EDINBURGH TRAVEL GUIDE.

Victoria Street Edinburgh

EDINBURGH

Although Glasgow is my favorite city, Edinburgh does have a sense of charm, and it's an aesthetically beautiful city with its cobbled streets and laneways or closes, the stunning Georgian and medieval architecture, beautiful parks, and breathtaking views from the many high points in the city.

It doesn't have the same layback vibe as Glasgow and I have heard it said that Edinburgh is the tourist Scotland whereas Glasgow is the locals Scotland. Glasgow has a working man's background whereas Edinburgh is more business.

Edinburgh is full of amazing Michelin-starred restaurants and cool pubs and venues but I always find it hard to get a decent coffee there.

CONTENTS

  • Edinburgh Brochure
  • Edinburgh Map
  • Edinburgh Overview 
    • Travel Costs
    • Accommodation
    • Food and Drink
  • Shopping
  • Transport and getting around
  • Money-Saving Memberships

EDINBURGH BROCHURE  This is the link for the Edinburgh Brochure which includes city maps, Transport, Attractions, Tours, Specialty shops, Eating and Drinking, Museums & Galleries, and Nightlife. I've added this as it's a condensed version of my page and something you may want to print out as it includes maps of the city.

EDINBURGH OVERVIEW

  • Edinburgh's Gaelic name: Dùn Èideann
  • Edinburgh's nickname: Old Reeky
  • The locals are called: Edinburghers but I don't think it's a common thing to use that term
  • Metro Population: 527620
  • Area: 264 sq km
  • Crime: low crime rate and considered a very safe city
  • Official Language: English
  • Claim to Fame
  • Currency: Pounds Sterling or Great Britain Pound  £, GBP

Edinburgh is Scotland's Capital city and has been recognized as such since the 15th century. It is the second-largest city in Scotland and the second most visited tourist attraction. It has a medieval Old Town and the Georgian New Town with gardens and neoclassical buildings. It's a very hilly city with several high points where you can enjoy a great view of the city.Edinburgh Castle

At the top of the Royal Mile in Old Town, Edinburgh Castle which is built on the top of an extinct volcano stands guard over the city, and at the bottom, the imposing peak of Arthurs Seat stands to watch. Another spot for great views of the city is Carlton Hill with 360-degree breathtaking views.  Scotland's capital is also the greenest city in the UK with 112 parks and more trees per head of population than any other UK city? It also has more listed buildings than any other city. 

Holyrood Palace

 

Holyrood Palace is the official residence of the monarch and is located at the bottom of the Royal Mile.    

Edinburgh is the seat of the Scottish Parliament and the highest courts in Scotland.

The city has long been a center of education, particularly in medicine, Scots law, literature, philosophy, the sciences, and engineering, and has been named one of the world's most talent-rich cities.

Edinburgh is home to 11 manor festivals throughout the year including the world-famous Edinburgh Fringe Festival and the Edinburgh Military Tattoo.

 

 

 

 

 

The city has been the setting for notable novels that were written by Edinburgh natives and later turned into popular motion pictures, including Robert Louis Stevenson’s Kidnapped (1886); Muriel Spark’s The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie (1961), which provides a portrait of the city in the 1930s; and Irvine Welsh’s Trainspotting (1993), which examines the city’s nihilistic underbelly at the end of the 20th century. Its the home of many celebrated writers and publishers past and present—including crime writers Alexander McCall Smith and Ian Rankin and  J.K. Rowling—Edinburgh was declared UNESCO’s first City of Literature in 2004.

EDINBURGH TRAVEL COSTS

Obviously, these are subject to change so always check when you book but it will give you an idea depending on what you are looking for. I've never personally stayed in a hostel in Scotland but I know you can get single or twin rooms in some. Edinburgh is an expensive city but still caters to most budgets if you shop around.

This is a rough guide to the cost of things:

SUGGESTED TRAVEL COSTS PER BUDGET

On a basic budget, you can visit Edinburgh for £48-58  ($60-75 US $85-$100 AU) per day. On this budget, you’ll be staying in a hostel dorm room, cooking most of your meals, sticking to mostly free activities (luckily, there are a lot), and using public transportation. If you are on a tighter budget, you can lower this number by staying in hostels that include free breakfast or by limiting your spending. I don't personally travel this way so this is just from what I have read

On a mid-range budget of about £95-125  ($120-160 US, $160 -$220AU), you’ll stay in a budget hotel or private hostel room, eat out most of your meals at pubs and cafes, do a mix of paid and free activities. You arent going to be splurging out but you can still have a great holiday. 

