Edinburgh, United Kingdom - Travel information, Places of attraction
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About Edinburgh, United Kingdom
[Edinburgh] (Gaelic: Dùn Èideann) is the capital of Scotland located in the Central Belt region of the country. With a population of approximately 450,000 (1 million in the city region), "Auld Reekie" (Edinburgh) manages to combine both ancient and modern in a uniquely Scottish atmosphere. Watched over by the imposing Edinburgh castle, the symbol of the city, Edinburgh combines medieval relics, Georgian grandeur and a powerful layer of modern life with contemporary avant-garde. In Edinburgh, medieval palaces, evident throughout the New Town which is painted with Gothic churches and fascinating historical buildings, rub shoulders with the best of modern architecture, such as the Houses of Scottish Parliament, found in Hollyrood, and the recently renovated National Museum of Scotland. Scotland's throbbing night-life centre, Edinburgh, "the Athens of the North", is also a feast for the mind and the senses, playing host to great restaurants, shops, friendly pubs, wild and mild clubs, and an unrivalled programme of city festivals throughout the year. Hogmanay, the Scottish New Year, kicks off the festivities, which culminate in the high summer with the Tattoo, the International and the famous 'Fringe' festival, among many others.
The Old and New Towns of Edinburgh were listed as World Heritage Sites by UNESCO in 1995. In 2004, Edinburgh became the first member of the UNESCO Creative Cities initiative when it was designated a City of Literature.
In a 2009 poll by YouGov, Edinburgh was voted the most desirable city to live in the UK.
Edinburgh is on the east coast of Scotland's central Lowlands, situated on the southern shore of the Firth of Forth. Edinburgh's landscape is the product of ancient volcanism (both the Castle crag and Arthur's Seat are the eroded plugs of volcanoes) and more recent glaciation (carving out valleys south of the castle and the old Nor'Loch, presently the site of the Princes Street Gardens). Impress the locals by knowing that Princes Street is the correct spelling (dedicated plurally and not possessively for King George III's sons - hence the absence of an apostrophe). Don't make the mistake of pronouncing it Princess Street - though many of the locals won't know the difference! And watch out for these two commonly mis-pronounced streets as well: Cockburn (coe-burn) and Buccleuch (buh-clue) are nearly always gotten wrong, to the amusement of the locals.
Edinburgh's historic centre is bisected by Princes Street Gardens, a broad swathe of parkland in the heart of the city. Southwards of the gardens is the castle, perched on top of an extinct volcanic crag, and flanked by the medieval streets of the Old Town following the Royal Mile along the ridge to the east. To the north of Princes Street Gardens lies Princes Street itself - Edinburgh's main shopping boulevard - and the Georgian period New Town, built after 1766 on a regular grid plan.
Edinburgh has been the royal capital of Scotland since 1437.
Edinburgh is noted as a long-lived literary capital of the English-speaking world.
The great Scottish historical novelist Sir Walter Scott was born in the city and has his great monument on Princes Street. Robert Louis Stevenson and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle were also natives of Edinburgh.
More recently, Edinburgh has variously been the home and inspiration for such well-known modern writers as Muriel Spark (author of The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie), Irvine Welsh (author of the 1993 novel Trainspotting, set in the gritty district of Leith), Ian Rankin (a crime writer best known for the Inspector Rebus series, set in Edinburgh), Alexander McCall Smith ( The No. 1 Lady Detective's Agency and several novels set in the Scottish capital) and J.K. Rowling of Harry Potter fame.
Edinburgh's climate is most comfortable for the traveler from May to September. That said, the weather in Edinburgh is always changeable and visitors should expect both sunshine and rain, whatever the season. Edinburgh tends to get windy while it rains as well, so be sure to pack either a raincoat or a sturdy umbrella! Many a tourist has abandoned an inverted umbrella due to the persistent, whipping winds. Summer, the main festival season, combines long daylight hours with lengthy evenings (being so far north, it rarely gets dark before 10 or 11 at night!). Winter can feel bitterly cold, with short daylight hours, however snow is rare and of a short duration, and most of Edinburgh's winter precipitation comes in the form of a chilly rain and sleet. Edinburgh has an abundance of indoor attractions and activities that make the cold winter days fly by. In other words, bring a coat big lad, will ya?
Do not worry about being cold in winter, because like many modern countries all buildings including the old ones are warm, dry and insulated.
When to go
Travellers should note that Edinburgh becomes overwhelmingly crowded (accommodation-wise) during the main festival periods of high summer (August to early September) and Hogmanay (around New Year's Day / 1 January). Visitors at these times should plan well ahead for booking central accommodation and event tickets at these times.
