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Edinburgh is a huge city with several district articles containing sightseeing, restaurant, nightlife and accommodation listings — have a look at each of them.

Edinburgh (Gaelic: Dùn Èideann; [14]) 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 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 rub shoulders with the best of modern architecture, Gothic churches with amazing museums and galleries. 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 and an unequaled 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 Fringe, amongst many others.

Swedish world heritage sign.PNG

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.


Holyrood Palace
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.
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.
Entrance to Edinburgh Castle
Railbridge on the Firth of Forth, an engineering marvel constructed in 1890


Edinburgh is on the west coast of Scotland's east 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. And watch out for these two commonly mis-pronounced streets as well: Cockburn (coe-burn) and Buccleuch (buh-clue) are nearly always got 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.


Evidence suggests that humans have inhabited Edinburgh for millennia. Archeological findings indicate that humans lived in the area as early as 8500 BC, approximately 5,000 years before the Bronze Age. In the 600s, one of the first forts was erected. In the seventh century, the English invaded and named it “Eiden’s Burgh.” “Burgh” being a word for fort. A few centuries later, the Scots reclaimed their land and a castle was built. A small town sprang up, and by the 12th century, Edinburgh had become a thriving community.

The pattern of England gaining control of Edinburgh, being tossed out by the Scots, marshaling their troops, and marching back into battle repeated itself many times over the years. One battle, led by William Wallace, was made famous in the 1995 movie Braveheart. Upon Wallace’s resignation, the Scots nobles chose Robert the Bruce and John Comyn as the Guardians of Scotland. Bruce promptly murdered his rival, and in 1306, had himself crowned king.

Under Bruce’s leadership, England signed a treaty giving Scotland its independence and acknowledging Bruce as king. As a result of a charter written by Bruce shortly before his death, Edinburgh became one of Scotland’s most important royal burghs. When he died, England and Scotland promptly resumed their battles.

In the 15th century, Scotland and England became inextricably linked when the Scottish King James IV married the Tudor daughter of the English King Henry VII. James embodied the term “Renaissance Man.” During his reign the arts and sciences flourished. Unfortunately, the peaceful times didn't last long. The French persuaded James to go to war against his own in-laws and the battles raged again.

By the end of the 17th century, Edinburgh was in shambles. Its population had been severely decimated, first by plague and later by famine. Civil wars had left the economy in ruin. Edinburgh was unsanitary and overcrowded. England and Scotland agreed that peace was the only way out. The Act of Union was signed in 1707. Scotland was now governed by the same parliament and sovereign as England, but retained its own church and legal system.

Edinburgh began to flourish in the 18th century. “New Town” was designed to allow expansion out from the overcrowded and unsanitary conditions. The town gave birth to philosophers, physicists and chemists and the Scottish crown jewels were put on display in Edinburgh Castle.

In the 1800s, the Industrial Revolution introduced the citizens of Edinburgh to new industries. The population quadrupled, to a number almost equal to what it is today. Scotsman Robert Louis Stevenson published his classic works Treasure Island and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

As the decades passed, Edinburgh continued to transform into the thriving city it is today. After World War II, Edinburgh launched its now famous Edinburgh International Festival. Its economy is thriving and the city has the highest percentage of professionals anywhere in the UK. Yet despite its modernities, the restored buildings, archaic street names and cobblestone streets still give visitors glimpses of Edinburgh's turbulent past.


Edinburgh is a literary city. So much so that, in 2004, Edinburgh became the first city to receive the designation UNESCO City of Literature.

  • Robert Louis Stevenson was born in Edinburgh in 1850. A sickly child, Stevenson was frequently confined to his bed. From his bedroom window, he could see a pond with an islet. It is thought that this view helped inspire Treasure Island. The protagonist of his novel, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, also has his roots in Edinburgh. Growing up, Stevenson would have heard tales about William Brody. Brody was a respectable Edinburgh council member by day, and a thief and gambler at night. He was hanged in 1788.
  • Scottish-born author Ian Rankin graduated from the University of Edinburgh in 1982. He then spent the next several years writing novels, time he was meant to spend earning his PhD in Scottish literature. Today, Rankin is Scotland's most successful fictional crime writer. His famous character, Detective John Rebus, frequents The Oxford Bar, an actual pub in Edinburgh.
  • The Encyclopedia Britannica was first published by a society located on Anchor Close, an alleyway that branches off Edinburgh's Royal Mile.
  • J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series, did much of her writing at the elephant house cafe. From the back room where she liked to sit, she would have had a clear view of an old Greyfriar's graveyard, and of a grave inscribed with the name "Thomas Riddell"; possibly the inspiration for Tom Riddle, the name of Harry's nemesis.
  • The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie is set in Edinburgh in the 1930's. Its publication brought its Scottish author, Muriel Spark, international fame. Today it is considered one of the top 100 novels of the 20th century.
  • Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's famous character, Sherlock Holmes, was inspired by a physician named Dr. Joseph Bell. Doyle met Bell while studying medicine at the University of Edinburgh.
  • Jules Verne, famous for 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and Around the World in 80 Days, set part of his story The Underground City in Holyrood Park.
  • Sir Walter Scott, considered to be the founder of the historical novel, was born in Edinburgh and spent his life in Scotland. Much of his novel, The Heart of Midlothian, centers around the Old Tolbooth. For nearly two hundred years, from 1640 to 1817, the Old Tollbooth was Edinburgh's main jail.
  • Set in the port town of Leith Trainspotting, by Irvine Welsh, revealed a side of Edinburgh never seen by tourists. This collection of short stories, later made into a movie by the same name, revealed an existing culture of violence and drug abuse.
  • The cobblestone alleys, dark doorways and hidden squares and gardens of Royal Mile all combine to form a perfect eerie setting for James Hogg's The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner.


It's conceivable that some of Edinburgh’s current day residents could trace their family tree back for millennia. Historical findings indicate that people have lived in Scotland in general, and in Edinburgh in particular, since 8500 BC. With over 80% of Edinburgh’s current population either from Edinburgh or elsewhere in Scotland, it’s possible that their great-many-times-over grandparents emigrated to the country shortly before the start of the Iron Age.

For centuries, these early inhabitants eked out a living. The town did not really begin to grow until the twelfth century when David I built what would later become Edinburgh Castle and Holyrood Abbey. Over time, a town slowly grew up around these two landmarks. Along with the royals and castle inhabitants, there was a large concentration of friars. The rest of the town’s inhabitants were likely farmers, with perhaps a scattering of tradesmen.

For the next few centuries, Edinburgh continued to grow. The population swelled as people from outlying areas came to Edinburgh looking for work. Despite relatively frequent invasions by the English, rampant disease (a plague in the 1600s wiped out almost half of the population of the port town of Leith), famine and fires, the town continued to grow.

