Touring Edinburgh, Scotland
The city is divided between the New Town and the Old Town and is dominated from a hill by the Edinburgh Castle. To enjoy the city to the fullest, we recommend strolling through the streets and courtyards of the old town, which will take you back to the Middle Ages, relax in its well-tended parks and museums, watch the sunset from one of its viewpoints and end the day with a drink.
If you have extra time, you can take a trip to some of the wonders of Scotland such as Loch Ness, Saint Andrews town, Dunnottar Castle, Isle of Skye or Rosslyn Chapel, among many others. It is another place to explore European culture and history.
Using the experience of many travelers like us, we have created a list of following tips for you if you have plans for traveling to Edinburgh.
1. What is the Best Time to Visit Edinburgh?
Although we can say that it is always a good time to travel to Edinburgh, the best time is from May to September, when you will enjoy temperatures close to 20 degrees. Keep in mind that the rains are present in the city and throughout the country throughout the year, although usually, they are small showers that last a short time.
If you want to save money on accommodation and avoid overcrowding, the best months are May and September, since in this season you will have many hours of light and less chance of rain than in summer.
Although winter in Edinburgh is very cold and there are a few hours of light, it can also be a good time to see the snowy city and the beautiful Christmas markets.
2. Entry Requirements and Travel Insurance
The citizens of the European Union only need to show their ID or passport to enter the country, without the need for a visa. These requirements will surely change if the United Kingdom leaves the EU with the famous Brexit, so it is important to be aware and check the latest information about it.
If you are from another country, we recommend consulting the Ministry of Foreign Affairs or the Embassy of your country, where they will indicate which are the required documents.
Another requirement for traveling to Edinburgh, which is not mandatory, but is very necessary, is to carry the European Health Card to cover most medical problems.
Also, check information related to your carrier. For example, if you are traveling with United Airlines, check out United Airlines flight information in advance.
3. Exchange of Money
Keep in mind that Scotland belongs to the United Kingdom, and despite being a country of the European Union, it does not have the euro as its official currency.
It is advisable to withdraw money at ATMs rather than exchange offices to get sterling pounds. We use the N26 card to pay and the BNEXT card to withdraw money, and besides avoiding paying commissions, we always have the change updated.
Another one of the best tips for traveling to Edinburgh, if you do not have any of the cards mentioned above, it is to take out the minimum amount of money at the ATMs of the airport and wait to get to the city, where the tellers of the banks usually charge less commission.
4 How to get from Edinburgh Airport to the City Center?
To make the transfer to the center from Edinburgh Airport, located 12 kilometres from the city, you have these options:
Bus: the Airlink blue bus, operating 24 hours, will take you to the Waverley Bridge station, located in the centre, in 25 minutes for 4.50 or 7.50 pounds if you buy a round trip.
Line #300 of the Skylink bus will drop you off at the Surgeon’s Hall stop, located in the center, for the same price as the Airlink. This bus runs from 6 in the morning to 11 at night, and if you want to make the transfer at dawn, you can use the N22 line, which stops at Princes Street and costs 3 pounds.
You can check the timetables and the stop closest to your hotel on the official website of the Lothian Company.
- Tram: The Edinburgh Trams will take you downtown, with stops at Princes Street and St Andrew Square, in about 40 minutes for £ 5 or € 8.50 if you buy round trip. The tramway runs from 06:00 to 23:00 and has a frequency of 10 minutes.
- Private transfer: The most convenient way is to wait for a driver at the exit of the arrivals terminal and take you directly to your hotel. You can book this service here.
- Taxi or Uber: The taxi with capacity for 5 people costs about 30 euros. Another good option is to use Uber, which costs about 25 euros.
5. Where to Sleep When Traveling to Edinburgh?
One of the best tips, if you are going to travel to Edinburgh in summer and want to save money, is to book a hotel for several months in advance.
The most beautiful and central area to stay is around the Royal Mile in the Old Town, having the most points of interest in the city nearby.
If you have a bigger budget and want a quieter area, we recommend New Town, where one of the most valued hotels in this neighbourhood is the Old Waverley Hotel, located next to the Waverley train station and with a good connection to the airport using the bus and tram. In addition to its superb location on popular Princes Street and a 10-minute walk to Old Town, the hotel has a 24-hour reception, an excellent breakfast, attentive staff and one of the best value for money in the city.