[Edinburgh International Airport] (IATA:EDI), the busiest airport in Scotland, is situated some 10 miles west of the city. The airport offers a wide range of domestic and international flights to Europe and North America. Many visitors to the city arrive via a connecting flight from London. Edinburgh Airport does, however, have a direct flight to and from Newark (UNITED, Twice daily May–October, Daily November–May), a 25 minute train ride or drive from New York City. In comparison to most Scottish airports, Edinburgh's European flight network is well developed, with frequent scheduled flights to destinations such as Amsterdam, Athens, Barcelona, Brussels, Budapest, Copenhagen, Dublin, Frankfurt, Geneva, Helsinki, Istanbul, Madrid, Milan, Munich, Oslo, Paris, Prague, Rome, Stockholm and Zürich. For a full list of destinations served to/from Edinburgh Airport see [http://www.edinburghairport.com/flight-information/destinations-and-airlines].
A dedicated airport bus service, [Airlink Express], service 100, runs from outside the terminal building to Edinburgh city centre (Waverley Bridge) at least every 10 minutes until 00.32. The bus leaves from Waverley Bridge (opposite entrance to train station) for the Airport at the same intervals 24/7. Adult fares are £4.00 for a single, £7.00 for an open return and the journey takes an average 25 mins. The buses offer free wi-fi connection, sockets for charging electrical equipment, CCTV allowing top-deck passengers to monitor their luggage, and electronic "next-stop" information. The Airlink buses have a dedicated blue livery which makes them easy to distinguish from the rest of the Lothian fleet. The Airlink bus does not run between midnight and 04.30, instead the airport is served by the N22 route which runs every 30 minutes, but takes a slightly different route into town, costing £3.00 single.
A cheaper alternative is the ordinary Lothian Buses service 35 [http://lothianbuses.com/find-your-bus/timetables/819-service-35.html], which runs from the bus stance outside the arrivals building to Ocean Terminal via the Royal Mile/High Street. Although much slower (about 1h30) and with less provision for baggage than the 100, it is far cheaper at £1.50 a single and also allows the use of day tickets (£3.50) and other options that work on all Lothian Buses services, a great option for getting straight to the city if travelling lightly or on a budget.
After 31 May 2014 the new [tram] will link the airport with the city centre, passing Edinburgh Park railway station. It is likely that bus services for the airport will be changed as a result during summer 2014.
Wikivoyage has a guide to Rail travel in the United Kingdom
The main railway station in Edinburgh is called [Waverley Railway Station] and is an attraction in itself. First opened in 1846, Waverley Station was rebuilt 1892-1902. It lies between the Old and New Towns, adjacent to Princes Street, Edinburgh Castle and the Princes Street Gardens, where it serves over 14 million people per annum. Despite various refurbishments, the past still survives in the station's elaborate, domed ceiling where wreathed cherubs leap amid a wealth of scrolled ironwork.
Waverley Station is a major hub for the Scottish rail network, operated by First Scotrail [http://www.firstscotrail.co.uk/]. There is an hourly service to Dundee and Aberdeen, and two hourly to Inverness. Shuttle trains to Glasgow (Queen Street) run every 15 minutes throughout the day, dropping to 30 minutes on evenings and Sundays, and the journey takes 45–50 minutes. There are also services which operate via Bathgate and Airdrie to Glasgow Queen Street Low Level at a 15 minute interval. Stopping patterns differ on this route, meaning that every half hour, the service takes approx. 1 hour whereas every other half hour services take around 1 hour 15 minutes to complete the journey. Some services run to Glasgow Central instead, but run via Lanarkshire with many more stops. Certain CrossCountry trains originating from Birmingham and the south west also continue to Glasgow Central - again your ticket will be valid on these services but the journey will take slightly longer than the shuttle.
The vast majority of train services to Edinburgh from London (and most of eastern England) are operated by East Coast (which replaced National Express on 14 November 2009) [http://www.eastcoast.co.uk/]; an hourly service leaves from London Kings Cross station throughout the day until 6PM. Journey time is between 4hrs 20min and 5 hours. The cheapest tickets (£16 to £90) are advance single (one-way) fares for a fixed train time bought 2–12 weeks in advance, and the flexible Saver Ticket (roughly £100 single or return) is not valid at some times to/from London. Virgin Trains [http://www.virgintrains.co.uk] operate a 2 hourly service from Birmingham New Street via the West Coast Mainline with an average journey time of 4hrs 4 mins.
