Bucket List experiences on Scotland’s Railway

Last updated: Friday, 14 January 2022

With the new year brings a renewed sense of excitement and optimism for adventures ahead.

Hopefully 2022 will be the year we can all get back out there to revisit the places we love and to discover new ones. One thing the last few years taught us is that there’s a lot of wonder and beauty to be found close to home. So, whether you spent the last couple of years exploring every nook and cranny of Scotland when you could, or were perfectly happy at home, we’ve come up with a few ideas to ensure that we don’t forget what a brilliant country we live in, even when adventures further afield are calling.

Marvel at the splendour of the Forth Rail Bridge

Starting at one of our most iconic locations, there is something truly magical about the sight of the Forth Rail Bridge. Taking the train across it is an experience in itself – the views over the other two bridges and the Firth of Forth are magnificent! But to get a grasp of its sheer scale, you’ve got to get below it. Thankfully, we’re not talking about taking a dip, but rather a walk or a boat trip. Boat tours run from South Queensferry and sail under all three bridges for a truly unique vantage point. Or take the train to North Queensferry, walk down the hill from the station and find yourself wowed. Don’t forget your camera!

Forth Bridge

See the palm trees in Plockton

Situated on the Great Scenic Kyle Line , the pretty village of Plockton should be on everyone’s ‘places to visit by train’ bucket list. Sat on the edge of a secluded bay overlooking Loch Carron, this gorgeous wee village offers everything – stunning views, coral beaches and a fantastic traditional music scene. It’s also home to something you wouldn’t normally associate with Scotland – palm trees. Thanks to the Gulf Stream bringing in tropical waters, palm trees have been able to thrive on the village’s waterfront. Definitely a great spot for a photo!

Palm trees and houses by the beach in Plockton

Travel over the Glenfinnan Viaduct

Put firmly on the map thanks to the Harry Potter film franchise, the Glenfinnan Viaduct is another one for the ‘places to visit by train’ bucket list, even if you’re not a fan of the boy wizard. It really is an astounding sight! Nestled in the valley at the top of Loch Shiel, the 21-span structure curves through the stunning valley creating wonderful photo opportunities. You can travel over the Viaduct all year round as part of a ScotRail journey along the scenic West Highland Line .

Glenfinnan Viaduct

Tick off the seven cities

One of the best things about travelling by train is that you can reach areas that other modes of transport can’t, often giving views that you wouldn’t get anywhere else. You don’t even have to be travelling remotely to enjoy unrivalled views. The routes between Scotland’s seven cities are all really scenic.

Here are a few of our favourite stretches:

  • A journey between Edinburgh and Perth takes you over the Forth Bridge and along the Fife coastline – see if you can spot any seals.
  • When you travel to or from Aberdeen, keep your eyes peeled for dolphins in the water near Stonehaven.
  • The Highland Mainline between Perth and Inverness offers stunning mountain views, particularly through the Cairngorms National Park around Aviemore.
  • The journey between Stirling and Dundee takes you through beautiful Perthshire countryside before finishing the journey along the banks of the River Tay.
Looking over the water at hills in the Aviemore in the Cairngorms

Journey to the most northerly station on the UK’s mainland

For a lot of train enthusiasts, Thurso station is a must visit, simply because it’s the most northerly station in mainland Britain. But a journey there is a whole lot more meaningful than that. To get to Thurso station you first have to travel through some of the most remote and unspoiled landscapes in Europe. If you’re looking for an adventure to fill a few days, then make it this and stop off along the way. The beauty and serenity as you travel on the Far North Line from Inverness is truly unique.

Thurso beach
Looking for more inspiration?
See our Great Scenic Rail Journeys