Edinburgh (Gaelic: Dùn Èideann) is the capital of Scotland located in the Central Belt region of the country. With a population of approximately 450,000 (1 million in the city region), "Auld Reekie" (Edinburgh) manages to combine both ancient and modern in a uniquely Scottish atmosphere. Watched over by the imposing Edinburgh castle, the symbol of the city, Edinburgh combines medieval relics, Georgian grandeur and a powerful layer of modern life with contemporary avant-garde. In Edinburgh, medieval palaces, evident throughout the New Town which is painted with Gothic churches and fascinating historical buildings, rub shoulders with the best of modern architecture, such as the Houses of Scottish Parliament, found in Hollyrood, and the recently renovated National Museum of Scotland. Scotland's throbbing night-life centre, Edinburgh, "the Athens of the North", is also a feast for the mind and the senses, playing host to great restaurants, shops, friendly pubs, wild and mild clubs, and an unrivalled programme of city festivals throughout the year. Hogmanay, the Scottish New Year, kicks off the festivities, which culminate in the high summer with the Tattoo, the International and the famous 'Fringe' festival, among many others.

The Old and New Towns of Edinburgh were listed as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO in 1995. In 2004, Edinburgh became the first member of the UNESCO Creative Cities initiative when it was designated a City of Literature.

In a 2009 poll by YouGov, Edinburgh was voted the most desirable city to live in the UK.


Edinburgh's districts
Old Town
Edinburgh's medieval heart along the Royal Mile, which runs from the Castle to Holyrood Palace. Most of the really famous sites are in this area.
New Town
The other half of the city centre is the Georgian (late 18th century) New Town. The commercial heart of the city, this is what shopaholics make a beeline for, as well as artists and photographers who want to get their share of some of the smartest and most beautiful buildings in the country. The New Town stretches to the border of Stockbridge, and can be easily recognised with it's scene setting street lighting. The New Town sits within some of Edinburgh's most splendid greenery, including the vast Dean Gardens.
Stockbridge and Canonmills
Exclusive neighbourhood to the north of the New Town, some interesting independent shopping plus the most relaxing spot in the city - the Royal Botanic Garden.
Edinburgh's independent-minded port area is a destination in its own right.
The beach district of Portobello and the historic village of Duddingston both lie in the east of the city.
A popular part of town for students, so there are plenty of interesting places to eat and drink. Further out is Edinburgh's Outdoor Playground of the Pentland Hills, and the intriguing Roslin Chapel.
Edinburgh's excellent zoo is here, plus the temple of sport that is Murrayfield rugby stadium.


Edinburgh's Old Town with Arthur's Seat and the Firth of Forth in the background.

Edinburgh is on the east coast of Scotland's central Lowlands, situated on the southern shore of the Firth of Forth. Edinburgh's landscape is the product of ancient volcanism (both the Castle crag and Arthur's Seat are the eroded plugs of volcanoes) and more recent glaciation (carving out valleys south of the castle and the old Nor'Loch, presently the site of the Princes Street Gardens). Impress the locals by knowing that Princes Street is the correct spelling (dedicated plurally and not possessively for King George III's sons - hence the absence of an apostrophe). Don't make the mistake of pronouncing it Princess Street - though many of the locals won't know the difference! And watch out for these two commonly mis-pronounced streets as well: Cockburn (coe-burn) and Buccleuch (buh-clue) are nearly always gotten wrong, to the amusement of the locals.


Edinburgh's historic centre is bisected by Princes Street Gardens, a broad swathe of parkland in the heart of the city. Southwards of the gardens is the castle, perched on top of an extinct volcanic crag, and flanked by the medieval streets of the Old Town following the Royal Mile along the ridge to the east. To the north of Princes Street Gardens lies Princes Street itself - Edinburgh's main shopping boulevard - and the Georgian period New Town, built after 1766 on a regular grid plan.


Edinburgh has been the royal capital of Scotland since 1437.


Edinburgh is noted as a long-lived literary capital of the English-speaking world. The great Scottish historical novelist Sir Walter Scott was born in the city and has his great monument on Princes Street. Robert Louis Stevenson and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle were also natives of Edinburgh. More recently, Edinburgh has variously been the home and inspiration for such well-known modern writers as Muriel Spark (author of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie), Irvine Welsh (author of the 1993 novel Trainspotting, set in the gritty district of Leith), Ian Rankin (a crime writer best known for the Inspector Rebus series, set in Edinburgh), Alexander McCall Smith (The No. 1 Lady Detective's Agency and several novels set in the Scottish capital) and J.K. Rowling of Harry Potter fame.