If you want to spurge - from £210 +($275 US, $370AU), you can stay in a 4-star hotel, eat out for every meal, drink what you want, and visit as many museums and attractions as you’d like, take taxis, and do whatever else ya want. This is just the ground floor for spending though — you can easily spend more if you really want to splash out!

TOURIST ATTRACTIONS.

  • Admission tickets to the top museums and art galleries - most are free
  • One-day excursions to nearby places of interest: £50 (US$ 66, $88 AU).
  • You can save money on attractions and sites by purchasing a Historic Schotland Membership or Edinburgh Day Pass. Scroll down for more information
  • You can also buy daily or weekly passes on buses.
  • Hop on Hop off buses are a great way to see the city and get your bearings too. Tickets start at £16 for 24 hours.

For more things to see and do in Edinburgh click here. 

Edinburgh Hop on Hop off bus

ACCOMMODATION

There are all types of accommodation available in Edinburgh from hostels, hotels, b&b, Air BnB or you can even couch surf - there is an app for it.

I'm a bit past the slumming it stage so prefer accommodation that is more upmarket.

I've stayed at each of the places in my Edinburgh Accommodation blog and I will add more to it as I go.

Budget hotel prices – For a budget two-star hotel, prices start at around £50  per night. I have found hostel prices are about the same or more for a private room and I'd prefer a hotel. These usually include free Wi-Fi. Budget hotels with breakfast included start around £65 per night. A three-star hotel with free breakfast costs around £90 GBP per night.

Mid-range centrally located hotels: from £150  per night

Airbnb is another good budget option in Edinburgh with prices for entire homes/apartments starting at £55  per night, though most options are £70+

 

Adagio Hotel Edinburgh

FOOD AND DRINK

There are so many great places to eat and drink in and they have something for everyone no matter what your taste or dietary requirements.

Click here to read more on my favorite places to eat and have a wee dram in Edinburgh

Scottish meals are hearty, delicious, and filling. 

  • You will pay around £10-15 for a basic meal like a Scottish breakfast.
  • For pub food like fish and chips or a burger, you will pay around £15  
  • You can pick up a sandwich or fast food for around £5-10.
  • Prices will vary greatly depending on the restaurant you choose, but the main course will typically cost between £15- £30
  • A medium-sized takeout pizza: £ 8
  • A pint: £4 -5
  • Alcoholic drinks at an Old Town pub: £5-6
  • A cocktail at a Royal Mile pub: £9-15
  • A breakfast roll and coffee  £10
  • Bottle of water by Edinburgh Castle: £3.50 -I take my own to fill.
  • Bottle of water in supermarket £1.20

Dinning out in Edinburgh

Some things to keep in mind when dining out in Edinburgh?

  •  Lunch is normally served between 12 noon and 2 pm.
  • Dinner begins at 6 pm and finishes at 8:30 – 9 pm.
  • Pubs and restaurants in the main parts of the city like the Royal Mile, Rose Street, and Princes Street are open until later to cater to the tourists.
  • There is no table service in pubs, the bartenders or waiters will not come to your table to take your order, you usually order and pay at the bar and then your meal is bought to your table. All drinks are purchased and paid for at the bar.
  • Beers are usually served in pint glasses. If you don’t want to drink as much make sure to order “half a pint”.
  • In Scotland, whisky is not a mixing alcoholic beverage. It is typically served in a glass without any ice and sometimes it is served with water. If you wish to mix it with coke or any other drink we recommend you ask for the two drinks separately and mix them.
  • Restaurants usually have table service and you pay when you are finished. Check if you can split the bill when you go in as some places don't do this.

 

EDINBURGH PUBLIC TRANSPORT

EDINBURGH AIRPORT

Edinburgh Airport is the main international airport in Scotland and one of the busiest. It has no train station of its own, but it does have strong transport links by bus and tram from train stations in Edinburgh. 

