend doing so in Edinburgh and Inverness as there is so much to see and do, please contact us for details. Please note that bookings in August may take longer to confirm due to the very high demand created by Edinburgh's Fringe Festival. 

There's also the option of treating yourself to a 4* hotel upgrade in Edinburgh, like the Hotel Du Vin, listed as an upgrade example in the itinerary below. 

Single Rooms & Solo Walkers

This holiday is available to solo walkers, although a solo supplement is payable. If you require single rooms within your party we would be happy to accommodate your request, although it is not generally possible to secure more than three single rooms in a party. A single room supplement is payable.


Breakfast is included each morning while lunch and dinner are not included so you are free to choose from the available options. Dinner is available either at your accommodation or nearby pubs and restaurants.

In your tour information documents we provide a list of recommendations for food and drink options along the way - from charming cafes, cosy pubs, Michelin Star restaurants and family-run restaurants serving the best local produce. Edinburgh in particular will have you spoiled for choice, so if you’re a real foodie we recommend doing some research before you travel. Otherwise, opt for one of our suggestions, or ask your hosts to recommend one of their favourite places.   

  • 4 Nights in hand-picked 3-4* B&B's, guest houses and small hotels
  • 4 Breakfasts
  • Train travel from Edinburgh to Blair Atholl
  • Train travel from Blair Atholl to Inverness
  • Tour Information & Route Notes via your "My Account" guest portal
  • Access to GPX tracks and route notes on the Macs Adventure smartphone app
  • 24/7 Emergency telephone support from our UK office
  • Travel to Edinburgh / from Inverness
  • Return travel from Pitlochry to Blair Atholl on day 3 - 15 min train or bus (paid locally)
  • Lunches, dinners, drinks & snacks
  • Personal equipment
  • Travel insurance (required)
  • Additional nights along the route
  • Upgrade to 4* hotel accommodation in Edinburgh

When To Go

This trip is available from the end of April until early October. From April to late September you can start this trip on any day of the week. From September to early October, you can begin on a Wednesday-Sunday due to more limited public transport timetables.

Getting to the Start

By Air: Edinburgh Airport is well-served by a variety of airlines from across the Uk, Europe and worldwide - check available destinations here. From the airport you can travel by tram or airport shuttle bus to the city centre in approx. 30 minutes. 

By Train: If you're flying into London it's possible to reach Edinburgh within approx. 4 hours. Otherwise, see Scotrail for Scottish train links and National Rail for UK links. 

By Bus: The website www.travelinescotland.com is handy for researching bus timetables throughout Scotland.

Your trip includes standard class travel on Scotrail train services as detailed in your itinerary. These are 'anytime' tickets that can be used at any time during the specific date of travel. Full details can be found in your pre-departure information pack.

Getting from the End

By Air: Inverness Airport is a small airport, there are a number of possibilities for onward travel - extend your stay in Scotland via a flight to the Outer Hebrides, Orkney or Shetland. Otherwise, if you're travelling worldwide or connecting to elsewhere in Europe it's possible to do so via Dublin, London or Amsterdam. You check Inverness Airport's destination here

By Train: If you're returning to Edinburgh you can return the way you arrived in Inverness, by rail, on a 3 hour jounrey to Edinburgh Waverley. From here you can travel to a number of UK destinations, including London possible in approx. 4 hours. See Scotrail for Scottish train links and National Rail for UK links. Alternatively, if you're extending your stay in Scotland you can get to Skye by rail to Kyle of Lochalsh on the west coast and then to Skye by bus. 

By Bus: Citylink and Stagecoach bus operators provide links t a number of great locations across the Highlands if you plan to extend your stay. 

Baggage Transfer

The trip is designed so that during the hikes you are free to walk with just a day pack - you'll travel with your bags on the train and arrive at your accommodation to drop off your luggage before heading out to explore with just a day pack.  No luggage transfers are required on this itinerary.

General Information

Please note that, due to covid-19, the optional guided tour and cruise of Loch Ness and Urquhart Castle is unable to operate until March 2021. 


Please be prepared by packing all necessary items, for example, proper rain gear (jacket and pants), sun hat, sunscreen. Your information pack has a detailed equipment list which includes standard walking gear such as good walking boots or shoes, warm and waterproof clothes for the cooler months and lightweight clothing for summer, and a day pack.

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Day 1 Arrive in Edinburgh and overnight Day 2 Train to Blair Atholl and optional walks 9 miles / 15 km Day 3 Walk to Pitlochry and return to Blair Atholl 9 miles / 14 km Day 4 Train to Inverness and optional walks 7 miles / 11 km Day 5 Onward travel

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