Today, Edinburgh is home to just under 500,000 people. Despite the vast majority of people identifying themselves as “White,” Edinburgh is considered one of the more ethnically diverse places in Scotland. Asians in general, and emigrants from the Middle East in particular, comprise the largest subset of Edinburgh’s people.

Edinburgh is primarily home to young professionals. Close to 50% of those living there are between the ages of 16 and 44. Most people who live in Edinburgh either attend the university or are engaged in a white-collar profession.

English is spoken almost exclusively. That being said, many travellers find it difficult to understand those who speak quickly and with a strong Scottish accent. On a rare occasion, it is possible to find an individual who also speaks Scots or Gaelic.

Edinburgh is not a particularly religious city. A little over 40% of the population consider themselves Christian, with many belonging to the Church of Scotland. Visitors to Edinburgh will also find followers and practitioners of Judaism, Hinduism, Buddism and Islam. A poll in 2011 also revealed that a minute number of residents claimed their religion was “Jedi Knight.”


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. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was also a native 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

Speaking in vastly general terms, Edinburgh has a temperate (meaning mild or moderate) climate. During the course of a year, temperatures can range from a high of 71°F (22°C) to a low of 33°F (1°C). Weather, of course, has a mind of its own. While September tends to be the wettest month and April the driest, Edinburgh has no true dry season. Travelers are almost guaranteed that, no matter what time of year they visit, it’s going to rain at some point.

Summer, or the warm season, generally lasts from early June to the end of August or early September. The temperature during the day tends to hover in the mid-60s (approximately 18°C). Rain is not as common as at other times of the year, however showers and the occasional torrential downpour are not unheard of, so it's wise to pack raingear. July is the hottest month and August has still long days, 16 hours of daylight getting shorter over the month to 14 hours and a sunset at 8 pm.

Edinburgh’s winter typically starts in November and lasts through mid-March. January has historically featured the coldest temperatures. During winter, the temperature tends to hover in the low-40s (5-6°C). Showers and steady rain are a given during these months, interspersed with periods of sleet and even snow. Fortunately, Edinburgh offers plenty of indoor activities and tourists sometimes find the best flight and hotel deals during these months. Travelers should dress in layers so they can be comfortable indoors and out. Rain gear is a must.

The few months that bridge the cold and warm seasons (April and May in the spring, September and October in the fall) are the most changeable times of year as far as weather is concerned. As one city guide put it, it’s pretty common during these months to have four seasons worth of weather in a single day. During the cold season, travelers are advised to pack plenty of rain gear and to dress in layers to ensure they stay comfortable throughout the day.

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 (even more than a year in advance!) for booking central accommodation and event tickets at these times.

Get in

By plane

Edinburgh International Airport (IATA: EDI) (ICAO: EGPH) [15], by far the busiest airport in Scotland, is situated 10 miles west of the city. The airport offers a wide range of domestic and international flights to Europe, North America and the Middle East. Edinburgh has more than 40 daily flights London, mainly serving Heathrow although numerous flights to Gatwick, Luton, Stansted and London City can be found on various airlines. Fares to/from London are usually quite competitive, although traveling to Edinburgh via London can be more expensive than using direct services or connecting elsewhere. In addition to this all main UK and Irish cities are directly connected to Edinburgh, as well as numerous destinations in the Scottish Highlands and Islands. There are also daily flights to most major European cities, including, but not limited to Amsterdam, Athens, Barcelona, Berlin, Brussels, Budapest, Copenhagen, Dublin, Frankfurt, Geneva, Hamburg, Istanbul, Krakow, Madrid, Milan, Munich, Oslo, Paris, Prague, Rome, Stockholm, Warsaw and many more. Edinburgh also has direct flights to Beijing, Doha, Dubai and Newark all year round, as well as direct services to Boston, Faroe Islands, New York (JFK), Philadelphia, Tel Aviv, Toronto and Washington DC in the summer season. Edinburgh Airport is also served by numerous charter flights and many other seasonal routes which vary throughout the year. For a full list of destinations served to/from Edinburgh Airport see [16].

Major airlines which serve Edinburgh Airport:

  • Air Canada Rouge
  • Aer Lingus
  • Air France
  • American Airlines
  • British Airways
  • Delta
  • easyJet
  • Emirates
  • flyBe
  • Hainan Airlines
  • Jet2
  • KLM
  • Loganair
  • Lufthansa
  • Norwegian
  • Qatar Airways
  • Ryanair
  • SAS
  • Turkish Airlines
  • United

This list is not exhaustive, for a full range of airlines serving the city, check the airport website directly. Due to the extensive route network, Edinburgh is only one stop away from most of the world.

For any celebrities, royalty, or recreational pilots wishing to use Edinburgh, Private Aircraft are serviced by Signature Aviation [17].

Edinburgh Trams [18] link the airport to Edinburgh city centre every 8-10 minutes between 06.15 and 22.45. Adult fares from the airport to any stop are £5.50 for a single and £8.50 for an open return - you must purchase a ticket from the machine before you board. No change is given, however the machines do accept cards. If you are adventurous, and want to save a few pounds, consider walking to the next stop - Ingliston Park & Ride (lat=55.94004&lon=-3.35420). A single fare from there to any other stop (except the airport) only costs £1.60.

3 dedicated airport bus services are available for city transfers, Airlink 100 and SkyLink 200 [19]. Service 100, runs from outside the airport terminal building to Edinburgh city centre (Waverley Bridge) at least every 10 minutes until 00.22, and then every 30 minutes from then until 04.45. The bus leaves from Waverley Bridge (opposite entrance to train station) for the Airport at the same intervals 24/7. Service 200 runs from the airport terminal building to Ocean Terminal shopping center in Leith, taking a route along the North section of the city. Adult fares are £4.50 for a single, £7.50 for an open return and the journey takes an average 25 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. From 00.22 to 04.45, Airlink passengers must use the N22 nightbus to reach the airport, this leaves from Princes Street. The buses on the N22 service are normal Lothian Buses branded vehicles.

The 300 [20]. is also marketed as "Skylink" and has mainly the same fare structure & new vehicle fleet/frills as "Airlink" [21]. The 300 originates from the bus stance outside the arrivals building to Ocean Terminal via the Royal Mile/High Street. Service is much slower (about 1h30). For the cheapest (slow, less comfortable) options, there are two ways to avoid paying the full bus/tram fare. 1. From the airport, ask for a ticket to South Gyle; £2.50 adult, Option 2. Like the tram (see above), the 300 stops/picks up at Ingliston Park & Ride. If one WALKS to here lat=55.93901&lon=-3.35566) it is far cheaper at £1.60 a single and also allows the use of day tickets (£4.00) and other options that work on all Lothian Buses services, a great option for getting straight to the city if travelling lightly or on a budget. Do note that you must carry exact change with you onto the 300, as the driver can't give any back to you, so try and get this from within the airport, or just take the airlink!

There are bus services to many other local areas as well as a frequent direct bus to Glasgow Airport and at least one daily bus to the English city Newcastle.

