Edinburgh claims more UNESCO World Heritage buildings than any city, has an enormous medieval castle built on an extinct volcano and is the home to the world’s first fire service. This city is also the world’s #1 festival destination and boasts the majestic unicorn as it’s national animal. Let’s visit Edinburgh!
Visiting Edinburgh? Here’s What To Do
There’s really so much to do, this place could keep you busy for days. Here’s a list of our must-see’s when visiting Edinburgh.
Visiting Edinburgh? Admire the Classics:
This 800+ year old castle looks over the city of Edinburgh from it’s perch upon an extinct volcano called Castle Rock. Over the centuries, this impressive complex has spent time as royal palace, fortress, and prison. Today Edinburgh Castle is home to the “Stone of Destiny,” as well as the crown jewels of Scotland, and is Edinburgh’s top attraction. You can explore the castle’s inner walls, passageways, and dungeons, just keep in mind that this castle is known as one of the most haunted places in Scotland!
It would be nearly impossible to visit Edinburgh Castle without a stroll down Old Town’s main street, affectionately known as the “Royal Mile.” This cobbled thoroughfare connects Castle Rock with Arthur’s seat, and is lined with Edinburgh’s incredibly preserved medieval architecture on either side.
Edinburgh’s main shopping street, Princes Street is so popular that is often blocked off to traffic, making way for throngs of pedestrians. This common meeting place divides New Town and Princes Street Gardens, and offers incredible views of Old Town.
Arthur’s Seat is the highest point and largest of Edinburgh’s seven hills. The hike to Arthur’s Seat in Holyrood Park is a popular getaway for locals and tourists alike, and offers some of Edinburgh’s very best viewpoints.
Visiting Edinburgh? Stroll Through Princes Street Gardens:
At just over 200 feet, this is the largest monument to a writer in the world. Dedicated in 1844, the towering monument features an incredibly life-like Sir Walter Scott Statue that must be seen to believe.
The first of it’s kind in the world, this clock is covered by tens of thousands of flowering plants and has been kept accurate since 1903.
AKA Edinburgh Festival Wheel AKA Big Wheel this 138 foot ferris wheel is raised each year during the summer months, in it’s place next to the Scott Monument, just in time for festival season.
Visiting Edinburgh? Book a Tour!
Visiting Edinburgh? Enjoy the Festivals!
The world’s largest art festival, Fringe festival lasts nearly the entire month of August, and features over 50,000 performances of over 3000 shows at nearly 300 venues. A walk down the Royal Mile during Fringe Fest rewards a free performance every few feet!
An annual festival of performing arts that takes place for three weeks in August each year. Established in 1947, the Edinburgh Internationl Festival presents some of the finest dance, opera, music, and theater performers in the world.
The Royale Edinburgh Military Tattoo is an annual series of military tattoos presented by the British Armed Forces, Commonwealth, and military bands from around the world. The performances, which take place on August evenings in Edinburgh Castle, are the hottest tickets of festival season. Best yet, it’ is not uncommon to encounter bagpipers by the hundreds, practicing in the streets together. Check out our video of Bagpipe Pandemonium!
Visiting Edinburgh? Bonus!
We’ve teamed up with GPSmyCity and converted our Edinburgh travel guide into a downloadable application that comes complete with a GPS map of our recommendations and operates offline without any need of data plan or Internet connection. You can check it out here.
Getting to Edinburgh
Getting to Edinburgh: FLY
If planned in advance, you can find reasonable direct flights to Edinburgh from most major cities in Europe for under $20. You can also find affordable international flights from Copenhagen for $11, Ibeza for $13, Brussels for $16, or Frankfurt for $18 with our favorite flight search site, Skyscanner.
Edinburgh Flight Deals
Getting to Edinburgh: TRAIN
Trains throughout the United Kingdom are a great option. You’ll avoid lines at the airport, enjoy beautiful scenery, and the trains are typically very comfortable. If you plan on doing a lot of traveling around Britain, it’s a good idea to look into the BritRail pass, available for 1 day up to 3 months.
Getting to Edinburgh: BUS
Buses are not our favorite mode of travel.. The seats are generally cramped, the ride is bumpy, and departure/arrival times can be unpredictable. Bus travel is generally less expensive and the ride from London is just $30, but the trip to Edinburgh takes over 9 hours.
