Around the UK by Coach
Travelling by coach (long distance express bus) is the cheapest ways to travel around the UK and the network is extensive served by several operators. Though cheaper than the trains, coach travel is slower and generally less frequent than the trains. However, it is a viable alternative to driving if you prefer to see a cross-section of the country. Furthermore, the gentler pace of coach travel appeals to many travellers. Some routes pass through laidback towns, charming villages, scenic countryside and other interesting sites. Coaches usually make stops in the city or town centre, near airports, railway stations, universities and near major landmarks in the countryside.
Coaches in the UK are generally comfortable but long journeys can be uncomfortable for the elderly. Coach operators generally allow passengers two medium size luggage to put in the luggage compartment and a small hand luggage to carry. Coaches usually have air conditioning, toilet facilities, reclining seats and ample legroom unless you are exceptionally tall. Many also have free WiFi and charging points for charging your phone. Bring bottled or canned drink and a packed meal for long trips since you may be far away to the nearest rest stop.
Interior of a Megabus coach by Matty
Major Coach Stations
Victoria Coach Station in London is the main hub for coach travel in the UK. The station is located off Buckingham Palace Road and a short walk from London Victoria Station (a railway terminal and underground station complex). Victoria Coach Station handles coaches operated by several companies travelling across England, Scotland and Wales. Other major interchanges include Birmingham Coach Station (West Midlands), Leeds City Bus Station (West Yorkshire), Manchester Chorlton Street Coach Station (North England) and Milton Keynes Coachway (South East England).
Major Coach Companies
National Express is the largest coach company in the UK and has the widest network of routes that include over 100 destinations across England, Scotland and Wales. It has a large presence at most coach terminals and serves many cities, major towns, seaside resorts, universities and airports. Where there is no direct connection, you would have to transfer to another National Express coach at a station along the journey. National Express regularly offers discounted fairs including for advance bookings.
National Express coach by Eric Jones
Megabus serves a wide range of routes that include over 90 destinations in the UK. The coach operator often competes with National Express on many high frequency routes. It promotes itself as a low-cost carrier and therefore popular with students and backpackers. Though Megabus takes a ‘no-frills’ low-cost approach, the coaches are comfortable with facilities that include free WiFi, charging points, air conditioning, toilet and 20 kg (44 lbs) luggage allowance.
Scottish Citylink is the main coach operator in Scotland serving 19 routes linking many Scottish cities and towns including Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Inverness and several rural communities. It also operates a premium service called Citylink Gold offering a more relaxing journey. In addition, Scottish Citylink links Scotland with several cities in England including Birmingham, Blackpool, Bristol, Liverpool, London, Manchester, Newcastle and Sheffield.
Scottish Citylink by Glen Wallace
TrawsCymru is a Welsh operator serving seven medium and long distance routes across Wales. The routes include Bangor to Aberystwyth, Aberystwyth to Carmarthen, Aberystwyth to Haverfordwest, Wrexham to Barmouth, Newtown to Cardiff, Swansea to Brecon and Cardiff Airport to Cardiff Central. Another Welsh operator is First Cymru focussing on short routes in South Wales. Ulsterbus operates the Goldline service connecting Belfast with several cities and towns in Northern Ireland including Armagh, Antrim, Cookstown, Londonderry (Derry) and Newry.
Most operators sell their tickets online and therefore you can conveniently check for the best fare and most suitable time to travel. National Express also sells tickets at the coach stations and at many local post offices. You can also purchase Scottish Citylink tickets from the driver and local agents. However, Megabus tickets are only available online. Many coach companies offer discounted fares such as for advance purchase, group bookings, children, students, senior citizens and multi-journey passes.
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