Full details of all bus services to/from Edinburgh Airport can be found on this page [22]

For details of the bus to Newcastle, please check here [23]

Glasgow Airport (IATA: GLA) (ICAO: EGPF) [24] may also be a viable option, with a similar (though slightly smaller) range of destinations to Edinburgh Airport, and travel times to Edinburgh of around 1 and a half hours by public transport, or slightly less by car. Budget airlines such as EasyJet, Jet2 and Ryanair offer a range of European and domestic flights, while airlines such as Delta, United Airlines, Air Canada Rouge, Air Transat and WestJet offer flights from a range of North American cities. See the main Glasgow article for more details.

First Greater Glasgow operates the 500 bus service from the airport to Glasgow city centre every 12 minutes during the day, taking around 25 minutes. The bus stops at Dundas Street, which is a minute's walk from Queen Street railway station. ScotRail offers a half-hourly service during the day from Queen Street to Edinburgh Waverley, taking around 50 minutes.

A cheaper but slower alternative is to continue on the 500 bus to Glasgow's Buchanan Bus Station, and take either the non-stop National Express [25] coach service (1 hour 5 mins) or the Scottish CityLink 900 bus service (1 hour 19 mins) from there to Edinburgh Bus Station.

By train

Wikitravel has a guide to Rail travel in the United Kingdom

The main railway station in Edinburgh is called Edinburgh Waverley Railway Station [26] and is an attraction in itself. First opened in 1846, Edinburgh 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.

Edinburgh Waverley Station is a major hub for the Scottish rail network, operated by Scotrail [27]. 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.

The vast majority of train services to Edinburgh from London (and most of eastern England) are operated by London North Eastern Railway (LNER)[28]; an half-hourly service leaves from London Kings Cross station throughout the day until 6:30PM. 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 2-24 weeks in advance, and the flexible Saver Ticket (roughly £100 single or return) is not valid at some times to/from London. Virgin Trains [29] also operate a 2 hourly service from Birmingham New Street via the West Coast Mainline with an average journey time of 5hrs 40 mins.

For a different travel experience from London, try the Caledonian Sleeper service [30] (now operated by Serco), 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.

Tickets can be booked up to a year ahead, via the Caledonian Sleeper website.

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

The "charged by the piece" left luggage service at Edinburgh 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 near St. Andrew Square.

There is a second railway station in the centre of Edinburgh, Haymarket, around a mile to the west of Edinburgh 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.

Both Edinburgh Waverley and Haymarket stations had ticket barriers installed in 2004 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 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 Edinburgh Waverley) to buy one.

Edinburgh Park is a new train station that opened in 2004, which is some way from the city centre, serves business parks and "The Gyle" shopping centre. 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. This service takes around an hour to get to Glasgow from Edinburgh Park.

By road

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) - on-street parking in the centre is limited to four hours, and both on-street and managed car parking is expensive, at around £15 for four hours in the city centre. Overstaying a parking charge is likely to result in a stiff penalty (which the court is perfectly happy to pursue against car hire companies and, ultimately, to the hirer) and possibly impounding of the vehicle. If the latter happens to a hire car then the fines and fees will easily reach £200 to £300. All said, it is often cheaper and quicker to use the new Park and Ride systems now in place on all approaches to the City, (National Park and Ride Directory is available online [31]), so it's even easy to just abandon your car on the outskirts. 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. If you are on a tour that involves you driving into Edinburgh them it's worth finding out whether your hotel has 24 hour parking and, if it doesn't, then parking your car outside the main parking zone and using one of the frequent buses to travel to your hotel or to the city centre.

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 from Edinburgh Bus Station near St Andrew Square. The left luggage lockers at the Bus station are much cheaper than the "charged by the piece" left luggage service at Edinburgh Waverley train station.

By boat

  • A ferry/bus service from Belfast to Edinburgh can be booked through Citylink [32].
  • 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 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 relatively poor next to London and other major European cities - being heavily reliant on buses, which have to navigate the city's sometimes bustling traffic. Congestion charging similar to that found in the English capital has been proposed but was defeated at a referendum. 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.

By bus

Edinburgh has two main bus companies, Lothian Buses [33], which is majority-owned by the The City of Edinburgh Council, and First [34], 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 Bus in the Harlequin livery, at Canonmills

Lothian is the much larger operator in the city itself whose distinctive madder-red (burgundy) and white coloured buses had become as much a symbol of Edinburgh as its buildings. For some reason Lothian saw this as a negative and this livery was almost completely phased out in favour of Harlequin colours, which are predominantly white, with red and gold rhombuses of different sizes along the sides. Some of the more important routes also have different colours on the front and roof of the bus to help passengers spot their required bus. They repainted the fleet into the traditional "madder" livery in 2016, which is the livery used today. Lothian also operates the tram system, which uses essentially the same fare system as its buses. The madder-red colour is used for Lothian City buses (within Edinburgh and immediate suburbs), while Lothian Country buses serve surrounding communities from Edinburgh, such as Queensferry, where the Forth bridges are, along with some routes completely outside the city. Lothian Country buses use a green livery.

Children up to age 5 travel for free. Single tickets for Lothian Buses are £1.70 (80p for over 5s and under 16s) and are valid for only one journey. If you have to change bus, you have to buy another £1.70 ticket! Bear in mind that bus drivers will not give change, so save up those coins. Many buses, as of mid-2019, have also introduced contactless credit/debit card payments on board.

More conveniently, Lothian offer an all-day ticket for £4.00 that covers all buses (except sightseeing, airport express and night services) and the trams (see below). The all-day ticket is a great way to see the city without the expense of the tour buses, as you can get on and off all Lothian buses for the whole day. Kids' day tickets are generously discounted to £2. You can buy these from any bus driver, or from Lothian Buses offices, located at the south end of Waverley Bridge, adjacent to Waverley train station. Should you be staying in Edinburgh for a longer period (a week or more), you may wish to purchase a Rideacard pass, which as of mid-2019 for adults costs £19 per week, and can be loaded for one, two, or four weeks at a time. If you purchase three weeks for £57, you get a fourth week free. This covers you for all Lothian City regular bus AND tram services (including to and from the airport) AND some Lothian Country bus routes, such as the 43 bus that runs between St. Andrew Square and Queensferry, northwest of Edinburgh on the Firth of Forth.

There is a BusTracker[35] service. This provides "real time" bus service information. Electronic signs are 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 A free app named "Transport for Edinburgh" is available for iPhone and Android. They provide similar information with route maps and a stop locator. In fact, often the bus information on the app is more accurate than the electronic signs, and if the electronic signs are (occasionally) not working, the app will almost always have live bus-tracking information instead.

First [36] buses mostly service farther-flung areas to the east and west of the city.

Edinburgh Coach Lines operate service 13 [37], 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 £1.70 for adults and 80p for children (under 16). Lothian season tickets and day tickets are not valid on service 13.

