We went to Scotland in December of 2018 for the first time, and it’s on the top of the list for destinations to visit for us. We chose the bus route (British people refer to these buses as a “coach”) from London to Edinburgh for our gateway into Scotland. Check out our 4-day itinerary here! There are many ways to travel around the UK, and the rest of Europe for that matter. Traveling by bus has consistently been the slowest, yet cheapest… besides biking or walking I guess.
We are always about traveling budget friendly, because then it leaves more money to go somewhere else again as soon as possible, is how we see it. Now London to Edinburgh is about 8 hours if you are driving. By bus it’s 8-10 hours depending on your ticket, because of the stops. But if you are driving, more than likely you will be stopping at least to use the toilet anyway. We prefer driving, but it takes the stress and some of the exhaustion away when you can just sit on a bus, sleep and let someone drive you there.
The fastest way is by plane, but you still have to count the checking-in time, getting through security, and usually airports are outside the city. There are times when you can snag a great deal by budget airlines though. I am always checking deals on Skyscanner.
By train to Edinburgh is probably great, the fast one gets there in 4 hours, but there is a slower cheaper one too. Trains can be expensive though! Better to book in advance for better prices.
But what about by bus?
Megabus is a company for budget bus trips which started in the UK. Megabus now operates in the UK, United States, and Canada. There is Flixbus for other countries in Europe which we’ve taken from London to Brussels before and used within other European countries for super cheap fares such as from Vienna to Bratislava, Bratislava to Budapest, and Berlin to Frankfurt.
What’s it really like?
We took a night bus from London on the way to Edinburgh. We got there with plenty of time before departure, but no side-by-side seats were available anymore by the time we got on it. When you are traveling as a couple, usually you want to sit together. Most people had all their things stretched out over 2 seats, clearly not wanting you to sit with them. We did find 2 aisle seats beside each other though which was better than nothing. Our departure was 11:20 pm. Honestly everyone slept and it was dark. There is a toilet on the bus, which was great! The wifi wasn’t working, but we were too tired to care anyways. We only stopped at a few stations to pick up and drop off other passengers, and the bus driver changed a couple of times throughout the night. We didn’t really expect to stop anywhere because it was the middle of the night. It was 8 hours to get there.
What about back from Edinburgh to London?
So we took a day bus back to London (I wrote this post on that bus actually). We woke up and left our Airbnb to come to the bus station as our tickets were for 11:20am. We only had coffee for breakfast and a couple of tea biscuits was all. Once we got to the bus station we really were just concerned about making sure we didn’t miss the bus and finding seats together. Would you believe the whole 10-hour trip, we didn’t stop once for a food break?!! 10 hours!! We did stop at a few bus stations for passengers, but no time to run and get anything, otherwise you would be left behind. Our bus got back at 9:30pm that night and we did not have a proper meal the whole day! Granted, I know our situation could have been much worse. We ended up eating at Victoria train station as soon we we arrived back.
I was writing as a hungry person, who only had cookies to eat and a little water the whole trip. But… we did get side-by-side seats at least!
Someone on the bus smelled like armpits when we got on too, it was strong! I’m not sure if we got accustomed to the smell after awhile or what, but it went away eventually.
How much was the trip?
Only £20 (about $25 as of December 2018) per round trip ticket! That’s incredibly cheap I think. We definitely couldn’t have driven there for that, with gas prices and all.
Would we do it again?
Probably so (crazy). What did I learn? Bring some real food with you and plenty of water!!! No hot food is allowed on the bus, just bear in mind. So bring something to eat! There is a toilet on the bus. We didn’t have this problem, but I’d bring some toilet paper and hand sanitizer just in case though.
Next time we will see what National Express (another bus company in the UK) buses are like… maybe.
Have you taken Megabus before? What’s your experience been like? What’s your most ideal form of transportation?