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Getting to Scotland is easy. Here is a simple Scotland travel guide for first-time visitors to get you started.
If you are travelling from North America then you can fly directly into Scotland.Air Transat and Canadian Affair fly from the major Canadian airports. From the United States, you can fly with Virgin Atlantic, Continental and US AirwaysScotland also has links with all the major European airport hubs.
You might consider London - but this Scotland travel guide suggests you may prefer Amsterdam or Paris, Reykjavik and Frankfurt.
If you fly into Paris, then consider the Eurostar train that goes through the Channel Tunnel (under the English Channel). This service takes around one-and-a-half hours from Paris Gard du Nord to London St Pancras. There are frequent trains north from England to Scotland- taking around four and a half hours - from London Kings Cross (East Coast to Edinburgh and Aberdeen) and from London Euston Station (to Glasgow with Virgin Trains). There are also sleeper trains called Caledonian Sleepers run by ScotRail (Scotland's rail company). Climb aboard at London Euston and wake up in Scotland - how romantic is that?
Here's a Scotland Travel Guide Budget tip - the Caledonian Sleeper trains also offer Bargain Berth tickets. They also have a seated sleeper option (if you really, really want to sit up all night!). Low-cost inter-city coach travel is available with companies such as Megabus and National Express.
Bound for Oban, a CalMac ferry in the Sound of Mull, passing Duart Castle on the island of Mull.
As this is a very concise Scotland travel guide, we have to point out the simple fact that hiring/renting a car and driving around is probably the best way to really explore Scotland. It's a bit of a simplification, but, as most of the population lives in the central belt (Edinburgh across to Glasgow), you will find plenty of quiet roads and pleasant driving as you escape into the Scottish countryside - both, for example, in North-East Scotland and also in the South-West (Galloway). Many car rental companies now offer sat-nav - a useful option to get you to that quaint B&B or seafood restaurant on time!
No Scotland travel guide for first-time visitors from abroad should fail to mention the BritRail Pass - but remember it's not available within the UK. You have to buy this before you travel. It offers good value and flexibility for exploring Scotland by train (and other parts of the UK too) Also, the BritRail Freedom of Scotland Pass is a great way to experience some of the most beautiful rail journeys in the world. Time it right, weather-wise, and the Glasgow to Mallaig train will prove unforgettable. (There's a glimpse of the journey, above right, where a ScotRail service is passing below Beinn an Dothaidh on the edge of Rannoch Moor.) But if you only have a few days to explore the main cities of Edinburgh, Stirling or Glasgow then check out the BritRail Central Scotland Pass.
Scotland's west coast islands are connected by the ferry company Caledonian MacBrayne (known by us all as CalMac) - they sail to 24 destinations off Scotland's west coast, such as the Isle of Skye, Mull and the Outer Hebrides. They also offer a good-value Island Hopscotch ticket so you can create your own trip on a selection of their 25 sea routes.
There are also regular ferries to the northern isles of Orkney and Shetland from Aberdeen and from Scrabster with NorthLink Ferries. (There are other ferry companies serving Orkney.) Once there you will find that the Orkney and Shetland islands are linked by frequent inter-island ferries.
The A9, the Highland Road,looking towards the Cairngorm Mountains, south of Inverness. With only parts of it dual carriageway (divided highway), newbie drivers in Scotland should keep their wits about them! (Don't let the scenery distract you hereabouts.)
If you are based in Edinburgh or Glasgow, you can use a different kind of Scotland travel guide. Join up with one of the small group bus tour companies to see the main Scottish highlights. Outfits such as Rabbie's Trail Burners, Timberbush, Scotline and Highland Explorer Tours all offer a great selection of tours last one day up to 2, 3 or 5 days.
Find out some more facts about Scotland here.
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Scotland in Three Days