 Climate Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Daily highs (°C) 6 7 9 11 14 17 19 19 16 13 9 7
Nightly lows (°C) 1 1 2 3 6 9 11 10 9 6 3 1
Precipitation (mm) 64 45 52 43 49 53 58 53 62 70 61 67

See the 5 day forecast for Edinburgh at the Met Office

Edinburgh's climate is most comfortable for the traveler from May to September. That said, the weather in Edinburgh is always changeable and visitors should expect both sunshine and rain, whatever the season. Edinburgh tends to get windy while it rains as well, so be sure to pack either a raincoat or a sturdy umbrella! Many a tourist has abandoned an inverted umbrella due to the persistent, whipping winds. Summer, the main festival season, combines long daylight hours with lengthy evenings (being so far north, it rarely gets dark before 10 or 11 at night!). Winter can feel bitterly cold, with short daylight hours, however snow is rare and of a short duration, and most of Edinburgh's winter precipitation comes in the form of a chilly rain and sleet. Edinburgh has an abundance of indoor attractions and activities that make the cold winter days fly by. In other words, bring a coat big lad, will ya? Do not worry about being cold in winter, because like many modern countries all buildings including the old ones are warm, dry and insulated.

When to go

Travellers should note that Edinburgh becomes overwhelmingly crowded (accommodation-wise) during the main festival periods of high summer (August to early September) and Hogmanay (around New Year's Day / 1 January). Visitors at these times should plan well ahead for booking central accommodation and event tickets at these times.

Get in

By plane

  Edinburgh International Airport (IATA: EDI), the busiest airport in Scotland, is situated some 8 miles/13km west of the city. The airport offers a wide range of domestic and international flights to Europe and North America. Many visitors to the city arrive via a connecting flight from London. Edinburgh Airport does, however, have a direct flight to and from Newark (UNITED, Twice daily May–October, Daily November–May), a 25 minute train ride or drive from New York City. In comparison to most Scottish airports, Edinburgh's European flight network is well developed, with frequent scheduled flights to destinations such as Amsterdam, Athens, Barcelona, Brussels, Budapest, Copenhagen, Dublin, Frankfurt, Geneva, Helsinki, Istanbul, Madrid, Milan, Munich, Oslo, Paris, Prague, Rome, Stockholm and Zürich. See this link for a full list of destinations served to/from Edinburgh Airport.

Edinburgh Airport provides free Wi-Fi for 2 hours per day. There are two drinking water fountains after security to the left when you exit the duty free shop. There is a small Marks & Spencer supermarket before security.

A dedicated 24/7 airport bus service, Airlink (Service 100), runs from outside the terminal building (stop D) to Edinburgh city centre (Waverley Bridge, opposite entrance to train station) at least every 10 minutes between 04:30 and 00:35. From the city center for the Airport it runs every 10 mins from 4:00 and 24:00. At night, the Airlink bus runs every 30 min between 01:00 and 04:00 to the city center and between 00:30 and 03:30 to the Airport. Adult fares are £4.50 for a single, £7.50 for an open return (children £2/£3 respectively) and can be paid in cash at the driver. The journey takes about 30 mins. The buses offer free wi-fi connection, sockets for charging electrical equipment, CCTV allowing top-deck passengers to monitor their luggage, and electronic "next-stop" information. The Airlink buses have a dedicated blue livery which makes them easy to distinguish from the rest of the Lothian fleet.

At night there is an additional service, the Lothian night bus N22, (stop D), which goes to the city center on a slightly different route than the Airlink. You need to buy a NIGHTticket at £3 (no concessions, exact change required), which is also valid until 04:30 on all the other night buses. If you have a valid Airlink ticket you can also use it on this night bus if you are travelling between the Airport and the city center (Princes Street/Waverly Station).

A cheaper alternative is the ordinary Lothian Buses Service 35, which runs from the bus stop F outside the arrivals building via the Royal Mile/High Street (City center) to the Ocean Terminal (Leith). Although much slower (at least 1h or more depending on traffic) and with less provision for baggage than the 100, it is far cheaper at £1.50 a single and also allows the use of day tickets (£3.50) and other options that work on all Lothian Buses services (see Get around), a great option for getting straight to the city if travelling lightly or on a budget. You need to pay the driver the exact fare, since they cannot give you any change. Only coins are accepted (no bills).

The new Edinburgh Tram links the airport with the city centre, passing Edinburgh Park railway station. A single ticket costs £5 (valid for all stops including the Airport and you have to board the tram within 30 min after the purchase) and a return ticket £8 (the return journey can be on any day). Prices for children are £2.50 and £4, respectively. If you plan to do some additional trips on the same day, you can also buy a day ticket for £9 which gives you unlimited travel between all tram stops and the Lothian Buses (day services) for one day. Get off at Princes Street or St Andrew Square for the city center and to connect to the main train station (Waverley Station). The journey takes about 40 min to the city center. The service to the city center starts at 06:15 until 22:45 every 8-10 min Mon-Sat and every 12-15 min on Sundays. The service to the airport starts at 05:29 until 23:08 every 8-10 min Mon-Sat and from 05:29 until 22:58 every 12-15min on Sundays.

If you want to go directly to Glasgow from Edinburgh Airport, you can take the Citylink Air at stop C, which takes 1 hour and costs £11.40 single and £18.60 return. It runs every day.

