Train travel has seen a surge in popularity with the growing emphasis on slow travel and making a holiday more sustainable. The latest government data on train travel shows that there was a 155% increase in passenger rail journeys last year. Furthermore, research shows that 64% of UK travellers are searching for green travel options, including choosing more environmentally friendly transport options and sustainable accommodation.
VisitScotland’s new campaign encourages people to enjoy train travel by promoting a route that connects all of Scotland’s historic cities by train.
Scotland’s rail network gracefully navigates through some of the country’s most breath-taking landscapes – rolling green hills, ethereal lochs and majestic mountains can all be enjoyed via rail travel, whilst the stunning architecture, buzz and historical charm of Scotland’s cities make for the perfect stops.
To combine all of that in an ultimate train travel experience, VisitScotland’s City Hoppers Route showcases how easy it is to connect and explore the country by train. Whether you have a long weekend, or an extended stay, the route can be tailored to fit the needs of every traveler.
Glasgow to Edinburgh
With plenty of museums, galleries and parks waiting to be explored, Glasgow is the start of this journey. In the chic and trendy West End, you can find the Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum showcasing over 8,000 captivating objects and artifacts. It has an extraordinary art collection, featuring Dutch Old Masters, French Impressionists and so many other renowned pieces. For some additional art exploration, visit The Burrell Collection, nestled in the heart of Pollok Country Park, for a chance to see more than 9,000 objects spanning 6,000 years of history.
As the train departs from Glasgow, you will be treated to scenes of lush greenery and rolling hills, gradually transitioning into the countryside. The route encompasses iconic landmarks such as Linlithgow Palace, a magnificent ruin of a great Royal Palace set in its own park and beside Linlithgow Loch. The palace has doubled as a filming location for many film and TV productions, including the popular series Outlander.
Edinburgh, Scotland’s capital, is globally renowned for its vibrant summer festivals and unmatched Hogmanay celebrations and is best explored on foot so you can admire the glorious architecture and the multiple attractions it has to offer. Check out The Port of Leith Distillery for the ultimate experience of Scotland’s national spirit or visit the National Galleries of Scotland with its newly refurbished Scottish gallery if you’re an art lover.
Edinburgh to Dunfermline
Once you finish exploring the magical streets of Edinburgh it’s time to head to Dunfermline. Combining urban charm with rural tranquility, the train journey offers an opportunity to sit back and relax.
Continuing, the train edges Dalmeny Estate and a quick stop at Dalmeny station, providing views of the iconic Forth Bridge, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
In Dunfermline, Scotland’s newest city you can immerse yourself in its rich history with ancient landmarks like Dunfermline Abbey and Palace, the Andrew Carnegie Birthplace Museum, and enjoy outdoor spaces like Pittencrieff Park and the Fife Pilgrim Way
Dunfermline to Perth
The route includes a passage near Markinch, a charming town that seamlessly blends a rich historical backdrop with convenient proximity to contemporary amenities. Consider checking out St Drostan’s Church and its 12th century tower.
Perth is known as the Fair City thanks to its position along the River Tay, surrounded by majestic hills. It offers a lot of adventures without going very far – kayaking on the Tay, beaver-watching as well as exploring Scone Palace. From 2024, visitors will be able to visit the new Perth Museum which will open its doors after a £26.5 million redevelopment project, where they can find the ancient symbol of Scotland’s monarchy - the Stone of Destiny, set to return back to the region for the first time in over 700 years.
Perth to Dundee
This short trip unfolds against a backdrop of rolling hills and lush landscapes, providing a serene and relaxing ambiance. On the approach to Dundee, the silhouettes of the Tay Rail Bridge and the Tay Road Bridge come into view.
Home to the fascinating V&A Dundee, Dundee is a city beaming with artistic vibrancy. Beyond this iconic museum, Dundee exudes a lively and welcoming atmosphere, making it a cultural hotspot with plenty to explore. Check out the historic RRS Discovery to step into the captivating world of Antarctic exploration and immerse yourself in the extraordinary journey of Captain Scott and his crew.
Dundee to Aberdeen
Views of the River Tay continue on the route to Aberdeen, explore Scotland’s vibrant history with a stop at Stonehaven and visit Dunnottar Castle, perched on a 160-foot rock and surrounded by the North Sea.
The city of Aberdeen is nestled by the sea and has a rich maritime history. Best explored by foot, take a stroll around the city to admire the sparkling granite buildings, and enjoy the city’s mix of attractions, shops and eateries. Visit the award-winning Aberdeen Art Gallery for a chance to see one of the finest art collections in the UK.
Aberdeen to Inverness
The journey through to Inverness passes through a number of quaint little towns, each equally worthy of a visit, such as Elgin, known for its historic cathedral, and Nairn, famous for its beautiful beaches and championship golf courses
Scotland’s most northerly city and the Highland’s capital, Inverness is a perfect blend of city culture and nature. With Loch Ness within easy reach, you can embark on a quest for Nessie and find the real story behind the legend in the newly opened Loch Ness Centre, or witness dolphins gracefully emerging from the waters of the Moray Firth.
Inverness to Stirling
Scenic views of the Scottish Highlands and tranquil lochs reflecting the surrounding mountains are in abundance on this journey as the route passes through the Cairngorms National Park, encompassing mountain ranges and ancient forests. Stop at Aviemore for easy access to gentle walks, forest trails, electric bike hire and many more outdoor activities.
Approaching Stirling, you’ll be enchanted by the majestic sight of the Stirling Castle, one of Scotland’s most historically important sites. Stirling is also an excellent starting point for venturing into the stunning landscapes of Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park.
Stirling to Glasgow
As you approach the final route of the journey that connects all eight cities, it transforms into a true urban experience. Stop off at Croy and take a short walk to Croy Hill, one of many remaining sites of the UNESCO Antonine Wall. See Silvanus, a towering Roman head sculpture which marks the site. Continuing onto Glasgow, you will be greeted by the city’s vibrant atmosphere and liveliness.
It’s not by chance that Glasgow has the title UNESCO ‘City of Music’: there are about 130 events taking place every week in Glasgow’s theatres, bespoke concert venues, bars, boutiques and more. There’s also plenty of museums, galleries and parks waiting to be explored.
Vicki Miller, VisitScotland Director of Marketing and Digital, said:
“We know that many visitors are becoming more conscious of their impact on the world around. Our hope through this campaign is to demonstrate how easy it is to explore Scotland’s historic cities in a sustainable way.
From our ancient capital Edinburgh to our newest city Dunfermline, Scotland’s cities offer the very best of our country’s history, heritage and culture, boasting some of the finest eateries, world class attractions, unmissable experiences and of course, our welcoming people.”
For more information about the route, themed itineraries and routes tailored to the amount of time you can spend travelling, please visit: https://www.visitscotland.com/inspiration/city-breaks/scottish-city-hopping