Discover the best day trips from Glasgow by train plus practical tips, logistical information and what to see along the route in our complete guide.
If you are based in Glasgow for a few days or more you may be considering adding a day trip or two to your itinerary. In this article, we cover the best day trips from Glasgow by train.
We have included details of various train routes from Glasgow with possible stops along the way (you may wish to spend the day in one of these destinations) plus details of the duration, ticket costs and what to see along the route plus tips to make the most of the trip once you arrive at your chosen destination.
Travel Scotland by train with our 14 day best of Scotland by rail itinerary. Includes logistics, what to see and do plus practical tips to make the most of your Scottish rail adventure.
- Glasgow to Oban, Fort William & Mallaig (West Highland Line, Scotland)
- Route Guide (+ What to see along the way)
- Guide to UK Train Travel ebook
- Glasgow to Edinburgh
- Glasgow to Inverness (North East Coast Scotland)
- Glasgow Central Station to Rothesay on the Isle of Bute
- Alternative day trip options from Glasgow Central
- Glasgow to Stranraer (South West Scotland in Dumfries and Galloway)
- Glasgow to Dumfries (South West Scotland – Dumfriesshire)
- Best day trips from Glasgow by train FAQs – Train Passes
- Which day trip by train will you take from Glasgow?
Glasgow to Oban, Fort William & Mallaig (West Highland Line, Scotland)
🛤 Perhaps the most picturesque or well-known of the scenic railway lines in Scotland, if not the UK
✅ Possible day excursion from Glasgow Queen Street station – however only up to 4 trains run daily in each direction
❗️If you do this trip as a day excursion note that the day is spent mainly spent on a train in each direction. If you enjoy train travel and wish to observe the beautiful Scottish scenery in a comfortable setting this may be the day trip for you!
🛏 Consider an overnight stay in Fort William if time allows
⏱ Journey durations (all direct services) from Glasgow Queen’s Street
- Corrour – 3 hours
- Oban – 3 hours 10 mins
- Fort William – 3 hours 50 mins
- Mallaig – 5 hours 20 mins
- Approx. cheapest ticket (December 2022)
- Balloch (Change at Dumbarton Central) – single journey £9.80, return journey £12.40.
- Corrour – single journey £35, return journey £57.
- Oban – single journey £16, return journey £32.
- Fort William – single journey £35, return journey £57.
- Mallaig – single journey £43, return journey £51.
❗️ CHECK train times – Do not get caught out, remember there are only a few trains daily back to Glasgow, be sure of your train times for a return journey
❗️ If returning to Edinburgh and not Glasgow allow a minimum of 6 hours for the journey changing at Glasgow Queen Street. CHECK train times
Route Guide (+ What to see along the way)
From Glasgow Queen Street Station try to sit on the left side of the train as the train heads north for the best Loch views en route.
- If you have booked seats and the train has spare seats move to a better seat. Alternatively request a seat on the left-hand side if you reserve seats
- Seat reservations are generally not essential for these services
Balloch (For Loch Lomond)
Direct from Glasgow Queen Street station, 50 mins, or change at Dumbarton Central or Ardlui.
- Balloch station is a short walk to the south end of Loch Lomond in the national park
- See the visitor centre and take a boat cruise across the Loch
- See also the views of Balloch Castle
- 1h 30 mins from Glasgow
- The train line splits with the line to Oban and the ongoing line to Fort William on the West Highland line
- The line heads north onto Rannoch Moor where the train line floats over peat bogs
After leaving Crianlarich the train passes breathtaking sights including Loch Lomond, Glen Lochy, and Loch Awe to the Pass of Brander before reaching Taynuilt on the shore of Loch Etive. Oban is the last station on the line.
- Oban train station is perfectly placed next to the ferry terminal for boat trips to the inner and outer Hebridian islands (Staffa, Mull and Iona)
- Popular landmarks and sights in Oban include McCaig’s tower and battery on the hill overlooking the town, also the Oban distillery and a short distance away Castle Stalker, Dunstaffnage castle, Loch Etive and Dunollie castle.
Popular day trips from Oban include Inveraray Castle and the Hebridean islands of Mull, Iona and Staffa etc
Inveraray is one of Scotland’s most popular castles and is located on the shore of Loch Fyne in Argyll and is the seat of the Dukes of Argyll.
- Open from April to October.
- Located around 40 miles from Oban.
- The nearest train station is Dalmally 15 miles away.
Day trip to Mull, Iona and Staffa
If you plan to stay in Oban for a couple of nights a day trip to the Hebrides is very doable. There are day trip excursions by boat available to Mull, Iona and Staffa (for Fingal’s Cave) plus additional islands to see puffins and other bird life.