To connect to Fife from Edinburgh Airport, there is a Stagecoach bus service Jet 747 which leaves at stop G. It runs every 30 min during the day, less frequently in the early mornings and in the evenings. The journey takes 25 minutes. Tickets cost £5.20 single and £7.20 day return.

By train

Old Booking Hall in Waverley Station
Wikivoyage has a guide to Rail travel in the United Kingdom

The main railway station in Edinburgh is called   Waverley Station (EDB) (owned and managed by NetworkRail) and is an attraction in itself. First opened in 1846, Waverley Station was rebuilt 1892-1902. It lies between the Old and New Towns, adjacent to Princes Street, Edinburgh Castle and the Princes Street Gardens, where it serves over 14 million people per annum. Despite various refurbishments, the past still survives in the station's elaborate, domed ceiling where wreathed cherubs leap amid a wealth of scrolled ironwork.

Waverley Station is a major hub for the Scottish rail network, operated by ScotRail. There is an hourly service to Dundee and Aberdeen, and two hourly to Inverness. Shuttle trains to Glasgow (Queen Street) run every 15 minutes throughout the day, dropping to 30 minutes on evenings and Sundays, and the journey takes 45–50 minutes. There are also services which operate via Bathgate and Airdrie to Glasgow Queen Street Low Level at a 15 minute interval. Stopping patterns differ on this route, meaning that every half hour, the service takes approx. 1 hour whereas every other half hour services take around 1 hour 15 minutes to complete the journey. Some services run to Glasgow Central instead, but run via Lanarkshire with many more stops. Certain CrossCountry trains originating from Birmingham and the south west also continue to Glasgow Central - again your ticket will be valid on these services but the journey will take slightly longer than the shuttle. Consider the GroupSave Day Ticket for a daytrip to Glasgow which you can (only) buy at the counter for a 30% discount on regular return tickets valid on weekends and on off-peak trains Monday to Friday for groups from 3 people.

The vast majority of train services to Edinburgh from London (and most of eastern England) are operated by Virgin East Coast; an hourly service leaves from London Kings Cross station throughout the day until 6PM. Journey time is between 4hrs 20min and 5 hours. The cheapest tickets (£16 to £90) are advance single (one-way) fares for a fixed train time bought 2–12 weeks in advance, and the flexible Saver Ticket (roughly £100 single or return) is not valid at some times to/from London. Virgin Trains operate a 2 hourly service from Birmingham (New Street) via the West Coast Mainline with an average journey time of 4hrs 4 mins.

For a different travel experience from London, try the Caledonian Sleeper service, which runs every night from London's Euston Station except Saturdays, and the journey takes approximately 8 hours. Bear in mind that if you are travelling alone you may have to share the sleeping compartment with a stranger of the same sex. Tickets can be booked in the usual manner at any main line railway station in Britain, and the cost of a return journey to Edinburgh from London varies from around £100 for two one-way "Advance" tickets rising to the full open return fare of £165. You can also travel for around £23 one-way in a seated carriage or £95 return (full fare). BritRail passes can be used to reserve tickets on the sleeper trains.

However, heavily discounted one-way tickets on the Caledonian Sleeper known as "Bargain Berths" are available for £19, £29, £39 or £49 depending on how early you book, but, confusingly, these cannot be bought from a railway station in the normal way but only from the sleeper website, and you will be emailed an e-ticket (similar to an airline), which you must print out and show to the conductor at the platform before getting on the train.

Trains to other English cities are operated by Arriva Cross Country (services via York, Birmingham and central England to the south coast and West Country) and Trans-Pennine Express (services to Manchester via Carlisle) from Waverley.

The "charged by the piece" left luggage service at Waverley railway station is much more expensive (£7 per item for 0–24 hours!) than the lockers a few blocks away at the Edinburgh bus station on St Andrew Square.

Haymarket railway station concourse

There is a second railway station in the centre of Edinburgh,   Haymarket (HYM), around a mile to the west of Waverley. If you are arriving from the north, west or southwest, Haymarket is a better station to exit at if you are heading straight for the airport, zoo, or modern art gallery or if your accommodation is on the west side of town as you will avoid the city centre traffic, and it is on the major westbound bus routes. The Edinburgh tram also has a stop right in front of the Haymarket railway station. Haymarket station opened in 1842, but was basically rebuilt in 2013 with a much larger concourse and better access to the platforms.

Both Waverley and Haymarket stations have ticket barriers so you will need to purchase a ticket in order to enter or leave the platform area. If you get on a train at an unmanned station, you can purchase a ticket from the conductor on the train or a ticket inspector near the barrier gates: note that there is usually a long queue during the peak rush hour period. The barrier gates will retain single journey tickets at the end of your journey so be sure to get a receipt if you need one. If you have the larger kind of ticket that does not fit in the barrier, you will need to go to the gate manned by a member of staff who will check your ticket and let you through. If you do not have a ticket, you will need to go to the ticket office behind the barrier (platform 14 at Waverley) to buy one.