The Airport is located approximately 10 km west of Edinburgh and is within easy reach

  • The Airlink 100 express bus runs from the airport to the city centre. It takes 25 minutes to reach Waverley Bridge, next to the main railway station.
  • The shuttle is very frequent so you won't wait more than 10 minutes.
  • Tickets can be purchased from the driver as you board using contactless card payment, m-tickers or the exact change.
  • A single adult ticket costs £ 4.50 and an open return is £ 7.50
  • Trams leave the airport every 7 minutes from early until late. The journey to Princes Street, Edinburgh’s main shopping street, takes about 30 minutes.
  • A one-way ticket to or from the airport costs around £6.50

TRAMS

Trams are one of the easiest ways to get to travel from the city centre or to the airport but not that great for getting around the city, especially the Royal Mile.

  • Trams depart every 7 to 10 minutes, between the airport and St Andrews.
  • The first tram is from 5.32 from St Andrews or 6.18 from the Airport
  • The last trams leave at  23.32 from St Andrews or 22.48 from the airport, and every 15 minutes out of these hours,
  • An end-to-end journey of just 30 between St Andrews and the airport.
  • There are 15 tram stops.

Fares:

  • Tram fares start at £1.80 for a single journey adult ticket
  • A return ticket is £3.40 
  • A Day ticket is £4.50 for a single journey adult ticket.
  • Tickets can be bought online or at vending machines at each tram stop using exact change or credit or debit cards.
  • Use this to calculate your ticket price
  • Services run between the airport and St Andrews Square in Edinburgh city centre.
  • Tram stops can be found in the following locations:
    • Edinburgh Airport
    • Ingliston Park & Ride
    • Gogarburn
    • Edinburgh Gateway
    • Gyle Centre
    • Edinburgh Park Central
    • Edinburgh Park Station
    • Bankhead
    • Saughton
    • Balgreen
    • Murrayfield Stadium
    • Haymarket
    • West End - Princes Street
    • Princes Street
    • St Andrew Square

Travel to Scotland Edinburgh Tram staion map

BUSES

Edinburgh Bus

Buses run 24 hours a day in Edinburgh and have frequent services and there are various companies. The main ones are Lothian and First.

Lothian Buses are the dominant company and they operate over 70 services in Edinburgh and the surrounding areas of Midlothian, East Lothian and West Lothian including the Night bus and Airport Bus. 

FARES

First and Lothian have similar prices but they may vary slightly.

These are average ticket prices:

  • Single-journey adult ticket: A ticket costs £1.80 depending on the distance of your trip.
  • Lothian adult DAYticket: Lothian offers unlimited use of their buses and Edinburgh trams for one day for £4.50.
  • Lothian Adult Airport DAYticket: This ticket offers unlimited use of Lothian buses and trams and includes travel to and from Edinburgh Airport for one day for £10
  • A LATEticket is £4.00

TICKETS

Read more about the Airport buses and transport here @ Travel to Scotland part 3-what to expect on arrival

TRAINS

WAVERLEY STATION is Edinburgh’s main and most central station. It is the 2nd busiest station in Scotland after Glasgow Central. It is located in Princes Street between New Town and Old Town in the city centre. The station is a stunning piece of architecture and worth a look even if you aren't catching a train. 

Waverley Train Station Edinburgh

Station opening hours:

  • Monday to Saturday 4:00 to 00:45
  • Sunday: 06:00 – 00:45

TICKETS AND TRAVEL INFO

  •  03457 48 49 50
  • Map of Waverley Station
  • Travel centre -Tickets for all destinations and train companies are available:
    • Monday to Saturday 05:00 – 00:00
    • Sunday 07:00 – 00:00
  • Advance tickets:
    • Monday to Sunday 09:30 – 18:30
  • The travel centre is run by London North Eastern Railway. 
  • Ticket Machines sell tickets for all destinations and train companies

ScotRail ticket office

  • On platform 14,
  • Open 06:30 – 23:30 (seven days)

Information booths

  • Train information (on concourse) 09:00 – 17:00 (seven days)
  • ScotRail information (on concourse) 09:30 – 16:30 (seven days)

Pick-up/drop-off points:

