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Getting There

There are direct air services from London and other European cities to Edinburgh, Glasgow, Dundee, Aberdeen, Inverness or Kirkwall, and from North America to Glasgow or Edinburgh. All UK domestic flights and those from Scotland to places in the EU attract a US$15 departure tax and to other destinations it's US$30; a cost that's usually factored into the ticket price. From Europe it's often cheaper to fly to London then catch a train or bus north. It's a one-hour flight from London to Edinburgh, but once you add on the trip to and from the airport you're getting close to the four-hour rail trip.

Long-distance buses are usually the cheapest method of getting to Scotland, with a range of private operators undercutting the state operator. The budget Slow Coach which runs between Youth Hostels all over Britain goes as far as Edinburgh. A train from London can get you to Edinburgh in four hours, Glasgow in five, but tickets are fairly pricey. Scotland has ferry links to Larne, near Belfast, and to Belfast itself. In summer there is also a weekly ferry between Aberdeen, the Shetlands and Norway, and a twice-weekly ferry from Aberdeen to the Faroes.

For those with their own transport, main roads are busy and quick - Edinburgh is 600km (373mi) from London and it will take you about eight hours to drive it.

Getting Around

Public transport in Scotland is generally good, but it can be expensive compared to other European countries. Only British Airways and its subsidaries are doing domestic flights in Scotland, and it's hardly worth the price unless there's no other way to get to the islands. Haggis Backpackers bus service runs between Scotland's Youth Hostels, as does Macbackpackers. Citylink bus company (Scotland's major player) has a tourist pass which can be used on all their buses. Scotland's train routes are stunning, but limited and expensive. Roads are generally good and far less busy than those in England. On back roads you may have only one lane and petrol stations may be few and far between (as well as extremely pricey). Boats run to most of the islands from Oban, Mallaig and Ullapool, or you can get a ferry from Aberdeen to Orkney or Shetland. Walking and cycling are popular and rewarding ways to explore Scotland.

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