Another railway station,   Edinburgh Park (EDP), is some way from the city centre, serves business parks and "The Gyle" shopping centre (see Edinburgh West). As of December 2010, direct trains to and from Glasgow Queen Street Low Level began to serve Edinburgh Park, on the Airdrie-Bathgate route (or A2B) operating on a 15 minute interval. There services will take around an hour to get to Glasgow from Edinburgh Park. You can also reach this station with the Edinburgh tram, which stops right beside the station.

By car

By road, Edinburgh can be reached most immediately by the M8 motorway (from Glasgow and the west), M9 (from Stirling and the north-west), A90/M90 (from Perth, Dundee and northern Scotland), the A1 (from Newcastle upon Tyne and north-east England) and A702/M74 (from Carlisle and north-western England).

From London the fastest route to Edinburgh is the M1 motorway, followed by the A1(M) and the A1 - a journey of 640 km (398 mi) and approximately 8-9 hrs driving time.

Edinburgh is not a particularly car friendly city (the worst city to drive in outside of London in the UK) with the myriad of one-way streets and the Old Town's medieval layout, and the dedication of parking wardens to ticketing anything that is not moving is legendary. Finding parking can be difficult, though there are several multi-storey car parks in the city centre (Castle Terrace for the West End, try St James Centre or Greenside at the East End). If visiting for the day, it is often cheaper and quicker to use the new Park and Ride systems now in place on all approaches to the City so it's even easy to leave your car on the outskirts (see National Park and Ride Directory). For visitors arriving from the M8, follow directions for Edinburgh Airport to reach Ingliston Park and Ride. This facility is half a mile from the airport terminal.

By bus

The city is served by the major inter-city bus companies from around Scotland and England. Most long distance services start and end at the   Edinburgh Bus Station at St Andrew Square. There are two entrances one at North St Andrew Street (to the left of the Louis Vuitton shop) and the other one at Elder Street. The Edinburgh tram has a stop called St Andrew Square a couple of meters away from the first entrance. The main railway station, Waverley Station, is within walking distance (about 400m, 5-10min). Services to major cities and towns in Scotland are provided by Citylink amongst others, whilst longer distance coaches to other parts of the UK are mainly provided by National Express and Megabus. The opening times of the station are Mon-Thu, Sun 04:30-00:00 and Fri-Sat 04:30-00:30.

The left luggage lockers at the Bus station are much cheaper than the "charged by the piece" left luggage service at Waverley Railway Station.

By boat

A ferry & bus service from Belfast to Edinburgh can be booked through Citylink. It takes about 7.5 hours and costs around £30.

Alternatively, a combined Rail & Sail ticket from Belfast Central (BFC) is available through ScotRail. It costs £30 one-way and you travel via Cairnryan and Ayr (to any location in Scotland, not just Edinburgh). The suggested connection takes about 9 hours (travel time without waiting time is 7 hours).

Passenger cruise liners are a common sight in summer at Leith Docks, where a new terminal has been built next to the Ocean Terminal shopping/leisure complex.

Get around

Edinburgh is a compact city - most of the sights and major tourist attractions are within the Old Town (mainly around castle and Royal Mile) and New Town and are no further than a 15 minute walk apart. Walking along elegant or atmospheric streets is one of the pleasures of the city. There are however, a number of hills to be navigated; for example from Princes Street, up The Mound towards Edinburgh Castle requires some significant legwork, but it's worth it for the views en route.

The city's public transport system is heavily reliant on buses, which have to navigate the city's sometimes bustling traffic. Despite this they run late into the night, with a vast number of routes offering frequent and cheap transport around the city. Equally, the suburban railway network is very sparse compared to that of Glasgow, although there have been some slow and steady improvements over the years. On 31 May 2014 trams began services between the city centre and the airport.

By bus

A Lothian Bus

Edinburgh has two main bus companies, Lothian Buses, which is majority-owned by Edinburgh City Council, and First, a private operator. These two companies share the same bus stops, but the route numbers and tickets are not interchangeable and they operate different fare structures.

Lothian Buses is the largest operator in the city and its distinctive burgundy and cream coloured buses have become as much a symbol of Edinburgh as its buildings. Many routes have different coloured buses, which can help to identify at a glance which bus is approaching. Route Map City Centre Map Night Bus Map

Tickets for travel can be purchased on the bus and the exact fare (coins only) is required as no change can be given. A wide range of tickets can also be purchased at Lothian Buses travel shops (Waverley Bridge, Hanover Street or Dalkeith town centre) and online including, booklets of 20 ticket and scratch card day tickets. Single tickets for Lothian Buses are £1.50 (70p for under 16s) and are valid for one journey only, irrespective of distance. If you have to change bus, you must buy another ticket.

