I plan to travel from London to Edinburgh this November and want to know the fastest option to travel from London to Edinburgh

  • 8
    Fastest? Plane. But the train is the next best option from Euston to Waverley. That was when I was there 5 years ago, so not putting as answer, others can confirm.
    – Mark Mayo
    Jun 9, 2015 at 8:38
  • 12
    Where in London you are will have a major influence on the time - a flight from Stansted to Edinburgh is 1h20, but from some parts of London it can take an hour to get to Stansted.
    – Phil
    Jun 9, 2015 at 8:51
  • 4
    @Phil plus security etc faff time. All of which the train lacks. Flying is still probably slightly quicker door to door mind.
    – CMaster
    Jun 9, 2015 at 8:57
  • 5
    Euston is the West Coast - you need Kings Cross for the East Coast to Edinburgh! Jun 9, 2015 at 13:20
  • 9
    This question can't really be answered in its current form. If you want to get from Kings Cross station to Waverley station then the train is probably quickest. If you want to get from Heathrow airport to Edinburgh airport, then flying is certainly quickest. From where in London to where in Edinburgh will you be travelling, and at what time?
    – Mike Scott
    Jun 9, 2015 at 19:42

5 Answers 5


Flying is the fastest option (1h10), but you'll have to take into account:

So this will probably bring you closer to 3 hours total, city center to city center. Flying though London Heathrow will take even more time (to get there: 15 min train from Paddington station every 15 min, and because the minimum conformance times are higher). And even worse for Stansted: the Stansted Express, the fastest route available between Stansted Airport and Central London, takes 47 minutes from Liverpool Street.

London Gatwick and London Luton also offer a few flights to Edinburgh but have longer conformance times and are way further from the city (so there's no point flying from them if you're inside London, the train is faster). See here for the full list of airlines and destinations served from Edinburgh Airport.

By train, the fastest is with the East Coast Main Line: 4h20, running every hour from 7am to 7pm from King's Cross (some additional trains take ~5 hours). But there is also a sleeper service from London to Edinburgh (the Caledonian Sleeper Lowland Route), which can be interesting to gain time:

Travelling southbound, the Caledonian Sleeper departs from both Edinburgh Waverley and Glasgow Central at 23.40. On a Sunday the service leave a little earlier at 23.15. The Glasgow Central train stops at Motherwell with both trains then joining at Carstairs. The train crosses the border stopping at Carlisle and then at Watford Junction before arriving at London Euston by 07.10, plenty of time for breakfast before having a whole day in London. Travelling northbound the Caledonian Sleeper Lowland route sets off at 23.50 five nights a week and at 23.27 on Sundays. The train splits into two portions at Carstairs with arrivals to Glasgow Central at 07.20 and Edinburgh Waverley at 07.20.

On the East Coast Main Line, you can book up to 5 months in advance (excluding weekends and bank holidays, which can only be booked 3 months in advance).

Driving is not a fast option (over 7 hours), but an overnight bus can also be an efficient and cheap alternative worth considering: the Megabus Gold which costs around £50, roughly 23:00 to 07:15 the next morning.

You might also want to know that flying (especially from London City Airport with views over London) and taking the train during the day (with preferably a seat on the right-hand side for the part between Newcastle and Edinburgh) are the most scenic.

  • 2
    At city airport, you can in theory do DLR to plane in just over 20 minutes, and practically very close to that. At Luton on a bad day, train+bus+checkin+security can take much longer than the flight... You might want to increase those ranges!
    – Gagravarr
    Jun 9, 2015 at 10:05
  • 11
    +1 for the Caledonian Sleeper. Not many people know about it and, while it's technically not the fastest, it's effectively the fastest since it takes the least time out of your trip. A cheaper alternative also worth considering is the "Megabus Gold" which costs around £50, roughly 23:00 to 07:15 the next morning. Jun 9, 2015 at 10:47
  • Wikipedia lists airlines offering flights between Edinburgh quite a selection of London airports. Gatwick, Heathrow and Stansted are all served by more than one carrier. Jun 9, 2015 at 14:22
  • 6
    I can confirm you can arrive (no checked luggage) at LCY at 07:50, get the 08:35 flight, and be in the centre of Edinburgh by just after 10:00. I do this every 2 weeks.
    – abligh
    Jun 9, 2015 at 14:59
  • Thanks @HenningMakholm, Edinburgh Airport also has a longer list than what I had. I edited my answer.
    – tricasse
    Jun 10, 2015 at 8:10

As someone who does this route maybe twice a month my preferred options are as follows:

