Scottish Highlands and Skye by Rail

8 Days & 7 Nights 4.5 Read 10 reviews
  • Explore Scotland's impressive landscapes, coastlines and forested glens by rail
  • Inverness, the rugged beauty of Skye, and the UK's highest mountain - Ben Nevis
  • Delve into Scotland's larder; from the freshest seafood to craft gins and single-malt whisky
  • The iconic West Highland Line railway and Glenfinnan Viaduct of Harry Potter film renown
  • Rich traditions and dramatic tales abound as you uncover ancient history and folklore
Leave the everyday behind as you embark on an epic car-free journey across Scotland. Allow yourself to be whisked north into the heart of the Scottish Highlands on the iconic West Highland Line railway. Marvel at incredible views as you glide through landscapes of heather-clad mountains, sea lochs and deep glens that hide dramatic tales of clan struggles and Jacobite battles. Spend time exploring the Isle of Skye; from the jagged peaks of the Cuillin Mountains to the colourful harbour town of Portree. Sample local cuisine and sip single-malt whisky surrounded by the charming Perthshire countryside. With plenty to see and do en route relax in the knowledge that our information pack, brimming with local expertise, has distilled the highlights, and recommends off-the-beaten-path detours along with not to be missed local eateries.
Ideal for those seeking an all-encompassing, car-free Scottish adventure taking in the country's highlights, best-loved locations and a smattering of hidden gems. Ride the famous West Highland Line railway, the remote Kyle Line and travel south to Edinburgh via a rail journey through Scotland's largest National Park and the romantic Perthshire countryside. Allow our local expertise to guide you on a hassle-free trip where we have included rail and ferry journeys, along with transfers on the Isle of Skye. Experience Scottish hospitality at it's finest, not just at your accommodations, but as you tour the sights and meet the local historian en route.

Tour Type:

Discovery | Think of it as a ‘local’s guide’ to the best of the region. It includes a combination of activity and transportation to give you the freedom to explore and cover more ground at your own pace. We do all the research and organisation for you. All you have to do is turn up and enjoy!


Rail and Hike | Perfectly planned itineraries discovering the best of a destination both by train and on foot.

This trip is suitable for:

Solo Travellers

Ideal if you have an interest in:

  • Islands
  • National Parks
  • Accessible by Rail


Overnight in hand-picked small hotels, B&B's and guesthouses, all of which have been chosen to ensure you experience warm Scottish hospitality at its best! We regularly use the properties listed in the itinerary but may use alternative options if these are unavailable. 

Single Rooms

This holiday is available to solo travellers but as all our tours are priced per person based on two sharing there is a single supplement payable to cover the additional costs. If you require single rooms within your party we will, of course, try to accommodate your request subject to availability.


Breakfast is included each morning and normally consists of a continental buffet with tea and coffee, fresh fruits, yoghurt, cereals, eggs and bread with jams. Often also on the menu are cooked options like freshly made porridge, a traditional cooked Scottish breakfast and smoked fish with scrambled eggs. 

We don't include lunch and dinner so you are free to choose from the available options. Your information pack includes details and recommendations of convenient lunch stops, cosy cafes and restaurants along the way. The food scene in Scotland has improved significantly over the past few decades, so now you'll find a range of high quality, varied options with everything from award-winning fish and chips to intimate Michelin-listed dining experiences, and casual restaurant menus showcasing delicious locally-sourced produce. 

Additional Nights

You can add additional nights wherever you please along the route. Of course we highly recommend additional nights in the capital city of Edinburgh at the end of your trip. If arriving from further afield you may like to add a night in Glasgow at the start of the trip also.

  • 7 Nights in 3-4* B&B's, guesthouses and small hotels
  • 7 Breakfasts
  • Train travel on days 1, 2, 4, 6, 7 & 8
  • Ferry from Mallaig to Armadale (Skye) on day 2
  • Taxi transfers as per your itinerary (days 2 & 4)
  • Detailed information pack brimming with our local knowledge
  • Our daily recommendations for places to see and visit
  • Our daily recommendations for top places to eat and drink
  • 24/7 Emergency support from our UK office
  • Travel to Glasgow or from Edinburgh
  • Accommodation in Edinburgh or Glasgow
  • Entrance to attractions/historic sights
  • Lunches, dinners, snacks and drinks
  • Personal equipment
  • Travel insurance (required)
  • Additional nights at the start/end or along the route
  • Upgrade to the Jacobite steam train (or 'Hogwart's Express') between Fort William and Mallaig on day 2
  • Guided small group tour of the Isle of Skye on day 3

When To Go

You can start this tour on any day of the week from April to October subject to availability. The busiest times of the year are around Easter and May when accommodations fill up quickly, so book as early as possible if you are planning to travel then. If you travel before Easter, and after mid-October it is worth noting that some attractions may either be closed, have limited access (i.e. castle interiors may be closed but the gardens open), or may open later and close a little earlier in the day. We always recommend checking the links in our information pack for up-to-date opening times to avoid disappointment. 

During the shoulder season - early April and beyond mid-October - the Scottish weather tends to be more unpredictable and is often colder and rainier. However, attractions and popular viewpoints will generally be quieter. 

Weather and Climate

Scotland enjoys a temperate climate, meaning it's relatively mild all year, except in winter when temperatures dip below 0 degrees Celsius and it snows regularly in the Highlands. The Highlands are renowned for variable weather so you should be prepared for everything; from 'dreich' days (a Scottish word for rainy days that are a bit bleak) to days with beautiful blue skies and warmer weather. Whatever the weather it tends to be breezy so spare layers are always recommended.