More conveniently, Lothian Buses offer an all-day ticket (DAYticket) for £4 (children £2) that covers all transport (except sightseeing, airport express and night services). Families with 2 adults and up to 3 children can purchase the Family DAYticket for £7.50. The all-day tickets are a great way to see the city without the expense of the tour buses, as you can get on all Lothian buses and Trams (except the airport stop) for the whole day. You can buy these from any bus driver, ticket machines at any Tram stop, from Lothian Buses offices or from Lothian Buses online store.

If you start travelling after 18:00 you can consider the DAY&NIGHTticket for £3.50 (no concessions) which allows you to travel on any day service and the night service until 04:30 the next day. From midnight till 04:30 you can buy a NIGHTticket which costs £3 (no concessions) and is valid on any night bus for the entire period even if you have to change the bus.

Lothian Buses are in the process of rolling out their BusTracker service. This provides "real time" bus service information. Electronic signs are being installed along major routes, showing the wait time for the next bus on each service at that stop. Online, it's possible to view the information for every bus stop in the city, not just those stops with electronic signs. Every stop has a unique eight-figure code, which are listed on the website and also displayed at the stop. You can access Bus Tracker via a mobile phone at mobile.mybustracker.co.uk. A free apps named "Edinbus" for iPhone and "My Bus Edinburgh" for Android provide similar information with route maps and a stop locator.

First buses mostly service farther-flung areas to the east and west of the city. Route Maps

Edinburgh Coach Lines operate service 13, a bus of use to many visitors as it is the only route serving the National Gallery of Modern Art and the Dean Gallery. Single tickets are in line with Lothian fares at £1.50 for adults and 70p for children (under 16). Lothian Buses season tickets and day tickets are not valid on service 13.

Lothian buses that operate sightseeing buses in several different brandings. All have a policy that a sightseeing ticket is valid for 24 hours, so you can get around central Edinburgh quite handily using the sightseeing buses. Each sightseeing bus follows a different route around the city, but they all start and finish at Waverley Bridge, adjacent to Waverley Station on Princes Street. Tickets valid on one of the offered city routes cost £14 for adults, £13 for students/seniors, £6 for children (5-15) and £33 for families (2 adults + 3 children). The Grand24 ticket gives you access to all city tours for £20, £18, £7 and £46.

By train

A small number of suburban rail routes run from Waverley station, most of the stations lying in the south west and south east suburbs of the city, and are useful for reaching the outer suburbs and towns of Balerno, Currie, Wester Hailes, Wallyford, Prestonpans, Musselburgh, South Queensferry, Newcraighall and a useful link to Edinburgh Park which is adjacent to the Gyle shopping complex. Services to North Berwick, Bathgate, Fife or Glasgow Central will make stops at these various stations. Note that standard National Rail fares apply to these trains - there are no credible daily season ticket options available. Check at the station before you board!

By car

Central Edinburgh is a nightmare to drive in, particularly the Old Town with its tangle of medieval streets with their associated one way systems. The New Town fares slightly better, but the scourge "Blue Meanies" who mercilessly swoop on vehicles which may have only been illegally parked for a matter of minutes. It is best to take a bus and/or walk. Park and Ride facilities provide access to the city centre.

Edinburgh operates a Controlled Parking Zone in the city centre. On-street parking is mostly for residents with a parking permit. However, some Pay and Display on-street parking bays are available for anyone. To find these bays, the Edinburgh Council provides an interactive and detailed map for on-street parking bays. It lists charges for different parking areas as well as days and times when the charges are required. Typically parking tickets are free of charge after 18:30 and before 8:30, and for the entire day on Sundays.

Parking fines are £40 and vehicles parked in an obstructive manner are liable to be towed away with a £150 release fee to be paid for its retrieval. Even the suburbs (especially Morningside, The Grange, The Meadows) have little parking available. Leith seems to fare a bit better for parking, but there's no guarantee.

Drivers should beware of trams.

By foot

Edinburgh is a beautiful city that's full of history. There is no better way to see it than to walk, though it should be noted that this is not for the faint hearted as they city consists of many steep hills.

Edinburgh walking directions can be planned online with the walkit.com walking route planner.

By tram

Tram route map
Trams on Princes Street

A single tram line has recently been built which links St Andrew Square in the centre of Edinburgh to Edinburgh Airport on the west, passing through the New Town along Princes Street. Between Haymarket station and the airport the tram runs on an off road track, but runs on the road between Haymarket and St Andrew Square. This was due to be finished by 2012, but disputes with the main construction contractor and delays in construction mean that the first passenger carrying trams ran 31 May 2014, with the project massively overbudget as a result. The combination of these things means the tram project has received almost universal scorn from locals. However, as it links the airport, rugby stadium, both main train stations and Princes Street it may be helpful for some visitors to the city. However buses are likely to remain the main and most practical method of public transport in Edinburgh for the foreseeable future.

A single journey (not stopping at the airport) costs £1.50. Day tickets cost £3.50 and can also be used (or purchased) on Lothian Buses. A single to or from the airport costs £5.00. Holders of the Scottish National Entitlement Card (free travel for locals over 60) can only travel free on the tram if their card was issued by Edinburgh Council.