For a different travel experience from London, try the Caledonian Sleeper service [http://www.firstgroup.com/scotrail/content/caledoniansleeper/], which runs every night from London's Euston Station except Saturdays, and the journey takes approximately 8 hours. Bear in mind that if you are travelling alone you may have to share the sleeping compartment with a stranger of the same sex. Tickets can be booked in the usual manner at any main line railway station in Britain, and the cost of a return journey to Edinburgh from London varies from around £100 for two one-way "Advance" tickets rising to the full open return fare of £165. You can also travel for around £23 one-way in a seated carriage or £95 return (full fare). BritRail passes can be used to reserve tickets on the sleeper trains.
However, heavily discounted one-way tickets on the Caledonian Sleeper known as "Bargain Berths" are available for £19, £29, £39 or £49 depending on how early you book, but, confusingly, these cannot be bought from a railway station in the normal way but only from the First ScotRail website, and you will be emailed an e-ticket (similar to an airline), which you must print out and show to the conductor at the platform before getting on the train.
Trains to other English cities are operated by Arriva Cross Country (services via York, Birmingham and central England to the south coast and West Country) and Trans-Pennine Express (services to Manchester via Carlisle) from Waverley.
The "charged by the piece" left luggage service at Waverley railway station is much more expensive (£7 per item for 0–24 hours!) than the lockers a few blocks away at the Edinburgh bus station on St. Andrew's Square.
There is a second railway station in the centre of Edinburgh, Haymarket, around a mile to the west of Waverley. If you are arriving from the north, west or southwest, Haymarket is a better station to exit at if you are heading straight for the airport, zoo, or modern art gallery or if your accommodation is on the west side of town as you will avoid the city centre traffic, and it is on the major westbound bus routes.
Both Waverley and Haymarket stations had ticket barriers installed in 2004 so you will need to purchase a ticket in order to enter or leave the platform area. If you get on a train at an unmanned station, you can purchase a ticket from the conductor on the train or a ticket inspector near the barrier gates: note that there is usually a long queue during the peak rush hour period. The barrier gates will retain single journey tickets so be sure to get a receipt if you need one. If you have the larger kind of ticket that does not fit in the barrier, you will need to go to the gate manned by a member of staff who will check your ticket and let you through. If you do not have a ticket, you will need to go to the ticket office behind the barrier (platform 14 at Waverley) to buy one.
Edinburgh Park is a new train station that opened in 2004, which is some way from the city centre, serves business parks and "The Gyle" shopping centre. As of December 2010, direct trains to and from Glasgow Queen Street Low Level began to serve Edinburgh Park, on the Airdrie-Bathgate route (or A2B) operating on a 15 minute interval. There services will take around an hour to get to Glasgow from Edinburgh Park.
By road, Edinburgh can be reached most immediately by the M8 motorway (from Glasgow and the west), M9 (from Stirling and the north-west), A90/M90 (from Perth, Dundee and northern Scotland), the A1 (from Newcastle upon Tyne and north-east England) and A702/M74 (from Carlisle and north-western England).
From London the fastest route to Edinburgh is the M1 motorway, followed by the A1(M) and the A1 - a journey of 640 km (398 mi) and approximately 8-9 hrs driving time.
Edinburgh is not a particularly car friendly city (the worst city to drive in outside of London in the UK) with the myriad of one-way streets and the Old Town's medieval layout, and the dedication of parking wardens to ticketing anything that is not moving is legendary. Finding parking can be difficult, though there are several multi-storey car parks in the city centre (Castle Terrace for the West End, try St James Centre or Greenside at the East End). If visiting for the day, it is often cheaper and quicker to use the new Park and Ride systems now in place on all approaches to the City, (National Park and Ride Directory is available online [http://www.parkandride.net/edinburgh/edinburgh_frameset.shtml]), so it's even easy to just abandon your car on the outskirts. For visitors arriving from the M8, follow directions for Edinburgh Airport to reach Ingliston Park and Ride; this facility is half a mile from the airport terminal.
The city is served by the major inter-city bus companies from around Scotland and England. Most long distance services start and end in the Bus Station in St Andrew Square. The left luggage lockers at the Bus station are much cheaper than the "charged by the piece" left luggage service at Waverley railway station.
Edinburgh is a compact city - most of the sights and major tourist attractions are within the Old Town (mainly around castle and Royal Mile) and New Town and are no further than a 15 minute walk apart. Walking along elegant or atmospheric streets is one of the pleasures of the city. There are however, a number of hills to be navigated; for example from Princes Street, up The Mound towards Edinburgh Castle requires some significant legwork, but it's worth it for the views en route.