There are also four companies that operate sightseeing buses [38], all of which are now owned by Lothian Buses. 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 Edinburgh Waverley Railway Station near Princes Street. These run on different fares from Lothian City and Country buses, whose passes are not valid on them.

By train

A small number of suburban rail routes run from Edinburgh 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 of Balerno, Currie, Newcraighall, Wester Hailes and South Queensferry and the towns Wallyford, Prestonpans & Musselburgh in East Lothian 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!

The "charged by the piece" left luggage service at Edinburgh Waverley train station is far more expensive than the storage lockers a few blocks away at Edinburgh Bus station near St Andrew Square.

By car

Driving in Edinburgh City Centre is difficult, 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. Edinburgh operates a "controlled parking zone" - on-street parking is illegal within a large central area (see map [39]) without a residents parking permit. 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 (and on-street parking is illegal within the controlled parking zone). It's better to take a bus and/or walk. Leith seems to fare a bit better for parking, but there's no guarantee. Park & Ride facilities provide access to the city centre [40]. Additionally, motorists should take heed of tram operations taking place at various locations throughout the city centre and the west of the city.

By foot

Edinburgh is a beautiful city that's full of history. Since it was planned and built in most parts to a human and walking scale, there is generally no better way to see it than on foot.

  • Edinburgh walking directions [41] can be planned online with the walking route planner.

By tram

Two trams at the West End stop

The long-awaited Edinburgh Trams [42] entered service in May 2014, linking York Place in the centre of Edinburgh to Edinburgh Airport in the west, passing through the New Town to the city centre. After disputes with the main construction contractor and delays in construction, the line started running on the 31st of May 2014. As it links the airport, rugby stadium, both main train stations and Princes Street, it is helpful for some visitors to the city.

The trams operate every 8-10 minutes throughout the day. Single tickets to and from any stop (except the airport) cost £1.60. A ticket to the airport from any other stop costs £5, or £8 for a return. Day tickets are available for £4.00, which allow unlimited travel on the trams (all stops excluding the airport) and Lothian Buses day services for one day. Similarly, any day tickets purchased on Lothian Buses services are valid on the trams, excluding the stop at the airport.

Tickets must be purchased from a machine prior to travel - no change is given, however the machines accept cards.

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. Uber has operated withing the city for a few years now and effectively offer an alternative mechanism to booking minicabs. Black cabs can be hailed on the street but minicabs must be pre-booked, either by calling their controlling office (which most tourists are unlikely to know) or by booking via Uber. 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:

  • Outside the main entrances of Haymarket and Edinburgh Waverley train stations.
  • Opposite the Caledonian Hotel and Sheraton Hotel (both near the West End), The George Hotel (east end of George Street) and the Crowne Plaza Hotel (High Street, Royal Mile).
  • St Patrick Square, off South Bridge
  • Leith Bridge, close to The Shore and Commercial Quay, in Leith

The main taxi firms operating within the city are:

  • Central Radio Taxis (Black Cabs) - +44 131 229 2468
  • City Cabs (Black Cabs) - +44 131 228 1211
  • Edinburgh Taxi (minicabs) - +44 131 610 1234 (saloon cars, MPV's with 8 seats and chauffeur driven vehicles)
  • Festival Cars (minicabs - mostly saloon cars but also have people carriers with up to 8 seats. Let them know the number in your party when you book) - +44 131 552 1777


Cannons on the northern defenses of Edinburgh Castle

If you are staying in Scotland a little while, it might be worth getting a Historic Scotland Membership [43]. 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 [44] 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.

  • Wallace Cycle Tours, 07792129025, [1]. 4. A new addition for the city centre running everyday in the fine, sunny weather of Scotland :) You are given a bike and helmet (to keep that face looking pretty) and you will see Edinburgh in the company of a local guide. .  edit


Looking down the top of Edinburgh's Royal Mile, thronged with Edinburgh Festival visitors
Penguin Parade
  • Edinburgh Castle, Old Town, [2]. Edinburgh Castle, home to the Edinburgh Tattoo, is a magnificently situated royal fortress located on one of the highest points in the city. The castle has been continuously in use for 1000 years and is in excellent condition.  edit
  • Craigmillar Castle, Little France, [3]. The ruins of Craigmillar Castle are a fantastic place to see. Located just after Holyrood Park, about 5Km east of the city centre, the first part of the castle was built in the 14th century. If you're going by taxi, don't forget to keep a number of a taxi company to call one to go back to the city.  edit
  • Abbey and Palace of Holyroodhouse, Old Town, [45]— The Palace is a royal residence, and hosts the Queen's Gallery containing a collection of art from the Royal Collection.
  • St Giles' Cathedral, Old Town, [46]— The historic City Church of Edinburgh is also known as the High Kirk of Edinburgh and takes its name from the city's patron saint.
  • Mary King's Close, Old Town, [47]— Warriston's Close (opposite St Giles' Cathedral), open daily except 25 Dec - a slice of Edinburgh's medieval history, preserved since being closed over in the 18th century - watch out for the haunting.
  • Gladstone's Land, Old Town, In the Lawnmarket at the top of the Royal Mile. It is a 17th century Old Town tenement (known as a 'Land') decorated with period furniture. It has an impressive painted ceiling.
  • Greyfriars Kirkyard, Old Town. A very old graveyard in Old Town off the Southwest corner of George IV Bridge, made famous by Disney as the home of Greyfriars Bobby. If you visit the statue of Bobby, Edinburgh residents appreciate it if you do not touch the statue of Bobby as this is damaging it. Rubbing his nose for luck is not a tradition in Edinburgh despite what any tour guide may tell you.
  • Camera Obscura, Old Town, [48]— Castle Hill. Over 150 years old, the Camera Obscura focuses light from the top of the tower onto a large dish in a dark room below, allowing a 360-degree view of all of Edinburgh!
  • The Scottish Parliament, Old Town, [49], (eastern end of the Royal Mile, opposite the Palace of Holyrood House)— A unique building designed by the Spanish (Catalan) architect Enric Miralles. It is necessary to get (free) tickets to watch the Parliament in session from the Public Gallery.
  • Grassmarket area, Old Town, (a few steps away from the Royal Mile, including George IV bridge and by Greyfriar's Bobby)— A colourful and unique area of the historic old town, once the site of Edinburgh's horse and cattle market and now home to a great selection of independent shops, cafes, restaurants, bars and arts & crafts.
  • Scott Monument, East Princes Street Gardens, New Town. Built in 1846 to commemorate the life of Sir Walter Scott after his death in 1832, the Gothic spire monument allows you to climb 200 ft above the city centre to enjoy fantastic views. £4.  edit
  • The Royal Yacht Britannia, Ocean Terminal, Leith, Jan-Mar, Nov-Dec 10AM-5PM, Apr-Jun, Sep-Oct 10AM-5:30PM, Jul 9:30AM-5:30PM, Aug 9:30AM-6PM last entry 1.5 hrs before closing, closed 1 Jan and 25 Dec, £10, seniors £8.75, child 5-17 yrs and students with ID £8.75, children under 5 free - decommissioned from royal use in recent years and voted one of Edinburgh’s best new attractions, Britannia offers visitors the chance to tour the royal apartments and view a selection of the many gifts offered to the royals by dignitaries worldwide.
  • Royal Botanic Garden [50], Inverleith Row (East Gate) / Arboretum Place (West Gate), Stockbridge. Very impressive gardens with a collection of interesting plants. Great place to wander around on a sunny day, or to sit and have a picnic. Free entry to the gardens. £3.50, £3 concessions, £1 children for entry to the glasshouses.
  • Edinburgh Zoo , West, [51]. Watch the world famous Penguin Parade.
  • Rosslyn Chapel , South, Take the number 37 bus to Roslin in Midlothian to see this chapel, featured in "The Da Vinci Code" novel and film.