The PLUSBUS rail ticket add-on allows you to travel on the tram, however the airport stop is excluded.

By taxi

Like most major British cities, Edinburgh offers a choice between Black Cabs, carrying up to 5 passengers, which can be hailed on the street, and minicabs, which must be pre-booked. Black cabs display an orange light above the windscreen to indicate that they are available to hire. It's usually quite easy to find a cab in and around the city centre, and on the main radial routes running out of the centre. There are also Taxi Ranks dotted around the city, where black cabs will line up to be hired. Taxi Rank locations include:

The main taxi firms operating within the city are:

By bicycle

The Edinburgh Innertube map gives a good overview of off-street cycle paths in and around the city center. Many paths are along canals or rivers, through parks and on former railway lines.

You can rent bikes from the following places:

Edinburgh is well connected to the National Cycle Network (NCN) and there are many routes around Edinburgh (see also OpenCycleMap) with a variety of places accessible within a days cycling - Glasgow, Stirling, Falkirk, Musselburgh, and Dunbar - all of which have train stations for the return journey. The number 1 route which goes south from Edinburgh to Melrose in the borders and then east to Berwick-upon-Tweed (and then back on the train) can be done in one weekend with a variety of accommodation available for an overnight stay in the historic border town of Melrose.


Individual listings can be found in Edinburgh's district articles
Entrance to Edinburgh Castle
Palace of Holyroodhouse

The major tourist sites in Old Town include Edinburgh Castle at the West end of Royal Mile, a long straight street with lots of (tourist) shops, and the Scottish Parliament and the Palace of Holyroodhouse at the East end close to Arthur's Seat. While walking along the Royal Mile, you can wander off into one of the many closes, which are narrow passages between houses that connect the higher and lower levels of Edinburgh Old Town.

From Calton Hill in New Town you have a great view over the city. You can spend some time walking along Princes Street, the major shopping street, stopping by the Scott Monument or at the free National Gallery of Scotland in the Princes Street Gardens.

If you want to spend some time indoors, there are many museums and galleries which are generally free, except for special exhibitions. Most museums are in the Old Town including the large National Museum of Scotland, the Museum of Childhood and the People's Story Museum. The national art galleries are the National Gallery of Scotland and The Scottish National Portrait Gallery in the New Town, and Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art in West Edinburgh. Also of note are the City Art Centre, the Fruitmarket Gallery and Stills in the Old Town. Furthermore, there are a number of independent galleries in the St Stephen Street Stockbridge and Dundas Street area of New Town.

If you are staying in Scotland a little while, it might be worth getting a Historic Scotland Membership. Passes last for a year, and cost about £40 for adults and £30 for concessions (including full-time students). They provide unlimited access to about 70 paying sites in Scotland, including Edinburgh's Castle and Craigmillar Castle. You also get a lot of discounts for their shops, a quarterly magazine, and 50% off all English, Welsh and Manx historical sites.

Edinburgh Doors Open Day is an annual event, co-ordinated by the Cockburn Association, where many important and/or historic buildings across the city open up their doors to the public at no charge. Many of the buildings are not normally accessible so this can present a unique opportunity to see some of the city's lesser-known architectural marvels. It usually takes place on the last weekend in September. Brochures with details of the participating sites, opening times, access details etc., can be picked up from city libraries in the run up to the day, or downloaded from the website.


Individual listings can be found in Edinburgh's district articles

Performing arts

Edinburgh has an excellent concert and theatre life. The Usher Hall (Lothian Road, Old Town) has weekly orchestral concerts all year round with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra. The Queen's Hall (South Clerk Street, Old Town) is home to the Scottish Chamber Orchestra. The Lyceum (Lothian Road, Old Town) offers theatre performances. The Festival Theatre (Nicolson Street, Old Town) frequently hosts opera and ballet. Europe's largest theatre, the 3000-seat Edinburgh Playhouse (top of Leith Walk, New Town) hosts major West End shows. For a cheaper option, the excellent Bedlam Theatre (Old Town) regularly puts on good student theatre and is the home to Scotland's oldest improvised comedy troupe, The Improverts.

Experience traditional Folk Music at one of the pubs in the Old Town or Leith which host regular sessions.

Outdoor activities

Festival season

The Hub on the Royal Mile, the former Tollbooth Kirk is the headquarters of the Edinburgh International Festival

Edinburgh in the summer becomes "festival city" when a huge number of major national and international arts festivals are hosted by the city. Most of these occur virtually simultaneously in August (or end of July). These cater for a wide variety of interests and include:

One important thing to decide when planning a trip to Edinburgh is whether you wish to go at festival time, which runs from early August through to mid-September. Hotel rooms in and around the city are noticeably much more expensive then, and you will need to book well (at least six months!) in advance.