The city's public transport system is heavily reliant on buses, which have to navigate the city's sometimes bustling traffic. Despite this they run late into the night, with a vast number of routes offering frequent and cheap transport around the city. Equally, the suburban railway network is very sparse compared to that of Glasgow, although there have been some slow and steady improvements over the years. On 31 May 2014 trams will begin services between the city centre and the airport.
Edinburgh has two main bus companies, [Lothian Buses], which is majority-owned by Edinburgh City Council, and [First], a private operator. These two companies share the same bus stops, but the route numbers and tickets are not interchangeable and they operate different fare structures.
Lothian Buses is the largest operator in the city and its distinctive burgundy and cream coloured buses have become as much a symbol of Edinburgh as its buildings. Many routes have different coloured buses, which can help to identify at a glance which bus is approaching.
Tickets for travel can be purchased on the bus and the exact change is required as no change is given. A [wide range of tickets] can also be purchased at Lothian Buses travel shops (Waverley Bridge, Hanover Street or Dalkeith town centre) and [online] including, booklets of 20 ticket and scratch card day tickets. Single tickets for Lothian Buses are £1.50 (70p for under 16s) and are valid for one journey only, irrespective of distance. If you have to change bus, you must buy another ticket.
More conveniently, Lothian Buses offer an all-day ticket for £3.50 (as of March 2012) that covers all transport (except sightseeing, airport express and night services). The all-day ticket is a great way to see the city without the expense of the tour buses, as you can get on and off all Lothian buses for the whole day. Kids' day tickets are generously discounted to £2. You can buy these from any bus driver, from Lothian Buses offices or from Lothian Buses on-line store.
Lothian Buses are in the process of rolling out their [BusTracker] service. This provides "real time" bus service information. Electronic signs are being installed along major routes, showing the wait time for the next bus on each service at that stop. Online, it's possible to view the information for every bus stop in the city, not just those stops with electronic signs. Every stop has a unique eight-figure code, which are listed on the website and also displayed at the stop. You can access Bus Tracker via a mobile phone at mobile.mybustracker.co.uk. A free apps named "Edinbus" for iPhone and "My Bus Edinburgh" for Android provide similar information with route maps and a stop locator.
[First] buses mostly service farther-flung areas to the east and west of the city.
Edinburgh Coach Lines operate [service 13], a bus of use to many visitors as it is the only route serving the National Gallery of Modern Art and the Dean Gallery. Single tickets are in line with Lothian fares at £1.50 for adults and 70p for children (under 16). Lothian Buses season tickets and day tickets are not valid on service 13.
Lothian buses that operate [sightseeing buses] in several different brandings. All have a policy that a sightseeing ticket is valid for 24 hours, so you can get around central Edinburgh quite handily using the sightseeing buses. Each sightseeing bus follows a different route around the city, but they all start and finish at Waverley Bridge, adjacent to Waverley Station on Princes Street.
A small number of suburban rail routes run from Waverley station, most of the stations lying in the south west and south east suburbs of the city, and are useful for reaching the outer suburbs and towns of Balerno, Currie, Wester Hailes, Wallyford, Prestonpans, Musselburgh, South Queensferry, Newcraighall and a useful link to Edinburgh Park which is adjacent to the Gyle shopping complex. Services to North Berwick, Bathgate, Fife or Glasgow Central will make stops at these various stations. Note that standard National Rail fares apply to these trains - there are no credible daily season ticket options available. Check at the station before you board!
The "charged by the piece" left luggage service at Waverly train station is far more expensive than the storage lockers a few blocks away at the Bus station on St Andrew's square.
Central Edinburgh is a nightmare to drive in, particularly the Old Town with its tangle of medieval streets with their associated one way systems. The New Town fares slightly better, but the scourge "Blue Meanies" who mercilessly swoop on vehicles which may have only been illegally parked for a matter of minutes. Edinburgh operates a "controlled parking zone" - on-street parking is illegal within a large central area (see map [http://www.edinburgh.gov.uk/internet/Transport/Parking/Parking_permits/CEC_controlled_parking_zone__cpz__map]) without a residents parking permit. Parking fines are £40 and vehicles parked in an obstructive manner are liable to be towed away with a £150 release fee to be paid for its retrieval. Even the suburbs (especially Morningside, The Grange, The Meadows) have little parking available (and on-street parking is illegal within the controlled parking zone). Take a bus and/or walk. Leith seems to fare a bit better for parking, but there's no guarantee. Park and Ride facilities provide access to the city centre [http://www.parkandride.net/edinburgh/edinburgh_frameset.shtml]. Driver should beware of trams being tested on the new tracks.
Edinburgh is a beautiful city that's full of history. There is no better way to see it than to walk, though it should be noted that this is not for the faint hearted as they city consists of many steep hills.
