In this article I am going to share the different ways of getting to the Highlands, via planes, trains and automobiles (great film if you haven’t seen it!).
Of course Covid19 changes have meant reduced services, and we are all unable to travel at the minute but this is to help you plan how to visit the Highlands if it’s somewhere on your bucket list when we can all get travelling again.
Getting to the Highlands – Flights
At present there is much reduced capacity in relation to flights to Inverness. This is likely to change in the future as demand increases but below is what flights are currently being offered for later in 2021. (For this post I checked flights from June 2021 onwards.)
Getting to the Highlands by air is one of the quickest options given we are such a long way away from most of the UK population.
British Airways have flights from London Heathrow to Inverness. These are currently shown as scheduled flights.
London Heathrow to Inverness departing 13.05 and arriving 14.45.
London Heathrow to Inverness departing 18.45 and arriving 20.25
There are also two return flights from Inverness to London Heathrow. Again these are currently shown as scheduled flights.
Inverness to London Heathrow departing 07.00 and arriving 08.35
Inverness to London Heathrow departing 15.30 and arriving 16.50
Flights for June and August were available for £40 per person each way. This does not include luggage or seat reservation which are extra.
British Airways offer a book with confidence guarantee which means you can cancel or change your booking up for travel up until 30 April 2022. You will get a voucher rather than a refund.
Professional Traveller Experience
Having used this flight several times it flies into and out of Terminal 5 at London Heathrow. The planes are a little smaller with a 2 x 2 seat configuration. The overhead lockers are therefore a little smaller. Like all short haul British Airways flights now there are no refreshments included but they have changed their menu with lots of Tom Kerridge products available to pre order.
Easyjet currently has flights available in June from London Gatwick, London Luton and Bristol. Easyjet’s multiple connections makes it one of the easiest way of getting to the Highlands. Currently these flights are shown as;
London Gatwick to Inverness
- Monday 12.30 arriving 14.15
- Tuesday 12.30 arriving 14.15 and 19.15 arriving 20.50
- Wednesday – No flights available
- Thursday 12.30 arriving 14.15
- Friday 20.30 arriving 22.10
- Saturday – No flights available
- Sunday 14.55 arriving 16.45
Return Flights Inverness to London Gatwick
- Monday 14.55 arriving 16.35
- Tuesday 14.55 arriving 16.35 and 21.25 arriving 23.10
- Wednesday – No flights available
- Thursday 15.00 arriving 16.40
- Friday – There are no flights for June. However, from July there flights 7.15 arriving 9.05, 15.00 arriving 16.40 and 17.30 arriving 19.15
Flights from London Luton to Inverness
- Monday 9.40 arriving 11.10 and 19.50 arriving 21.20
- Tuesday 9.40 arriving 11.10
- Wednesday 9.40 arriving 11.10
- Thursday 18.55 arriving 20.25
- Friday 9.40 arriving 11.10 and 19.00 arriving 20.30
- Saturday 9.40 arriving 11.10
- Sunday 9.40 arriving 11.10 and 19.50 arriving 21.20
Flights from Inverness to London Luton
- Monday 11.40 arriving 13.05 and 21.00 arriving 22.25
- Tuesday 11.40 arriving 13.05
- Wednesday 11.40 arriving 13.05
- Thursday 20.55 arriving 22.15
- Friday 11.40 arriving 13.05 and 21.00 arriving 22.25
- Saturday 11.40 arriving 13.05
- Sunday 11.40 arriving 13.05 and 21.50 arriving 23.15
Bristol to Inverness
- Monday 11.15 arriving 12.45
- Tuesday 10.35 arriving 12.05
- Wednesday 14.05 arriving 15.30
- Thursday 14.05 arriving 15.30
- Friday 14.05 arriving 15.30
- Saturday 7.05 arriving 8.35
- Sunday 14.05 arriving 15.30
Inverness to Bristol
- Monday 13.20 arriving 14.40
- Tuesday 12.40 arriving 14.00
- Wednesday 16.05 arriving 17.25
- Thursday 16.05 arriving 17.25
- Friday 16.05 arriving 17.25
- Saturday 9.10 arriving 10.30
- Sunday 16.05 arriving 17.25
Flight prices start at £15.99 for flights in June.