Christmas and Hogmanay

Edinburgh in the winter festive season is also huge with various concerts and other activities taking place starting a couple of weeks before Christmas and running up to a week into January. Princes Street Gardens play host to a Big Wheel, outdoor ice rink and various festive markets. As in most of the rest of Scotland, Hogmanay, the New Year celebrations, are the main focus of the festive season rather than Christmas. One night before on December 30, a torchlight procession takes place with Calton Hill as final destination where fireworks will be on display. On the night itself whole sections of central Edinburgh are roped off and accessible only by ticket for the Hogmanay street party, which takes place across several stages and is easily the largest in Scotland. Hogmany and Edinburgh fit together like hand and glove. On day one of the new year, you can watch or if you are brave enough take part in the Loony Dook in South Queensferry (people taking a dip in the ice-cold River Forth).

Other annual events


Go to the cinema. Edinburgh has a number of cinemas covering mainstream, foreign language and arthouse films. Most interesting are the Filmhouse and Cameo (Old Town) and the Dominion (South).



Edinburgh University, Old College

Edinburgh is host to a number of higher and further education organisations including 4 Universities. Some offer summer schools of a week or more on topics such as creative writing or printmaking.



Private language schools

Edinburgh is a popular destination for language students, looking to learn English, or build on their existing English language skills. Most schools offer a "homestay" option where accommodation is with a local family, which can be a great introduction to Scottish life. Language schools in the city include:

Other resources


Individual listings can be found in Edinburgh's district articles


Individual listings can be found in Edinburgh's district articles
Edinburgh Rock

Edinburgh is a great city for the food lover. There is a vast selection of eateries scattered throughout every part of the city, catering for all tastes, prices and styles - from fast-food to Michelin-starred grandeur. Just be careful around the castle and in the Grassmarket area, where many restaurants are tourist traps. Rose St, running parallel to Princes St is a pedestrian precinct that has a huge number of pubs offering a variety of pub fare food. As well as the centre of Edinburgh, it is also worth checking out Leith and the West End when looking for a place to eat.

There are quite a few restaurants that have a BYOB policy which means you can bring your own wine or beer for consumption during your meal. Some charge a corkage fee per bottle. Be sure to check and ask before you start drinking.

The Scots are well known for having a penchant for fried food which has resulted in such gastronomic delights as deep fried pizza, deep fried hamburgers, deep fried Black Pudding (a type of blood sausage), deep fried haggis and deep fried Mars bars. If you're up to it, be sure to drop by a chippy (fish and chip shop) and experience these Scottish delights. Edinburgh chippys are unique in the UK for offering salt'n'sauce as standard in place of the salt'n'vinegar usually provided elsewhere in the country. The sauce is a kind of runny, vinegary version of HP or Daddys style brown sauce. Most chippys will provide vinegar on request if you prefer, but you really should try salt'n'sauce at least once!

Edinburgh Rock is a soft confectionery, made from sugar and cream of tartar with various flavourings and colours, including peppermint and ginger. It can often be seen in tourist shops in tartan boxes.


Individual listings can be found in Edinburgh's district articles
Part of the wall in the lounge of the Scotch Whisky Experience

For a non-alcoholic beverage give Scotland's second national drink a try Irn-Bru. It's a great cure for hangover.

As for Scotland's first drink, you will find The Scotch Whisky Experience at the top of The Royal Mile, which offers an interactive "tour" of the history and practise of whisky distilling. For a less touristic experience simply enjoy your whisky in one of the many pubs. The closest single malt whisky distillery to Edinburgh is the Glenkinchie Distillery. The North British Distillery in Edinburgh (near Murrayfield) produces grain whisky which is all used in blending and the distillery is not open for visits.

Recently a few gin distilleries opened in and around Edinburgh producing Pickering's Gin, Edinburgh Gin or NB Gin (from North Berwick).

The two major local beer breweries are the Caledonian Brewery and Stewart Brewing. Smaller local breweries are the Eden.Mill in St Andrews and Barney's Beer.

There are lots of (traditional) pubs all around the city and many of them offer - next to all the standard choices - a changing selection of guest ales. The bartenders can usually give you detailed taste information about each guest ale and are often willing to let you try a small sample. Most pubs also have a great selection of whiskies. Try to avoid obvious tourist trap pubs around the Grassmarket, Old Town and the Royal Mile. Some of them tend to be very popular with visiting stag and hen parties.

Lots of modern clubs are around Cowgate and Lothian Road including Base, Gig and Diva. George Street in the New Town hosts many of Edinburgh's trendier bars. George IV Bridge in the Old Town is another trendy style bar area. Other night clubs around the city include Espionage, Opal Lounge, Shanghai, Bacaro, The Hive, and Why Not.

There are establishments to suit all tastes scattered throughout every pocket of the city. Be careful, some of the more local pubs can be a little rough around the edges, especially in Leith.