- Edinburgh walking directions [http://www.walkit.com/edinburgh/] can be planned online with the walkit.com walking route planner.
A single [tram line] has recently been built which links St Andrew's Square in the centre of Edinburgh to Edinburgh Airport on the west, passing through the New Town along Princes Street. Between Haymarket station and the airport the tram runs on an off road track, but runs on the road between Haymarket and St Andrew's Square. This was due to be finished by 2012, but disputes with the main construction contractor and delays in construction mean that the first passenger carrying trams will run on 31 May 2014. Currently trams are making test runs. As it will link the airport, rugby stadium, both main train stations and Princes Street it may be helpful for some visitors to the city. However buses are likely to remain the main and most practical method of public transport in Edinburgh for the foreseeable future.
Like most major British cities, Edinburgh offers a choice between Black Cabs, carrying up to 5 passengers, which can be hailed on the street, and minicabs, which must be pre-booked. Black cabs display an orange light above the windscreen to indicate that they are available to hire. It's usually quite easy to find a cab in and around the city centre, and on the main radial routes running out of the centre. There are also Taxi Ranks dotted around the city, where black cabs will line up to be hired. Taxi Rank locations include:
- Outside the main entrances of Haymarket and Waverley train stations.
- Opposite the Caledonian Hotel and Sheraton Hotel (both near the West End), The George Hotel (east end of George Street) and the Crowne Plaza Hotel (High Street, Royal Mile).
- St Patrick's Square, off South Bridge
- Leith Bridge, close to The Shore and Commercial Quay, in Leith
The main taxi firms operating within the city are:
- Central Radio Taxis (Black Cabs) - +44 131 229 2468
- City Cabs (Black Cabs) - +44 131 228 1211
- Edinburgh Taxi (minicabs) - +44 131 610 1234 (saloon cars, MPV's with 8 seats and chauffeur driven vehicles)
- Festival Cars (minicabs - mostly saloon cars but also have people carriers with up to 8 seats. Let them know the number in your party when you book) - +44 131 552 1777
For the budget-conscious and/or avid sightseer, the [Edinburgh Pass] is well worth bearing in mind, offering a maximum of £155 worth of entry to 27 of Edinburgh's top attractions, a 90-page guidebook, retail and restaurant offers and discounts. All this, as well as free public transport around the city and airport transfers. A one-day pass costs £30, two days £40, three days £50 (2013 prices). Can be purchased online or at Tourist Information Centres.
If you are staying in Scotland a little while, it might be worth getting a [Historic Scotland Membership]. Passes last for a year, and cost about £40 for adults and £30 for concessions (including full-time students). They provide unlimited access to about 70 paying sites in Scotland, including Edinburgh's Castle and Craigmillar Castle. You also get a lot of discounts for their shops, a quarterly magazine, and 50% off all English, Welsh and Manx historical sites.
- Edinburgh Doors Open Day
Is an annual event, co-ordinated by the Cockburn Association, where many important and/or historic buildings across the city open up their doors to the public at no charge. Many of the buildings are not normally accessible so this can present a unique opportunity to see some of the city's lesser-known architectural marvels. It usually takes place on the last weekend in September. Brochures with details of the participating sites, opening times, access details etc., can be picked up from city libraries in the run up to the day, or downloaded from the website.
Museum and galleries
Refer to the district articles for listings.
- Walk along the Water of Leith, a small river that meanders through Edinburgh, providing a peaceful haven from the busy city. Check out the Leith or Stockbridge and Canonmills sections of the route.
- Edinburgh has an excellent theatre and concert life. Europe's largest theatre, the 3000-seat Edinburgh Playhouse (top of Leith Walk, New Town) hosts major West End shows. The Festival Theatre ( Old Town) frequently hosts opera and ballet, and the Usher Hall (Lothian Road) has weekly orchestral concerts all year round with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra. The Queen's Hall (South Clerk Street, ( Old Town) is home to the Scottish Chamber Orchestra. For a cheaper option, the excellent Bedlam Theatre (Bristo Place, Old Town) regularly puts on good student theatre and is the home to Scotland's oldest improvised comedy troupe, The Improverts.
- Experience traditional Folk Music at one of the pubs in the Old Town or Leith which host regular sessions.
Edinburgh in the summer becomes "festival city" when a huge number of major national and international arts festivals are hosted by the city. Most of these occur virtually simultaneously in August. These cater for a wide variety of interests and include:
- The [Edinburgh International Festival]— The original that spawned all the rest. Founded in 1947 and still seen as more "high-brow" than any of its offspring. Surprisingly, tickets are often priced more reasonably than for many Fringe shows.
