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Did you know that Glenfinnan Viaduct attracts over 300,000 visitors each year?

According to industry stats, it is the fifth most visited tourist attraction in Scotland.

It’s no surprise that it’s one of the most beautiful places in Scotland!

We knew the Viaduct, Harry Potter viaduct and the Harry Potter train crossing as it was throughout the series.

We were eager to see Scotland on our trip through Scotland.

It turned out to be more spectacular and magical than we had imagined.

The Viaduct was visible from the outside and inside the train when we rode the Jacobite train between Fort William and Mallaig.

Here’s Everything you need to know about Glenfinnan Viaduct.

What is the Location of The Glenfinnan Viaduct/Harry Potter Train Bridge?

This magnificent bridge can be found just 30 minutes from Fort William on Scotland’s west coast.

This is Google Maps’ location.

There are several ways you can get there, including:

  1. Driving – You could rent a campervan to explore the Viaduct and other areas in the area (more information below).
  2. Book a coach tour –Tours operates from different parts of Scotland every day (check out this link)
  3. It is possible to ride over it. It is possible to ride the Jacobite train up Glenfinnan Viaduct, one of the most beautiful ways to see it. Check out this post about riding the Jacobite/Harry Potter train.

Here are some tips for driving to the Glenfinnan Viaduct

We could capture amazing photos without anyone being present because we visited in October 2020, when most of the world was locked down and there were far fewer people.

However, the site is visited by more than 300,000.

Glenfinnan is a tiny place with parking for only a handful of cars.

It is nearly impossible to find a place to park, especially if you are travelling in a campervan.

The Glenfinnan Exhibition Centre, managed by the National Trust for Scotland, is increasing car parking.

Covid forced the Trust to abandon its plans.

The upside is that the locals are financing a parking project at this time. It was being constructed when we visited 2020. So hopefully, 2021/2022 will have more amenities for cars.

In peak summer months, there are up to 4,000 people per day. Parking is difficult.

Motorhomes are not permitted to use their parking lot.

Your best option is to get there early, take a coach from Fort William, or wild camp somewhere to walk to Glenfinnan.

Famous Glenfinnan Viaduct Harry Potter Scenes

If you are like us and a huge Harry Potter fan, you only want to see the Viaduct because you have seen it in the movies.

It is featured quite often, not least:

  • The Philosopher’s Stone – On our way to Hogwarts
  • Chamber of Secrets- Harry and Ron fly above it in their car.
  • Azkaban Prisoner – The Dementors stop Harry’s train halfway over the bridge and begin torturing him

2022 Glenfinnan Viaduct Train Times

The Jacobite train runs twice daily from Fort William to Mallaig during summer.

They have two services for the 2022 season: morning and afternoon. The morning service is from Monday 4th to Friday 28th October 2022. The afternoon service is from Monday 2nd May to Friday 30th September 2022.

You have up to 4 chances to see it cross the bridge.

Timetable for Sunday to Monday

  • Morning service leaves Fort William at 10:30 and passes by the Viaduct between 10:00-11:00.
  • Afternoon service leaves Fort William at 12:45 and typically passes through the Viaduct between 13:15-13:30.
  • Morning service leaves Mallaig at 14.10 and typically passes through the Viaduct around 15:15-15.30
  • Afternoon service leaves Mallaig at 16.45 and typically passes through the Viaduct around 17:50-18.05

Saturday Timetable

  • Morning service leaves Fort William at 10:30 and passes by the Viaduct between 10:00-11:00.
  • Afternoon service leaves Fort William at 14.40. It usually passes through the Viaduct around 15:10-15.25
  • Morning service leaves Mallaig at 14.10 and typically passes through the Viaduct around 15:15-15.30
  • Afternoon service leaves Mallaig at 18.40 and typically passes through the Viaduct around 19:45-20:00

However, keep in mind that the exact times may vary if there is a delay.

The Best Glenfinnan Viaduct Viewpoints

The Glenfinnan visitor centre has two main viewpoints.

You can get to the closest location to the centre by walking 5 minutes up the hill behind it. Here you have a better front-facing view and more detail of the Viaduct that curves the entire way around.

The other is about a 10-minute walk from the centre. It’s closer to the Viaduct and gives you a side-on view.

We chose the side-on view, and this angle is ideal for uninterrupted shots even though many others are taking pictures.

There are many stops along the hillside that offer great views. The best ones are located at the top.

It would help if you tried to reach the Viaduct by train arrived.

It’s also worth waiting for 15 minutes to see if it has left.

Even without the train passing by, it’s still a beautiful spot.