Museum and galleries

  • National Museum of Scotland [52] and Royal Museum [53], Chambers St, Old Town tel +44 131 247 4422. fax +44 131 220 4819. typetalk 18001 0131 247 4422. email [email protected] The museum mixes innovative modern architecture with the best of Scotland's heritage. The Royal Museum has a magnificent airy Victorian atrium now with the Millennium Clock at one end - arrange to be there when it is chiming. Exhibits in the Museum of Scotland include Scottish pottery and weapons from the Roman era and the Renaissance. M-Sa 10AM-5PM with extended opening to 8PM on Tuesdays, and Su noon-5PM. Free.
  • The National Gallery of Scotland, The Mound, New Town tel. +44 131 624 6200, [54] holds much of Scotland's fine artwork and carries exhibitions that change seasonally. The new Western Link was opened in 2004 with an entrance from Princes Street Gardens. It joins The National Gallery with the neighbouring Scottish Academy gallery and gives Scotland it's first world class art space.
  • The Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, 74 Belford Rd on the western fringe of the New Town, +44 131 624 6200, [55] contains a fine selection of modern art from Scotland and other countries.
  • The Fruitmarket Gallery, 45 Market St, behind the Edinburgh Waverley Rail Station, Old Town [56]. Aims to find the most appropriate way to bring artists and audiences together. It is a not-for-profit organization and a registered charity. M-Sa 11AM-6PM, Su noon-5PM. Free.
  • There are a number of independent galleries in the St Stephen Street area of Stockbridge


Refer to the district articles for listings.

Holyrood Palace from the Scottish Parliament
  • Walk along the Water of Leith, a small river that meanders through Edinburgh, providing a peaceful haven from the busy city. Check out the Leith or Stockbridge and Canonmills sections of the route.
  • Hike the short climb up Calton Hill to see some of Edinburgh's most iconic monuments (The National Monument, the Nelson Monument, the Stewart Dugald Monument, and more) and for some really great views of Edinburgh, the Firth of Forth and the countryside beyond.
  • Edinburgh has an excellent theatre and concert life. Europe's largest theatre, the 3000-seat Edinburgh Playhouse (top of Leith Walk, New Town) hosts major West End shows. The Festival Theatre (Old Town) frequently hosts opera and ballet, and the Usher Hall (Lothian Road) 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. For a cheaper option, the excellent Bedlam Theatre (Bristo Place, 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.
  • Wander down the colourful Victoria St and discover the Grassmarket area - explore the hub of Edinburgh's independent shops and restaurants
  • Arthur's Seat. The extinct volcano to the East of the city centre offers fantastic views from its summit - and at only 251 m high the ascent isn't too strenuous. If a lighter stroll is in order, a traverse of Salisbury Crags, just below the hill, offers similar panoramas of the city.  edit


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. These cater for a wide variety of interests and include:

  • The Edinburgh International Festival [57]— The original that spawned all the rest. Founded in 1947 and still seen as more "high-brow" than any of its offspring.
  • The Edinburgh Festival Fringe [58]— As the name might suggest, this Festival developed on the "Fringe" of the main International Festival and allows anyone with a venue to host them into the programme. Historically offering alternative more performances, with an emphasis on comedy and avant-garde; it is now the largest arts festival in the world with more than 50,000 performances in its programme spanning theatre, dance, circus, cabaret, comedy and everything in between.
  • The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo [59]— One of the iconic images of Edinburgh for millions worldwide is the yearly Tattoo, kilted pipers skirling below the battlements of Edinburgh Castle. Although tickets sell out well in advance, persevering individuals are likely to find one or two tickets still for sale due to cancellations... just be prepared to ask, ask, and ask again!
  • The Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival. [60]
  • The Edinburgh International Book Festival [61]— Takes place in a temporary village of marquees at Charlotte Square (West End of George Street, New Town).
  • The Edinburgh International Film Festival [62]— Now moved to June from its former slot in August, so that it no longer clashes with all the others! Centred around the Filmhouse Cinema on Lothian Road, though other cinemas take part too.
  • The Edinburgh International Television Festival [63]— Predominantly a "closed shop" for industry professionals only.
  • The Edinburgh Mela [64]— Multicultural festival held in Leith.
  • Edinburgh International Children's Festival [65]— Every May/June, an international festival of children's theatre.
  • Edinburgh International Science Festival [66]— Takes place annually in March or April. Emphasis on "hands-on" science.

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 to get a good deal. Failing that staying on the city outskirts or in nearby towns is a more affordable option.


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. On the night itself whole sections of central Edinburgh are roped off and accessible only by ticket for the Hogmanay street party [67], which takes place across several stages and is easily the largest in Scotland. Hogmany and Edinburgh fit together like hand and glove.


  • Go to the cinema. Edinburgh has a number of cinemas covering mainstream, foreign language and arthouse films.
    • Cineworld, 130 Dundee St, 0871 200 2000. Mainly mainstream and arthouse. This is about 20 mins on foot from Princes Street and a Number 1 34 or 35 bus will take you.
    • Cameo Cinema, Home St, +44 131 228 4141. Mainstream & alternative films, in remarkable surroundings. A much-loved venue that's well worth a visit.
    • Dominion, Newbattle Terrace, +44 131 447 4771. Mainstream & alternative films. One screen is full of two- and three-person leather sofas for the ultimate cinema-going experience.
    • Filmhouse, Lothian Rd, +44 131 228 2688. Edinburgh's (and Scotland's) largest venue for arthouse and foreign language films. Great café and bar, and hub of the annual Film Festival.
    • Odeon Cinema, Lothian Rd, 0870 505 0007.
    • Vue, Leith Walk, 0870 240 6020. Large multiplex.
    • Vue, Ocean Terminal, Leith. Large multiplex.


