Glenfinnan & the West Highland Line

#5 in Best Things To Do in Scottish Highlands
Glenfinnan & the West Highland Line picture
Glenfinnan & the West Highland Line
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Key Info

Glenfinnan

Price & Hours

Free

Details

Hiking, Monuments and Memorials, Sightseeing, Free, Neighborhood/Area Type
Half Day to Full Day Time to Spend
4.5scorecard
  • 5.0Value
  • 2.0Food Scene
  • 5.0Atmosphere

The "Harry Potter" movies were filmed throughout the Scottish Highlands (the location of Hagrid's hut can be found in Glencoe), but the most recognizable location is in Glenfinnan. Remember that stately, stone bridge the Hogwarts Express always crossed on its way to Hogwarts? That's the Glenfinnan Viaduct. The Jacobite Steam Train, which shares a striking resemblance to the Hogwarts Express, runs along the Glenfinnan Viaduct. If you can swing it, you should consider a ride on the train, even if you aren't a "Harry Potter" fan. That's because train follows the West Highland Line, considered one of the most scenic train routes in the world. The West Highland Line travels along the west coast of Scotland, through Loch Lomond & The Trossachs National Park and remote Highlands areas inaccessible by car. Note: The Jacobite Steam Train follows part of the West Highland Line, not all of it; the ScotRail operates the route in full. 

If you aren't riding the train, you can get a great view of the viaduct from the Glenfinnan Trail View Point, which starts conveniently at the Glenfinnan train station. Travelers who visited the Glenfinnan Viaduct recommend coming when the Jacobite train is scheduled to pass by. "Harry Potter" fans particularly enjoyed the view, saying it was fun to imagine that they were watching the Hogwarts Express on its way to school. Others travelers offered mixed reviews, with some saying it was nothing more than a train passing over a bridge.

Another notable (and free) attraction in Glenfinnan is the Glenfinnan Monument. Placed at a picturesque spot on the edge of the mountain-flanked Loch Shiel, the nearly 60-foot-tall monument memorializes all those who fought in the Jacobite movement between the 17th and 18th centuries. 

You can get to Glenfinnan by car and ScotRail only. The Jacobite Steam Train leaves from Fort William and travels to Mallaig and vice versa. The price for a return ticket is 35 pounds (around $45) for adults and 20 pounds (about $25) for children. The journey takes a little more than four hours. Departure times are seasonal, but generally there is morning and afternoon service daily. All routes for the West Highland Line via ScotRail leave from Glasgow. You can hop on a train from Glasgow to Oban, Fort William or Mallaig. Ticket prices depend on your destination. For more information about Glenfinnan, visit the Scotland tourism board's website.

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More Best Things To Do in Scottish Highlands

Isle of Skye
Glencoe
Type
Time to Spend
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#1 Isle of Skye

If you only had time to visit one part of the Scottish Highlands, let it be the Isle of Skye. Located on the west coast of the Highlands, Skye is the largest island of the Inner Hebrides. The island is filled to the brim with otherworldly landscapes. There's a lot to see on this island, but travel experts and visitors say you can't leave without peeping these gems: the Quiraing, the Old Man of Storr, Neist Point and the Fairy Pools.

The Quiraing is the perfect introduction to Skye's spellbinding geography. As you descend down the Quiraing, you'll be greeted with sweeping views of stunning geography: Cracked plateaus with craggy cliffsides lead the way to an expansive valley of verdant rolling hills, stately rock formations and alpine lakes. Situated 13 miles south is the Old Man of Storr, a single, pinnacle-shaped rock which stands out for its looks; it's so tall and distinct, it can easily be spotted from sea level miles away.

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