EDINBURGH

Scotland, United Kingdom

Edinburgh is the capital city of Scotland and one of its 32 local government council areas. Located in Lothian on the Firth of Forth's southern shore, it is Scotland's second most populous city and the seventh most populous in the United Kingdom.

Info Edinburgh

introduction

Edinburgh is the capital city of Scotland and one of its 32 local government council areas. Located in Lothian on the Firth of Forth's southern shore, it is Scotland's second most populous city and the seventh most populous in the United Kingdom. The most recent official population estimates are 464,990 for the city of Edinburgh and 492,680 for the local authority area.  Edinburgh lies at the heart of the Edinburgh & South East Scotland City region with a population in 2014 of 1,339,380. Recognised as the capital of Scotland since at least the 15th century, Edinburgh is home to the Scottish Parliament and the seat of the monarchy in Scotland. The city is also the annual venue of theGeneral Assembly of the Church of Scotland and home to national institutions such as the National Museum of Scotland, the National Library of Scotland and the Scottish National Gallery. It is the largest financial centre in the UK after London.

Historically part of Midlothian, the city has long been a centre of education, particularly in the fields of medicine, Scots law, literature, the sciences and engineering. The University of Edinburgh, founded in 1582 and now one of four in the city, was placed 17th in the QS World University Rankings in 2013 and 2014. The city is also famous for the Edinburgh International Festival and the Fringe, the latter being the world's largest annual international arts festival. The city's historical and cultural attractions have made it the United Kingdom's second most popular tourist destination after London, attracting over one million overseas visitors each year. Historic sites in Edinburgh includeEdinburgh Castle, Holyrood Palace, the churches of St. Giles, Greyfriarsand the Canongate, and the extensive Georgian New Town, built in the 18th century. Edinburgh's Old Town and New Town together are listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, which has been managed by Edinburgh World Heritage since 1999.

info
POPULATION :• City and council area 464,990
• Metro 1,339,380 
FOUNDED : Founded Prior to 7th century AD
Burgh Charter 1125
City status 1889
TIME ZONE :• Time zone GMT (UTC±0)
• Summer (DST) BST (UTC+1)
LANGUAGE : 
RELIGION : 
AREA : 264 km2 (102 sq mi)
ELEVATION : 47 m (154 ft)
COORDINATES : 55°57′11″N 3°11′20″W
SEX RATIO :
ETHNIC :White 93.1% 
Asian 5.5%
Black 1.4%
AREA CODE : 0131
POSTAL CODE : EH1-17, EH28-30
DIALING CODE : +44 131
WEBSITE : www.edinburgh.gov.uk

Tourism

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.

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.

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.


Historic Scotland Membership

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


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.

History

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 600’s, 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 1800’s, 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.

Climate

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.

Climate data for Edinburgh

MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecYear
Record high °C (°F)15.0
(59)
15.2
(59.4)
20.0
(68)
22.8
(73)
29.0
(84.2)
27.8
(82)
30.0
(86)
31.4
(88.5)
26.7
(80.1)
24.4
(75.9)
17.3
(63.1)
15.4
(59.7)
31.4
(88.5)
Average high °C (°F)7.0
(44.6)
7.5
(45.5)
9.5
(49.1)
11.8
(53.2)
14.7
(58.5)
17.2
(63)
19.1
(66.4)
18.9
(66)
16.5
(61.7)
13.1
(55.6)
9.6
(49.3)
7.0
(44.6)
12.66
(54.79)
Average low °C (°F)1.4
(34.5)
1.5
(34.7)
2.8
(37)
4.3
(39.7)
6.8
(44.2)
9.7
(49.5)
11.5
(52.7)
11.4
(52.5)
9.4
(48.9)
6.5
(43.7)
3.7
(38.7)
1.3
(34.3)
5.86
(42.53)
Record low °C (°F)−15.5
(4.1)
−11.7
(10.9)
−11.1
(12)
−6.1
(21)
−2.4
(27.7)
1.1
(34)
4.4
(39.9)
2.2
(36)
−1.1
(30)
−3.7
(25.3)
−8.3
(17.1)
−11.5
(11.3)
−15.5
(4.1)
              
Source: Met Office

Geography

Situated in Scotland's Central Belt, Edinburgh lies on the Firth of Forth's southern shore. The city centre is 2 12 miles (4.0 km) southwest of the shoreline of Leith and 26 miles (42 km) inland, as the crow flies, from the east coast of Scotland and the North Sea at Dunbar. While the early burgh grew up near the prominent Castle Rock, the modern city is often said to be built on seven hills, namely Calton Hill,Corstorphine Hill, Craiglockhart Hill, Braid Hill, Blackford Hill, Arthur's Seat and the Castle Rock, giving rise to allusions to the seven hills of Rome.

