The Glenfinnan Viaduct, more commonly known as the Harry Potter train to Hogwarts, is one of my favorite tourist attractions in all of Scotland! We visited in April of 2022 and it was such a magical site to see the steam train pass by. Whether you are a huge Harry Potter fan or not, I think it’s definitely worth visiting! Keep reading to learn all about how and when to visit the Glenfinnan Viaduct!
WHEN TO VISIT
It’s very important to note that the steam train [aka the Hogwarts Express] only runs twice a day from April to October. No matter what time of year you are visiting, you can still see the Glenfinnan Viaduct, it’s just that the Jacobite steam train won’t be running! To learn the most up to date information about the exact timing of the train, check out the Westcoast Railways Jacobite timetables. This timetable isn’t explicitly clear about the timing it passes over Glenfinnan Viaduct, so read it carefully. The train passes over the Viaduct about 30 minutes AFTER leaving Fort William!
Based on the Sunday to Friday, after May 2022 timetable, below are the proposed times for when to visit:
Morning: train departs Fort William at 10:15am, train arrives at Glenfinnan Viaduct at 10:45am
Afternoon: train departs Fort William at 12:50pm, train arrives at Glenfinnan Viaduct at 1:20pm
Please note that it is an active train with passengers so it is possible for the train to arrive a little earlier or a little later. The train will toot its horn while coming around the bend so you’ll likely hear it before you see it. Again, I highly recommend checking the official timetable here before visiting incase any of this information has been updated or change since this blog was written.
Read more about my specific recommendations for visiting below!
HOW TO GET THERE
In order to be guided to the correct spot, put “Glenfinnan Viaduct Visitor Centre – National Trust for Scotland” into your Maps or GPS. Not Glenfinnan Viaduct or Glenfinnan Viaduct trail. Those will get you close but then try to take you down a closed road, passed the car park.
By car, the Glenfinnan Viaduct is around 1 hour from Glencoe, 3.5 hours from Edinburgh, and 30 minutes from Fort Williams. If you’re not traveling by car, you can take public transit. There is a public bus route between Fort William and Mallaig that stops at the Glenfinnan Viaduct car park. More information about the Shiel Bus route can be found here. You can also book a tour bus that stops at Glenfinnan Viaduct on it’s route! This would be a good option if you’re staying in Edinburgh and just looking to day trip.
Parking is at the Glenfinnan Viaduct Visitor Centre car park. It’s a gravel lot you self-pay for parking – £3.50 for cars and £6 RVs.
The Visitor Centre has toliets, a small gift shop, and welcoming staff to help answer any of your questions while visiting! There is also a small cafe in the parking lot where you can hot and cold snacks and drinks.
THE GLENFINNAN VIADUCT TRAIL
Once you’ve parked and are ready to head up to the view point, you will take the Glenfinnan Viaduct trail. It’s not hard to miss, as everyone will be walking that way AND you will see the viaduct you’ll be walking towards. In total, the walk up the hill should take you about about 10 to 15 minutes.
The first part of the trail is paved. After a few minutes, you’ll see a green signpost. Take a left for “Viaduct Trail and Viewpoint”. This is when the trail starts to get a bit steeper and more dirt like terrain. As you’re walking up, there are a few different points where you can stop to take photos from below the Viaduct. There will be a fork as you keep walking, go to the trail on the right that goes under the Viaduct. Soon after you’ll see a wooden gate, go through it. It’s there to keep sheep from getting out. You’ve almost made it at this point! Just keep traversing up until you find a viewpoint you like!
Pro Tip: If you plan on taking photos, I recommend going higher up. That way you can get a shot without all the people in it.
TIPS FOR VISITING GLENFINNAN VIADUCT
It’s not surprise that the Glenfinnan Viaduct is a stop on my tourist Scotland bucket list. That being said, I would recommend getting there at least 45 minutes to 1 hour BEFORE the train is scheduled to pass over Glenfinnan Viaduct. This will allow for enough time to find and pay for parking, walk up the trail to the viewpoint, and finding a good spot. We visited during April, which isn’t busy season quite yet. We arrived at the viewpoint 30 minutes before the train was scheduled to pass and there were already over 150 people there. The train passes through in about 1 minutes so have your cameras ready so you don’t miss it!
Did you know that you can actually ride on the train?! If you are interested in enjoying an entirely different experience at the Glenfinnan Viaduct, ride the Hogwarts Express! Click here to purchase your tickets and learn more details about riding.