From the end of April to October average daily temperatures vary from 9-15 degrees Celsius. Monthly rainfall varies from 10-16 mm per month on average. Generally, May to July are the driest and mildest months, but exploring later in the year from September to October is pleasant in cooler temperatures and the autumnal scenery as the leaves begin to change colour is spectacular. Alternatively, to see the purple heather blooming on the hillsides the best time to travel is from late July to early September. 

Getting to the Start

Your trip begins in the well-connected city of Glasgow with good links across the UK, Europe and beyond by flying into either Glasgow or Edinburgh international airports. Glasgow and Edinburgh are just over an hour apart by road and it doesn't take much longer to travel between the two by an express bus or train service. If you are driving or traveling from further afield, we recommend an extra night in Glasgow at the start of your trip so you can make the most of your first day of sight-seeing.

If arriving in Glasgow by public transport, please see the excellent Traveline Scotland website for timetables and fares and more information regarding public transport in Scotland. 

By Air: Located 8 miles west of Glasgow, the international airport is served by routes from around the UK, Europe and beyond. A regular shuttle bus service runs from the city centre to the airport. 

By Rail: Glasgow is connected to central Scotland and England by good rail links. See the Scot Rail website for Scottish locations and National Rail for UK-wide locations.

By Bus: Services from UK destinations are operated by National Express. Services from Scottish destinations are operated by Scottish Citylink

By Road: Glasgow is served by an excellent motorway network. It's a 1h 15m drive from Edinburgh to Glasgow on the M8 motorway. Newcastle is approximately a 2 hr 50 mins drive from Glasgow, and Manchester, Birmingham and London are 3hr 40 mins, 5 hours and 7 hours respectively. If arriving in Folkestone from France and the Channel Tunnel it's an 8 hour drive via the M20, M40, M6 and M74 motorways. However, please note that if you plan to drive to Glasgow with your own vehicle, please note that parking and leaving your car in the city could be expensive as monitored carparks aren't common outside airports.

Getting from the End

Your trip ends in Edinburgh, which is easily accessible from across the UK via great public transport and road links, or from Europe and beyond by flying into either Glasgow or Edinburgh international airports. If continuing your onward journey by public transport we recommend breaking the journey by adding an extra night in Edinburgh. For specific information regarding public transport in Scotland, please see the excellent Traveline Scotland website for timetables and fares. 

By Air: Located 8 miles east of the city of Edinburgh, the international airport is served by routes from around the UK and the world. There are regular shuttle bus and tram services running from the airport into the city centre, with a journey time of around 30 minutes. There is also a taxi rank outside the airport to take people into the city centre. 

By Rail: Edinburgh is also connected to central Scotland and England by good rail links. See the Scot Rail website for Scottish locations and National Rail for UK-wide locations.

By Bus: Services from UK destinations are operated by National Express. Services from Scottish destinations are operated by Scottish Citylink

By Road: It is a 1h 15m drive from Glasgow on the west coast to Edinburgh on the M8 motorway. Newcastle is approximately a 2.5 hour drive from Edinburgh, and Manchester and Birmingham, 4 and 6 hours respectively. 

General Information

On confirmation of your booking, you will receive a personalised itinerary and comprehensive information pack. This carefully curated pack, designed with our own local knowledge and expertise, will include notes on the must-see places and attractions to stop at en route, and our suggestions for the best places to eat and drink. 

Travel Insurance

It is a requirement of booking this tour with Macs Adventure that you have suitable travel insurance which covers you for the activity and emergency evacuation and hospital care.

Can I add extra nights?
Where can I eat?
What places and sights can I visit along the route?


Day 1 Ride the West Highland Line from Glasgow to Fort William Day 2 Cross the Glenfinnan Viaduct, take a ferry to Skye and overnight in Portree Day 3 Explore the harbour town of Portree and optional tour of Skye Day 4 Transfer to the mainland and ride the Kyle Line to Inverness Day 5 Free day in Inverness; visit Loch Ness, Culloden Battlefield or Cawdor Castle Day 6 Ride through The Cairngorm National Park to Perthshire's castles and distilleries Day 7 Travel to Stirling by train to visit the castle and Wallace Monument Day 8 Train to Edinburgh and onward travel

Blog Articles

The Macs Way

  • Tried & Tested Adventures Tried & Tested Adventures
  • Freedom Freedom
  • Book with Confidence Book with Confidence
  • Expertise Expertise
  • Positive Impact Positive Impact
Built with our expert knowledge, to suit you.
  • Knowledgeable and helpful specialist trip planners
  • Wide variety of tours to suit all interests and experience levels
  • Start on any date that suits you
  • Choose your ideal trip length and difficulty
  • Range of accommodation comfort levels
  • Choice of trip styles
Authentic adventure travel experiences on your own terms
  • Choose your own travel companions
  • Walk, cycle and explore at your own pace
  • Make your own decisions
  • Choose your own path
  • Indulge your passions
Feel secure in making the right choice for your precious adventure time
  • 15,000+ unbiased trip & service reviews
  • Feefo Platinum Award 2022
  • 25,000+ travelers trust us each year
  • As featured in the Guardian, Times, Nat Geo Traveler
  • Founder owned & operated since 2003
  • 100+ passionate team members across the US, UK & Europe
You can be confident that every detail of your journey has been expertly planned
  • Carefully planned adventures
  • Quality, hand-picked accommodations
  • Seamless and reliable arrangements
  • Comprehensive trip information & insider tips
  • Detailed maps, route notes and mobile GPS app
  • Helpful 24/7 support should you need it
Travel the right way and make a positive impact
  • Travel responsibly
  • Explore off the beaten track
  • Support locally owned businesses
  • Engage with local communities
  • Minimize your impact
  • Maximize the benefit of your travel
  • Challenge yourself & grow
$ - USD - US Dollar
Country/Region name: