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Discover the Best Way to See The Scottish Highlands

Want to know the best way to see the Scottish Highlands?

It’s a brilliant place to visit, with so much to see.

You can explore by rail and by car or combine them both for the best of both worlds.

Read on to get some ideas to start your trip.

You can also check all the ways to travel for your journey with Omnio

Best Way to See the Scottish Highlands

What Is the Best Way to See the Scottish Highlands?

There are some amazing train journeys that you can take from Inverness, all with wonderfully varied scenery and interesting destinations. Travelling by car gives you the flexibility to explore as you wish and stop wherever you want.

We are lucky to have several beautiful train routes in the Highlands.

The first is probably the most famous, the West Highland Line. This runs from Inverness to Kyle of Lochalsh which overlooks the Isle of Skye. This railway was made more famous by Michael Palin who declared the journey one of the most beautiful in the world.

Generally, the timings from Inverness mean you can travel out to Kyle of Lochalsh in the morning, have some lunch, and then return in the afternoon. It makes for a leisurely scenic journey that has scenic glens, lochside views, and at the end coastal views of the Atlantic and the Isle of Skye.

Another great journey is from Fort William out to Mallaig. This lovely line has been made even more popular by the Harry Potter films as the Glenfinnan viaduct featured in one of the films. There is much more to enjoy though. After winding out from Fort William the views stretch out over the coast with views of the Small Isles as the train comes into Mallaig. It is possible to spend some time in Mallaig and then catch the train back to Fort William.

A train journey that is not promoted very much but really should be is the Far North Line. This line stretches from Inverness up to Wick and Thurso. The journey dives inland to go around a wide firth, before heading out to the coast where at some points it seems to skirt over the sand. There is time to have lunch in Wick or Thurso before catching the train back down to Inverness. While this makes for a longer day the views can be spectacular.

Finally going East from Inverness is a lovely stretch of line. A nice day trip is to head to Elgin where you can enjoy the pedestrianised town centre or visit the pretty seaside town of Nairn with its lovely beach. The views on the journey take in the coast of the Moray Firth, the farmland, and the airport.

All these train services are operated by Scotrail and you can find ticket information on their website.

All of the train services have toilets. They are supposed to have refreshment trolleys but this service can be a hit and miss which can be frustrating. There are places to pick up snacks and hot drinks at Inverness and Fort William train stations.

Exploring by train is a great way to see the Scottish Highlands without having to worry about driving or parking! It’s very relaxing.

Click below to check the train journey details.

best way to see the scottish highlands

Best Way to See the Scottish Highlands

See the Scottish Highlands by Car

Given that the Scottish Highlands is one of the least densely populated areas in Western Europe there aren’t lots of buses running around the place. That means we tend to rely on cars here more than in other places.

Seeing the Scottish Highlands by car is a great way to explore where you want to, with the freedom to stop and explore as you wish.

There are some absolutely stunning roads to explore, often quite quiet too.

The North Coast 500 is a very popular driving route. It’s a 500-mile circular route that travels from Inverness, up around the West and Northern coast, and then back to Inverness. It can get very busy. This can be challenging on the parts of the road that are single-track with passing places.

The West Coast of the Scottish Highlands has some absolute delights. Torridon is rough and rugged. Gairloch has an amazing coastline and lovely beaches. Poolewe has the lovely Inverewe Gardens and the Russian Arctic Convoy Museum amongst other things.

Lochinver is another lovely spot on the West Coast, generally much quieter than Ullapool for example. Further up there are amazing beaches and coastal views around Bettyhill and the most Northerly point in the UK – Durness.

There are some fabulous circular drives that you can do from Inverness if you are visiting the area. How about a complete circuit of Loch Ness for example? There is a great road trip up to Gairloch which can easily be done over 2 days making it a lovely weekend trip.

Some people feel a little intimidated about driving in the Scottish Highlands. There are some differences, such as lots of single-track roads with passing places. Driving in the Highlands is just a little different but nothing to worry about.

Exploring by car is a great way to see the Scottish Highlands and have total flexibility over what you do and where you go. Get your map out and plan some drives!

I hope you come and visit soon!

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If you have found this article on the Best Way to See the Scottish Highlands useful you might also like;

Scottish Highlands Road Trip – a great one or two-day circular drive

Things to Do Loch Ness – this makes a great one-day drive from Inverness

When Is the Best Time to Visit the Scottish Highlands? – the pros and cons of visiting during each season

Driving in the Scottish Highlands – tips from a local to help you drive in this rural area

You can find more articles on my Scottish Highlands page

Further Reading

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