  1. Fly. If I am in a rush and require to be in Edinburgh early or in a short amount of time then I fly from London City Airport to Edinburgh with British Airways. The flight time is roughly an hour and I can be at the City Airport 20 minutes before take off with no security or boarding issues. The check in is quick as is security and boarding as this is a smaller airport catered for business travel. Access to City Airport is easier for me than Heathrow as I am based in the East End and the DLR is very efficient from Bank, Tower Gateway or Stratford on the London Underground. The quiet and more civilised nature of City Airport suites me better than Heathrow. The flight is pleasant and never full with amazing views of London from take off. The flight usually goes through the centre of England and on clear days you can see both the North Sea and the Irish sea at the same time if you look out of adjacent windows. Flybe also offer a service between City airport and Edinburgh but I have never taken that carrier. Once in Edinburgh airport you can either Tram it on the infamous new Edinburgh Tram system (35 minutes+) to the city centre or you can Bus it (30 minutes) or Taxi it (20-25mins). Taxi is usually over £20 on the meter when I have taken it. Overall travel time for me (door to door) is around 3 hours.
  2. Train. Train from Kings Cross to Edinburgh Waverley or Haymarket with Virgin East Coast. If I have some time to spend and fancy a pleasant, scenic and quiet journey then I take the train. Kings Cross is very centrally located and easily accessible from anywhere in London and is probably the best looking train station in the UK (my opinion) The train goes via the East Coast and passes through some very scenic countryside and iconic cities. My favourites being Durham (going over the viaduct into Durham station) and Newcastle (crossing the Tyne as you come into Newcastle station). The Northumberland coast is spectacular after Newcastle also with amazing views out to the North Sea as the track hugs the sparse coastline. Make sure you get a seat on the right hand side of the train as this is where all the action is throughout the journey! Train times are between 4h20 and 5h (there maybe the odd 5h+) However you cannot book trains in the UK until 3 months prior to travel so you will have to wait until August to book. Once in Edinburgh you can either get of at Waverley or Haymarket. I always choose Waverley as it is the more central located for me but there is less than 1 mile between the two. Waverley station is literally the centre of Edinburgh so your right in the middle of the action when you get off the train and go up the steps to street level. Overall travel time for me (door to door) is around 5 hours.
  • 3
    You think Kings Cross is better looking than St Pancras? I'm surprised.
    – TRiG
    Jun 9, 2015 at 10:59
  • 6
    Possibly because St Pancras has looked the same forever and Kings Cross took away its ugly façade to reveal a beautiful front a few years ago. The mystery of why the 1970's frontage was placed their in the first place bemuses me!
    – medina
    Jun 9, 2015 at 11:04

The fastest option is by air. There are frequent services from all of London's airports, including the centrally located London City airport. The flying time is about 1 hour. If you are only visiting Edinburgh for a day or less, this is the sensible way to go.

However, Edinburgh airport is not centrally located (there is a tram, but actually it is faster to take the old airport express bus or a taxi) and it takes another 20 minutes or so to get into town. Also if you are not near a London airport, you may spend some time getting to the airport. Security formalities may take another few minutes.

The alternative is to take the train from Kings Cross. The fastest north bound train takes four hours and twenty minutes, although some trains take closer to five hours. On the flip side, Edinburgh Waverley station is in the centre of Edinburgh.

  • 3
    +1 for mentioning London City Airport. Access to the airport, check in times and boarding is vastly quicker than that at Heathrow.
    – medina
    Jun 9, 2015 at 8:52
  • @CMaster e.g., the 0800 service from KGX tomorrow morning takes 4 hours 20 minutes. Actually the 4 hour 20 minute services are more frequent from KGX than I realized.
    – Calchas
    Jun 9, 2015 at 8:54
  • @Calchas - you're right, lots of quick ones from KGX. Must be misremembering my checks from the other day. WIll delete comment shortly.
    – CMaster
    Jun 9, 2015 at 8:57
  • 3
    @CMaster The 4h20 time is defiantly from Kings Cross via the East Coast mainline. Average time is below 5 hours. The west coast is a longer route to Edinburgh as it is via Birmingham, Manchester and Glasgow.
    – medina
    Jun 9, 2015 at 8:57

The fastest commercial option is to fly at 1 hour 10 minutes. The train is roughly 5 hours and driving is also roughly 7 1/2+ hours in excellent conditions.

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Ryanair, British Air and other airlines provide comparable times. Flights are available from Gatwick, London City, Heathrow, or Stansted.

Privately, you can hire a helicopter and reduce the flight time by about 10 minutes. I have also taken empty leg flights from Havering Airport (east of London).

You can use Google Flights to get the details.

  • 4
    5 hours driving time from London to Edinburgh is incorrect. The endless 50mph speed limit on the A1 or the M1 will hamper this. It takes me 5 hours plus to drive to Newcastle! A conservative estimate would be 7h30 drive time.
    – medina
    Jun 9, 2015 at 8:59
  • @davidb, thanks for mentioning the conditions, I will amend per your advice.
    – Gayot Fow
    Jun 9, 2015 at 9:02
  • @GayotFow do you have a link for Havering Airport? I have never heard of it and Google does not come up with anything...
    – medina
    Jun 9, 2015 at 12:06
  • @davidb, good point. Link provided.
    – Gayot Fow
    Jun 9, 2015 at 12:08

As i was often traveling on that route, i recommend to use plane.

From Stansted it will take you 70 minutes to get to Edinburgh Airport, then you can take bus 35 or 100 ( I recommend 100, as it goes straight to centre). Currently you can take tram as well. Journey from Airport if you take 100 bus, will take you 30 minutes, and you will have bus every 10 minutes.

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