- The [Edinburgh Military Tattoo]— One of the iconic images of Edinburgh for millions worldwide is the yearly Tattoo, kilted pipers skirling below the battlements of Edinburgh Castle. Although tickets sell out well in advance, persevering individuals are likely to find one or two tickets still for sale due to cancellations... just be prepared to ask, ask, and ask again!
- The [Edge Festival] (formerly known as "T on the Fringe")— Music festival which takes place alongside the Fringe Festival.
- The [Edinburgh International Book Festival]— Takes place in a temporary village of marquees at Charlotte Square (West End of George Street, New Town).
- The [Edinburgh International Film Festival]— Now moved to June from its former slot in August, so that it no longer clashes with all the others! Centred around the Filmhouse Cinema on Lothian Road, though other cinemas take part too.
- The [Edinburgh International Television Festival]— Predominantly a "closed shop" for industry professionals only.
- The [Edinburgh Mela]— Multicultural festival held in Leith.
One important thing to decide when planning a trip to Edinburgh is whether you wish to go at festival time, which runs from early August through to mid-September. Hotel rooms in and around the city are noticeably much more expensive then, and you will need to book well ( at least six months!) in advance.
Edinburgh in the winter festive season is also huge with various concerts and other activities taking place starting a couple of weeks before Christmas and running up to a week into January. Princes Street Gardens play host to a Big Wheel, outdoor ice rink and various festive markets. As in most of the rest of Scotland, Hogmanay, the New Year celebrations, are the main focus of the festive season rather than Christmas. On the night itself whole sections of central Edinburgh are roped off and accessible only by ticket for the Hogmanay street party [http://www.edinburghshogmanay.org/], which takes place across several stages and is easily the largest in Scotland. Hogmany and Edinburgh fit together like hand and glove.
- Go to the cinema. Edinburgh has a number of cinemas covering mainstream, foreign language and arthouse films.
- Cameo Cinema, Home St, +44 131 228 4141. Mainstream & alternative films, in remarkable surroundings. A much-loved venue that's well worth a visit.
- Dominion, Newbattle Terrace, +44 131 447 4771. Mainstream & alternative films. One screen is full of two- and three-person leather sofas for the ultimate cinema-going experience.
- Filmhouse, Lothian Rd, +44 131 228 2688. Edinburgh's (and Scotland's) largest venue for arthouse and foreign language films. Great café and bar, and hub of the annual Film Festival.
- Odeon Cinema, Lothian Rd, +44 870 505 0007.
- Vue, Leith Walk, +44 870 240 6020. Large multiplex.
- Vue, Ocean Terminal, Leith. Large multiplex.
- See a [6 Nations Championship] rugby match at Murrayfield Stadium [http://www.scottishrugby.org/]. The 6 Nations is effectively the European Championship of rugby, taking place every spring between Scotland, Wales, Ireland, France, Italy and England. The teams play each other once per year, and alternate home and away games. In even-numbered years, England and France visit Murrayfield, while in odd-numbered years, Scotland host Wales, Ireland and Italy. On the weekend of a home match, Edinburgh is absolutely full to bursting, and the atmosphere is like nothing else, especially if Wales or Ireland are in town. If you plan to visit in February or March, be sure to check the fixtures and book accommodation well in advance if your trip coincides with a home match ( Edinburgh/West).
- Take in a football match at Heart of Midlothian FC'sTynecastle Park ( Edinburgh/West), orHibernian F.C.'s Easter Road Stadium ( Leith).
Edinburgh is host to a number of higher and further education organisations including 4 Universities. The following offer summer schools of a week or more on topics such as creative writing or printmaking:
- [The University of Edinburgh] - A prestigious university over 400 years old.
- [Edinburgh College of Art]. Colleges
- [Stevenson College Edinburgh]. - Offers courses for UK and international students throughout the year and also runs an English Language summer school accredited by the British Council. Private schools:
Edinburgh is a popular destination for language students, looking to learn English, or build on their existing English language skills. Most schools offer a "homestay" option where accommodation is with a local family, which can be a great introduction to Scottish life. Language schools in the city include:
- Other resources
- Alba English School
86 - 92 Causewayside, Edinburgh, http://www.albaenglish.co.uk/, email: email@example.com, phone: +44 131 668 4336
Low cost, flexible and high quality English classes for international students in Edinburgh.
- EAC School
45 Frederick St, http://www.eac4english.com/English_Language_School_Edinburgh.html, email: firstname.lastname@example.org, phone: +44 131 477 7570, fax: +44 131 477 7571
Large, well-established school, with premises on Frederick Street and Queen Street, in the city centre. Offers courses for adult and junior students.
