Glenfinnan Viaduct

Tips for visiting Glenfinnan Viaduct viewpoint

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Have you ever dreamed of stepping into the enchanting world of Harry Potter by seeing the iconic Harry Potter train the Hogwarts Express in action? Well, your dream can come true in Scotland by visiting the Glenfinnan Viaduct viewpoint! In this article, we’ll unveil the secrets of this Scottish gem, providing you with all the insider tips you need for an unforgettable visit.

Whether you’re a die-hard Potterhead or simply love nature and want to witness a majestic steam locomotive in a stunning landscape, this is your chance. We share what the best Glenfinnan Viaduct viewpoints are for the most breathtaking vistas. Get ready for a magical adventure!

Jacobite train scotland Glennfinnan Viaduct

Glenfinnan Viaduct short background

Nestled in the stunning Scottish Highlands, the Glenfinnan Viaduct is a true marvel. It was built back in 1901 and was originally used for trains traveling between Fort William and Mallaig. This stunning structure is concrete and has 21 graceful arches stretching over the picturesque Glen Finnan valley. You’ll enjoy breathtaking views of Loch Shiel and the surrounding mountains from here.

But there’s more to this viaduct than meets the eye. You might recognize it from the Harry Potter films, where it served as the route for the famous Hogwarts Express. So, not only does the Glenfinnan Viaduct offer a glimpse into history and natural beauty, but it also adds a touch of magic to your visit!

Glenfinnan Viaduct viewpoint
Glenfinnan Viaduct guide

How to get to the Glenfinnan Viaduct

When planning your visit to the Glenfinnan Viaduct, you have three options to choose from, each with its own set of benefits:

  • Self-Drive: easy you just fill in Google “Glenfinnan Visitor Centre – National Trust for Scotland” and start driving. The benefit is that you have control of your schedule. Enjoy the scenic drive at your own pace and you are able to stop at other sights. We recommend driving yourself for a personalized visit. Use the map below to find the highlights.
  • Jacobite steam train: if you want you can experience the iconic Hogwarts Express. Enjoy stunning views from the train’s windows.
  • Guided tour: if you do not have the possibility to visit it yourself you can follow a guided tour. The benefit is that you learn from experts about the viaduct and the area. Relax as the tour takes care of planning and navigation.

How to get the best experience when visiting the Glenfinnan Viaduct

To enhance your Glenfinnan Viaduct adventure, we’ll share key tips: the best Glenfinnan Viaduct viewpoints, train schedules, and parking options. This is crucial to get the most out of your visit!

The best Glenfinnan Viaduct viewpoints

Our top spot to visit is the Bridge View, marked on the map. This viewpoint is just before the Loch Shiel viewpoint. The other viewpoints are Loch Shiel Viewpoint, Glenfinnan Visitor Center Viewpoint, and Viewpoint of Glenfinnan Viaduct.

Important tip: If you want to see the train coming from Fort William to Mallaig, stand on the west side of the Glenfinnan Viaduct. And if you want to watch the train heading from Mallaig to Fort William, position yourself on the east side. This way, you’ll get a clear view of the train as it approaches you. More information about the train times is in the next paragraph.

  1. Bridge View:
    • Our favorite spot to see the Jacobite train passing
    • Close to the bridge, good angle to make pictures (see pictures in the articles that are taken by this spot)
    • Close to the parking lot of Glenfinnan Viaduct Visitor center, just 10 minutes walking
  2. Glenfinnan Visitor Center Viewpoint:
    • Convenience: It’s easily accessible and offers a clear view of the viaduct and surrounding.
    • The downside is that you see the Jacobite train from a distance
  3. Loch Shiel Viewpoint:
    • Scenic Beauty: Enjoy panoramic views of Loch Shiel and the viaduct set against the stunning landscape
    • Far away so more ideal if the train passed and visit afterwards to make landscape photos
  4. Viewpoint of Glenfinnan:
    • The only viewpoint in the east. It is located pretty high and therefore your angle is more from above. We prefer the view of the Bridge View as you get much closer to the viaduct.

Our suggestion is to follow the list in the order given above. If you happen to be at the Glenfinnan Viaduct when the train is traveling from Mallaig to Fort William, it’s best to head to the Glenfinnan Viewpoint.

Jacobite train
Jacobite train scotland

Glenfinnan Viaduct train times

During the summer, the Jacobite train crosses the Glenfinnan Viaduct four times a day, but only twice from Fort William. You should aim to be there in the morning or afternoon during these times:

  • The morning service: Monday 3rd April 2023 – Friday 27th October 2023
  • The afternoon service: Monday 1st May – 29th September

Here’s the timetable for viewing the Jacobite train at the Glenfinnan Viaduct:

  • Sunday to Friday timetable:
    • Morning Fort William – Mallaig: depart at 10:15. Pass over the Viaduct 10:45-11:00
    • Afternoon Fort William – Mallaig: depart at 12:50. Pass over the Viaduct 13:20-13:35
    • Morning Mallaig – Fort William: depart at 14:10. Pass over the Viaduct 15:15-15:30
    • Afternoon Mallaig – Fort William: depart at 17:00. Pass over the Viaduct 18:05-18:20
  • Saturday timetable:
    • Morning Fort William – Mallaig: depart at 10:15. Pass over the Viaduct 10:45-11:00
    • Afternoon Fort William – Mallaig: depart at 12:50. Pass over the Viaduct 13:20-13:35
    • Morning Mallaig – Fort William: depart at 14:10. Pass over the Viaduct 15:15-15:30
    • Afternoon Mallaig – Fort William: depart at 17:00. Pass over the Viaduct 18:05-18:20
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As stated on the official website of the Jacobite: “Timings for same Saturday afternoon services might be slightly later than the Sunday to Friday service, and will be confirmed at least two weeks before the trip depart date”.

