How to See the Hogwarts Express in Scotland
For all the Harry Potter fans out there, you can’t miss seeing the Hogwarts Express in Scotland. In real life, this is the Jacobite Steam train! The best place to get this view is the Glenfinnan Viaduct.
Where to see it:
The Jacobite Steam Train runs from Fort William, Scotland to Mallaig and back. This is in the northern part of Scotland, about a 3.5 hour drive north of Edinburgh. The iconic view of the Hogwarts Express is the bend at the Glenfinnan Viaduct about 20-40 minutes after it leaves Fort William.
Where to Stay:
If you want to stay close by, Fort William is your best bet. It is a 20-30 minute drive from Fort William to the Glenfinnan Viaduct. We drove up all the way from Edinburgh which is at least a 3.5 hour drive. It took us more like 5 hours because we stopped for views and food along the way.
The easiest way to get to the Glenfinnan Viaduct is to drive, then hike to the viewpoint. There are two parking lots that fill up pretty quickly. I’d recommend getting to the parking lot about 45 minutes before the train is supposed to come by. This is mainly to ensure a parking spot because the hike only takes 10-20 minutes.
For example – we went during the week in August 2023 to see the afternoon train. So the train was scheduled to leave Fort William at 12:50 pm which means we planned to be at the view point by 1:15 pm. We arrived at the parking lot by 12:45 PM and it was already super busy.
The train comes by the Glenfinnan Viaduct about 20-40 minutes after it leaves Fort William. I want to say it came about 35 minutes after when we were there. Always check the official timetables to figure out the timing since it can change based on the day or season. The train runs twice daily – a morning and an afternoon service. So you can catch the train at either 10:35 AM or 1:10 PM at the view point.
Hike to the Viewpoint:
The hike to the viewpoint from the parking lot is about 10-20 minutes depending on your hiking pace. It is an easy hike that should be obvious to follow since there are usually crowds on tourists also making this journey. From the parking lot you will see a gate for the Glenfinnan Viaduct and you follow through there.
Once you go over the little foot bridge, hike the path along the river until you come to an intersection with a service road/path. Cross that path and go up the less manicured path heading up the hill. You will hike right under the train tracks, so head that direction. Finally, you will come to a gate that is usually open and you go through there and hike up the hill to the view point! This can definitely get muddy so wear good footwear for hiking.
Enjoy the View:
You might have to wait a while here if you arrived early like I advised. When we went, the train left Fort William at 12:50 PM and passed the view point at about 1:30 pm. It can vary depending on the day, so I recommend getting there 20 minutes after the train leaves Fort William. The train comes by pretty quickly, so make sure you’re paying attention and have your camera ready!