  • See a 6 Nations Championship [68] rugby match at Murrayfield Stadium [69]. The 6 Nations is effectively the European Championship of rugby, taking place every spring between Scotland, Wales, Ireland, France, Italy and England. The teams play each other once per year, and alternate home and away games. In even-numbered years, England and France visit Murrayfield, while in odd-numbered years, Scotland host Wales, Ireland and Italy. On the weekend of a home match, Edinburgh is absolutely full to bursting, and the atmosphere is like nothing else, especially if Wales or Ireland are in town. If you plan to visit in February or March, be sure to check the fixtures and book accommodation well in advance if your trip coincides with a home match (Edinburgh/West).
  • Take in a football match at Heart of Midlothian FC's Tynecastle Park (Edinburgh/West), or Hibernian F.C.'s Easter Road Stadium (Leith).
  • Catch a match of the city's professional rugby club, Edinburgh Rugby, at Murrayfield (Edinburgh/West).
  • Catch an American Football match at the Edinburgh Wolves's home venue of Meadowbank Stadium (Edinburgh/East).


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

  • The University of Edinburgh [70] - A prestigious university over 400 years old.
  • Edinburgh College of Art [71].


  • Edinburgh College [72]. - Offers courses for UK and international students throughout the year and also runs an English Language summer school accredited by the British Council.

Private 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:

  • EAC School, 45 Frederick St, +44 131 477 7570 (, fax: +44 131 477 7571), [4]. Large, well-established school, with premises on Frederick Street and Queen Street, in the city centre. Offers courses for adult and junior students.  edit
  • Edinburgh School of English, 271 Canongate, +44 131 557 9200 (, fax: +44 131 557 9192), [5]. Great location on the Royal Mile. Caters to both adult and junior students  edit
  • MacKenzie School of English, 6 John's Pl, Leith, +44 131 555 5315 (, fax: +44 131 555 5155), [6]. New (2008) school in a beautifully refurbished Victorian building on the edge of Leith Links. Generally catering to secondary school aged students.  edit
  • TLI English Language School, 48 Palmerston Pl, +44 131 226 6975 (, fax: +44 131 226 6975), [7]. English language School in the central West End area of the city offering a range of English language courses to adults, TEFL courses and stunning views of Edinburgh Castle  edit

  • Other resources
  • National Archives of Scotland, 2 Princes St (at Edinburgh Waverley Station), +44 131 535 1334 (), [8]. Find your Scottish Ancestors in the archives. Also worth visiting for the architecture  edit
  • Caledonian Way, 35/11 Millar Crescent ☎ +44 131 4479476, e-mail: [email protected] Language school agency based in Edinburgh and branch office in Denia (Alicante - Spain). Extensive portfolio of language schools.


While travellers will find expected items (e.g. kilts or whisky, Scotland's national drink), Edinburgh also features a large number of independent retailers offering everything from joke supplies to fine art.

  • Princes Street in New Town offers shopping with a view. All shops here are relegated to one side of the street, giving shoppers an uninterrupted view of the Old Town. Visitors will find large department stores like Jenners (Scotland's oldest independent department store until it's acquisition in 2005), Debenhams and Marks and Spencer (commonly referred to as "M&S"). There is also an Apple Store and several health and beauty shops.
  • Multrees Walk in New Town, on the east side of Saint Andrew Square caters to the luxury shopper. This is the place to find Louis Vuitton, luxury fashion retailer Harvey Nichols, Swarovski, fine art galleries and plenty other shops selling high-end jewellery and watches.
  • Shoppers with a taste for the eclectic, and those who prefer browsing smaller, independent stores should head to Grassmarket in the Old Town. Shops here feature a little bit of everything, from vintage clothing to sixteenth-century prints and maps.
  • Harry Potter fans need to take a stroll down Victoria Street in Old Town. This street is said to have been the inspiration for "Diagon Alley." Souvenir hunters will find bookstores, a joke shop, jewelry and clothing stores. They may even spot a witch or wizard stocking up on supplies at The Cadies & Witchery Tours. Also, if you are interested in Harry Potter, it is worth a visit to the Elephant House on George IV Bridge. The Elephant House is the cafe where author J.K. Rowling wrote the Harry Potter books over coffee and cake, and is even signposted in the window to display the fact.
  • The Royal Mile in Old Town boasts the highest number of "traditional" souvenir shops. Bookended by Edinburgh Castle and Holyrood House, The Royal Mile is home to a number of interesting museums and historical sites. Almost every site has it's own souvenir gift shop. This is also the place to come to find "made-in-Scotland" garments, "traditional" Scottish wear (i.e. kilts in every tartan pattern known and then some), Harris Tweed and whisky. Some shops, like The Scotch Whisky Experience that offers virtual whisky-making tours, also offer tasting sessions.
  • The port town of Leith is best known for its indoor shopping centre Ocean Terminal. Ocean Terminal houses big brand name stores including: Gap, Game, a Vue Cinema, Holland and Barrett and The Perfume Shop. The more unique shops, however, are found outside of Ocean Terminal. Independent stores here offer books, second-hand furniture, eco-friendly gifts, and antiques.


According to Scottish tourism officials, Edinburgh has more restaurants per person than any other town in the UK. Travelers will find everything from Michelin-rated fine-dining establishments to small pubs. And within that array, places offering traditional Scottish fare, seafood dishes, and ones specializing in Indian, Mediterranean or Chinese cuisine. If you crave it, there's a restaurant in Edinburgh that makes it. What follows are some examples of traditional Scottish fare.


A full Scottish breakfast normally consists of eggs, black pudding, tattie scones, Lorne sausage, baked beans, toast, fried mushrooms and grilled tomatoes, not to mention sides of yogurt, cereal, and fresh fruit. And all washed down with tea or coffee. Of course, no Scottish breakfast would be complete without a steaming bowl of porridge.

  • Porridge is made by combining oats, water and a dash of salt. The mix is then heated and stirred with a wooden spurtle (Scottish cooking tool dating from the 15th century) to prevent the porridge from congealing. Eat it alone or add nuts, sugar, berries and milk.

Meat Dishes

Scotland's lush lands and gentle slopes have helped produce some of the top beef breeds in the world. As a result, beef and lamb are commonly used in traditional fare.

  • Haggis is Scotland's national dish. Haggis makers take onions, oatmeal, suet (beef or mutton fat) and spices and mix them together with the offal (organ meat) of a sheep, pig or cow. Traditionally, this mixture was boiled in the stomach of the slaughtered animal. Today, most Haggis preparers use a synthetic casing.
  • Black Pudding, unlike Haggis, is heavy on the carbs and light on the offal. It's a mix of suet, oats, barley, spices and blood stuffed into a protein casing and served like a sausage. Traditionally a breakfast food served predominantly at B&Bs, it is finding its way more and more onto the menus of five-star restaurants.
  • Scotch Pie and Bridie are two types of meat pies commonly eaten by locals. Scotch Pie has a hard crust pastry shell and is filled with minced meat. Scotch Pie full ingredient lists are a closely guarded secret. Bridie is a meat pie with a shortcrust pastry. Its filling consists of minced beef, onions and seasoning.