  • Calton Road sat nav postcode EH8 8DL
  • Market Street, EH1 1DE
  • New Street car park (free for 40 minutes), EH8 8BH

Pedestrians -The entrances are all step-free:

  • Princes Street
  • Market Street
  • Calton Road (via lift)
  • Waverley Bridge (via ramp)

Taxi

FACILITIES AT THE STATION

  • Showers - The price is £5.
  • ATMs
  • Payphones - concourse and platform 14
  • Trolleys
  • Photo Booths for passport photos
  • Wi-Fi - free to the public
  • Water Fountains - One near the War Memorial and One near the Public toilets
  • Car Hire - Europcar - Platform 2
  • Enterprise has an office in New Street Car Park.
    • Vehicles are in the New Street Car Park
  • Lost Property counter Mon to Fri 9 to 17.30
  • Left Luggage - At excess baggage co on platform 2 Monday to Sunday 8 to 21.00
  • Food and Drink - there are several cafes located within the station

HAYMARKET STATION  is also in the city centre and is west of Princes Street in Haymarket Terrace and is the 2nd largest station. Trains from the station serve mostly the west of Scotland and north of Edinburgh.

The original terminus for trains coming from Glasgow, the railway station was built in 1840-1842. The platforms were redesigned in 1894 and the whole station was renovated in the 1980s, it has a much more modern look than Waverly but I don't think it has as much character.

  • There are 4 platforms
  • Integration with the Edinburgh tramline has made Haymarket a key interchange and gateway to the city.
  • The Airline 100 bus is available outside the station or you can use the Lothian Bus to reach the city centre.
  • Haymarket is the first of the two Edinburgh stops if you are coming from London by train.
  • The distance between the Haymarket and Waverley stations is under 1 and a half miles or about 5 minutes by rail.

FACILITIES

  • waiting rooms
  • Station Kiosk, Cafes and Marks and Spencer
  • Public Phones
  • Free Wi-Fi
  • ATM
  • Shops

EDINBURGH CYCLE HIRE

 

These are popular options in a lot of places now and it's a way to rent a bike to get around the city. Edinburgh is pretty hilly though so it wouldn't be my first choice. You will see the bikes parked around the city at 99 different stations and you can rent them using an app. There are electric and pedal bike versions available that help with the hills a bit.

There is an option to use multi-trip access so you can stop at various attractions along the way. Helmets are recommended but not a legal requirement.

There are a few other companies in Edinburgh that rent bikes out as well.

CLYDE CYCLE.

HYBRID-TREKKING BIKES.  from £30 per day. Weekly rentals from £125

MOUNTAIN BIKES.  (front suspension/disk brakes) from £25 per day. Weekly rentals from £100

ELECTRIC BIKES.  high quality, state of the art e-bikes from £45 per day, or £ 25 for 3 hours. Weekly rentals from £250. A2B e-bikes also for sale

TANDEMS from £60 per day

Prices include- a helmet, lock, repair kit and a spare tube. All bikes come with flat pedals, but we are happy to fit your own. Bicycles can be delivered and collected, for an extra charge, to and from your hotel and also to other locations to suit your travel plans.

RENT A BIKE

Rent a bike are a 2-minute walk from the Royal Mile at 29 Blackfriars St, Edinburgh EH1 1NB

LEITH CYCLE CO 

 276 Leith Walk Edinburgh and you can hire a bike for £15 for half a day.

The hire package includes, other than your bike, a helmet, should you need one, a lock to keep your bike secure whilst you are quaffing cake in the cafe, and a puncture repair kit just in case.

THE TARTAN BICYCLE COMPANY

Contact them at info@tartanbiketours.com or call on 0044(0)7973940924. State your hire dates, accommodation address, and individual heights for bike sizing. They drop your bike off at your accommodation and uplift at the end of the hire term and can be arranged anywhere within Edinburgh and around Scotland.

Bike Hire from Only £11 Per Day

Their fleet of bicycles from popular brands such as Trek, Marin, Ridgeback and Cube, offer a range of reliable hybrid/city bikes, comfortable trekking bicycles, and our popular electric pedal assist bikes (e-bikes).

Included in the hire the bike, helmet, security lock, pump and puncture kit.

