Once you arrive in Edinburgh –by plane, car or train- you can start exploring the city. A wonderful public transport network caters for both locals and travelers. However, the city is a nightmare to drive in or park. Walking to the numerous sites is a also a very good alternative.
Arriving and Departing
Edinburgh International Airport (EDI) offers a wide range of both domestic and international flights. Although very well connected to Europe and North America, most visitors to the city arrive via a connection flight from London or from Ireland.
The airport is located at about 10 miles west of the city. A dedicated bus service, number 100 Airlink Express, is available at every 10 minutes until 12:22 AM and every 30 minutes until 4:45 AM, connecting the airport to the city center. The travel time is about 25 minutes and the adult fare is £3 for one way (£5 for return).
A cheaper alternative is number 35 Lothian Bus which runs from the airport to the Ocean Terminal via the city center. Although slower, the service is way cheaper (adult fare £1 for one way) and the day tickets can be used as well.
Waverley Railway Station is the main train station in Edinburgh and a tourist attraction itself. Located near the Edinburgh Castle, it provides connections to the main cities in UK.
* Belfast to Stranraer (8 ferries/day; 1hr 45min travel time)
* Larne to Cairnryan (9 ferries/day; 1hr 45 min travel time)
* Larne to Troon (2 ferries/day; 2hr 15min travel time)
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Edinburgh is really compact and most of the attractions are within the Old Town and New Town. Considering this, Edinburgh is an excellent place to walk although some of the streets are hilly. But if you won’t mind some cardio, make sure to enjoy the elegant atmosphere and walk from one attraction to another.
Compared to London, the public transport is relatively poor but it’s excellent to negotiate the busy roads. The subway is not very developed and it’s not a good option. The tram system is currently being built (due to be finished in 2011).
Edinburgh has two bus companies who share the same stops but the tickets and route numbers aren’t interchangeable. You can purchase one day tickets (£2.50 – Lothian company) and create your own tour of the city.
Of course tour buses are also available, operated by three companies. Each tour bus follows a different route but they all start and finish at Waverley Bridge.
It’s absolute nightmare to drive in Edinburgh particularly in the Old Town, so renting a car is probably not the best idea. The city is also famous for the “Blue Meanies” (the parking attendants) who tow away the vehicles even if they have been illegally parked for several minutes. Parking tickets aren’t cheap (£40) and if the car is towed away you will have to pay a £150 release fee to get it back.