Scottish desserts showcase Scotland's produce growers, dairy farmers, and whisky makers.

  • Cranachan is a light dessert made of raspberries, whipped cream, honey and toasted oats. A small amount of whisky is sometimes added.
  • Tablet is the Scottish version of fudge. It's made from sugar, condensed milk, and butter.
  • Shortbread is a cookie that is basically a lot of butter mixed with a little flour and sugar. Properly prepared, shortbread is rich, crumbly and a delicious staple of Scottish teas.
  • Clootie dumpling is a classic Scottish dessert. It's a sweet pudding made with dried fruit, suet, sugar, flour, breadcrumbs, a little milk and sometimes some golden syrup. A popular way to eat it is to top it with cream and whisky.


Part of the wall in the lounge of the Whisky Heritage Centre

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.

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 [73] at the top of The Royal Mile, which offers an interactive "tour" of the history and practise of Whisky distilling, complete with a rather sedate barrel ride. This is a good place to go if you want to sample whisky, as they have a very large selection (200+?) at a fairly reasonable price. Older whiskys tend to cost more and the rarest on offer can cost up to £50.00 per measure! The atmosphere is less pub-like than some might like as it tends to be fairly quiet - if you don't fancy the interactive tour and just want to try some whiskys then check the listings for some good whisky pubs but in any event, the majority of Edinburgh pubs tend to have a reasonable array of Scotch whiskys on offer. The food at the Centre is reasonably priced and fairly good.

  • Lots of traditional pubs are all around the city.
  • Many famous traditional pubs on the Grassmarket, Old Town. These pubs are tourist traps and tend to be very popular with visiting stag and hen parties, so locals tend to keep clear.
  • Lots of modern clubs are around Cowgate and Lothian road. George Street in the New Town hosts many of Edinburgh's trendier bars.
  • ScotBeer Tours, [9]. An award-winning brewery and tasting tour, including the history of the city's alcohol. The guides are extremely knowledgeable and entertaining. £16-35.  edit


See the district articles for individual listings.

Edinburgh has been established as a tourist destination for centuries, and so there is a huge choice of accommodation available for travellers. Note however that the average cost of hotel accommodation in Edinburgh is higher than anywhere else in Scotland, and 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 [74] (Mar/Apr, 2 or 3 matches per year), then you will find that all types of accommodation get booked up well in advance, and hefty premiums 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.

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 [75] 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 and bus links between the two cities, savvy travellers can cut the costs by basing themselves in Glasgow, where deals in mainstream chain hotels are often 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 or bus leaves!



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

  • Many of the municipal libraries[76] throughout the city have PCs with free internet access. Some of the most prominent are listed in the relevant district articles.
  • The city's largest independent internet cafe is Mossco Internet Cafe, located near Haymarket Station (18 West Maitland Street), [77].

Stay safe

By all accounts, Edinburgh is an extremely safe destination. In a poll conducted by international market research firm YouGov in 2014, Edinburgh was listed as the safest of the ten most populous cities in the UK. The tap water is safe to drink, like it is anywhere in Scotland. Visitors can eat the food without constant fear of becoming home to a nefarious parasite. And although home burglaries are on the rise, violent crime and robberies happen infrequently.

During the day, visitors can travel safely almost anywhere on the streets of downtown Edinburgh. Although as with any city, there are a few places to steer clear of. Travellers are advised to stay away from the housing districts of Sighthill and Wester Hailes in the south west, the residential housing estates Muirhouse, Pilton in the north and the suburb Niddrie in the southeast and (to a lesser extent) Leith, also in the north. These are areas known for drug use, anti-social behaviour, violence and higher crime rates.

The biggest threat to travellers are pickpockets and muggers. These petty thieves tend to congregate around tourist attractions, on public transport and in crowded areas such as busy shopping centres. Tourists can keep their valuables safe by keeping them out of sight or at least out of easy reach.

Travellers should take a little more caution at night. It is always wise to explore with a friend after dark, and to keep food and drink in sight at all times when visiting bars or pubs. Cowgate in Old Town, Grassmarket and Lothian Road and the top of Leith Walk in New Town are best approached with care and/or with friends. At night, these places tend to become saturated with drunken crowds. Women, in particular, should also stay clear of the Meadows in Old Town and Leith Links after dark.

A good resource to know about is The SafeZone Bus. Operated by volunteers, SafeZone buses are in service on Fridays and Saturdays from 22:00-04:00. They offer free transport home for anyone who is drunk, unwell or simply disoriented. They can also offer first aid services if required. Buses can be found at Cathedral Lane, opposite the Omni Centre, in Old Town.

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 24-hour NHS 24 service on 111.

  • Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh (R.I.E.), 51 Little France Cres, Old Dalkeith Rd (On the southern fringe of the city, it can take up to 30 min from the city centre in a bus or taxi), +44 131 536 1000, [10]. 24 hour opening. The R.I.E. hosts the main Accident and Emergency (A&E) facility for the city.  edit

The Western General near Crewe Toll runs a no-appointment Minor Injuries Clinic between 8am and 9pm every day.


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 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.

For non-prescription medication, ASDA are open 24/7 and have a handful of branches dotted around the outskirts.



Super Mums Childcare Agency, +44 131 225 1744 or +44 7748 964144. Bookings 24hr service, Card payments only (Amex, Visa,Mastercard, Maestro). Round-the-clock baby-sitting is available short- or long-term from £8.50 per hour (3 hour minimum) and travel expenses home (approx. £7). Multilingual sitters are also available.

Deputy High Commissions

Many countries run consulates in Edinburgh [78]

  • As-flag.png Australia, 93 George St, +44 131 243 2589.  edit
  • Ca-flag.png Canada, 50 Lothian Rd, +44 131 473 6100.  edit
  • Ch-flag.png China, 55 Corstorphine Rd, +44 131 337 9896 (fax: +44 131 337 7866).  edit
  • Da-flag.png Denmark, 48 Melville St, +44 131 220 0300.  edit
  • Fr-flag.png France, 11 Randolph Cres, +44 131 220 0141.  edit
  • De-flag.png Germany, 16 Eglinton Cres, +44 131 337 2323.  edit
  • Gr-flag.png Greece, 12 Queens Cres, +44 131 620 5496 (, fax: +44 131 620 5496).  edit
  • In-flag.png India, 17 Rutland Sq, +44 131 229 2144, [11].  edit
  • Ei-flag.png Ireland, 16 Randolph Cres, +44 131 226 7711.  edit
  • It-flag.png Italy, 32 Melville St, +44 131 226 3631 (fax: +44 131 226 6260).  edit
  • Ja-flag.png Japan, 2 Melville Cres, +44 131 225 4777.  edit
  • Mn-flag.png Monaco, 39-43 Castle St, +44 131 225 1200.  edit
  • Nz-flag.png New Zealand, 5 Rutland Sq, +44 131 222 8109.  edit
  • Pl-flag.png Poland, 2 Kinnear Rd, +44 131 552 0301.  edit
  • Ru-flag.png Russia, 58 Melville St, +44 131 225 7098.  edit
  • Sp-flag.png Spain, 63 N Castle St, +44 131 220 1843.  edit
  • Sw-flag.png Sweden, 22 Hanover St, +44 131 220 6050.  edit
  • Tr-flag.png Turkey, 6 Coates Crescent, +44 131 226 6222.  edit
  • Up-flag.png Ukraine, 8 Windsor St, +44 131 556 0023.  edit
  • Us-flag.png United States, 3 Regent Ter, +44 131 556 8315.  edit