Economy

Edinburgh has the strongest economy of any city in the United Kingdom outside London and the highest percentage of professionals in the UK with 43% of the population holding a degree-level or professional qualification. According to the Centre for International Competitiveness, it is the most competitive large city in the United Kingdom. It also has the highest gross value added per employee of any city in the UK outside London, measuring £57,594 in 2010. It was named European Best Large City of the Future for Foreign Direct Investment and Best Large City for Foreign Direct Investment Strategy in the Financial Times fDi magazine awards 2012/13.

In the 19th century, Edinburgh's economy was known for banking, publishing and brewing. Today, its economy is based mainly on financial services, scientific research, higher education, and tourism. In March 2010, unemployment in Edinburgh was comparatively low at 3.6%, and it remains consistently below the Scottish average of 4.5%. Edinburgh is the 2nd most visited city by foreign visitors in the UK after London.

Banking has been a mainstay of the Edinburgh economy for over 300 years, since the Bank of Scotland (now part of the Lloyds Banking Group) was established by an act of the Scottish Parliament in 1695. Today, the financial services industry, with its particularly strong insurance and investment sectors, and underpinned by Edinburgh-based firms such as Scottish Widows and Standard Life, accounts for the city being the UK's second financial centre after London and Europe's fourth in terms of equity assets. The Royal Bank of Scotland opened new global headquarters at Gogarburn in the west of the city in October 2005, and Edinburgh is home to the headquarters of Bank of Scotland, Sainsbury's Bank, Tesco Bank, TSB Bank and Virgin Money.

Tourism is also an important element in the city's economy. As a World Heritage Site, tourists visit historical sites such as Edinburgh Castle, the Palace of Holyroodhouse and the Old and New Towns. Their numbers are augmented in August each year during the Edinburgh Festivals, which attracts 4.4 million visitors, and generates over £100m for the local economy.

As the centre of Scotland's government and legal system, the public sector plays a central role in Edinburgh's economy. Many departments of the Scottish Government are in the city. Other major employers include NHS Scotland and local government administration.

Subdivisions

Old Town

The Old Town of Edinburghrepresents the historic core of the Scottish capital, built eastwards of the Castle Crag, along the Royal Mile to Holyrood. This article also covers the areas to the immediate south and west of the Old Town - Southside andTollcross.

Along with the New Town, the Old Town was listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1995.

New Town

The other halfof 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

Stockbridge and Canonmills are two adjacent districts of Edinburgh. They cover the area immediately to the north of the New Town. The main tourist draw here is the Royal Botanic Garden, but don't miss the eclectic variety of independent shops and some great places to eat and drink. It's also the place to seeInternational cricket matches.

Leith

Leith is the port district of the Scottish capital of Edinburgh, located to the north of the city centre on the shoreline of the Firth of Forth. Traditionally a separate burgh, Leith and its inhabitants remain determinedly independent in nature and character, despite being absorbed by the larger City of Edinburgh.

East

The beach district of Portobello and the historic village of Duddingston both lie in the east of the city.

South

The South of Edinburgh includes the Meadows and popular areas such as Bruntsfield, Morningside, Marchmont and Newington. Further afield you find the Pentland Hills Regional Park and the famous Rosslyn Chapel. This district borders with the Union Canal and Lanark Road to the west.

West

Edinburgh's excellent zoo is here, plus the temple of sport that is Murrayfield rugby stadium.

Internet, Comunication

Internet

Multiple internet cafés and hotspot venues exist throughout Edinburgh.