BIKETRAX

PEDALFORTH

Bicycle rental fees start at £15 per 4 HOURS and include a helmet, lock, puncture kit and safety lights.

TAXI SERVICES

Driving in Edinburgh can be frustrating at the best of times due to congestion, road restrictions and limited parking facilities in the town so often a cab is the way to go. With over 1000 black cabs in the city, it's pretty easy to hail one down. They carry a maximum of 5 people unless it’s a van.

There are a few different taxi services in Edinburgh,

  • Central Taxis,
  • City Cabs,
  • Leith Cabs/Kays Cabs,
  • All the Fives Cabs,
  • Tuko Taxis, 
  • Lida Taxis. A lot of companies have a similar service to Uber in that you can book using an App and you know the cost upfront.   

CENTRAL TAXIS is a black cab company in Edinburgh and you can even do tours with them.

You can pay by cash or card usually and most now have a booking app like Uber.

CITY CABS LTD

  • Book, track and pay for your taxis the same as Uber now, using the App.
  • Or on Google Play
  • Track your Cab using GPS
  • Confirm, Cancel and Edit Bookings
  • Pay by cash or debit/credit card
  • Save favourite addresses to allow quicker booking
  • Select vehicle type (All vehicles are wheelchair accessible)
  • Set up callbacks
  • Book account journeys

LEITH CABS  OR KAYS CABS

ALL THE FIVES

TUKO TAXIS

UBER

I find uber one of the best ways to get around but you need the app on your phone. All the drivers I have had have been really friendly, polite and helpful and the cars are always clean and modern. You get told upfront what your trip will cost, the driver's name and profile, what car and number plate and they don’t get paid until you reach your destination so there is no fear of overcharging or taking the long route. You can also choose the size of the car you want.  Uber have a share ride option too, I've never used it apart from when I am travelling with friends but it would be a way to reduce the fare if you are travelling solo. Its the same  Uber App everywhere you travel

RENTING A CAR

There are a lot of car rental companies in Edinburgh but I've not personally done this myself. If you are sticking around Edinburgh it's not necessary as the public transport is good.

Some tips I've read are:

  • Find out the total cost before you book.
  • Check the details on late pickups or drop-offs.
  • Have lots of IDs with you when you pick your car up.
  • If you don't get the car you ordered and they upgrade you, you should not have to pay extra
  • Check the car over and take photos of any damage before you drive off including the tyres.
  • If you have any issues contact Trading Standards Scotland.
  • Advice Direct Scotland on 0808 164 6000 or https://www.consumeradvice.scot/

PEDICABS - You can hail one for a short ride around the city centre. The price is negotiable but you are paying for the novelty of it.

edinburgh pedi cab

WALKING

Edinburgh is an easy city to find your way around but it is a bit hilly. I use google maps wherever I am to make sure I get where I am intending to go. The Royal Mile pretty much runs the full length of Old Town from Edinburgh Castle to Holyrood Palace.

 

SHOPPING

If you are looking for department stores Princes Street in New Town is the place to go. There are a lot of souvenir shops, whisky shops, etc along the Royal Mile however they are usually more expensive. 

If you are just after groceries there are plenty of Tescos and Sainsbury's around and even the Pound Stores are good. If we are staying a while we stock up on toiletries, tea, coffee, etc at the pound store.

If you want clothes but either want something just to tide you over & don't want to pay a lot Primark is a great store. I often pop in and grab some tops for layering, socks or a jacket etc. The city offers numerous fashion stores from budget to high-end fashion, antique shops, art galleries, souvenir shops, kilt shops, and tailors and markets

Probably the only to shopping in Edinburgh is that some of the city’s shops close quite early (at 6 pm). Although in recent years, shops tend to have longer opening hours and close between 7 pm and 8 pm. Souvenir shops on the Royal Mile are normally open every day until 8 pm.

PRINCES STREET

Located in the New Town, Princes Street is Edinburgh’s main shopping street. You’ll find several department stores and smaller local stores, fast food, cafes, and restaurants.

JENNERS:  is Edinburgh’s most popular department store. Think Harrods in London, it's worth a look even if you don't want to buy.

PRINCES MALL is also situated on Princes Street.

ST JAMES:  One of the largest shopping centers in Edinburgh. It is very easy to get to, located on Princes Street.