Airport to Edinburgh City Center
Fly into Edinburgh International Airport which is located about 6 miles from Edinburgh’s City Center. How will you get there?
From Edinburgh Airport:
For just under $7, take the Edinburgh Tram into the city center in about 30 minutes. Find the tram stop on the east side of the terminal, just outside of departures and arrivals area. Tickets can be purchased at the vending machine.
With service running every 10 minutes, the Airlink 100 Express Bus will take you to the city center in about 35 minutes. Purchase one-way tickets for $5.50 at the airport info desk, from the driver, or on the Airlink website.
A metered taxi will have you to the city center in about 20 minutes for roughly $25, while an Uber could be slightly cheaper, ranging $20-$25.
Getting around in Edinburgh
There are about 1300 taxis in Edinburgh so hailing a cab shouldn’t be a problem. UBER is also an option in Edinburgh. If you’re new to UBER, sign up and receive your first ride for free using our discount code: krissy98ue.
Walkscore.com gives Edinburgh a score of 99, calling it a “Walker’s Paradise”. We also found this to be true and highly recommended walking in Edinburgh.
Ediburgh has an extensive public transportation network throughout the city. Between the efficient Tram system and the Lothian Bus system you’ll be very well-connected. Look for all-day or multi-day discount tickets on Edinburgh’s public transport site, or the Transport for Edinburgh app.
Where To Stay in Edinburgh:
Where To Stay in Edinburgh: HOTELS
With prices ranging from $76-$1605/night, from budget to luxury, you’re sure to find the right hotel in Edinburgh. We’ve found some great hotel deals using Priceline’s sister site, Agoda.com.
Edinburgh Hotel Deals
Where To Stay in Edinburgh: HOSTELS
With over 45 hostels in Edinburgh, you’ll likely find one that suits your needs. Prices generally range from $9-$24 a night for a dorm room, while private rooms cost a bit more at about $15-$50 per night. Hostelworld always has great deals, especially in Edinburgh:
Edinburgh Hostel Deals
Where To Stay in Edinburgh: AIRBNB
We love using Airbnb. From private rooms to entire homes, Airbnb is represented in all parts of Edinburgh. The average Airbnb price in Edinburgh is only $88/night. If you’re a first timer to Airbnb use our coupon for $35 off your first night’s stay.
Where To Stay in Edinburgh: NEIGHBORHOODS
Choosing a neighborhood is an important part of trip planning that should not be overlooked! Edinburgh is a city of many unique neighborhoods, many falling into the broader areas of Old Town and New Town. While our general recommendation is to stay closer to the city center, here are some of the best places to consider in Edinburgh.
Likely the most visited neighborhood, this UNESCO World Heritage site is full of well-preserved medieval architecture including Edinburgh Castle, and is home to the popular “Royal Mile” tourist strip.
Built between 1767 and 1850, New Town is also UNESCO certified and is known for art galleries, high-end shopping, and cafes. The blocks near Princes Street are some of the most sought after in Edinburgh.
Just north of the city center, Stockbridge gives off a small village, bohemian vibe, and is home to Edinburgh’s creative community. Stockbridge is where you’ll find fewer name brands and more independent restaurants and shops.
Considered the city’s West End, this is one of Edinburgh’s most popular neighborhoods. With plenty of boutique shopping and cozy cafes, and the rugby stadium and zoo nearby, you’ll find plenty to see and do in Haymarket.
Edinburgh Travel Tips:
Edinburgh Travel Tips: Tipping
Tipping in Scotland is general practice in restaurants, taxis and upmarket hotels. At restaurants tip 10-15% in cash, only if they haven’t already included a service charge. At hotels, leave $1-$2 per day, and for taxi drivers round up.
Edinburgh travel tips: Money
Scotland’s national currency is the Pound, and is currently exchanging at .81GPB to $1USD. Credit cards are widely accepted and ATM machines are readily available.
Edinburgh travel tips: Insurance
Traveling to Edinburgh is exciting and safe, but you never know when some good travel insurance could come in handy. World Nomads offers the best coverage in the business, is affordable, and is quick to act should something go wrong. For more info, check out our recent World Nomads blog post.