Note! This may not be for you If you suffer from sea sickness (I took a tour in summer and the sea was pretty rough sailing in a small boat from Mull to Staffa and then to Iona)
Carrour (West Highland line)
Carrour is the highest mainline UK railway station (at 1,339 feet) and perhaps the most remote.
- It is not exactly a day excursion but more of a walker’s stop-off or set-off point, providing stunning landscape views of Rannoch Moor and Loch Ossian.
- Nearby are the Rannoch Moor visitor centres and also the Glencoe Mountain resort.
Fort William & Mallaig (for the Jacobite Express or Harry Potter train)
On the approach to Fort William look out for Scotland’s highest Peak, Ben Nevis, 4,411 feet.
There are lots of things to see and do in Fort William including taking a ride on the famous Harry Potter train (the Jacobite)
- The Jacobite train departs twice daily from Fort William train station. Morning runs from April to October and afternoon runs in addition from May to September.
- Operated by West Coast Railways. Check timetables for specific dates/times.
- ❗️Book early as the tickets sell out very quickly.
- If you are planning a trip on the Jacobite we recommend arriving in Fort William the day before and staying the night so you can be at the train station in time for the departure the following morning.
- It is possible if you catch the 1st Jacobite service to return to Glasgow that day on the national rail service.
- Even without a ticket for the Jacobite, it is good to arrive a the station for a few photos/videos of the steam train and soak up the happy atmosphere.
What to look out for on the train journey from Fort William to Mallaig
- The train travels over the famous Glenfinnan viaduct on the left-hand curve.
- Sit or look out on the right-hand side of the train to get the best views of the viaduct.
- Announcements are made on the train’s public address system to advise of the train’s approach to the viaduct. Sit/look out on the right-hand side on the return journey.
- Explore the restored station, signal box and railway museum as the train pauses at the Glenfinnan station.
- On the left side of the train Loch Eilt from Fort William train station.
- On the right look for Neptune’s Staircase which is the 8 locks on the Caledonian Canal, look carefully because it is easily missed (look for it on the way back as well, on the left side of the train).
- Look on the left for Loch Shiel and the Glenfinnan Monument and then on past Loch Eilt.
- On the approach to Mallaig look for the fantastic view of the Sound of Sleat as the line hugs the coast and offers views of the islands of Eigg and Rum and the White Sands of Morar.
Tip – For the best photos/videos of the train passing over the viaduct head out from Fort William to the Glenfinnan Visitor Centre where you can walk to the lookout viewing points.
Good to know: Missed out on tickets for the Jacobite or travelling out of season? Don’t worry there is NO need to take the Jacobite to travel this route. The normal train service uses the same train line between Fort William and Mallaig!
Mallaig is a port on Lochaber and the terminus station of the West Highland railway line.
- Visit the heritage centre, try some of the local seafood at the numerous restaurants and cafes and wander around the harbour area and enjoy the spectacular views.
- Don’t miss a visit to the Harry Potter shop in Mallaig!
- There is a Mallaig circular walk that is around 3 km and takes about 90 mins.
Skye and the Western Isles
The ferry to Armadale on the Isle of Skye departs from Mallaig harbour.
- Foot passengers are permitted
- The ferry is operated by Caledonian MacBrayne (CalMac)
- Also, from Mallaig are ferries to the Western Isles including Harris, Iona, Eriskay, Arran, Barra, Bute etc
❗️ Reminder – CHECK train times – Do not get caught out, remember there are only a few trains daily back to Glasgow, be sure of your train times for a return journey.
Guide to UK Train Travel ebook
Glasgow to Edinburgh
🕘 Takes between 50 mins and 1 hour 30 mins in each direction depending on the selected service and route, some trains stop at more stations than others.
✅ Multiple daily trains.
✅ Direct service, no changes.
🎟 Approx. cheapest ticket (Dec 2022) is £17 in each direction or a return booked on the day is £28. Advance or Anytime tickets are available.
What to see along the route
Helix Park and the Kelpies are on the left in direction of travel along the belt of Scotland. Read more about visiting the Kelpies.
Things to do in Edinburgh include visiting the world-famous castle and Royal Mile, climbing Arthurs Seat (an imposing volcanic Peak for spectacular views of Edinburgh and surrounding areas including the port of Leith and the Royal Yacht Britannia), and exploring the Royal residence of the Palace of Holyroodhouse, Calton Hill, Botanic Gardens, the Scotch Whisky Experience and much much more!
Glasgow to Inverness (North East Coast Scotland)
✅ Easy day trip from Glasgow Queen Street station.
✅ Multiple services each day in both directions.