  • Free Wi-Fi is available in many places across the city such as coffee shops, department stores, larger high street shops and supermarkets.
  • Many of the municipal libraries throughout the city have PCs with free internet access and free Wi-Fi.
  • ScotRail offers free Wi-Fi on some trains and train stations including Edinburgh Park, Haymarket, and Waverley Station.
  • There is also free Wi-Fi on all Edinburgh trams and some Lothian Buses.
  • The Airlink bus between the airport and the city center provides free Wi-Fi as well.
  • On some of the Stagecoach express buses, there is free Wi-Fi, too.

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.

Prices in Edinburgh

PRICES LIST - EUR

MARKET / SUPERMARKET

Milk1 liter€1.05
Tomatoes1 kg€2.20
Cheese0.5 kg€5.00
Apples1 kg€2.00
Oranges1 kg€1.90
Beer (domestic)0.5 l€1.80
Bottle of Wine1 bottle€8.50
Coca-Cola2 liters€2.20
Bread1 piece€0.95
Water1.5 l€1.05

PRICES LIST - EUR

RESTAURANTS

Dinner (Low-range)for 2€30.00
Dinner (Mid-range)for 2€60.00
Dinner (High-range)for 2
Mac Meal or similar1 meal€6.00
Water0.33 l€1.05
Cappuccino1 cup€3.15
Beer (Imported)0.33 l€4.60
Beer (domestic)0.5 l€4.45
Coca-Cola0.33 l€2.20
Coctail drink1 drink€9.00

PRICES LIST - EUR

ENTERTAINMENT

Cinema2 tickets€20.00
Gym1 month€35.00
Men’s Haircut1 haircut€15.00
Theatar2 tickets€120.00
Mobile (prepaid)1 min.€0.20
Pack of Marlboro1 pack€10.50

PRICES LIST - EUR

PERSONAL CARE

Antibiotics1 pack€6.00
Tampons32 pieces€3.60
Deodorant50 ml.€2.20
Shampoo400 ml.€3.40
Toilet paper4 rolls€2.00
Toothpaste1 tube€1.60

PRICES LIST - EUR

CLOTHES / SHOES

Jeans (Levis 501 or similar)1€67.00
Dress summer (Zara, H&M)1€35.00
Sport shoes (Nike, Adidas)1€69.00
Leather shoes1€76.00

PRICES LIST - EUR

TRANSPORTATION

Gasoline1 liter€1.29
TaxiStart€3.50
Taxi1 km€1.80
Local Transport1 ticket€1.80

Tourist (Backpacker)  

51 € per day

Estimated cost per 1 day including:

  • meals in cheap restaurant
  • public transport
  • cheap hotel

Tourist (business/regular)  

241 € per day

Estimated cost per 1 day including:

  • mid-range meals and drinks
  • transportation
  • hotel

Transportation - Get In

Transportation - 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 aNIGHTticket 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 £1.60 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. 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.

Transportation - Get In

By Train

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 theGroupSave 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.

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. 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.

Transportation - Get In

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.

Transportation - Get In

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 . 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.

Transportation - Get In

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.


Transportation - 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.

Transportation - Get Around

By 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 £1.60 (80p 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.

Transportation - Get Around

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!

Transportation - Get Around

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.

Transportation - Get Around

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.

Transportation - Get Around

By tram

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 £1.60. Day tickets cost £4.00 and can also be used (or purchased) on Lothian Buses. A single to or from the airport costs £5.50. 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.

Transportation - Get Around

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:

  • Outside the main entrances of Haymarket and 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's 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+44 131 229-2468. Black Cabs.
  • City Cabs+44 131 228-1211. Black Cabs.
  • Edinburgh Taxi,  +44 131 610-1234. Minicabs, saloon cars, MPV's with 8 seats and chauffeur driven vehicles.
  • Festival Cars+44 131 552-1777. 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.

Transportation - Get Around

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:

  • BikeTrax11-13 Lochrin Place, Tollcross+44 131 228-6633. Between £17 and £25 for one day, weekly offers available.
  • Leith Cycle Co276 Leith Walk,  +44 131 467-7775. From £17 for one day; weekly offers available.
  • Pedal Forth17 East Cromwell St, Leith,  +44 131 554-9990. Mon-Sat: 9:00-17:00; Sun: closed. £15 per 24 hours; weekly offers available.
  • Cycle Scotland29 Blackfriars Street, EH1 1NB,+44 131 556-5560. From £20 per day.

