Travel from Belfast to Glasgow
Belfast, the Northern Irish capital, should be on everybody’s to do list. Having left behind the troubles of the past, it continues to look forward with new museums, redevelopments and Michelin star restaurants.
Glasgow, is Scotland’s biggest and grittiest city. Yes, it does not always have the best of reputations, but do not be fooled by appearances. There are few cities as vibrant as this one.
Those who travel between Belfast and Glasgow will love the experience. While you can obviously choose to fly, there are slower and more charming ways to cross the North Channel. Either way, you are going to feel at home when you get there, and you can be certain you will have a good time.
There are three options for travelling between Belfast and Glasgow: Flying, rail&sail or coach&sail.
If you book in advance, there really isn’t a big difference in price between taking the train, the coach or flying. The quickest is without doubt to fly between Glasgow and George Best airport. Citylink provides the next best alternative, while the Rail&Sea option we believe offers no time-saving or price incentives.
1. Travel by Air
Glasgow Airport (GLA)
It is best to use our flight comparison tool to find the cheapest ticket (opens in a new window) You can book direct on the airline’s website, through an agency or at the airport. We recommend you book in advance, at least two or three weeks.
There are currently two airlines serving this route, Easyjet and Flybe. Their prices are similar, as well as the cabin luggage allowance, 10kg (Easyjet use larger airplanes so the size allowed is a little bigger).
Flybe have a higher frequency on this route, but possibly the most important difference between them is the airports they fly to/from in Belfast. Flybe uses George Best airport, which is just 3mi (5km) away from the centre, while Easyjet operates flights to BFS Aldergrove only, which is well connected by bus, but significantly further away (13mi/21km) from Belfast city centre.
We definitely prefer Flybe on this route for this reason, but you can consider using one airline one way, and another airline for your return leg, if the flight is too expensive.
Glasgow airport is just 8mi (12km) away from the city centre and very well connected by train and bus. If you are going to use a taxi, it is always better and cheaper to pre-book here*.
2. Travel by Rail&Sail
30GBP/37USD each way
You have a number of options available. You can book directly with the train operator, ScotRail. They will always have the cheapest price. You can also use rail ticket retailers like Thetrainline*, Redspottedhanky or Loco2. They offer a better user experience, but charge a small booking fee. Loco2 arguably is the easiest website to use, and thetrainline is great for additional services such as travel insurance or cashback, while Redspottedhanky is probably somewhere in between. All of them accept international credit cards and tickets go for sale about 12 weeks before departure.
Alternatively, you can of course buy the tickets offline at the train station.
Furthermore: Holders of a Railcard can benefit from 1/3 off the standard fare on this rail route.
Rather than Rail&Sail, it should be called Bus&Sail&Rail, as different segments are covered by different transport modes. If you are starting your journey in Belfast, you will actually be transferred by bus to the port. This takes about 1h. You will then cross the North Channel in a Stena Line* ferry, which takes a further 2h15m. From Cairnryan, in Scotland, again you are transferred by bus until Ayr Station in just over an hour. This is where you actually board a train that will take you directly go Glasgow Central, taking another hour.
3. Travel by Coach&Sail
Belfast Europa Bus Centre
Glasgow Buchanan Bus Station
28GBP/34USD each way
Even though their website looks like it hasn’t changed since 1995, we still recommend booking your tickets directly with Citylink. Alternatively you can book a ticket with the more user-friendly site of National Express*, but their fares are always more expensive as they charge a small booking fee.
You can buy tickets at the station, on board the coach or over the telephone as well. They do sell out fast though, so we strongly recommend booking in advance.
Children under 5 years old not occupying a seat and accompanied by an adult can travel free of charge, while children between the ages of 5-15 years old will get 30% off standard fares.
With three daily services, the coach is a comfortable alternative to the airplane. You board the coach at Belfast’s Europa Bus Centre, which is a modern bus station with all the shops. Within minutes you reach the ferry terminal. The company Stena Line* operates the crossing, which takes about 2h15min. The ferry has plenty of on board facilities, such as WiFi, ATM and a bar. Once you have disembarked at Cairnryan, it takes just over two hours to reach Glasgow’s Buchanan Bus Station. And you get to enjoy the beautiful Scottish scenery too.
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