For centuries, the roads and paths across the South of Scotland were essential lifelines. Today, exploring these parts means travelling some of the most accessible off the beaten path destinations in Scotland.

Whether you choose to fly, drive, travel by public transport or even by bike, your adventure starts just a few miles – only minutes by car – south of the country’s capital, Edinburgh, and right at the border with England. With Northumberland and Cumbria on our doorstep, Newcastle and Carlisle are within easy reach, too, with the South of Scotland enjoying excellent transport connections from the north and south. Reaching us from the west is just as straightforward, with Northern Ireland’s coast a mere 12 miles from our western shores, and daily ferry services available. There are a variety of options available to reach wherever you want to explore.

By Road

With the South of Scotland stretching from the East coast to the West coast, it’s impossible to miss whether you’re driving from north to south or the other way around. Still need some pointers? We’re here to help.

From the North

Once over the Queensferry Crossing, follow signs for the Edinburgh City Bypass (A720). This will take you directly to West Lothian and Midlothian, with the option of then following the A7 or the A68 south to travel on to reach the Scottish Borders and west into Dumfries & Galloway or the A1 to travel south to the Borders by crossing through East Lothian along Scotland’s coast.

Alternatively, from Stirling take the M80 towards Glasgow, then onto the M74. Follow the motorway south along the River Clyde, through South Lanarkshire and into Dumfries & Galloway in the South of Scotland as the M74 becomes the A74. To reach Dumfries & Galloway, you can also continue west along the M77, then head south through Ayrshire, travelling along the coast and country roads.

From the South

From Newcastle, follow the A1 north. This will take you directly into the Scottish Borders. Follow along further until you reach the turn-off signposted Edinburgh City Bypass (A720 to Perth, Glasgow, Stirling) which will take you into Midlothian. Alternatively, travel along the A696 from Newcastle, then the A68 through Northumberland National Park and into the Scottish Borders at Carter Bar. You can follow along the A68 further to reach Pathhead and Dalkeith in Midlothian.

If you are travelling from Carlisle, simply follow along the M6 to reach the border town of Gretna. You can then explore Dumfries & Galloway further, following the A75 or A74, while the A7 form Carlisle takes you through the Scottish Borders towns of Hawick, Selkirk, and Galashiels.

By Train

From Edinburgh Waverley:

The Borders Railway offers regular services to Midlothian and the Scottish Borders, stopping at Stow, Galashiels and Tweedbank in the Scottish Borders. You can also board the TransPennine Express to Lockerbie in Dumfries & Galloway.

From Glasgow Central:

The TransPennine Express also leaves from Glasgow Central station, while Scotrail offers two services from this busy hub: The inland route takes you via Kirkconnel and Sanquhar to Dumfries, while the scenic coastal route ends in Stranraer.

From the South:

There are regular services from London King’s Cross via York, Newcastle and Berwick-upon-Tweed on the East Coast Main Line to Edinburgh. You can connect to the Borders Railway at Edinburgh Waverley or switch to Borders Buses for local connections at Berwick-upon-Tweed. Alternatively, the West Coast Line from London Euston and the Transpennine Express from Manchester Airport, both stop at Lockerbie in Dumfries & Galloway, where you can connect to local bus services.

By Bus

From Edinburgh:

Hop on Borders Buses from the Scottish capital to head south and into the Scottish Borders. Services number X62 to Galashiels via Peebles, X95 to Carlisle via Stow and Galashiels, as well as bus lines 51 and 52 to Jedburgh offer regular services. If you’re looking to head further west, Stagecoach service 101A from Edinburgh Bus Station will take you to Dumfries via Biggar and Moffat.

From Glasgow:

Start your journey to Dumfries & Galloway in the South of Scotland by catching Stagecoach service X74 to Dumfries via Moffat from Buchanan Bus Station, then switch to local services.

From Carlisle:

Take Borders Buses service number X95 to Edinburgh via Langholm, Galashiels and Stow.

From Berwick-upon-Tweed:

Catch Borders Buses service number 253 to Edinburgh to head north via the Scottish Borders coastline, or hop on services 60 or 67 to head to the heart of the Borders and Galashiels Transport Interchange, where you can change onto further services heading into Midlothian or across to Dumfries & Galloway.

By Bike

Wherever you’re heading in the South of Scotland, Midlothian, the Scottish Borders, and Dumfries & Galloway are exceptionally bike friendly, with miles of paths, a variety of cycling events and annual adrenaline pumping races. If you are looking to travel by bus and take your bike with you, Borders Buses operate Scotland’s first fully bike friendly services.

From Edinburgh and Berwick-upon-Tweed

Follow National Cycle Route 78 (Berwick-upon-Tweed to Edinburgh) to take you along the coast of the Scottish Borders. Shortly after Musselburgh, and just before Queen Margaret University and Musselburgh rail station, turn left on to National Cycle Route 1 and follow it to Whitecraig.

Follow National Cycle Route 1 (Berwick-Upon-Tweed to Edinburgh) west from Berwick-Upon-Tweed and then north from Innerleithen. This route runs directly through the heart of the Borders and to Midlothian, using quiet roads and providing very fine views to the north. Please be aware that this route is through hilly moorland and, in poor weather, it can be exposed, with no facilities along the 25-mile stretch between Innerleithen and Dalkeith.

You can also follow National Cycle Route 68, the Pennine Cycle Way, from further south to connect to Route 1 at Norham, 8 miles west of Berwick-upon-Tweed.

From Carlisle

Why not start further west and follow National Cycle Route 7 from Carlisle along the stunning Galloway coastline. The route passes through picturesque towns, and at Newton Stewart you can either continue to follow Route 7 north, or switch to Route 73 to Stranraer. If you prefer to take the inland route, follow National Cycle Route 74 form Carlisle to Glasgow via Lockerbie and Beattock in the Moffat Hills.

By Air

Whether you’re heading to Dumfries & Galloway, the Scottish Borders or Midlothian, the South of Scotland can be easily reached from Glasgow International Airport, Glasgow Prestwick Airport, and Edinburgh International Airport to the north, from Newcastle International Airport to the southeast and Carlisle Lake District Airport to the southwest. You can connect to local public transport options or hire a car at each of the airports for a smooth onwards journey.

By Sea

In the East:

Edinburgh’s principal port for cruise ships is Port Leith, in the northeast of the city, with some vessels stopping at Newhaven. This makes getting to the city centre to connect to local public transport easy and quick. Further cruise ship ports are located right off the Scottish Borders’ coast at Eyemouth, at Berwick-upon-Tweed just across the Anglo-Scottish Border and at Newcastle, while ferries from Holland dock at Newcastle.

In the West:

There are two ferry connections between the South of Scotland and Northern Ireland: Stena Line offers regular services between Belfast and Cairnryan in Dumfries & Galloway, while P&O Ferries operates a connection between Larne and Cairnryan. Further ferry connections to destinations across Scotland arrive into Greenock near Glasgow, which is also the main port for cruise ships.