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.

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Shopping

  • Princes Street (New Town), north of the castle, is the main shopping street in Edinburgh. It runs through the middle of the city from the train station to Lothian Road. It contains large chain stores such as HMV for music, Topshop and H&M for clothes, tourist oriented shops, and department stores.
  • There are many more upmarket shops, restaurants and bars on George Street (New Town), which runs parallel to Princes Street.
  • Cockburn Street (pronounced "co-burn") in the (Old Town) has many small alternative shops selling music, novelty toys, underground clothing, body piercings and spiritual items.
  • The Royal Mile (Old Town), especially the higher end near the castle, has many tourist-oriented shops selling Scottish souvenirs from postcards to whisky and kilts.
  • Victoria Street (Old Town) is a nice street which is well worth a visit. You can find colourful buildings and interesting boutiques which are worth having a look at.
  • Victoria Street also leads onto the Grassmarket (Old Town), a street which gives stunning views of the castle, which dominates right over it, and is also full of interesting and nice shops, as well as several pubs and restaurants. The Grassmarket is definitely well worth visiting.
  • Multrees Walk (also known as The Walk), for high-end labels such as Vidal Sasoon, Armani, Vuitton, Harvey Nichols or Calvin Klein (New Town).
  • Other malls include Princes Mall or St James Mall which are both just off Princes Street, and Ocean Terminal in Leith.
  • Take home a bottle of Scotland's finest export, a single malt whisky.
  • There are many charity shops that sell second-hand products. On Nicolson Street (Old Town) you can find quite a few.

Restaurants

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 achippy (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.

Coffe & Drink

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 practice of whisky distilling. For a less touristic experience simply enjoy your whiskyin 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.

Sights & Landmarks

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 Parliamentand the Palace of Holyroodhouseat 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 alongPrinces 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 £49.50 for adults and £39.50 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.

Museums & Galleries

Edinburgh has many museums and libraries. These include the National Museum of Scotland, the National Library of Scotland, National War Museum, the Museum of Edinburgh,Surgeons' Hall Museum, the Grand Lodge of Scotland Museum and Library, the Museum of Childhood, and Our Dynamic Earth.

Edinburgh Zoo, covering 82 acres (33 ha) on Corstorphine Hill, is the second most popular paid tourist attraction in Scotland,  and currently home to two giant pandas, Tian Tian and Yang Guang, on loan from the People's Republic of China.

Edinburgh is also home to The Royal Yacht Britannia, decommissioned in 1997 and now a five-star visitor attraction and evening events venue permanently berthed at Ocean Terminal.

Edinburgh contains Scotland's five National Galleries of Art as well as numerous smaller art galleries. The national collection is housed in the National Gallery of Scotland, located on the Mound, now linked to the Royal Scottish Academy which holds regular major exhibitions of paintings. Contemporary collections are shown in the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art which occupies a split site at Belford. The Scottish National Portrait Gallery in Queen Street focuses on portraits and photography.

The council-owned City Art Centre in Market Street mounts regular art exhibitions. Across the road, The Fruitmarket Gallery offers world class exhibitions of contemporary art, featuring work by British and international artists with both emerging and established international reputations.

There are many small private galleries, including the Ingleby Gallery. This provides a varied programme including shows by Callum Innes, Peter Liversidge, Ellsworth Kelly, Richard Forster, and Sean Scully.

The city hosts several of Scotland's galleries and organisations dedicated to contemporary visual art. Significant strands of this infrastructure include: The Scottish Arts Council, Edinburgh College of Art, Talbot Rice Gallery(University of Edinburgh) and the Edinburgh Annuale.

Things to do


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 excellentBedlam 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

  • 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.
  • Climbing Arthur's Seat, the extinct volcano, is a popular activity as well and rewards you with great views over the city (Old Town).
  • If you have more time, then you should go hiking in the Pentland Hills for a (half) day trip (South).