 

GEORGE STREET

George Street

Parallel to Princes Street and a lot less crowded, George Street offers a great selection of boutiques and high-end stores as well as local souvenir shops. You’ll find the most exclusive shops on this street. There are some nice restaurants and pubs too. The Dome is one of my favorites. 

THE ROYAL MILE

There are lots of souvenir shops, whisky shops, etc along the Royal Mile however they are usually more expensive. There are a lot of cafes and restaurants on the Mile too. 

The Tartan Weaving Mill is at the top near Edinburgh Castle and is 4 levels of everything tartan, souvenirs, clothes, lambswool products, they have an ancestry store where you can find out the origin of your name and order a family crest and so much more. There is a cafe on the top floor too. It has a lift so there is no need to tackle the stairs if you aren't able-bodied. 

 

The Tartan Weaving Mill up near Edinburgh Castle is 4 levels of everything tartan, souvenirs, clothes, lambswool products, fabric and you can see the machines that make the tartan.  They have an ancestry store where you can find out the origin of your name and order a family crest and so much more. There is a cafe on the top floor too. It has a lift so there is no need to tackle the stairs if you aren't able-bodied.

MULTREES WALK: At the end of George street very close to Harvey Nichols in St Andrew Square, this small street houses brands such as Louis Vuitton.

HARVEY NICHOLS: Renowned, an upscale department store with 5 floors of designer label fashions, plus a chic restaurant. 34 St Andrew Square, Edinburgh EH2 2AD

ROSE STREET: situated between Princes Street and George Street, this pedestrian street is one of the prettiest and most charming in Edinburgh. There is a host of restaurants, pubs, and shops.

rose street edinburgh

 

 

 

 

 

GRASSMARKET: If you are looking for something a little more alternative and original then this is the street to discover. It has numerous stands owned by independent artists and artisans.

DUNCAN STREET: Famous for its art galleries and its antiques.

OCEAN TERMINAL: A very modern shopping center. You will have to go through it if you visit the Royal Yacht Britannia.

KILT, TARTAN, CASHMERE & SCOTLAND GIFT SHOPS

Another present I like to buy myself is a piece of Jewellery that reminds me of Scotland or Outlander. Hamilton and Young were my go-to store on the Royal Mile but they have moved to East Kilbride. Royal Mile Jewellery

GIFT AND SOUVENIR IDEAS.

  • Cashmere, tweed, and tartan: The most popular fabrics from Scotland are cashmere, tweed, and tartan. Jumpers, scarves or kilts make very good gifts.
  • Whisky: If you are looking for different varieties of whisky, then Scotland is the place to go.
  • Whisky-flavored items everything from food to soap and candles
  • Outlander merchandise
  • Oatcakes, Shortbread,
  • Scottish Tea
  • Tea Cakes, Caramel Wafers (my favorite)
  • Tablet or Fudge
  • Irn Bru - you can get Irn Bru flavored everything from the drink itself, to sweets, soap, candles, etc
  • Anything with a Thistle, Highland Cow, or St Andrews Cross on it
  • Haggis: If you’ve grown a taste for haggis on your trip to Scotland you can buy it in tins and take it back with you so that your family and friends can also taste it. I can't say I've tasted tinned haggis though so not sure if it's as nice.
  • Music - there are some great Scottish bands and of course bagpipe music, why not buy a CD to take home? Check out my page on Scottish Music. 
  • Nessie soup ladles or tea strainers

EDINBURGH CITY PASS

If you're looking to save money in Edinburgh, the best way to do so is with the Edinburgh City Pass, which allows you to use the tourist bus, take the tour of Harry Potter, enter the monument to Walter Scott, and much more

  • Scott Monument
  • Harry Potter Tour
  • Edinburgh tourist bus
  • The Edinburgh Dungeon
  • John Knox's house
  • Edinburgh underground tour
  • Holyrood Distillery
  • The Georgian House
  • Gilmerton Cave
  • Hopetoun House

The pass is not currently available but I will post updates soon

Edinburgh City Pass

HISTORIC SCOTLAND MEMBERSHIP for more information see MY SCOTLAND TRAVEL GUIDE. 

 

Edinburgh

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