For the most magnificent day trip from Glasgow, hop on a West Highland Line train and go north to Mallaig, Scotland. Recognized as one of the world’s best train journeys, the train ride from Glasgow to Mallaig is a trip of a lifetime and a great way to see Scotland’s extreme wild side.
How to travel by train to Mallaig from Glasgow
You may find online booking for this train trip confusing with the many departure times and the option of a separate Jacobite leg from Fort Williams to Mallaig. The solution is to book through a travel agency or simply visit the train station in Glasgow for the best booking information.
The earliest train departure for the direct journey from Glasgow straight through to Mallaig is at 8:20 a.m. leaving from the Queen Street Station in Glasgow.
West Highland train from Glasgow to Mallaig
In a little over five hours, this train journey takes you from urban Glasgow into the Western Highlands through some of Scotland’s most spectacular scenery, with much of it miles away from any road, town, or people.
The train slowly makes it way north, skirting the edges of large lochs with ancient castles nestled on the shores, soaring mountains, and miles of empty moody moors. It is so beautiful that it’s hard to put your camera away for any length of time. You will be sharing the journey with hikers, cyclists, tourists, and locals making their way to the Highlands. If you’re lucky you may hear a mother reading a pretty Gallic fairytale story to her wee bairns or you might spy out your window a stag standing at the edge of a misty loch, making this special trip simply magical.
What not to miss on your train ride to Mallaig
A Harry Potter moment
Between Locheilside and Glenfinnan station the train makes its way over a beautiful grey concrete viaduct and Scotland’s longest bridge. The bridge appears on Scotland’s currency as well as being featured in four of the Harry Potter films as part of the train journey to Hogwarts. You can easily imagine yourself on a magical journey as you sit on the train in the middle of the Scottish wilds crossing the majestic curved bridge high over the River Finnan.
Then finally, four stations later, you reach the end of your journey in the fishing village of Mallaig. Yes you can actually do this trip in a day! Once in Mallaig you can stroll the very tiny village for two and a half hours, have lunch, and then hop on the train back to Glasgow arriving in the city around half past nine in the evening. To make the most of your travel though, you should opt for a day or two visiting the Isle of Skye which is just across the way from Mallaig.
There are a few can’t miss moments on this train ride through the Scottish countryside. Try to make sure you have the seat next to the window when the train is north of Tyndrum. On this section of the journey the train follows a sweeping east/west curved line along the foot of Ben Doran. This is a railroad fan’s dream postcard photo. The train suddenly seems tiny and insignificant as it winds its way around the enormous looming mountain and through the valley along Horseshoe Curve.
After the Bridge of Orchy the roads slowly disappear from view as you approach Rannoch Moor, one of Britain’s largest peat bogs. There is something otherworldly about the long traverse of peat, heather, mountains, and nothingness. The sheer emptiness of the land is compelling and makes one wonder how travelers in the past found their way out of this massive area of lonely but beautiful sameness.
Excursion to Skye
The Caledonian MacBrayne ferry offers daily trips to the port of Armadale on an hourly basis during the summer. The ferry crossing, even though short, will definitely allow you to experience the rough seas of northern Scotland.
The fun, but choppy ride also provides plenty of beautiful views, on the left, the ferry passes the small but stunning isles of Eigg, Muck, and Rum, and as you approach Skye, the rough Cuillin Mountain range towers over the Sleat peninsula.