Easyjet offer a Price Pledge which gives you freedom to change your flight within 14 days of departure free of charge, with only the flight difference being payable if it is higher cost. If Easyjet cancel then you can get a voucher or a cash refund.
Professional Traveller Experience
Easyjet flights are on bigger planes with a 3 x 3 seat configuration. Easyjet have recently changed their baggage policy which means you can only take onto the plane luggage which fits under the seat infront of you. If you want to have luggage in the overhead locker you now need to book premium seats where this is included, or be an Easyjetplus member. If you want a row by row guide to the luggage options and costs check out my Easyjet Baggage article.
Loganair took over some of the regional flights that were previously operated by FlyBe (BMI). These flights connect Manchester and Birmingham with Inverness.
Loganair Flights from Birmingham to Inverness
- Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday 15.55 arriving 17.20
- Saturday 9.30 arriving 11.00
- Sunday 15.55 arriving 17.20
Loganair Flights from Inverness to Birmingham
- Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday 14.00 arriving 15.25
- Saturday 11.30 arriving 13.00
- Sunday 14.00 arriving 15.25
Loganair Flights from Manchester to Inverness
- Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday 8.35 arriving 9.50 and 19.55 arriving 21.10
- Saturday 8.35 arriving 9.50
- Sunday 19.55 arriving 21.20
Loganair Flights from Inverness to Manchester
- Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday 6.40 arriving 08.00 and 17.55 arriving 19.10
- Saturday 6.40 arriving 08.00
- Sunday 17.55 arriving 19.10
Loganair flights for June available for £62.19 one way between Inverness and Birmingham and £65.99 between Inverness and Manchester
Loganair have a £20 change fee for each segment of a passenger journey. Refunds are provided if the airline cancels otherwise any changes will incur a fee.
Whichever option you choose getting to the Highlands by air is certainly easy with some good connections, and the likelihood of increased options once travel patters resume.
Getting to the Highlands By Road
There are two main roads that connect the Highlands with the Southern part of Scotland. Driving up is certainly a scenic way of getting to the Highlands with dramatic views whichever way you go.
Getting to the Highlands Via A9
The A9 comes up from Perth and continues North of Inverness. This road is in the process of being upgraded to a dual carriageway but this will take years to complete. It’s a scenic road to drive, although the average speed cameras along it’s route often means spending more time checking you aren’t speeding.
One of the things that can catch you out if you are unfamiliar with the A9 is the lack of services on the road itself. When it was built the villages that it bypassed didn’t want to lose the passing trade from the road so the compromise was there would be no services built on the road itself.
Many people do as we do which is stop off at Perth before heading North. There is a BP service station just off the roundabout at the North side of Perth, which has toilets as well as coffee and hot and cold snacks. There is a little car park around the back of the filling station.
A new addition is a drive through Starbucks which is located on the same road as the BP station. Just continue past the filling station on your right to find this oasis of coffee.
On the A9 itself there are several good places to stop. If going Northbound there is a nice restaurant, gift shop and deli at Bankfoot. They serve meals rather than snacks. There is plenty of parking and lots of tempting treats in the shop. Bankfoot is around 9 miles North of Perth.
Just under 25 miles North of Perth is Ballinluig. You have to come off the A9 and cross back over the road to get to the services, Ballinluig Motor Grill, which are just beside the filling station. This stop is really like a roadside diner. They specialise in simple dishes served quickly. It’s a popular locals spot and of course they have toilets as well.
One of my favourite places to get a coffee when passing on the A9 is the Ralia Cafe. This is easily reached whether travelling North or South. There is plenty of parking and there are toilets on the ground floor with the cafe upstairs. There is a tiny seating area upstairs if you are stopping.
Generally it takes around 2.5-3 hours from Perth to Inverness depending on the traffic.
