EDINBURGH FAQ'S

How do I get from the airport to my hotel?

Edinburgh Airport lies 7 miles west of the city center, but only offers a few transatlantic flights. However, it does have air connections throughout the United Kingdom. Glasgow Airport, 50 miles west of Edinburgh, serves as the major point of entry into Scotland for transatlantic flights.

From Edinburgh Airport: There are no rail links to the city center, although the airport lies between two main lines. Lothian Buses operates between Edinburgh Airport and the city center daily every 15 minutes from 9:00am to 5:00pm and approximately every hour otherwise. The trip takes about 40 minutes or up to an hour during peak traffic times. A one-way ticket costs £1.50. Lothian Buses also operates an Airlink express service to Waverley Station via Haymarket that takes 25 minutes. Buses run every 10 minutes, and one-way tickets cost £3.50. A new tram service to the airport, projected to debut in 2014, costs £4.50.

Taxis are readily available outside the terminal. The trip takes 20 to 30 minutes to the city center, 15 minutes longer during rush hour. The fare is approximately £22. Note that airport taxis picking up at the terminals can be any color, not the typical black cabs.

From Glasgow Airport: Scottish Citylink buses depart Glasgow Airport and travel to Glasgow's Buchanan Street bus station (journey time is 25 minutes), where you can transfer to an Edinburgh bus (leaving every 20 minutes). The trip to Edinburgh takes about two hours and costs £13.20 one-way. A far better option is to take a 20 minute taxi ride from Glasgow Airport to Glasgow's Queen Street train station (about £20) and then take the train to Waverley Station in Edinburgh. Trains depart about every 30 minutes with a journey time of 50 minutes and a cost of £13 to £20. Taxis from Glasgow Airport to downtown Edinburgh take about 70 minutes and cost approximately £100.

How do I get from the train station to my hotel?

Edinburgh's main train hub, Waverley Station (the second largest in Britain), is downtown, below Waverley Bridge and around the corner from the unmistakable spire of the Scott Monument. Edinburgh's other main station is Haymarket, about four minutes (by rail) west of Waverley. Most city buses have stops on adjoining streets and there are taxi stands at both Waverley and Haymarket stations. Tram stops will include Haymarket and St. Andrew Square (near Waverley Station).

How do I get around the city using public transportation?

After much delay and disruption, trams should return to the streets of Edinburgh in mid-2014. Useful stops for travelers will include Haymarket, Princes Street and St Andrew Square (near Waverley Station). Tickets are £1.50 for a single journey and £3.50 for a day ticket, which includes buses as well. The airport service will be a little more expensive than the Airlink bus (£4.50 one way).

Until the trams are completed, Lothian Buses, the main operator within Edinburgh, will continue to provide the chief method of public transportation in the city. The adult one way minimum fare of £1.20 covers the principal Edinburgh districts. Your best bet though is to purchase a Day Ticket (£3.50) that allows unlimited travel. Be advised that bus drivers will not give change so carry the correct amount in coins. Buses are great for cheap daytime travel, but in the evening you'll probably want to take a taxi.

How do I call/hail a taxi?

You can hail a 'black' taxi (similar to those in London) or hire one at a taxi stand. Fares start at £1.50 during the day, with a typical cross-town journey costing approximately £7. Taxi ranks can be found at High Street near North Bridge, both Waverley and Haymarket stations, Hanover Street, North Street, Andrew Street and Lauriston Place. Fares are displayed in the front of the taxi. Note there are additional fees for night journeys and destinations outside the city limits.

I will have a car in Edinburgh, where can I park?

Unless absolutely necessary, we suggest that you don't drive in Edinburgh! Traffic, roundabouts, one way streets, narrow cobbled roads, dedicated bus lanes and construction for the tramways are all good reasons for NOT having a car. Not to mention driving on the left for visitors who aren't used to it. Metered parking in the city center is scarce and expensive and the local traffic officials are vigilant. Illegally parked cars are routinely towed away, and getting your car back will be expensive. Parking lots are clearly signposted at Castle Terrace (near Edinburgh Castle), Waverley Station and St. James Centre (close to the east end of Princes St.). Note that overnight parking is expensive and not always permitted. If you are planning on taking any day trips or touring the Scottish countryside then we suggest you pick up your rental car as you depart the city to avoid excessive rental/parking expenses.

Is Edinburgh a walking city?

One of Edinburgh's greatest virtues is its compact size, which means that it is not a difficult place to navigate. The two main areas of interest are the Old Town and the New Town, where you'll find Edinburgh Castle, the Scottish Parliament, Princes Street Gardens and the National Gallery of Scotland. Old Town, the focal point of Edinburgh for centuries, cascades down from the castle on either side of the High Street, better known as the Royal Mile. Because of its narrow lanes (known as 'wynds' and closes), you can only truly explore this area on foot.

Is Edinburgh a dangerous city? Are there certain areas I should avoid?

Like most big cities, Edinburgh has its share of crime, but in general, violent crime against visitors is extremely rare. Tourists are typically prey to incidents of pick pocketing and mugging and should take the same precautions as they do elsewhere in the world. They should also avoid visiting ATMs if it is late at night and there aren't many people around. Visitors should take steps to ensure the safety of their passports. In Scotland, you are not expected to produce photo identity to police authorities so passports may be more secure in locked hotel rooms or safe.

Can I pay/tip in US dollars?

The units of currency in Scotland (as in all of Great Britain) are the pound sterling (£) and pence (p). US dollars are not accepted. Please be sure to have the correct currency on hand or be prepared to exchange your dollars for pounds (or quid) upon arrival. Currency exchange desks and ATM's can be found at the airport and many locations throughout the city.

What is Scottish food like? What is a Scottish breakfast?

Traditional Scottish cooking is hearty with staples including fish (such as haddock, wild halibut and herring that's transformed into kippers), potatoes (called tatties), turnips (called neeps), oatcakes, porridge oats and local game such as grouse or venison. And let's not forget haggis, Scotland's national dish, which is a spherical sausage made of the liver, heart, and lungs of a sheep, chopped and mixed with suet and oatmeal and seasoned with onion, pepper and other spices packed into the sheep's stomach and boiled.

Scottish breakfast, or the full fry-up, as the locals may call it, consists of most or all of the following: eggs, bacon and sausage; black pudding or haggis; grilled tomatoes and mushrooms; fried bread or potato scones; toast with marmalade or jam; juice and coffee or tea. A feast this size can often keep you going right through until lunch!

What are the best areas for shopping?

New Town's Princes Street is the hub of popular high-end brands while elegant George Street is the place for boutiques and jewelry stores. For tourists, Old Town's Royal Mile is the place to find Scottish souvenirs, whether you're looking for tartan (choose from 200 patterns at Geoffrey (Tailor) Kiltmakers) or a fine bottle of single malt whiskey (Royal Mile Whiskies).

Although bargains can be found at the tourist oriented shops along the Royal Mile, more unique gifts are found at the shops in the city's national galleries and in the Museum of Scotland.