How to Travel from London to Edinburgh by Train, Bus, Car, and Plane

Edinburgh Castle

TripSavvy / Jess Macdonald

Edinburgh is the Scottish capital and sits about 400 miles from its English counterpart in the south. You'll have to traverse nearly all of the United Kingdom from south to north to get there, so flying is the fastest way to complete the journey. However, the train takes almost the same amount of time and also lets passengers enjoy the lush beauty of the landscape that you would otherwise miss. You can also enjoy the scenery for a fraction of the price by taking the bus, although that is a much longer trip. If you have access to a car, driving yourself is the best way to truly experience life in the U.K. outside of the major cities.

  Time Cost Best For
Train 4 hours, 20 minutes from $33 Easy transportation
Bus 10 hours, 55 minutes from $20 Traveling on a budget
Plane 1 hour, 20 minutes from $30 Arriving on a time crunch
Car 7 hours 400 miles (644 kilometers) Taking a road trip

What Is the Cheapest Way to Get From London to Edinburgh?

If you don't mind an all-day (or all-night) bus trip, you can book a bus from London to Edinburgh on National Express or Megabus. It's a long journey and involves nearly 11 hours seated on the bus, but when tickets are as cheap as $20, it's hard to turn down. Megabus is about two hours faster than other services, getting you to Edinburgh in roughly nine hours. You can typically choose from four daily buses, two that leaves in the morning and two more that leave at night. The overnight bus is an ideal option so you don't miss out on a full day of your trip while also saving yourself a night of accommodation.

Regardless of the company you choose, you catch the bus in London from Victoria Station, with connections to the Circle, Victoria, and District lines of the Underground. The Edinburgh Bus Station is in the city center next to St. Andrew Square and is easily accessible to most parts of the city by foot.

What Is the Fastest Way to Get From London to Edinburgh?

The method of transport with the least amount of travel time is flying, and you can choose from one of several direct daily flights between London and Edinburgh. The total time in the air is only 1 hour, 20 minutes and flights start as low as $30 for a one-way ticket. The primary airlines that fly this popular route are Easyjet and British Airways, with flights departing from any one of the several London airports—Heathrow, Gatwick, Luton, or Stansted.

Heathrow is the largest of the airports and is the one that's best connected to the city center, with an express train from Paddington Station to the terminal. You can also take a train to Gatwick or Luton from the city center, while Stansted is only accessible by bus. Edinburgh Airport is located about 10 miles outside of the city, but you can take a tram or bus to the city center.

Although a plane is ostensibly the fastest way to get to Edinburgh from London, you also have to factor in all of the time it takes to get to and from the airport, check-in for your flight, pass through security, and wait at your gate. All things considered, flying and taking the train take almost the same amount of time.

How Long Is the Train Ride?

The fastest trains get you from London to Edinburgh in only 4 hours, 20 minutes. Considering that trains leave from King's Cross Station in the center of London and bring you directly to central Edinburgh, the total travel time of the train is more or less the same as going by plane. Taking the train also has the added benefits of enjoying the English countryside scenery while you travel as well as being the most environmentally friendly option.

Train tickets start at about $33 when you can find the cheapest "Advance" ticket prices. As those sell out, however, tickets jump up in price dramatically and can cost over $200 for a one-way ticket during peak travel times. Flexibility is key for finding the best deals, so try looking at different times and days to see if prices fluctuate. You should also buy tickets early to find the cheapest seats, as the Advance tickets usually go on sale about eight to 10 weeks before the travel date.

The drive to Edinburgh is about 400 miles and takes seven hours if you drive straight through along the direct route on the M1 highway. Traffic around London and Edinburgh can cause major delays at the beginning and end of your trip, but the bulk of the journey should be easy driving with the scenic countryside. Parking within the city center of Edinburgh is complicated at best. However, there are several Park & Ride structures outside of the city that offer free or inexpensive parking spaces and then shuttle customers into the city. Once you're in Edinburgh, everything is accessible on foot or public transportation and your vehicle won't be necessary.

When Is the Best Time to Travel to Edinburgh?

Being Scotland, Edinburgh is cold and rainy in the winter (as well as much of spring). The summer months are the most comfortable time to enjoy the Scottish capital when the average high hovers around 65 degrees F and there are more days of sunshine than overcast. August not only all but guarantees you good weather, but the Edinburgh Fringe Festival is taking place all throughout the month. It's the largest arts festival in the entire world and it completely inundates the city for four weeks with performances, art shows, music, and entertainment. It's also the busiest time to visit the city, but it's a uniquely Edinburgh experience you won't regret seeing.

Winter may be chilly, but spending the holidays in Edinburgh has its own special magic, especially if you're visiting during the special New Year's celebration of Hogmanay. This three-day event starts on December 30 and goes until January 1 of the new year, and it's a special Scottish tradition that more than makes up for the cold weather.

What's the Most Scenic Route to Edinburgh?

If you have your own vehicle and want to get to Edinburgh quickly, the M1 highway will get you there in about seven hours. But one of the best parts of driving is being able to take your time and explore along the way. If you take the M6 highway along the west side of the country, you'll pass through worthwhile towns such as Oxford, Stratford-Upon-Avon, Liverpool, and Manchester before continuing through the photogenic national parks in northern England. The drive itself is minimally longer than the fastest route, but you'll definitely want to make pitstops along the way to see all the country has to offer.

What Is There to Do in Edinburgh?

Edinburgh offers all types of historical, cultural, and culinary delights, so it's no surprise that this Scottish capital is the second most popular city to visit in the U.K. after London. Edinburgh Castle overlooks the city and gives visitors an educational history lesson along with breathtaking views. Old Town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and still retains the medieval architecture that it was founded with. Nearby is New Town, praised for its urban planning which culminates around the famous Princes Street, popular for shopping, restaurants, and going out.

Frequently Asked Questions
  • How do I travel by train from London to Edinburgh?

    Trains leave King's Cross Station in London and bring you directly to central Edinburgh in about four hours and 20 minutes.

  • What is the best way to travel from London to Edinburgh?

    Train is the best mode of travel as it's easy, convenient, and likely the fastest option (if you count the additional airport time you'd need if flying).

  • How long is the drive from London to Edinburgh?

    The drive to Edinburgh is about 400 miles and takes seven hours if you drive straight through along the direct route on the M1 highway.