London to Edinburgh by Train: Visiting Each City’s Top Attractions

london to edinburgh
East Coast Train at London King’s Cross Station. Photo courtesy of Melissa Grandt

Traveling by Train From London to Edinburgh

Those traveling to Britain will more than likely visit London – it is sought out by millions each year after all, but did you realize how easy it is to visit Edinburgh, in Scotland, from London?  When you take the train from London to Edinburgh, you can be there in just over 4 hours.

Wake up in London and enjoy a leisurely stroll to London Kings Cross Station (or Euston depending on what time and type of train you want to travel on. East Coast trains depart from London King’s Cross Station, while Virgin trains depart from London Euston Station) and hop on-board the train. Take your seat and prepare yourself for some gorgeous scenery as you travel through England, Wales and Scotland. If you choose the 8am departure, you’ll arrive in Edinburgh just in time for lunch. Treat yourself to some amazing Scottish cuisine before setting off to see the city. Of course, the choice is yours, you can hop on an evening train back to London, or perhaps explore more of Scotland by traveling to Glasgow, Loch Ness and more.

Things to See & Do in London and Edinburgh

Here’s a great list of must-see & do activities when you travel from London to Edinburgh, do one or all, the choice is yours!

Eflin Oak Kensington Gardens
Carved figures in the Elfin Oak in Kensington Gardens, London England. Photo © Garry Knight https://flic.kr/p/aBJ8Kn

10. Search for the Elfin Oak – Take a stroll through Kensington Gardens and take in the sights. For those looking for scavenger-hunt-type adventure, seek out the Elfin Oak. This tree stump has elves, fairies and other characters carved and painted on its surface. If you’re traveling with children – this is perfect afternoon activity to get the imagination of children (and adults) sparked!

9. Able-bodied? Take a Climb! – Feeling adventurous? Why not visit Edinburgh’s extinct volcano? Climb up to the tallest of the city’s seven hills, Arthur’s Seat. You can get quite the workout while also gaining some valuable insight on the formation of the geological landmark.

8. Street where the riches of ages are stowed – Love to go antique hunting? There is truth to the lyrics in the song from the ever-popular Bedknobs and Broomsticks. Find a trove of treasures at the weekend along Portobello Road. While appearances may make it look like your average flea market, don’t be too quick to judge this book by its cover! At the Chepstow Villas end of the road is where you’ll find items with immeasurable value. During the rest of the week, you can find newer items, but the weekends are for the treasure hunters!

7. Edinburgh City Sightseeing Tour – Experience the city of Edinburgh on a unique hop-on/hop-off tour. You can sit on the open-air bus for 60-minutes while listening to the full tour of the city, or perhaps choose which stops you wish to hop-on and off at for more in-depth exploration. This tour is a great way to get your feet wet on your visit to Edinburgh, pointing out the city’s main attractions, giving you an idea of what to see & do on your visit.

St Paul's Cathedral
St Paul’s Cathedral, London. Photo © Tammy Young Heck https://flic.kr/p/cp411f

6. Shhh…You’ll Want to Whisper Here – Visit St. Paul’s Cathedral, and head up to the whispering gallery. If you’re traveling alone, you may need to find a new friend here to try this out, but if you’ve got traveling companions, each of you set out for different areas of the gallery. Once you’re in your places, whisper your sweet nothings and from the shape of the dome, your words can be heard clearly on the other side, nearly 100 feet away! Note, to get up into this gallery you will first need to climb the 259 steps that lead up to it.

5. Experience a Parade of Tuxedos – Visit the Edinburgh Zoo and be sure to leave plenty of time to see the famous Penguin Parade. While you’ll find species of all kinds in the Edinburgh Zoo, many visit to catch a glimpse of the penguins marching around – on their own free will! The parade occurs daily at 2:15pm. Note however, that because this parade relies on penguins volunteering to walk, some days will experience cancellations if the penguins choose not to take part. It’s best to arrive early to ensure a good vantage point as this is a very popular attraction!

4. Walk in the Footsteps of a Serial Killer – Take part in a Jack the Ripper walking tour – if you think you can handle it! During this tour, the murderous tale will be told from the dark streets of Whitechapel. One of the most notorious serial killers, the story of Jack the Ripper will haunt you long after your departure from London! This tour can be chosen as a free walking tour when you get the Original London Sightseeing Tour from Rail Europe.

london to edinburgh
City view of Edinburgh. Edinburgh Castle stands tall in the background.

3. A Mile Like No Other – Travel up the Royal Mile until you reach the top and encounter one of the most amazing sights, Edinburgh Castle. The views of the city from the castle are exquisite and you won’t want to miss out on them. Experience the culture and history of the castle as you stroll around. Of course, the walk up to the castle is equally as impressive with little shops and stops to make along the way! Be warned, should you visit the castle after dark, it is said that this is one of the most haunted castles in the world – you may run into some spirits you weren’t expecting to see!

2. Witness the Changing of the Guard – Be a part of one of the most prestigious military traditions in the world, the changing of the guard at Buckingham Palace. This ceremony  is full of pomp & circumstance and will leave you with wonderful memories of your time in London. Be sure to arrive early as the crowds tend to be quite large. You can view the schedule for the changing of the guards on the official website.

1. Travel by Train From London to Edinburgh – Once you’ve had your fill of London (which, really? Can anyone really ever say they’ve had their fill of this amazing city?!) you can easily hop on the train from London’s King’s Cross or Euston stations, and arrive in Edinburgh Waverly Station in as little as 4 hours 22 minutes. Along the way you’ll pass by the beautiful landscape of Britain and prepare yourself for an indulgence in Haggis and Shortbread – two of the iconic culinary delights in Edinburgh!

You can arrange your trip yourself, or even opt for one of the packages offered by Rail Europe that include train travel, sightseeing and even hotel. The Daytrip to Edinburgh provides you with round-trip train travel from London to Edinburgh, and an open-top bus ride of the city upon arrival. If you prefer to stay a bit longer, take a look at the Edinburgh Overnight package which again includes round-trip train travel from London to Edinburgh, sightseeing and an overnight stay in a 3-star hotel. Important to note that both of these packages include entrance into Edinburgh Castle.

We began this post stating that many people flock to London each year. We hope after reading our London to Edinburgh article, that we’ve opened your eyes to the possibility of indulging in the culture and heritage of Scotland. Taking the train from London to Edinburgh is super convenient, and the journey gives you a few hours of sightseeing the British countryside – unlike a plane ride where you’re up in the clouds, the train takes you through beautiful landscapes, for a relaxing ride between the capital cities of two amazing countries.

For a family-fun trip, consider taking the train from London to Edinburgh, trust us, you won’t be disappointed! Be sure to share your London and Edinburgh travel stories with us – and any additional items you think should be on a list of must sees!

3 Comments

  1. joeymegatron

    Don’t forget to look out the windows on the way up and back! You should be able to see the Kilburn White Horse dug into the side of a hill from the train to the East (right side on the way from London to Edinburgh), just north of York. Also, the view as you pull into Durham is outstanding, with the Durham cathedral on the hill above the train tracks.

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  2. Kathy VandenBerghe

    Where does the train that travels between Edinburgh stop along the way? How long would it take to get to get to York?

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