Individual listings can be found in Edinburgh's district articles

Edinburgh has been established as a tourist destination for centuries, and so there is a huge choice of accommodation available for travellers. If you're planning a visit during festival time (Aug), around Christmas and New Year, or on the weekend of a Scotland home game in the 6-nations Rugby (Mar/Apr, 2 or 3 matches per year), then you will find that all types of accommodation get booked up well in advance, and a premium may be applied to the room-rate. It's not impossible to get somewhere to stay at short notice at these times, but you won't be able to be fussy and it will probably be expensive. Note however that the average cost of hotel accommodation in Edinburgh is higher than anywhere else in Scotland.

For those on a budget, there are cheap youth hostels available with prices from £10 and above. The private/independent hostels centre around the Cowgate area, the lower Royal Mile and its side streets. The hostels of the HI affiliated Scottish Youth Hostel Association can be booked on-line and are an especially good deal during summer, when the SYHA rents student accommodation as summer hostels: Single rooms in the city centre for a very modest price.

There are Guest Houses and small hotels dotted around almost every part of the city, however there are high concentrations in 2 areas, namely around Newington Road and Minto Street on the South side, and on Pilrig Street and Newhaven Road in Leith. Both areas are within a brisk 15-20 minute walk of the city centre and both have excellent round-the-clock bus services. If arriving in town without having booked accommodation, it may be worth heading for one or other of these areas and looking out for the "Vacancies" signs, though probably not during the festival or around Hogmanay.

Some of the Guest Houses and even hotels can be booked for as little as the hostels at certain times of year, while more upmarket accommodation ranges from boutique B&B's, with just a few rooms, lovingly run by a family, to world-renowned large 5-star hotels.

Another good alternative for accommodation is self-catering holiday apartments. Edinburgh has a wide offer of short term holiday apartments steps away from its main tourist attractions. It is a great opportunity to experience the city as a local. Apartments can be booked on-line. For summer months, especially August, it is highly recommended to book well in advance as most tourists tend to make their bookings in February for this period.

Due to the excellent and frequent rail links between the two cities, savvy travellers can cut the costs by basing themselves in Glasgow, where deals in mainstream chain hotels are easier to come by - and you get the advantage of being able to "do" both cities - bear in mind of course when your last train leaves!



Multiple internet cafés and hotspot venues exist throughout Edinburgh (see district articles for details).

Area code

The dialling code for the whole of the Edinburgh area is 0131. To call from overseas, dial +44 131 XXX XXXX.

Mobile networks

The main mobile networks are EE, Vodafone, Three and O2. However there are a host of MVNOs that use the infrastructure of these networks, these often offer plans tailored towards expat communities and tourists who wish to call abroad, the main players are LycaMobile, Lebara and Giffgaff. Most of these SIM cards can be picked up in local shops and supermarkets.

Stay safe

In general Edinburgh can be considered a safe destination for visitors, but like all other major cities, it pays to remain attentive and use some common sense.

Police Scotland

In an emergency call 999.

For a list of police stations check the official webpage. In order to contact a local police station call 101.

Stay healthy

In emergency, dial 999 (preferably from a landline, a free call from any phone including payphones), 112 also works.

For advice on non-emergency medical problems, you can ring the free 24-hour NHS 24 service on 111 or for textphone users 18001 111 (the old number 0845 424 2424 is being phased out).

Hospitals and clinics


During normal shopping hours (M-F 9AM-5:30PM, Sa 9AM-12:30PM), you won't have any problem locating a pharmacy as they are dotted all around the city. Any row of local shops will usually include one. Common brands include Boots (city centre branches in the New Town at St James Shopping Centre, 11 Princes St, 101-103 Princes St and 48 Shandwick Pl; in the Old Town at 40-44 North Bridge), Alliance and Numark.

Outside of these hours you will face more of a challenge. There are no 24 h pharmacies in the city. In the city centre the best option is probably the Boots branch at 48 Shandwick Pl (western extension of Princes Street), M-F 7:30AM-8PM, Sa 8AM-6PM, Su 10:30AM–4:30PM.

Some of the major supermakets include a pharmacy counter, but note that the pharmacy does not necessarily follow the same opening hours as the supermarket itself. The pharmacy counter within the Tesco supermarket at 7 Broughton Road in Canonmills is quite close to the city centre and opens M-Sa 8AM-8PM and Su 10AM-5PM.

To find a pharmacy that is open on a Sunday or has late opening times call NHS inform on 0800 22 44 88 (between 8:00-22:00 daily) or check online with NHS24.



Consulates and Deputy High Commissions

Many countries run consulates in Edinburgh (Commonwealth countries call these Deputy High Commissions). Some of them cluster between Haymarket and the West End of Princes Street (e.g. Melville St/Cres, Rutland Sq and Lothian Rd). Note that the services offered in Edinburgh vary greatly and it would be best to phone the consulate (or embassy in London) before visiting. There are also a few consulates in Glasgow.


Clothing repairs

Cash machines

Almost all cash machines in Edinburgh will dispense Scottish bank notes (for more info see Currency (Scotland)), but there are a few listed here that usually have Bank of England notes, which may be convenient if you are leaving Scotland:

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