However, a drone is the best way to capture the Harry Potter train as it passes over Glenfinnan Viaduct.

How to Fly a Drone at The Glenfinnan Viaduct

You’ll be able to see the signs that prohibit drone flying once you arrive.

But, every sign has a number that refers to Alistair.

This is the estate manager of the land around Viaduct. He lives in the house below the bridge. There is only one house there.

He will call you back and charge you PS10 to fly this drone and give you his “permission”.

He does not have the legal right to fly a drone. They even try to make it more formal by obtaining special receipts for this purpose.

I was happy to pay PS10 to avoid upsets and fly the drone. The train was due in just 2 minutes, haha! ).

I thought I was calling Allstar, thinking I was calling a company named Allstar. I figured they must have the contracting rights for maintaining the bridge and using CCTV or other communication means.

In the end, Alistair can do nothing if you arrive at your destination and decide to fly your drone.

Even if your drone wanted to say something, he would fly back and forth before he had time to do anything.

Also seems to have very few legal rights to stop you. So, if I hadn’t researched the situation before I went up the hill, I would have stopped at the corner to take our photos and video and then brought the drone back down.

It would help if you did not fly too close to the bridge or interfere with the train’s passage. It is not advisable to fly too close to the train as it passes.

If there are many drones in the busy months, I can imagine they will have a legal basis to ban them.

Be considerate of other people and the train, and you will be fine.

Here is a complete list of the actual drone laws in Scotland.

Alistair drives the green 4×4, and there’s only one road into the property. It’s easy to miss him coming.

Glenfinnan Viaduct Photography Tips

  • Be there at least 30 minutes before the train arrives. This time can be used to find the best spots.
  • You can go there in the morning or the evening. It is quite different in each hour of the day. It can be cloudy in the morning, so the evening might prove more pleasant.
  • Use Lightroom Lightroom can be used to enhance your photos.
  • You can use a variety of cameras – We shot photos with our Canon Mark II wide-angle DSLR, Mavic Pro drone and Mavic Pro drone.
  • A tripod is a must if you want to capture a dramatic couple shot as the train passes by.

Visit our guide to see a complete list of tips and tricks to improve your travel photos.

Ride The Jacobite Train Over Glenfinnan Viaduct

The Harry Potter Hogwarts Express crosses the Viaduct, the best way to see it.

**It’s important to note that the Jacobite doesn’t represent the Hogwarts Express. It’s currently out of service and under lease to Warner Brothers at London’s Harry Potter Studios.

We loved riding the Jacobite!

Cazzy has created a complete guide for how to ride the Jacobite.

Here is my opinion on the topic.

  • Or, you can go all-in and pay first-class for the cream tea. Enjoy the novelty of this experience (about PS90pp return).
  • You can also ride the standard Scotts Rail train for a fraction of its price (PS15pp return).

The problem is that other than the first-class seating, carriages in the Jacobite don’t seem particularly pleasant.

This is just my opinion.

Glenfinnan: Other Activities

After you’re done with the Glenfinnan Viaduct Train, take some time to explore the rest of Scotland.

The Lone Scotsman Jacobite Memorial

This magnificent monument stands proudly at the tip of Loch Shiel.

Its existence dates back to 1745 when local tribes rose to fight alongside Prince Charles Edward Stuart, who believed he had a better claim on the English throne.

It is a beautiful monument in an amazing spot, and it is only 2 minutes from the car park.

Glenfinnan Visitor Exhibit

You can visit the Glenfinnan visitor center to learn more about Jacobite Rising.

There is also a cafe and gift shop selling Harry Potter merchandise.

Wild Camp

Wild camping in Scotland was a wonderful experience for us, and there are some great spots near Glenfinnan.

We drove around the area until we finally found this spot.

It has a good phone signal and is located right by Loch Eilt.

Go to Mallaig

It’s faster to drive to Mallaig than to take the train.

It’s a beautiful drive, and the roads are in excellent condition.

You can pull in at many spots on the route to take photos and are greeted at the end by Mallaig.

It is a charming fishing village, with many cafes and fish and chips shops. There are also 2 or 3 Harry Potter gift shops.

Visit the Glenfinnan Railway Museum

You can visit the Glenfinnan Railway Museum if you want to know more about the history and development of the Viaduct.

The visitor center is approximately 10 minutes away.

You can also stay overnight in the old sleeper carriage!

Last Thoughts

It is truly a memorable experience to visit the Glenfinnan Viaduct.

It is no surprise that it is one of Scotland’s most iconic sites. This must be on every tourist’s bucket list.

These tips should have helped you to know when and how to make the most out of your time in Thailand.

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