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Can I get to Inverness by train on a budget?

Inverness is the capital of the Highlands, and the most northerly city in Great Britain. Whether you’re wanting to explore Inverness itself, or looking to use it as a base, then we’ve got you covered. Here’s our guide to getting to Inverness by train, finding the best fare and booking it with Railsmartr.

Can I get cheap fares to Inverness by train?

Yes, it’s possible to get a cheaper fare if you’re travelling to Inverness by train! Of course, the largest number of journeys will be from Edinburgh, Glasgow or further south. So, let’s take a look at what your options are.

Travelling from Edinburgh

If you want a flexible ticket, then there are two different types of fare. They’ll either say ‘Any Permitted‘ or ‘Via Aviemore‘. The latter is cheaper. If you’re just making a direct trip to and from Inverness by train, then the ticket routed ‘via Aviemore’ is fine, as that’s the route that almost every direct service takes.

An ‘Any Permitted’ ticket will let you travel via Aberdeen and Elgin. This is a much slower route, but if you’re wanting to break your journey there (or visit another station along this line), then this would be a cheaper option compared to buying separate tickets. Here’s how much the tickets cost:

  • Anytime Return (Any Permitted): £94.10
  • Off-Peak Return (Any Permitted): £74.90
  • Anytime Return (via Aviemore): £75.50
  • Off-Peak Return (via Aviemore): £61.40.

Alternatively, you can buy cheaper train-specific Advance tickets. They’re available for ScotRail services and the one-per-day LNER train:

cheap train tickets on the railsmartr website for edinburgh to inverness by train

As you can see, the prices two weeks in advance are broadly similar, at around the £20 mark for a one-way trip. You’ll need to buy Advance tickets for ScotRail tickets no later than the evening before you’re travelling. Meanwhile, you can buy cheap tickets for the LNER train right up until it departs.

Travelling from Glasgow

The fare situation for travelling from Glasgow to Inverness by train is fairly similar to Edinburgh. In terms of flexible tickets, you’ll find a ‘via Aviemore‘ fare and an ‘Any Permitted‘ one. Here are the prices:

  • Anytime Return (Any Permitted): £128.20
  • Off-Peak Return (Any Permitted): £99.40
  • Anytime Return (via Aviemore): £80.60
  • Off-Peak Return (via Aviemore): £65.80.

You can also buy cheap Advance tickets for this route. The price tends to be the same as from Edinburgh:

cheap train tickets on the railsmartr website for glasgow to inverness by train

All trains from Glasgow to Inverness leave from Glasgow Queen Street. On some trips, you’ll need to change at Stirling or Perth.

Travelling from London

There’s a single direct train between London and Inverness (and vice-versa) every day. This means that you can get from the Capital to Inverness by train with one easy journey.

It runs from London King’s Cross every day at 12:00. On a Monday to Saturday, the Inverness to London train leaves at 07:55, and it departs at 09:40 on Sundays. In terms of fares, it’s likely to be cheapest to buy an Advance ticket. For example, here’s the fare a month in advance, on a Wednesday:

railsmartr website showing fare on lner highland chieftain service

This train is usually very popular, so the number of Advance tickets available can be quite limited. On a Friday, you might find that very few cheap tickets are available.

Is it easy to get to Inverness by train?

Well, we won’t deny that it can be a bit of a long journey! It typically takes around three and a half hours to get to Inverness by train from either Edinburgh or Glasgow. Meanwhile, the journey from London takes just over eight hours.

The good news is that trains are relatively frequent, considering the length of the journey. On a Monday to Saturday, you’ll find around 11 trains each way to either Edinburgh or Glasgow, and six each way on a Sunday. Trains will go to either Edinburgh or Glasgow, so you’ll need to change at Perth or Stirling if the train isn’t going to the place you’re after.

The journey up to Inverness (along the Highland Main Line route) is particularly beautiful:

view from the window on the highland mainline

Keep an eye out for wildlife as you pass through the Cairngorms National Park. If you’re travelling between October and April, then you’re likely to see some snow on the Mountaintops, particularly around Dalwhinnie and Newtonmore.

You can also change at Inverness for trains to Kyle of Lochalsh, Wick and Thurso. It’s essentially a hub for trains to the farthest reaches of Great Britain.

What can I do there?

So, you’ve reached Inverness by train. What now? You could start with a wander down to the River Ness (yes, the same as Loch Ness!)

river ness, inverness

From here, it’s possible to take a walk down to the Ness Islands, which are a series of small parks on the river. They’re the perfect place to have a wander, or just unwind a little.

You can’t miss Inverness Castle, either. It’s being refurbished at the moment, though. So, you’ll have to admire it from afar:

inverness castle

Finally, why not pay a visit to the Inverness Museum and Art Gallery to learn more about this wonderful Highland City and its past?

Of course, like we said, Inverness is the perfect base to go exploring. You could take bus 17 or 919 and take a trip down to Loch Ness proper.

Is there anything else I should know?

The final thing we’d recommend is using the Railsmartr website to book your next trip to Inverness by train. We’re completely independent, so we’re happy to ‘tell you like it is’ when it comes to rail fares. Not only that, but we’ll show you the slower, cheaper options that some websites won’t.

Don’t forget that we don’t charge any fees, either. That includes if you change your mind and want to travel on a different day. If your ticket is refundable, we’ll refund it fee-free, too.

All fares stated on this page are for ONE adult with no Railcard discount and were correct at 15:00 25/08/23. They’re subject to change at any time and Railsmartr are not responsible for any loss or disappointment incurred as a result of the information provided.