Edinburgh

Edinburgh is Scotland’s capital and second-largest city, after Glasgow. While Glasgow seems to be in constant flux, Edinburgh is proudly a much slower city, reveling in its long and storied history and in no hurry to join in the hectic rush of modern life.

Edinburgh, Creative Commons photo by Moyan Brenn.

Edinburgh, Creative Commons photo by Moyan Brenn.


Getting to Edinburgh

10 million passengers a year go through Edinburgh Airport (EDI), making it the busiest airport in Scotland. It’s an easy one-hour drive from Glasgow on the M8, but it’s a seven-hour haul from London on the M6 and A702, so most travelers will prefer to make that trip by plane. Waverly Station is the main rail station in Edinburgh and it’s an eight-hour trip from London King’s Cross station to Waverly, a trip that many travelers choose to take overnight, so not to waste their vacation daytime on transit.

One particularly scenic way to get to Edinburgh is the drive along Britain’s east coast. Starting in Newcastle and running through the Scottish Borders region, the drive will take about three hours.

Things to Do in Edinburgh

The city of Edinburgh is visually dominated by one central landmark, Edinburgh Castle. Sitting on the Castle Rock, it is visible from basically anywhere in the city, and no trip to the Scottish capital is complete without checking out its castle. Other great attractions include:

  • The National Museum of Scotland
  • Arthur’s Seat
  • Rosslyn Chapel
  • Holyrood Park
  • St. Giles Cathedral

Edinburgh also happens to be the greatest festival city in the world, especially during August, when the International Festival and Fringe take over with thousands of shows. Whether you’re coming specifically for these or not, it helps to be aware of them. Here’s a calendar of upcoming Edinburgh events to help you plan.

There’s always plenty to do for the sports fan as well. You can take in a match at either Easter Road or Tynecastle, home of Hibernian and Hearts football clubs. Or watch Scotland’s national rugby team compete for the Six Nations title at Murrayfield, also a major concert venue when there’s no rugby on. For the kids, there’s the Edinburgh Zoo, and great shopping on George Street.

There are also great side trips from Edinburgh, including a short drive or train ride to the birthplace of Mary, Queen of Scots, Linlithgow Palace.

If you want to explore Edinburgh on your own, that’s great. If you’re looking for a local guide, we recommend Edinburgh Expert. Gareth will take great care of you and make sure you see all the best sights.

Places to Stay in Edinburgh

Edinburgh has every level of lodging a traveler could ask for, from five star luxury hotels to youth hostels. The city definitely has its good and bad streets, so newcomers to Edinburgh should shop for hotels by neighborhood. There’s an area in Leith (between Leith Links and Salamander Street) that serves as Edinburgh’s red light district, something to be aware of when choosing your lodgings, especially if you’re bringing kids along.

A few recommended hotels:

Blinkbonny

Blinkbonny
House

Sandaig Guest House

Sandaig
Guest House

Buckstone

Buckstone B&B

Beverley

The Beverley

Getting around Edinburgh

With a small city center, a ton of attractions packed close together, and good bus service, it’s an extremely walkable city. That’s why I generally tell people they don’t need a car in Edinburgh.