11 Tips for Visiting Edinburgh, Scotland

I’m writing a blog post every day in November as part of a writing challenge. Read why here.


One more post about Edinburgh. Here are 11 tips for visiting this gorgeous city:11TipsEdin

1. The Edinburgh airport is small and very easy to manage. In 20 minutes you can walk off your plane, get cash from the ATM, grab a tea, and queue for the shuttle bus that takes you right downtown. Pass on an expensive taxi unless you’re with other people. The shuttle is only £ 3.50 – and it has wifi.

2. When you board a bus tell the driver your destination. They don’t announce most stops so knowing when you’re approaching your stop can be a challenge. Sit or stand near the driver/door until you’re sure you know where your stop is.

3. Edinburgh is very walkable and you can see the major sights in a couple long days. You sure won’t be disappointed if you stay longer, though.

4. While summer has long days and warmer temps, don’t pass up a trip to Edinburgh just because it’s winter. Yes, it gets dark before 5 pm but it’s not as big a bummer as you might think. Be out the door by 9am at the latest, do your outdoor activities before early afternoon, and museums, shopping, and cafes/restaurants/pubs in the late afternoon and evening. Do confirm opening/closing hours, though, because there seem to be summer and winter schedules.

5. Several museums are free, such as the National Museum of Scotland. (Helps balance out the £ 16 for the castle. )

6. If you want quick and inexpensive take-away sandwiches, salads, fruit salad, veggies, etc., try the Food Hall in the basement of Marks and Spencer on Princes Street.

7. Hike to the top of Arther’s Seat. The steep climb is – as one of my fellow hikers said today – “an effort” but it’s worth it on a clear day. I’m so glad the guy I chatted with at the base of the trail convinced me it was worth the time and effort. At the top you have a 360 degree view of Edinburgh, the bay, and surrounding area. If you have a car I think you can park a ways up the mountain, which would cut your hike in half.

8. Buy a day bus pass (£ 3.50) and ride out to one of the end stations. This is my favorite way to discover new places. Today I hopped on the first bus that came by my stop and ended up going for a lovely 45-minute ride through 3 neighboring villages.

9. If you’ve seen a lot of castles, aren’t into military history, and don’t want to fork over £ 16, skip the Edinburgh castle. Either that or take a tour. I didn’t find the castle all that interesting, to be honest, but I’m sure the fact that I was cold, tired, and hungry probably didn’t help. I did enjoy the fantastic view, the crown jewels, and the tea room, though (ginger lemon tea and a scone with jam and clotted cream – yum).

10. Speaking of scones, the swimming pool/fitness center down the road from Arthur’s Seat serves tasty scones, jam, and tea. And they have toilets, something Arthur’s Seat does not have.

11. Stay in a small B & B. They’re cozy, they serve delicious breakfast that will keep you going past lunch, and they’re a great way to get to know a local family.

Have you been to Edinburgh, Scotland? What tips would you add?