🕘 Takes approx. 3 hours 25 mins for the direct service.
🎟 Approx. cheapest ticket found (Dec 2022) £12.90 for each single journey. The cheapest option for a return ticket is another single ticket.
What to see along the route
Stirling (Central Scotland)
🕘 Approx. 30 mins direct from Glasgow Queen Street
🎟 Approx. cheapest ticket found (Dec 2022) £15.40 for each single journey. The cheapest option for a return ticket is 2 x single tickets at £19.70
✅ Train station is in the city centre.
📍 See medieval Stirling castle, the National Wallace Monument (that commemorates the 13-century hero William Wallace) where from the top you can see the site of the 1297 Battle of Stirling Bridge, Battle of Bannockburn Experience, Deanston Distillery, The Old Town Jail and 1hour from Loch Lomond and close to the Battle of Bannockburn visitor centre.
❗️ Stirling is quite hilly to walk around so be prepared!
🕘 Approx. 1h from Glasgow Queen Street
📍 The city is located on the River Tay.
🎟 Approx. cheapest ticket found (Dec 2022) £8.50 for each single journey. The cheapest option for a return ticket is 2 x single tickets at £17
Visit the Black Watch Castle and Museum, Kinnoull Hill and nearby the Scone Palace.
🕘 Approx. 1h 40 from Glasgow Queen Street) and Blair Atholl (next station, check train stops)
📍 Historic town on the River Tummel.
🎟 Approx. cheapest ticket found (Dec 2022) is £11.90 for each single journey. The cheapest option for a return ticket is 2 x single tickets at £21.10
Visit the dam and fish ladder, nearby Blair Athol Distillery, Edradour Distillery, falls of Bruar and Blair Castle and Gardens and the Queen’s view and visitor centre.
🕘 Approx. 2h 45 from Glasgow Queen Street
📍 Located in the Cairngorms National Park.
🎟 Approx. cheapest ticket found (Dec 2022) £18.30 for each single journey. The cheapest option for a return ticket is 2 x single tickets at £31.20
Famous for beautiful lochs and walks and also for skiing and winter sports. Also, for the Cairngorm brewery and the Strathspey Railway (steam trains from Perth to Broomhill, 92 miles and takes around 1h 45) if you want a leisurely excursion, try an afternoon tea too.
📍Inverness is the largest city in the Highlands and is located where the River Ness joins the Moray Firth.
Things to see in Inverness
- The 19th Century cathedral
- Indoor Victorian market
- Inverness Castle
- Inverness Museum and Art Gallery
- Botanic gardens
- Leakeys bookshop
- Enjoy a 2-hour walk circuit walk along the River Ness and Ness islands.
- Loch Ness and Castle Urquhart
- Culloden battlefield
- Clava Carins – Bronze Age Cairn
- Fort George- Artillery fortification
Glasgow Central Station to Rothesay on the Isle of Bute
Glasgow to Wemyss Bay train station then to Rothesay on the Isle of Bute by ferry.
🕘 Train journey to Wemyss Bay is around 50 mins with direct service.
✅ Multiple daily trains.
🎟 Train ticket – Approx. cheapest single ticket (at date) £8.80 with a return cheapest buying two singles at £16.80.
⛴ The ferry is operated by Caledonian MacBrayne (CalMac) and has separate summer and winter timetables.
🎟 Ferry ticket – Approx. cheapest ticket (at date) £7 for a foot passenger for a return ticket.
🕘 Ferry takes about 35 mins and an hourly service (check timetables)
What to see along the route
- Wemyss Bay
- Located on the Clyde coast.
- The train station is built on a pier opened in 1903, grade A architectural listed curved glass canopy with and mock-Tudor exterior and clock tower.
- The Ferry to Rothesay leaves from the same pier across the Firth of Clyde.
- Isle of Bute
- An island in the Firth of Clyde is divided into the lowlands and highland areas.
- Sightseeing Tour operates from May to September. Has 7 stops including, Mount Stuart the magnificent neo-Gothic mansion and the harbour of Port Bannatyne.
- Tours cost approx. (at date) £12 per adult.
- A lovely Victorian seaside resort
- See the Bute Military Museum and the 13th Century Rothesay Castle (currently access is restricted for masonry inspections).
Alternative day trip options from Glasgow Central
- There are Alternative Trains and Ferry Options from Glasgow Central.
- Train to Gourock
- 🕘 46 mins
- ⛴ Ferry to Dunoon
- Train to Ardrossan Harbour, 50 mins and ferry to Brodick (Isle of Arran)
- Ardrossan Harbour train station is a branch line on the Largs train line
- Train to Largs
- 🕘 1 hour
- ⛴ Ferry to Millport on the Isle of Great Cumbrae
- Ferries are operated by Caledonian MacBrayne (CalMac) Note that there are separate summer and winter timetables.
