How to Get to Edinburgh from London

Visiting Scotland's capital city from London is easy and convenient, with a range of transport options including plane, train, car, bus and organised tours.

Ana Caballero

Ana Caballero

10 min read

How to Get to Edinburgh from London

London | ©Phil Fiddyment

After exploring London neighbourhood by neighbourhood you'll want to explore further afield. Getting between England's capital and Edinburgh is relatively easy, as there are options to suit 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 around an hour and a half. The train is also an alternative and offers a route of around four hours.

In fact, the best tours of Edinburgh tend to choose this mode of transport for the stunning panoramic views it offers. The adventurous can get around by hire car or car-sharing, and if you're happy to travel for long periods, the bus is also a possibility. Wondering how you could get to the Scottish capital from London, read on!

1. Organised tour to Edinburgh from London, the most comprehensive 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 neighbours, every mile between them offers a world of possibilities that will enrich your holiday. An organised tour is the most convenient and comprehensive option, as you'll have approximately 16 hours to explore the best things to do in Edinburgh at your own pace.

This way, you'll not only have London' s best sights etched in your mind, but also Edinburgh' s most prominent castles and other worthwhile points of interest such as the baroque Holyrood House Palace and the Scottish National Gallery. The main advantage is that this type of experience usually includes a return train with reserved seats in standard class, on a journey that offers stunning views for approximately four hours.

During your stay in the Scottish capital I recommend you spend time at:

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

Useful information for visitors

  • Price: from €252 per person.
  • Journeytime: usually by train, so it takes approximately 4 hours. Please note that the return train leaves Edinburgh at around 17:00 and arrives in London at approximately 22:00.
  • Advantages: Usually includes admission to visit Edinburgh Castle.
  • Disadvantages: Meals are not usually included, although there is no shortage of alternatives in the surrounding area at lunchtime.

Book a tour to Edinburgh from London

2. Organised sightseeing bus tour of Edinburgh is the fun option

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

A good option for those who want to see a variety of Edinburgh's attractions and enjoy a longer trip, are organised tours which are combined with a ride on the city's best sightseeing bus. 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'll enjoy larger seats, Wi-Fi and complimentary snacks. As a general recommendation, make sure you arrive at the station 30 minutes before the train is scheduled to depart. 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 city's best whisky distillery tours 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 for 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.
  • Journey time: It's by train, so you should expect a journey time of around 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 the ages of 3 and 11 must be accompanied by an adult.

Book an Edinburgh Sightseeing Bus Tour

3. Getting to Edinburgh by plane is the quickest way to get there

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 bear in mind that you're more likely to get a non-stop route when you book in advance. Generally, there are options starting from €57 that depart from the various London airports to Edinburgh Airport.

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

In general, you can arrange a private transfer from your accommodation to London's airports, or opt for a ride-sharing alternative that saves you a couple of euros.

The cheapest flights tend to be from Stansted Airport, and the most expensive flights depart from London City Airport. One trick is to choose budget airlines such as British Airways and take light luggage- a couple of days' worth of personal items or a hand luggage is enough. At your destination you can take advantage of the various transfer options between the airport and Edinburgh including private or shared transfers, tram, bus and taxi.

Useful information

  • Price: from £57, depending on airport and airline.
  • Journey time: A direct flight takes approximately one and a half hours, which may be longer if your itinerary includes stopovers. You must also add 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 tourist traffic, so you can escape the chaos for a couple of hours and customise your itinerary.
  • Cons: If you opt for a flight with stopovers, be aware that it can take up to 26 hours to get to Edinburgh and can be unnecessarily tiring. Some flights are operated by airlines such as Pegasus Airlines and Norwegian Air International, both of 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 most frequently scheduled option

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

Transport in and around London is very friendly and accessible, with a variety of timetables so you are free to organise your journey. I recommend booking your tickets in advance, so you'll find better prices and timetables. In general, the most expensive options are in the evenings, weekends and public holidays. If you want to go in comfort you can buy a first class pass with all the comforts, it's totally worth it if you want to enjoy a relaxing holiday.

There are a number of different companies operating this journey including LNER which usually leaves every hour and offers a comfortable four hour journey. On the other hand, Avanti West Coast offers departures every four hours and Caledonian Sleeper twice a week, both of which have routes that extend up to six hours. This is because they often change carriages at Preston, which can be a little tiresome and tiring.

