UK's most scenic public transport routes
Leave the car at home and let Britain's public transport system take the strain. From trundling through the Trossachs on a bus or hopping on and off a train in the New Forest, the scenery is worth the journey. Here is our guide on the best public transport routes in the UK.
Travelling by public transport is the better choice environmentally, but it also offers a good opportunity to enjoy spectacular views and watch the world go by.
From Northern Ireland to the Cornish coast, here is our guide on the most scenic public transport routes in the UK, plus useful resources to help you plan your journey.
Sit back and enjoy Snowdonia’s magnificent scenery and fascinating old mining villages on the eco-friendly Sherpa bus service. Tour Snowdon in a relaxing way while reducing vehicle emissions and helping to preserve the beauty of the National Park. The journey takes in 52 miles of river valleys, lakes and breathtaking high mountain passes.
The Snowdon Sherpa bus ticket can be used all day.
Car-free tours don’t get much better than this bus trip through the oak-wooded Trossach lakes. Hop on and off throughout the beautiful and rugged area between Loch Lomond and the town of Callander, which is lusciously green and dotted with wildflowers, hiding the enchanting Loch Katrine at its heart.
Summer bus service the Trossachs Trundler departs daily (except Weds) from Stirling at 9am.
Opened in the 1970s, this trundling little vintage tram line runs through Axe Valley and offers stunning views of nature reserves Seaton marshes and Colyford common. The bright-red trams themselves have open tops so you get a panoramic view of the local birds along the way.
14 narrow gauge trams run every 20 minutes to Colyton.
This summer rambler bus operates from June to September and runs from Portrush to the frightening yet beautiful Carrick-a-rede rope bridge which connects the tiny stony island to the mainland. The service drops off and picks up at various beauty spots along the 33 mile Causeway Coast Way, including the ancient Dunseverick Castle.
You can buy an ‘All Day Hopper’ ticket.
From Dittisham in Dartmouth, explore the River Dart valley by ferry. The jewel in the area’s crown is Greenway Gardens, the holiday home of writer Agatha Christie, which she described as “the loveliest place in the world’. The gardens are a beautiful final destination for a gentle ferry ride with fantastic river views.
To summon the ferry, ring the bell from Greenway Quay in Dittisham.
Voted the top rail journey in the world in 2009, beating stunners like the Macchu Picchu train, this charming line links the ports of Mallaig and Oban on the west coast of Scotland. The railway runs through a breathtaking vista of cold lochs, past herds of deer and over a steep viaduct that offers panoramic views.
Take your bike and hop on and off the trains running through the heart of the New Forest. Meet the baby donkeys wandering around the quiet lanes, tour the fantastic little forest pubs or visit old-fashioned villages like Burley (complete with resident witch) and opulent stately homes such as Beaulieu.
The train stations within the National Park are Ashurst, Beaulieu Road, Brockenhurst and Sway.
Take a trip on an Ullswater Steamer and cruise the length of the lake from Pooley Bridge to Glenridding. Referred to as the Dark Lake in Arthurian legend, the Ullswater valley has inspired writers like Wordsworth to capture its charms, and is home to some of Britain’s rarer species such as red deer, red squirrels and goosanders.
The 'Puffin Shuttle' travels along the coast between the tiny city of St Davids and Milford Haven, passing through myriad little fishing villages like Solva and Newgale. Beautiful beaches, secret lagoons and the cute little cafes and ice-cream shops that are dotted along the Pembrokeshire coast, making it perfect for a weekend of exploring.
Runs three times a day, seven days a week during the summer.
The railway track from the gorgeous university city of Exeter to Cornwall’s famous pirate haunt, the port of Penzance, runs uninterrupted for three hours along the south coast, the edge of Dartmoor and through the wild Cornish countryside. It’s one of the loveliest ways of getting from A to B in the UK.
How to plan your journey
There are a number of handy websites and apps to help you plan your journey, here is a small selection.
Plan your train route and find out how much the route costs. There’s also a free Smartphone app, which finds where you are using GPS technology and always knows your next train home.
Discover 13,000 miles of National Cycle Network. Use the website to plot your route, get involved in cycling challenges and download free cycling information. The new Complete National Cycle Network app for Smartphones find the routes near you and tips you off for points of interest nearby.
Use the website for inspiration for a zero carbon future and to download resources on low impact transport. Or visit the site in Machynlleth for interactive displays on environmentally responsible buildings, renewable energy generation, sustainability in the home, organic growing, composting and waste management.
Plan your walk to work – then find out how many steps it took, how many calories you burnt and how much CO2 you saved by leaving the car at home.
The ultimate guide to travelling by train and ferry in the UK and around the world
Sian Lewis is an award-winning outdoors and travel writer and blogger who focuses on sharing beginner-friendly adventures in the wildest corners of Britain.