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Getting around Edinburgh

Public transport

Transport for Edinburgh (www.transportforedinburgh.com) operates the city's buses (Lothian Buses: 0131 554 4494) and tram line. An excellent night bus service runs from midnight until early morning. On buses, you must have exact change for all journeys if paying by cash. You can also download the Transport for Edinburgh mobile app, which allows users to view departure boards, timetables, journey planners, and fares.

The tram line runs from York Place, near St Andrew Square, along Princes Street, past Haymarket Station and Murrayfield Stadium, and out to Edinburgh Airport. Tram tickets are available from machines at each stop - you must buy these before boarding.

Day, weekly, monthly, and annual tickets are available. You can also buy books of 20 tickets or pay-as-you-go citysmart cards, which you load with up to 50 journeys - these are available online or in Travelshops. Alternatively, you can use m-tickets - electronic tickets stored on your mobile phone.


Edinburgh's taxis are mainly black hackney cabs and can be safely hailed on the street. The City of Edinburgh Council licenses all taxis. Drivers must carry a photographic identity card issued by the council.

Taxi companies include City Cabs (0131 228 1211) and Central Taxis (0131 229 2468). A 10% tip is expected.


In central Edinburgh, it is best to walk, cycle, or use public transport. Visitors who do bring a car should be aware that traffic in the city centre is often congested and parking can be problematic. Metered parking (in force Monday to Saturday 0830-1830) is restricted on city streets, and almost all other street parking spaces in and around the centre are reserved for residents with parking permits. Failure to comply with parking regulations results in a costly fine, and the offending vehicle may even be towed away.

There are seven Park-and-Ride car parks around the periphery of Edinburgh. Off-street car parks in the city include St James Centre or Castle Terrace.

Car hire

Drivers require a valid national driving licence to hire a car in the UK, although an International Driving Permit may be preferred if the licence is not in English. It is essential to check what level of insurance is included in the price of car hire. In general, drivers have to be at least 21 to hire a car, although drivers under 25 may be subject to a higher charge.

Major car hire companies in Edinburgh include Avis (0344 544 6059, www.avis.co.uk), Hertz (0843 309 3026, www.hertz.co.uk) and Arnold Clark (0131 333 0124, www.arnoldclarkrental.com).

City Car Club (tel: +44 845 330 1234; www.citycarclub.co.uk) has many pick-up points throughout Edinburgh. Visitors who are members elsewhere in the UK can use Edinburgh car club vehicles.

Bicycle hire

Edinburgh is a reasonably cyclist-friendly city, with car-free cycle paths crisscrossing the town and plenty of nearby countrysides.

Biketrax, 11 Lochrin Place (0131 228 6633, www.biketrax.co.uk), has city, folding, and road bikes to hire.

The Leith Cycle Company, 276 Leith Walk (0131 467 7775, www.leithcycleco.com), rents touring bikes.

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Featured Hotels


The Alexander Guest House

Edinburgh is packed with little guesthouses offering great value, but this is one of the best. It's a bit of a walk from the city centre, but rooms are cosy, the beds are comfortable, the owners are brimming with local knowledge and the breakfasts are consistently excellent.

Crowne Plaza Edinburgh - Royal Terrace

This hotel is situated in an elegant Georgian terrace, close to the city centre and to attractions such as the Scottish Parliament and Our Dynamic Earth. Perhaps uniquely for a hotel in Edinburgh city centre, the Royal Terrace has its own beautifully landscaped gardens. It also has a small gym, sauna and indoor swimming pool.

Radisson Collection Hotel, Royal Mile Edinburgh

Radisson Collection Hotel occupies an enviable location on the corner of the Royal Mile and George IV Bridge. The rooms and public spaces are beautifully styled using a mixture of Missoni and other furniture and textiles. There's a small gym, spa, Italian restaurant and super stylish bar.

The Balmoral

With its distinctive clock tower, old and new Edinburgh blendsperfectly in this landmark hotel, which was once the guesthouse of Waverley railway station. The hotel has a choice of bars and restaurants, including the Michelin-starred Number One. The Balmoral Spa is highly acclaimed, with ESPA and Ytsara treatments, and there's also a fully equipped gym and a decent-sized pool.

The Scotsman

This distinctive and luxurious hotel on Edinburgh's North Bridge is housed in the former offices of The Scotsman newspaper. Many of the building's original features have been retained and wooden panelling and high ceilings mingle with contemporary art and high-tech facilities. The Scotsman offers guests a shoeshine service, TV entertainment system, Wi-Fi, whiskey upon arrival, an in room telescope and GHD straighteners, as well as a complimentary newspaper.

Orocco Pier

The seaside suburb of South Queensferry is a convenient option for travellers who plan to combine their visit to Edinburgh with a tour of Fife or other parts of Scotland. Formerly an old coaching inn, Orocco Pier is now a classy boutique hotel located between the southern landfalls of the two Forth bridges.