Cinema

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


Sport

  • See a 6 Nations Championship rugby match at Murrayfield Stadium(West). 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.
  • Take in a football match at Heart of Midlothian FC's Tynecastle Park (West), or Hibernian F.C.'s Easter Road Stadium (Leith).
  • Catch a match of the city's professional rugby club, Edinburgh Rugby, at Murrayfield (West).
  • Catch an American Football match at the Edinburgh Wolves's home venue of Meadowbank Stadium (East).
  • Swim in the Royal Commonwealth Pool, used for the Commonwealth Games in 1970, 1986 and for the diving in the 2014 Glasgow games.

Festivals and events


Festival season

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:

  • Edinburgh International Festival. In August. The original that spawned all the rest. Founded in 1947 and still seen as more "high-brow" than any of its offspring. Surprisingly, tickets are often priced more reasonably than for many Fringe shows. Some events have previewperformances at a much lower price. The final concert at the end of the festival takes place in the Princes Gardens and features an extensive firework show coordinated with the music. Get tickets early in advance if you want a seat. But it's also great to watch the fireworks and listen to the music for free on Princes Street.
  • Edinburgh Military Tattoo. In August. 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! There are usually fireworks at the end of the shows which can also be seen from e.g. the Grassmarket area.
  • Edinburgh Fringe Festival. In August. As the name might suggest, this Festival developed on the "Fringe" of the main International Festival and offers more alternative performances, with an emphasis on comedy and avant-garde; it is now the largest arts festival in the world. Many shows offer cheaper preview tickets on the first two days of the festival or a 2for1 ticket special on two selected dates. There are a few sub-festivals that are part of the Fringe such as the Assembly Festival, Summerhall Festival and CtheFestival. Part of the Fringe are also many free events (with donation if you liked the show) across the city grouped mostly under the PBH's Free Fringe or Free Festival.
  • Forest Fringe. In August. Takes place around the same time as the Fringe Festival.
  • Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival. In July.
  • Edinburgh International Book Festival. In August. Takes place in a temporary village of marquees at Charlotte Square Gardens (West End of George Street, New Town).
  • Edinburgh Art Festival. In August.
  • Edinburgh Mela. End of August. Multicultural festival held in Leith.
  • Edinburgh International Television Festival. End of August.Predominantly a "closed shop" for industry professionals only.

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

  • Edinburgh International Science Festival. Takes place annually in March or April. Emphasis on "hands-on" science.
  • Beltane Fire FestivalCalton Hill, New Town. Fire Festival marking the beginning of summer (evening of April 30). The festival has its origins in the pre-Christian Celtic festival of the same name, which was held to herald the coming of spring and to celebrate the fertility of the countryside. Drums, dancing, semi-nudity, pagan ritual, home-brew and lots of fire and fireworks. Crowds of around 12,000 enjoy the ceremony and spectacle every year. For the full traditional experience stay awake until dawn and head across to Arthurs Seat to wash your face in the dew.
  • Hidden Door. Annual non-profit art, music, theatre, etc. event taking place in unused spaces in the city that change from year to year. End of May/beginning of June in 2016.
  • Degree ShowEdinburgh College of Art, Old Town. Around the end of May the Edinburgh College of Art opens its doors and exhibits the works on art, design and architecture of their students. A similar event, the Masters Degree Show, takes place in August as part of the Edinburgh Art Festival. See the ECA event calendar for details. Free.
  • Imaginate Festival. Every May/June, an international festival of children's theatre.
  • Meadows Festival. A free festival in the Meadows (South) on a weekend in early June with lots of food stalls, second-hand merchandise and live music.
  • Edinburgh International Film Festival. 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.
  • Samhuinn Fire FestivalGrassmarket, Old Town. Fire Festival marking the beginning of winter (evening of October 31). Procession and enacted fight between the King of Summer and Prince of Winter with great accompanying percussion. Free, donations are collected.
  • Guy Fawkes Night (Bonfire Night). Evening of November 5. With ticketed fireworks (£6.50) in the Meadowbank Sports Center (East). Can be seen (for free) from several locations in the city.
  • St Andrew's Day. Celebrate St Andrew's Day, Scotland's national day on November 30. There are many free events on the nearest weekend in Edinburgh. Historic Scotland opens many of its sites for free (free tickets are required and can be booked online).

Nightlife

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 theGrassmarket, 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 includingBase, 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.

Things to know


Orientation

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.

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