Additionally, with the first train departing at 5.45am and the last at 11.50pm, you'll see English scenery and charming villages during the day. In fact, as you get closer to Scotland you'll 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 travel information

  • Price: from €27.
  • Journeytime: between four and six hours, depending on the company selected.
  • Pros: You'll enjoy stunning panoramic views and save a couple of euros.
  • Disadvantages: The journey is more tiring and if you buy last minute in high season you may 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 journey with other people can make the experience more enjoyable, the best thing is that the cost is also shared between the travellers on board. Generally, the most commonly used apps are BlaBlaCar and CarpoolWorld, as they connect drivers with passengers looking to travel to the same destination. It is advisable to keep in touch via the app's messaging system, where you will be sent the specifications of the journey, the fixed price and departure time.

It can be an opportunity to live a different experience and meet new people in a safe way. Of course, it is advisable to carry moderate luggage and arrive early at the meeting point, to maintain a friendly atmosphere. It is also important to respect the rules on board. Please note that you can choose to travel one-way or round-trip.

Useful information

  • Price: from €29.
  • Journeytime: approximately 7 hours and 45 minutes.
  • Pros: It's a multicultural experience, where you'll make new friends and enjoy a peaceful journey.
  • Disadvantages: In case of last minute cancellation, it is difficult to find an alternative. I recommend you 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 Hire| ©Brock Wegner
Car Hire| ©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 England's capital city by rental car. In London you'll find plenty of reliable options for booking a vehicle to your preferred specification, whether it's a small car or a family alternative.

The journey will take around six hours and you can cut back on the A1 road, however the scenery on this route is less than memorable. For an unforgettable break in Britain, I recommend the M6 where you can appreciate the contrast between London and Scottish scenery, and consider quick stops in York, Newcastle and other nearby cities. At all times you should drive on the left-hand channel, and don't forget that tolls and petrol can cost as little as €125.

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

  • An Outlanders location tour, where you'll discover the story of a gripping series that revolves around beautiful locations in the city such as the fishing port of Dysart, Blackness Castle and the stately home of Hopetoun House.
  • A visit to Edinburgh's finest castles, including Edinburgh Castle, Stirling Castle, Dunnottar Castle and its cliffs, among others.
  • A trip to the magical Harry Potter haunts in Edinburgh, including the Spoon Coffee House where the writer used to sit for hours creating, George Heriot's School which inspired Hogwarts and Greyfriar's Cemetery from which names were adopted for the saga.

Useful information

  • Price: from €10 per day. It's over 600 kilometres, so the cost of petrol and tolls is around €125.
  • Journeytime: about six hours.
  • Advantages: You'll be able to organise your itinerary to suit you and get around Edinburgh easily.
  • Disadvantages: Can be 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're 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'll have to balance comfort and economy, and it's not always the cheapest. If you buy months in advance you can find tempting prices from 16 euros, but as the date gets closer you'll find routes as low as 60 euros.

On board you'll have Wi-Fi, toilets and power sockets, which can make the journey more enjoyable. The scenery is also very beautiful and will steal your sleep, in general I recommend you check the details before booking, as some are not at all comfortable. For a long journey it is important to prioritise comfortable, spacious and reclining seats. Please note that there are a number of different companies that complete this route, most notably:

Useful information

  • Price: from €16.
  • Journeytime: 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'll save a night's accommodation.
  • Disadvantages: The journey is too long and tiring.

We compare options for getting from London to Edinburgh

  • Organised tour from London
  • Duration: the journey between the two cities can take approximately 4 hours.
  • Price: from €252.
  • Highlights: can include entry to Edinburgh Castle and the Edinburgh sightseeing bus.
  • Organised tour from London with Edinburgh sightseeing bus included
  • Duration: The journey is by train and can take around 4 hours.
  • Price: from €244.
  • Highlights: Usually includes a first class option with full amenities, as well as a scenic tour on the Edinburgh sightseeing bus.
  • Plane
  • Duration: around 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 breathtaking.
  • Car sharing
  • Duration: around six hours
  • Price: from €29.
  • Highlight: be sure to communicate via the app's messaging system.
  • Car hire
  • Duration: about six hours
  • Price: from €10, petrol can cost you at least €125.
  • Highlight: you can customise the itinerary to your liking.
  • Bus
  • Duration: between nine and ten hours
  • Price: from €16 if you buy in advance.
  • Highlights: Usually includes WiFi on board.