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You don’t need to be a Harry Potter fan or train enthusiast to get excited to see the Jacobite Steam Train cross the Glenfinnan Viaduct, although those interests certainly make the experience even more magical. The viaduct is beautiful to see, but if you want to witness the unique atmosphere with the train crossing, then timing is everything. Here are a few things you need to know before you visit the Glenfinnan Viaduct.

Glenfinnan Viaduct - Visiting the Harry Potter Bridge





The Glenfinnan Viaduct is a railway bridge that takes the West Highland Railway over the River Finnan. It is the longest concrete railway bridge in Scotland, one of the most picturesque and arguably the most famous after being used as a film location for the Harry Potter franchise.

The Jacobite Steam Train is a locomotive-hauled train that runs between Fort William and Mallaig. The scenic train journey is a popular tourist route, loved for the impressive views and the correlation with the Hogwarts Express.


Hogwarts Express crossing the bridge

If you are only interested in seeing the picturesque bridge, you can visit at any time of day. In fact, it's better to visit outside the times noted below to avoid the crowds.

If you are visiting to experience the magic of the Jacobite Steam Train crossing the Glenfinnan Viaduct, you will need to visit between April to October and in alignment with the train timetable. In peak season, the train runs twice a day. It's a return journey, so in one day, it will cross the viaduct four times.

The famous lookout point gets the best view of the train as it makes its way towards Mallaig. After departing Fort William, it takes 30-40 minutes for the train to reach the viaduct. The morning departure is 10:15 am, so you’ll want to be at the lookout by 10:45 am. The afternoon departure is 12:50 pm, so be at the lookout by 1:20 pm.

For the most accurate, up-to-date train schedule, check the West Coast Railway website.

It's best to arrive at least 1 hour before the crossing. This gives you time to park, walk to the viaduct, enjoy the landscape along the way and secure a good spot at the viewpoint.

This train crossing is a popular attraction that can draw a big crowd, especially on weekends and holidays. If you arrive too late, you run the risk of the car park filling up and the lookout being so crowded that you need to watch the train from below instead.


It takes around 10 minutes to walk from the car park to the lookout. The path is well-marked and only includes one uphill section at the end to reach the viewpoint.

From the car park, walk along the path towards the bridge. As you near the bridge, you’ll see a signpost. Follow the sign for Viaduct Trail & Viewpoint, which will take you under the viaduct and to a gate. On the other side of the gate is the short hill to the viewpoint.


Parking for the viaduct is at the Glenfinnan Visitors Centre. It costs £‎3.50 for a car and £‎6.50 for a minibus or camper. You can pay with coins or card at the pay-and-display meters.

The car park is large but not big enough to accommodate the large crowds that can descend on this place in peak season. If you arrive close to the train crossing time, you may be turned away. There is no alternative parking nearby.


The crossing may only take a matter of minutes, but the experience at the viaduct is much longer, especially when arriving early to avoid missing out. So here are a few things we recommend bringing with you.

  • Camera – to capture the moment.

  • Tripod – set the camera up ready to go so when the train arrives, you can just press the button and still enjoy the moment without looking through the lens.

  • Snacks – why not make the most of the waiting time with a picnic?

  • Water – it's important to stay hydrated.

  • Picnic blanket – if you’d prefer not to sit in the dirt while you wait.

  • Hat & sunscreen – don’t forget to stay protected on a sunny day.

  • Rainjacket or umbrella – probably more likely in the UK to stay dry while you wait.

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