Getting Around Edinburgh
Amongst the most beautiful cities in Europe, Edinburgh- the capital of Scotland is also amongst the most coveted tourist destinations in the world. Adorned by hills and nature’s beauty, Edinburgh is beautifully divided into a Medieval Old Town and a very elegant Georgian New Town. This beautiful city is full of beautiful landmarks and elegant Neoclassical landmarks. Upon entering the city, one gets a feeling of walking into the lap of royalty. It is only fitting then that looming over the city is the Edinburgh Castle- hosting the national jewels and the War Museum.
Being a part of the United Kingdom, Scotland is easily accessible to tourists and visitors from all over the world. The Edinburgh International Airport is well connected to the rest of the world, with all major international carriers having direct flights to it.
We now looking at the ways to get around in the Scottish Capital.
Getting Around on Foot
With a layout that most tourist attractions are not too far off from each other, walking around in Edinburgh is considered the best possible way to explore this beautiful hilly city. With road travel being a bit difficult due to the one-way-only routes and all those plying buses, walking is hence the most sensible way to get around the city. Major attractions in both the Old Town and New Town are separated only by a 20-30 minutes’ walk. What also helps is that most hotels and tourist accommodations are also a mere 15-20 minutes’ walk from the centre of the city. Starting from the centre of the city on Princes Street, all it takes is a 20-30 minute walk to get to places like the Royal botanical garden in the North, King’s Theatre in the south-west and George Square in the south-east.
Even places outside of the main city are accessible by a 30-40 minute walk. The entire city is full of beauty parks and gardens for the walkers, hence making walking around a pleasant experience. A 30 minutes’ walk will lead the traveller to The Arthur’s Seat, from where beautiful panoramic views of the Scottish Capital can be enjoyed.
Before you set out to walk, make sure to grab a map of the city to help you in your exploration. Most hotels in Edinburgh haven free maps to travellers. Another important thing to be kept in mind is that since Edinburgh is built on the hills, the terrain might prove to be a bit of a challenge to those with poor or average fitness. Also, ditch those heels of yours while you walk since the roads are not exactly age types where heels would feel comfortable, and also because the Scottish weather can be a bit unpredictable.
Getting Around Edinburgh by Bus
With a robust network of buses which connect all parts of the city, bus travel in Edinburgh is quite popular both among the locals and the tourists. With different bus routes connecting all major stops in the city, buses are an efficient way of exploring Edinburgh.
Buses begin service at 4 AM in the morning and run till the midnight. Dedicated midnight buses also ply, catering to those who commute in the wee hours. The Edinburgh Bus Station at Elder Street is the station from where all buses operate and return to. Buses and coaches arrive here from all parts of Scotland and destinations like England and Wales. Lothian Bus Services are the major bus service providers and they have daily tickets for unlimited travel in and around Edinburgh. A special 24-hour bus service to Edinburgh airport is also run by Airlink 100.
Apart from these, visitors can also make use of the hop-on hop-off bus services in the city. These come with the option of multiple routes, a tour guide and a recorded tourist commentary of the city. Visitors are advised to check the exact prices of the tickets in advance since there may be a problem of a lack of currency change. The Edinburgh Bus Tours website may be checked for exact details about routes and fares.
Getting Around Edinburgh by Tram
Running from the Edinburgh airport to York Place in the eastern part of the city, the 14-km long Edinburgh Team Service is a great way of getting around in the city, right from the airport. Well maintained and very efficient, these teams are quite popular among both the locals and tourists alike. Enabled with services like Wi-Fi, these teams are wheelchair accessible and operate with a frequency of 7 minutes. Completing the journey in about 30 minutes, the Edinburgh tram service passes through various stops like Princes Street, Haymarket Train Station in the West End and other important destinations.
Tickets can be purchased at the stations through vending machines. Those travelling with their bikes can also carry them along. For more information, visit http://edinburghtrams.com.
Cycling Around in Edinburgh
A cyclist friendly city, exploring Edinburgh while riding a cycle is a great way of navigating through the city. With an extensive network of free cycle routes all over the city and the permission to use the green bus lanes during peak hours, cycling around in Edinburgh is not only convenient, but fairly quick too. The National Cycle Network is a network of 75 KM of off-street paths which are meant to be used only by cyclists and pedestrians. All major roads have cycle lanes and dedicated boxes for cyclists to stop in, thereby ensuring safety. So popular is cycling here that every year in June, there’s an Edinburgh festival of Cycling.
Cycles are available for rent at some of the hotels in Edinburgh, and can also be rented from Biketrax, Cycle Scotland and the Leith Cycle Company. Bike rentals start at 15 pounds for half a day and go till 125 pounds for a week. Visitors travelling into Edinburgh by train can also get their own bikes, since they are allowed for free.
The things to be kept in mind while cycling in Edinburgh is the terrain. Since this city is built on the hills, it may be a tad difficult for some to navigate. It is highly advisable that cyclists use maps of the city and check the city council’s website for info on major cycling routes.
Driving Around in Edinburgh
Among the least advisable ways to get around in the city, driving around in Edinburgh can be quite a hassle. Be it the restrictions on traffic movement, less space due to various lanes for buses, or simply because parking spaces are hard to find, driving around in the Scottish Capital can be quite a challenge. Driving a car , however, is a good option when venturing out of the city. There are various car rental companies in the city, which allow you to rent a vehicle and drive around. Although, with the great public transport network, there is actually no need to drive around the city.
Since the main issue with driving around Edinburgh is the parking, it is advisable that you check the city council’s website for a list of parking spaces.
Cabs in Edinburgh
With over 1000 cabs servicing the city, cabs are a quick and efficient way to get around in Edinburgh. Generally black in colour, these can be hailed from the street or the taxi centres located all across the city. They can accommodate up to 5 people and are wheelchair accessible. Fares of the taxis are calculated based on the distance and waiting times, and getting around the city can cost between 5 to 15 pounds.
Apart from these traditional black taxis, private taxis also operate within the city and can also be hailed. They may infact be cheaper for long distance travels.
Local Taxi Companies Include:
Central Taxis Ltd 0131 229 2468
City Cabs Ltd 0131 228 1211
Festival Cars 0131 552 1777
ComCab 0131 272 8000
Capital Cars 122 Gorgie Road, Edinburgh, 0131 622 6000
A and A Travel Limited 517 Gilmerton Road, Edinburgh, 0131 672 1361
For info on the black taxis, visit taxis-Edinburgh.co.uk