- Edinburgh School of English
271 Canongate, http://www.edinburghschoolofenglish.com/, email: email@example.com, phone: +44 131 557 9200, fax: +44 131 557 9192
Great location on the Royal Mile. Caters to both adult and junior students
- MacKenzie School of English
6 John's Pl, Leith, http://www.mackenzieschool.com/, email: firstname.lastname@example.org, phone: +44 131 555 5315, fax: +44 131 555 5155
New (2008) school in a beautifully refurbished Victorian building on the edge of Leith Links. Generally catering to secondary school aged students.
- TLI English Language School
48 Palmerston Pl, http://www.tlieurope.com/, email: email@example.com, phone: +44 131 226 6975, fax: +44 131 226 6975
English language School in the central West End area of the city offering a range of English language courses to adults, TEFL courses and stunning views of Edinburgh Castle
- National Archives of Scotland
2 Princes St, at Waverley Station, http://www.nas.gov.uk/, email: firstname.lastname@example.org, phone: +44 131 535 1334
Find your Scottish Ancestors in the archives. Also worth visiting for the architecture
Refer to individual district articles for detailed listings.
- Princes Street ( New Town), north of the castle, is the main shopping street in Edinburgh. It runs through the middle of the city from the train station to Lothian Road. It contains large chain stores such as HMV for music, Topshop and H&M for clothes, tourist oriented shops, and department stores.
- There are many more upmarket shops, restaurants and bars on George Street ( New Town), which runs parallel to Princes Street.
- Cockburn Street (pronounced "co-burn") in the ( Old Town) has many small alternative shops selling music, novelty toys, underground clothing, body piercings and spiritual items.
- The Royal Mile ( Old Town), especially the higher end near the castle, has many tourist-oriented shops selling Scottish souvenirs from postcards to whisky and kilts.
- Victoria Street ( Old Town) is a nice street which is well worth a visit. You can find colourful buildings and interesting boutiques which are worth having a look at.
- Victoria Street also leads onto the Grassmarket ( Old Town), a street which gives stunning views of the castle, which dominates right over it, and is also full of interesting and nice shops, as well as several pubs and restaurants. The Grassmarket is definitely well worth visiting.
- Multrees Walk (also known as The Walk), for high-end labels such as Vidal Sasoon, Armani, Vuitton, Harvey Nichols or Calvin Klein ( New Town).
- Other malls include Princes Mall or St James Mall which are both just off Princes Street, and Ocean Terminal in Leith.
- Take home a bottle of Scotland's finest export, a single malt whisky.
Edinburgh is a great city for the food lover. There is a vast selection of eateries scattered throughout every part of the city, catering for all tastes, prices and styles - from fast-food to Michelin-starred grandeur. Just be careful around the castle and in the Grassmarket area, where many restaurants are tourist traps.
Refer to the District articles for individual listings.
As well as the centre of Edinburgh, it is also worth checking out Leith and the West End when looking for a place to eat.
Rose St, running parallel to Princes St is a pedestrian precinct that has a huge number of pubs offering a variety of pub fare food.
The Scots are well known for having a penchant for fried food which has resulted in such gastronomic delights as deep fried pizza, deep fried hamburgers, deep fried Black Pudding (a type of blood sausage), deep fried haggis and deep fried Mars bars. If you're up to it, be sure to drop by a chippy (fish and chip shop) and experience these Scottish delights. Edinburgh chippys are unique in the UK for offering salt'n'sauce as standard in place of the salt'n'vinegar usually provided elsewhere in the country. The sauce is a kind of runny, vinegary version of HP or Daddys style brown sauce. Most chippys will provide vinegar on request if you prefer, but you really should try salt'n'sauce at least once!
There are establishments to suit all tastes scattered throughout every pocket of the city. Be careful, some of the more local pubs can be a little rough around the edges, especially in Leith.
For a non-alcoholic beverage give Scotland's second national drink a try - Irn-Bru . It's a great cure for hangover.
As for Scotland's first drink, you will find [The Scotch Whisky Heritage Centre] at the top of The Royal Mile, which offers an interactive "tour" of the history and practise of Whisky distilling, complete with a rather sedate barrel ride. This is a good place to go if you want to sample whisky, as they have a very large selection (200+?) at a fairly reasonable price. Older whiskys tend to cost more and the rarest on offer can cost up to £50.00 per measure! The atmosphere is less pub-like than some might like as it tends to be fairly quiet - if you don't fancy the interactive tour and just want to try some whiskys then check the listings for some good whisky pubs but in any event, the majority of Edinburgh pubs tend to have a reasonable array of Scotch whiskys on offer. The food at the Centre is reasonably priced and fairly good.
