Where are you going to pick up the car ? Edinburgh Airport ?
I had the same experience some month ago, but no worries ,you can rent a car online easily.Edited: 15 May 2013, 12:38
I don't drive so I'm of limited help here (besides which the Edinburgh forum would be better at advising where is convenient there, and similarly the Holyhead forum for dropping the car off). However just to advise that you have two main options to get from Belfast to Edinburgh, i.e. flying or taking the ferry (with a bus or bus/rail connection on the other side). Each have their merits so it's worth looking into both options.
Thanks. What are the merits of the ferry-rail option? Also, because I don't don't have a UK address, I can't buy the tix online in advance from Scottish rail or Stena Line. Any suggestions on how to reliably buy the tickets in advance?
Check all the big car hire companies online as they usually have an option of picking a car up in one location and dropping off at another, although I think this comes at a premium. I have used the rail and sail in the past with stena line and it is a good service although the port in Scotland has now moved to Cairnryan which doesnt have a train station (I would say there is a bus transfer in place to Ayr for this). You could also check out P&O if you are thinking of sailing over although they sail from Larne which is around 45mins from Belfast but can be reached by train or bus. Another option to consider is perhaps renting the car in Belfast and returning it to Hollyhead (again probably at a premium), this would incur the added expense of paying for the car on the ferry which is around £100 - 150. The final option I can think of is to travel on Stenaline Belfast to Cairnryan service as a foot passenger and rent a car at Stranraer (they will meet you at ferry terminal), drive to Glasgow/Edinburgh and return the vehicle to Hollyhead and return as foot passengers. We are doing a similar sort of trip in August and I have researched it loads.
Are you sure you can't book on Stenaline online without a UK address? I'm not doubting you if you've experienced problems, but when you register there is the ability to choose "Other" in the country drop-down box and then you can just type in your address below, and indeed it gives a whole new drop-down box in that section with lots of other countries in it. I filled in fake address details for New York and it let me go right through to the payment page. Your ticket is sent by email so I don't know why you would need a UK address. Maybe try again and see if it lets you do that way.
In relation to pros and cons, flying is quick and easy and you land a lot closer to Edinburgh city centre, plus you'll likely have car hire options at the airport, but you have to pay extra for any luggage beyond hand baggage and some people don't really like airports or flying or being cooped up in the small space of a place with lots of other people. The ferry is still very quick and is quite scenic, plus it's likely cheaper as a foot passenger and you can bring a good amount of luggage with you, but you face a bus journey (or bus to Ayr and rail on to Edinburgh) on the other side, which takes up more time, although again this is quite a scenic drive, so not a big hardship. There is more personal space on the ferry too, plus cafés, bars, etc, which some people enjoy. However you'd still need to get to a car hire place once you arrive in Edinburgh.
Just some food for thought anyway!
This is very helpful. Great suggestions. I will try the Stena line booking approach using "Other" and see how that works.
Also, if the Stena line from Belfast comes into Cairnryan and you can rent cars in Stranraer, how do you get to Stranraer from the port?
I think the whole thing with the address is that they post the rail tickets so any other service is fine as the boat ticket is emailed it's just the rail and sail service that you need a UK address for.
As for car hire, Cairnryan is a few miles from Stranraer so I think the hire company will deliver the car to the port. You should check this out as an option.
Oh I see, it's the rail portion that causes the problem. In that case maybe just book via the bus company National Express - just put Belfast as the starting point and Edinburgh as the end point and the fare it displays factors in your ferry journey as a foot passenger as well. They issue e-tickets so it shouldn't be a problem to not have a UK address (in theory!). You could also just go as far as Ayr on the bus and then order National Rail tickets online for collection at the station, but it seems like an unnecessary complication unless you're very into trains! Or of course, just fly :-D
Yea it is a bit of a pain it was a while ago I used rail and sail and you used to take your boarding pass to the train station and they Gaw you the train tickets. I am see your point flying is easier but for me I love the traveling aspect just seeing different sites and if your using public transport just interacting with the locals ect lol