Discover the islands with Rail & Sail

Last updated: Tuesday, 27 June 2023

Gone are the days of juggling multiple tickets.

Rail & Sail combines train and ferry travel into one handy pass, so it’s easier than ever for you to explore Scotland’s islands, and beyond.

No need to book in advance

In a nutshell

Rail & Sail is a train and ferry travel ticket combined – making it easier for you to go further.

Rail & Sail includes:

  • A choice of islands – sail to Orkney, Shetland, Mull, the Outer Hebrides, the Clyde Coast, or Belfast
  • Deals for little ones – under 5s go free, and there’s a 50% discount for children aged 5-15
  • Hop on, hop off – break up your journey however you like
  • No need to book ahead – you can just turn up and travel on most routes. Though if you’re going to Belfast, you do need to book
  • Flexible ferry travel – travel with any operator on your chosen route

It doesn’t include:

  • Railcard discounts – unless you’re going to Belfast, when you can use your Senior or 16-25 Railcard
Great Destinations

Where to go and what to do

Combine travel over land and sea to create your perfect trip – whether that’s a secluded island or the buzz of the city. There are hundreds of ways to make the most of your Rail & Sail ticket. Here are some of our favourites:


Orkney’s not actually a single island, but rather 70 individual land masses. Rolling fields, pristine beaches and rugged coastlines – it’s got them all. Many of the islands are uninhabited, so it’s the perfect place to enjoy some well-earned escapism.

Travel to Kirkwall, Orkney’s capital, via Aberdeen, or arrive in Stromness from Scrabster. Once there, you’ll find rich history and striking scenery everywhere you go. Head to Skara Brae – one of the best-preserved groups of prehistoric houses in Europe – to discover what island life was like 5,000 years ago. Then enjoy a stroll along one of the island’s idyllic white sand beaches.

No need to queue at the ferry ticket office


For a real getaway, try the Shetland Isles – the 100-island-strong archipelago that’s closer to Norway than it is to mainland Scotland. To get there, take the train to Aberdeen, then the overnight ferry to Lerwick.

The islands’ unspoiled landscapes means there’s history everywhere you look, stretching right back to its original Neolithic settlers. Highlights include Mousa – an uninhabited island that’s home to an iconic Iron Age broch. It’s also an RSPB Nature Reserve where, if you’re lucky, you can spot storm petrels and arctic terns.

Outer Hebrides

White sand beaches. 5,000-year-old standing stones. Rare wildlife. The Western Isles has it all. With Rail & Sail, you can catch the train to Oban, then take the ferry to South Uist or Barra. Or head to Ullapool (a short bus ride from Inverness) and catch the boat to Stornoway.

Stornoway is the Outer Hebrides’ biggest settlement. Here, you’ll find centuries of history at Lews Castle and Arnol Blackhouse, and some of the best local seafood you’ll ever taste (check out the Stornoway Fish Smoker or Digby Chick).

South Uist is a must if you love the great outdoors. Loch Druidibeg and the surrounding areas (including Hecla and Beinn Mhor mountains) boast unforgettable scenery, even by Hebridean standards – perfect for long walks and wildlife spotting.

Great value

Clyde Coast

Don’t fancy venturing quite so far north? The scenery on the Clyde Coast is every bit as impressive, all just a few hours outside Glasgow.

Head to Dunoon from Gourock, or over to Arran from Ardrossan Harbour.

Arran balances island escapism with a thriving community. For something a bit different, check out King’s Caves with their ancient inscriptions and magnificent views. Don’t leave this island without stopping to sample some famous Arran Cheese, or treat yourself to some from goodies from Arran Aromatics.


The trip over to Northern Ireland is easier than you might think – ferries go direct from Cairnryan – and the coach links from Ayr to Cairnryan ferry terminal are included in your ticket price.

Home of Titanic, Game of Thrones, and enough bars and restaurants to keep your taste buds entertained for the entire summer, Belfast is the place to go if you like your trips on the livelier side. From the city’s iconic murals to Michelin Star dining at Michael Deane’s Eipic restaurant, there’s a world of entertainment to enjoy. Our favourite? The transport museum. Obviously.

Bikes and accessibility

All our services are accessible and we can arrange extra help if you need it – whether you’ve booked your trip in advance or not. However, we recommend letting us know at least two hours in advance so we can be ready to meet you at the station. Find out more about accessible travel .

Want to take your bike? Your Rail & Sail ticket covers that too. You’ll find designated cycle spaces on most of our trains. Some need to be booked in advance, others are available on a first-come first-served basis. You’ll find everything in our cycling pages .

Enjoyed something else with your Rail & Sail ticket?

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Share your adventures with @MyScotRail on Twitter or Instagram using #UnlockScotland – we love hearing about them.

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