If you are not convinced by the New Town area, you can also find a hotel in the Modern Stockbridge, a cheaper area located half an hour’s walk from Old Town and 15 minutes from Princes Street.
Old Town in Edinburgh
6. Transportation in Edinburgh
When traveling to Edinburgh you have to bear in mind that it is a city that has most places of interest in Old Town, between the Castle and the Palace of Holyrood and even to some of the most distant points of the center, such as Calton Hill and Dean Village, can be easily reached on foot.
If you prefer to use public transport to the farthest points, you have the bus that covers the entire city and a single tram line that connects to the airport. If you are short of time to visit the city, it may be advisable to book the tourist bus, which stops at the main tourist attractions of the city.
7. Places of Interest
A good way to visit most of Edinburgh’s attractions is to walk the entire Royal Mile, the most famous street in the city that links the Castle with the Palace of Holyrood.
We recommend you to start your visits by Edinburgh Castle, the most visited place in the city where you can enjoy magnificent views of the city from its walls. It is a place that attracts the most people, so it is advisable to book tickets in advance to save yourself from queues.
After the visit to the castle, you can go down the Royal Mile, stopping at the Cathedral of St Giles and discovering the closes, covered passageways that lead to beautiful interior patios, among which the Mary King’s Close.
In this street and its adjacent ones are also some of the most historic pubs in the city such as Deacon Brodies’s Tavern and The World’s End, perfect for a good pint and a stop on the route.
Close to the Royal Mile is Victoria Street, which is another beautiful street in the city that impresses by having two levels and houses with colourful facades.
The Royal Mile ends at the Palace of Holyrood, official residence of the Queen of England when she visits Scotland, which has the ruins of the Augustinian Abbey of Holyrood, which is a real jewel.
After visiting the Old Town, you can go down to New Town to see places like Princes Street Gardens, the National Gallery of Scotland, the Scott Monument and walk 20 minutes to the charming village of Dean Village.
Before sunset, we recommend going up the Calton Hill to see the best sunset over the city, and if you have extra time, you can also go up to Arthur’s Seat, an ancient volcano located in Holyrood Park and the highest point of Edinburgh.
8. Routes Through the City
Having 2 or 3 days to travel to Edinburgh is perfect because, in addition to visiting all the places of attraction, you will have time to walk through its streets and alleys with more elegance.
Something important to make the most of the time is to plot the itineraries on foot or by public transport, before leaving the hotel.
9. Where to Eat in Edinburgh?
Another reason to travel to Edinburgh is to try their copious plates of food, always accompanied by a pint of beer or a glass of good malt scotch. Some of the most typical dishes are:
- Haggis: the most famous Scottish dish made from lamb or sheep meat, oatmeal, onion, and spices.
- Neeps and tatties: mashed radishes and potatoes that usually accompany the haggis.
- Black Pudding: a sausage made of blood, spices, and fat.
- Porridge: porridge or oatmeal porridge.
- Stovies: salad with onion and potato.
- Fish and chips: fish fry with chips typical of the whole United Kingdom.
- Cock-a-leekie: soup of leeks, potatoes, and chicken broth.
- Oatcakes: oatmeal cookies.
- Shortbreads: butter cookies.
Among the most valued restaurants and pubs in the city to try typical dishes, which are also in tourist areas, are Deacon Brodies Tavern, The Dome, Usquabae, Wildfire, Pibroch, and Lovage.
10. Tours and Excursions
If you have extra time and you have completed all the essential visits to the city, you can do some of the best excursions in Edinburgh.
These one or several day tours will allow you to see some of the most beautiful places to visit in Scotland such as Loch Ness, Saint Andrews town and Glasgow, the castles of Dunnottar and Glamis, the Rosslyn Chapel and the beautiful Isle of Skye among many others. The best way to get to all these places and have the freedom to stop where and when you want is to rent a car. But if you do not want to rent a car, or drive, you can combine the bus and the train to reach most of these places, although you will lose considerably more time than by car.