- Lots of traditional pubs are all around the city.
- Many famous traditional pubs on the Grassmarket, Old Town. These pubs are tourist traps and tend to be very popular with visiting stag and hen parties, so locals tend to keep clear.
- Lots of modern clubs are around Cowgate and Lothian road including ' Base, Gig and Diva.* George Street in the New Town hosts many of Edinburgh's trendier barsBoots (city centre branches in the New Town at St James Shopping Centre, 11 Princes St, 101-103 Princes St and 48 Shandwick Pl; in the Old Town at 40-44 North Bridge),Alliance andNumark .Tesco supermarket at 7 Broughton Road in Canonmills is quite close to the city centre and opens M-Sa 8AM-8PM and Su 10AM-5PM.Royal and Ancient'' - the ruling body of Golf.East Lothian , immediately to the east of the city, offers rolling green countryside, golden sandy beaches, dozens of golf courses, and more annual sunshine hours than any other part of the UK. The area has a number of picturesque villages and small towns, including North Berwick , with webcams at theScottish Seabird Centre giving live pictures of thousands of birds on the Bass Rock; Gullane , a mecca for golfers; Musselburgh for ice cream and horse racing; and Dunbar , a pleasant harbour town famous as the birthplace of conservationistJohn Muir . [The Museum of Flight] in East Fortune is about 30 minutes drive along the A1 towards Dunbar. It is also close toDrem station on the Edinburgh to North Berwick line. It is home to a number of historic aircraft from across the history of flight, including British Airways Concorde G-BOAA. Remember to book in advance to see inside Concorde as these tickets are generally sold out on the day. Another rather good attraction (and well worth the look) is the De-Havilland Comet 4C, a modified version of the Worlds first jetliner.West Lothian''' is the area to the west of the city. Generally less pretty than its eastern counterpart, but does have a couple of destinations worth the effort.
- Linlithgow with its Palace, and links to Mary, Queen of Scots, is a great little town for a day trip from Edinburgh. It is a short drive by car on the M9. There is also a frequent service by train from Waverley station (also stopping at Haymarket).
- Livingston— One of Scotland's New Towns, it is one of Scotland's most popular shopping spots, only a short drive from Edinburgh on the M8 or A70. Plus there are also bus and rail services to the new town.
- The Falkirk Wheel [http://www.thefalkirkwheel.co.uk/] Built in 2001 to reconnect the Forth and Clyde Canal with the Union Canal, it is the world's only rotating boat lift. Free entry to the visitor centre / cafe / gift shop. Boat trips up on the Wheel take about an hour, and cost £8 adults, £4.25 children, £6.50 concessions. Half hourly buses from Falkirk town centre, or a good walk from the Falkirk "Camelon" railway station. You can also cycle along the Union Canal from Edinburgh - the route is part of the National Cycle Network.
- The Glentress Mountain Biking Centre [http://cycling.visitscotland.com/mountain_biking/mb_centre/glentress] is the largest mountain biking centre in Scotland, and one of the best in the UK. You can hire a bike and helmet for around £20 a day. Routes are provided for cyclists of different skill levels, and are signposted so you won't get lost. You can get there on the 62 bus from Edinburgh in just over 1 hour (see Traveline Scotland [http://www.travelinescotland.com/welcome.do] for travel info).
- The Pentlands Hills Regional Park [http://www.edinburgh.gov.uk/phrp/] is a low-lying hill range to the South of Edinburgh, popular with walkers and cyclists. Getting there takes around 30 minutes on the bus, or 45 minutes by bicycle from central Edinburgh. Cyclists are allowed to take bikes on buses run by MacEwans's Coach Services [http://www.west-linton.org.uk/pdf/07_07_wl_edinburgh_bus.pdf] which stop at the Flotterstone Inn. Map of official mountain bike routes [http://download.edinburgh.gov.uk/Pentlands/MountainBike_04_.pdf]. Local walks - look for ones with "Pentland" in title [http://walking.visitscotland.com/walks/centralscotland/]
- National Cycle Network routes around Edinburgh [http://www.opencyclemap.org/?zoom=10&lat=55.94628&lon=-3.35925&layers=B000] Edinburgh is well connected to the NCN with a variety of places accessible within a days cycling - Glasgow, Stirling, Falkirk, Musselburgh, and Dunbar - all of which have train stations for the return journey. The number 1 route which goes south from Edinburgh to Melrose in the borders and then east to Berwick-upon-Tweed (and then back on the train) can be done in one weekend with a variety of accommodation available for an overnight stay in the historic border town of Melrose.
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