Tip: please remember to double-check the official timetable for any changes before your visit here. Our tip is to wait at the Bridge View, so aim to arrive at the Glenfinnan Visitor Center parking lot 45-60 minutes before the train passes to secure a great spot for photos without rushing.

Glenfinnan Viaduct parking

Parking at the Glenfinnan Viaduct can be a bit tricky, at the visitors center they told us that many travelers have reported issues finding a spot during the summer period. However, we had a smooth experience by arriving 1.5 hours before the train passed. This allowed us to secure a parking space with ease. Our tip is to park at the Glenfinnan Viaduct Visitor Center, arrive well in advance, giving yourself ample time to find a spot. This way, you can avoid any parking hassles and ensure a stress-free visit. When Glenfinnan Viaduct carpark is full you can find other parkinglots in the area, use our map for reference.

Riding the Harry Potter train: Jacobite

To experience the magic of being in Harry Potter’s shoes aboard the Jacobite, you can easily book one of the following tours.

What else can you do at the Glenfinnan Viaduct viewpoint

Beyond visiting the Glenfinnan Viaduct viewpoint, there’s a wealth of activities and attractions to explore in the area:

  • Hiking Adventures: The Glenfinnan area offers various hiking trails, suitable for all levels. Don’t miss the hike from the Bridge View to the Glenfinnan Station Museum. During this hike, you have great views of the area. You see on our map the trail of the hike.
  • Jacobite Monument: Discover the Jacobite Monument, erected in memory of the 1745 Jacobite Rising. You can climb the monument for an elevated view of the viaduct and the landscape.
  • Glenfinnan Station Museum: Explore the Glenfinnan Station Museum to get to know more about the history of the West Highland Line and the viaduct. It’s a great place to learn more about the area’s railway heritage.
  • Loch Shiel: Take a boat trip or enjoy a peaceful walk around Loch Shiel. This lake is just next to the Viaduct so you can combine it easily.

Photography tips for the Glenfinnan Viaduct

General: to capture the Jacobite train at its best, arrive early for a prime photo spot. If you plan to fly a drone, remember it’s private property, so obtain permission to avoid penalties. However, we found that capturing photos from the Bridge View is just as rewarding and hassle-free.

Golden Hour Glow: snap the viaduct during the magical golden hours – right after sunrise or just before sunset. This soft, warm light enhances its beauty and adds a touch of magic.

Angle play: get creative with different viewpoints. Try ground-level shots, hillside angles, or even shots from the bridge itself. Each perspective tells a unique story.

What is the best period to visit the Glenfinnan Viaduct?

The best period to visit the Glenfinnan Viaduct is from late April to early October, during the summer months. This is when the Jacobite Steam Train runs, providing the perfect opportunity to capture the viaduct with the iconic train. To avoid crowds and get the best photos, arrive early in the morning or late in the afternoon. If you visit outside the Jacobite’s running period, you can still enjoy the viaduct’s natural beauty but won’t catch the train.

Why we visited the Glenfinnan viewpoint

We visited the Glenfinnan Viaduct because we were curious. We had always wondered how it looked in real life, and we can now share that it’s absolutely worth a visit. In fact, it turned out to be one of the highlights of our trip. Growing up with Harry Potter, witnessing this iconic location in person felt truly unique and magical. If you have even the slightest interest in the wizarding world or simply want to be awed by breathtaking Scottish scenery, the Glenfinnan Viaduct is a must-visit destination.

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Do you want to explore more of Scotland?

After you visit the Glenfinnan Viaduct, you have several options nearby. You can explore Fort William, a charming town with access to the UK’s highest peak, Ben Nevis. Alternatively, head to the Isle of Skye for dramatic landscapes, or visit Glen Coe for stunning hikes in a picturesque glacial valley.

For more trip ideas, check out our comprehensive 3-week Scotland itinerary, filled with recommendations and tips for an unforgettable Scottish adventure.

What do you think of the Glenfinnan Viaduct? Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Disclaimer: the prices mentioned in this article may differ from the current situation. We regularly update our articles. Would you like to help us to provide to best possible insights to help other travelers leave a comment with the latest information. Thanks!

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Hello, we are Cynthia & Alexander, the team behind Travel Your Memories! Traveling is our passion. When it comes to exploration, we love sharing our tips and adventures to inspire you. Welcome to Travel Your Memories, where we share our love for travel with you! Read our story.

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