Glasgow to Stranraer (South West Scotland in Dumfries and Galloway)
The Stranraer Line is a scenic rail line that runs from Glasgow Central to Stranraer via Ayr where visitors need to change trains.
🕘 Takes around 2h 25 mins in total
✅ Up to 4 trains daily.
❗️ No direct service to Stranraer
🎟 Approx. cheapest ticket (Dec 2022) £9.10 in each direction or 2 x purchased single tickets £18.20.
What to see along the route
- South West out of Glasgow Central station keep a lookout for the 3 lochs of Castle Semple, Barr and Kilbirnie. Also, the famous golf course at Troon.
- The historic country town of Ayrshire. Change trains at Ayr or stop off to see Robert Burns’s birthplace museum or Greenan Castle
- The train line approaches the coastline with the best views on the right side of the train in the direction of travel.
- Look out to sea for the views of the island of Alisa Craig. The island is famous for supplying the world with the stones used in the sport of curling.
- On the banks of Loch Ryan in Scotland’s South West. See the medieval castle of St John, the Stranraer museum and the Killantringan lighthouse.
- The fastest ferry takes around 2 hours 16 mins.
- Cairnryan (by bus or taxi)
- ⛴ Ferry to Belfast (Northern Ireland) – As well as the day excursion on the beautiful train line visitors can also catch the Stenna Ferry from the ferry port at Cairnryan which is 12 -20 mins away by taxi or bus.
Glasgow to Dumfries (South West Scotland – Dumfriesshire)
📍Dumfries is located near the River Nith that flows into the Solway Firth.
📍Approx. 25 miles from the border with England.
🕘 Journey time is 1h 45 from Glasgow Central Station.
✅ Multiple daily trains.
✅ Direct service
✅ No changes in each direction.
🎟 Dumfries direct services – Approx. cheapest ticket (Dec 2022) £21 in each direction or 2 x purchased single tickets £38.20.
🔄 Return journey on a different route via the West Coast Mainline back to Glasgow Central takes 1h 20.
- Consider continuing on to Carlisle (England) for a further 50 mins on the train.
- A walled city with a rich historic past.
- Additional costs if extending the trip to Carlisle.
What to see along the route
- From Glasgow, the line takes you southwest through the suburbs before heading out into the countryside and the picturesque landscape.
- Pass over the 23-arch viaduct outside Kilmarnock before the line heads to the scenic Ayrshire hills and on down the Nith Valley to Drumlanrig tunnel.
- Historic Dumfries is a busy growing market town with a rich history, tracing its heritage all the way back to the Roman era.
- See Dumfries Museum, the Camera Obscura, Robert Burns house arts centre and the Aviation Museum.
Best day trips from Glasgow by train FAQs – Train Passes
If you are planning to travel around Scotland by train it may be cost-effective to buy a BritRail Pass or Global Eurail pass to cover the costs of your rail adventure.
BritRail Spirit of Scotland
- The Spirit of Scotland pass is for those who want to discover the area north of the border with England.
- Ferry and coach services are included as well as trains.
- Passengers cannot use some trains before 9.15 am on weekdays.
- The pass covers the entire country of Scotland, from Berwick-upon-Tweed on the Northumbrian border right up to the highlands and islands.
- Only child discounts may be available on the Scottish pass.
- Depending on the type of pass travel for 2, 3, 4, 8, 15, 22 or 30 consecutive days or 2, 3, 4 or 8 non-consecutive days spread over a month; or for 15 days during a two-month period.
Eurail Global Pass terms, conditions & exclusions
- For use in 33 countries across Europe (unless otherwise stated)
- Non-European residents are eligible to buy the Global Eurail Pass (European residents have the equivalent Global Interail Pass)
- The first travel date can be up to 11 months after the date of purchase
- Discounts may be available for children, youths or seniors
- Paper or M (mobile) pass
- Seat reservations are advised
- Passes entitle holders to special discounts on hotels, ferries, entrance fees, tickets, city cards and much more
- Great Britain is included on the Eurail Global Pass
- Depending on the type of pass travel for 15 or 22 consecutive days, or buy a pass valid for 1, 2 or 3 months or for 4, 5 or 7 non-consecutive days spread over a month; or for 10 or 15 days during a two-month period.
Which day trip by train will you take from Glasgow?
Whichever of these train trips you take I am sure you will have a wonderful time. Scotland is a beautiful country to explore!
We have more resources to help you plan your trip!