Getting to the Highlands via the A82
The A82 is a longer route as it connects Glasgow with Inverness, coming up through Glencoe and winding up through the Great Glen.
This is probably the most scenic way of getting to the Highlands with the opportunity to stop off en route.
A great circular route would be to travel up on one of the roads and back on the other.
The A82 is a very busy road and the scenery changes are dramatic. It’s not long after leaving Glasgow before you are winding along beside the bonny banks of Loch Lomond.
Then the road climbs up and through the bleak but lovely Rannoch Moor before heading into Glencoe, which looks beautiful whatever the weather, although many people visit because of it’s historical importance too.
The Great Glen runs from Fort William to Inverness. It’s a geological fault line and if you are looking at the map you can easily see it. Just follow the line of lochs that run between Fort William and Inverness, Loch Long, Loch Lochy, Loch Oich and of course Loch Ness.
The Great Glen is lush and green, partly because of all the rain the area gets. The varying and contrasting climate is one of the reasons that Commandos were sent to train in the area.
If you are heading North from Spean Bridge you cannot miss, and should of course stop, at the glorious Commando memorial. It’s in a fantastic position with a beautiful view across the Nevis range. I always find this memorial very moving, particularly because of the family tributes to Commandos of all ages left nearby.
Continuing North you will eventually come to Fort Augustus, a pretty little down at the Southern most point of Loch Ness. It’s worth stopping and having a wander beside the canal.
Then you will follow Loch Ness nearly to Inverness itself. The views are great travelling up from the South and midway on the loch you will see the ruins of Urquhart Castle on the right. This is open for visitors of course, with a new visitor centre set into the hill.
If you want to learn more about Nessie then the best place to head is Drumnadrochit, which is just after Urquhart Castle. There are visitor centres here where you can learn about the loch, monster hunting and much more and of course buy some monster gifts!
Getting to the Highlands via the Sleeper Train
There is a great sleeper train service that connects London to Inverness and vice versa. This service has recently been taken over with the trains upgraded and refitted. There are now options to have ensuite rooms and double rooms as well.
The sleeper train leaves London Euston at around 9pm and arrives in Inverness at around 8.30am the following morning. It can be expensive but if you book ahead prices are a little more reasonable.
The train actually connects three places in Scotland with London. At Edinburgh the North bound sleeper train splits into three parts, one going to Fort William in the West, one going North to Inverness and one going East to Aberdeen.
On the return leg the various parts all meet up in Edinburgh and are connected together to make one of the longest passenger trains in Europe.
If the idea of going to bed in London and waking up in Scotland appeals then the sleeper train is a great way of getting to the Highlands!
Getting to the Highlands via the Highland Chieftain
I love the Highland Chieftain service and if I am going down South it’s the train I always try and use. It has a fantastic first class service which can often be very good value when compared to standard service. The standard service has a trolley service for snacks, or a buffet car that you can visit and WIFI is only free for around 30 minutes.
In first class there are larger seats, and all the food and drink is included.
The train leaves London at around midday and arrives in Inverness just after 8pm. It actually gets to Edinburgh relatively quickly, but then takes nearly 4 hours to reach Inverness. This is because it is a single track railway line for most of the length, meaning the train has to pass other trains heading South. However, the scenery is quite distracting.
Personally I love the Highland Chieftain and when travelling used to try and adjust my schedule so I could use it. It’s one of the loveliest ways of getting to the Highlands especially in first class!
Getting to the Highlands via Scotrail
There are of course plenty of trains coming up from the Central belt area of Scotland, Edinburgh and Glasgow for example to the Highlands.
For more details of train times in Scotland check out Scotrail.
- Bankfoot Restaurant
- Ballinluig Motor Grill
- Ralia Cafe
- Sleeper Train
- Highland Chieftain
- North Coast 500
If you have found this Getting to the Highlands article useful you might like my Scottish Highlands page which has lots more guides and resources on it.
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Melanie uses her coach holiday expertise to help people find their perfect coach holiday.
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