  • Bendix Self-Service Launderette, 342-346 Leith Wk, +44 131 554 2180.  edit
  • Raeburn Launderama, 59 Raeburn Pl, Stockbridge, +44 131 343 3399, [12].  edit
  • Direct Dry Cleaning, 47 Bread St, 0844 800 3033, [13]. Offer an interesting service for travellers where they will take your suitcase, unpack it, wash all the clothes and repack the case before handing it all back to you.  edit

Clothing Repairs

  • Oscars, 371 Leith Walk, +44 131 553 3662. Repairs, Zip replacements, hems shortened etc.  edit
  • Huttons Shoe Repairs, 11 Elgin Ter (Just off Easter Rd near its junction with London Rd), +44 131 661 6164. M-F 8AM-5:30PM, Sa 8AM-1PM. Traditional cobblers established since 1923. The present proprietor is the 3rd generation of his family to run the business.  edit

Cash Machines

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

  • HSBC, 118 Princes St
  • NatWest, 8 George St
  • Barclays, Unit 2, 10-15 Princes Street

Get out

  • Peebles, a Historical Town set in the beautiful Tweed Valley. We are 45 minutes from Edinburgh. The Town offers a very interesting historical town walk, we have lovely individually owned unique shops, a weekly market (Thursdays) and an array of eating places and coffee shops. We have the world renowned Glentress and Innerleithen mountain biking centres on our doorstep and fantastic walking routes including the fabulous John Buchan Way. There is also Traquair House, the oldest inhabitated House in Scotland which also has Gardens and a Brewery - the famous Traquair Ale - which is located only a few miles from Peebles. There are lots of attractions nearby including Dawyk and Kailzie Gardens, Robert Smails Printing Works and Go Ape Tree Top Adventure. Local events include the Beltane Festival, Highland Games and Agricultural Show.
  • South Queensferry— On the north-western fringe of the city, site of the contrasting engineering marvels that are the Forth Bridges (one road and one rail). Quite a few hotels here and with good transport links to the city centre it can be a good base for visitors.
  • Glasgow, Scotland's largest city, is located 46 miles west of Edinburgh and is easily reached via train (see above), bus (running from the main bus terminal) or via the M8 motorway. Great for shopping and has some excellent museums and galleries.
  • Fife is a predominantly rural county, with some lovely old towns and villages dotted throughout. This is the coast which can be seen across the Firth of Forth from many viewpoints around the city. It's easy to get to via the twin road and rail bridges across the Forth.
    • Dunfermline, previously the capital of Scotland, makes an excellent day trip. It is easily accessed by car via the Forth Road Bridge. There is a half hourly service by train from Waverley station (also stopping at Haymarket).
    • Aberdour— Described as "The Jewel of Fife", Aberdour is a historic and stunningly attractive coastal village 40 minutes drive North of Edinburgh. Aberdour Castle is a must-see, as well as the Blue-Flag awarded beach the Silver Sands. There are also several pubs, restaurants, and boutique shops. Also served by a half-hourly rail service from Edinburgh - journey time 30 minutes.
    • St Andrews— Ancient university town, former ecclesiastical capital of Scotland, and home of the Royal and Ancient - the ruling body of Golf.
  • East Lothian, immediately to the east of the city, offers rolling green countryside, golden sandy beaches, dozens of golf courses, and more annual sunshine hours than any other part of the UK. The area has a number of picturesque villages and small towns, including North Berwick, with webcams at the Scottish Seabird Centre giving live pictures of thousands of birds on the Bass Rock; Gullane, a mecca for golfers; Musselburgh for ice cream and horse racing; and Dunbar, a pleasant harbour town famous as the birthplace of conservationist John Muir.
    • The Museum of Flight [79] in East Fortune is about 30 minutes drive along the A1 towards Dunbar. It is also close to Drem station on the Edinburgh to North Berwick line. It is home to a number of historic aircraft from across the history of flight, including British Airways Concorde G-BOAA. Remember to book in advance to see inside Concorde as these tickets are generally sold out on the day. Another rather good attraction (and well worth the look) is the De-Havilland Comet 4C, a modified version of the Worlds first jetliner.
  • West Lothian is the area to the west of the city. Generally less pretty than its eastern counterpart, but does have a couple of destinations worth the effort.
    • Linlithgow with its Palace, and links to Mary, Queen of Scots, is a great little town for a day trip from Edinburgh. It is a short drive by car on the M9. There is also a frequent service by train from Waverley station (also stopping at Haymarket).
    • Livingston— One of Scotland's New Towns, it is one of Scotland's most popular shopping spots, only a short drive from Edinburgh on the M8 or A70. Plus there are also bus and rail services to the new town.
  • The Falkirk Wheel [80] Built in 2001 to reconnect the Forth and Clyde Canal with the Union Canal, it is the world's only rotating boat lift. Free entry to the visitor centre / cafe / gift shop. Boat trips up on the Wheel take about an hour, and cost £8 adults, £4.25 children, £6.50 concessions. Half hourly buses from Falkirk town centre, or a good walk from the Falkirk "Camelon" railway station. You can also cycle along the Union Canal from Edinburgh - the route is part of the National Cycle Network.
  • The Glentress Moutain Biking Centre [81] is the largest mountain biking centre in Scotland, and one of the best in the UK. You can hire a bike and helmet for around £20 a day. Routes are provided for cyclists of different skill levels, and are signposted so you won't get lost. You can get there on the 62 bus from Edinburgh in just over 1 hour (see Traveline Scotland [82] for travel info).
  • The Pentlands Hills Regional Park [83] is a low-lying hill range to the South of Edinburgh, popular with walkers and cyclists. Getting there takes around 30 minutes on the bus, or 45 minutes by bicycle from central Edinburgh. Cyclists are allowed to take bikes on buses run by MacEwans's Coach Services [84] which stop at the Flotterstone Inn. Map of official mountain bike routes [85]. Local walks - look for ones with "Pentland" in title [86]
  • National Cycle Network routes around Edinburgh [87] Edinburgh is well connected to the NCN 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.

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