Main information

Population

448,850

Area

100 sq mi

Country

Scotland

Time Zone

GMT/UTC

Telephone Area Code

0131

Weather

For weather forecasts and road conditions, call tel. 0891/505-322. This number also provides data about weather information for Lothian, the Borders, Tayside, and Fife.

Average Temperatures (In Fahrenheit)

High Low
January – March 46F 34F
April – June 62F 39F
July – September 65F 49F
October – December 54F 36F

The climate in Edinburgh is most pleasant from May to September, but whenever you go, you’re likely to see both sun and rain (or snow). In summer, daylight hours are long, and the evenings are luxuriously lengthy. In winter, it’s cold and daylight hours are short, but with so much going on, Edinburgh is a wonderful place to visit at any time of the year.

There is one caveat: the city becomes impossibly crowded during the main festival period from August to early September, so make reservations well ahead of time if you plan to visit then.

Equivalent Weights And Measures

1 cm 0.39 inches
1 meter 3.28 feet / 1.09 yards
1 km 0.62 miles
1 liter 0.26 gallons
1 inch 2.54 cm
1 foot 0.39 meters
1 yard 0.91 meters
1 mile 1.60 km
1 gallon 3.78 liters

Holidays

January 1, 2: New Year’s Day
March or April (varies): Good Friday
March or April (varies): Easter and Easter Monday
First Monday in May: Bank holiday
May (mid-late May): Victoria Holiday
From 1st Monday in July for 2 weeks: Edinburgh Trades Holiday
1st Monday in August: Bank Holiday
3rd Monday in September: Autumn Holiday
December 24-26: Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day

Laundry

Centrally located is: Sundial Launderette, 7-11 East London St. (tel. 0131/556-2743; Bus: 34, 35), open Monday to Friday 8am to 7pm, Saturday 8am to 4pm, and Sunday 10am to 2pm. For dry-cleaning: Johnson’s Cleaners, 23 Frederick St. (tel. 0131/225-8095; Bus: 23, 41), open Monday to Friday 8am to 5:30pm and Saturday 8am to 4pm.

Luggage/Storage/Lockers

You can store luggage in lockers at Waverley Station, at Waverley Bridge (tel. 0131/550-2333), open Monday to Saturday 7am to 11pm and Sunday 8am to 11pm.

Newspapers/Magazines

Published since 1817, The Scotsman is a quality daily newspaper containing national and international news, and the arts.

Magazines

Edinburgh Review, published quarterly by the University Press, is a cultural journal.

Business Hours

In Edinburgh, banks are usually open Monday to Wednesday from 9:30am to 3:45pm and Thursday and Friday from 9:30am to 5 or 5:30pm. Shops are usually open Monday to Saturday from 10am to 5:30 or 6pm; on Thursday stores are open to 8pm. Offices are open Monday to Friday from 9am – 5pm.

Internet

For checking email or sending messages, try Cyberia Edinburgh, 88 Hanover St. tel. 0131/220-4405; Bus: 23, 41; e-mail: edinburgh@cybersurf.co.uk.

Doctor

In a medical emergency, call the Edinburgh Royal Infirmary, 1 Lauriston Pl. (tel. 0131/536-1000; Bus: 23, 41). Medical attention is available 24 hours.

Drugstores

There are no 24-hour drugstores (called chemists or pharmacies) in Edinburgh. The major drugstore is Boots, 48 Shandwick Place (tel. 0131/225-6757; Bus: 3, 31), open Monday to Wednesday and Friday 8am to 6pm, Thursday 8am to 7:30pm, Saturday 8am to 7pm, and Sunday 10am to 5pm.

Emergencies

Call 999 in an emergency for police, ambulance, or to report a fire.

Post Office

The Edinburgh Branch Post Office, St. James’s Centre, is open Monday to Friday 9am to 5:30pm and Saturday 9am to noon. For postal information and customer service, tel. 0131/550-8232; Bus: 23, 41).

Rest Rooms

These are found at rail stations, terminals, restaurants, hotels, pubs, and department stores. Public toilets, ( often marked WC, at various corners and squares throughout the city are safe and , but likely to be closed late in the evening.

Taxes

A 17.5% value-added tax (VAT) is included in the price of all goods and services in Edinburgh, and elsewhere in Britain. There are no special city taxes. Hotel prices usually include this tax.

Edinburgh

Arriving & Departing

Edinburgh’s international airport has frequent direct flights to Europe, Ireland and other parts of the United Kingdom and a limited number of services to Africa, the Middle East and Asia. There are no direct air services from North America.

You can reach Edinburgh from airports in Britain and Europe and connect easily to and from America. Edinburgh International Airport is close to the city, a bus or taxi-ride away. Car rentals are available at the airport, or from numerous businesses in town.

Traveling from the United States to Edinburgh, the usual route is to fly to London, then take the train or bus north. The 4-hour London to Edinburgh rail trip takes only about an hour more than flying in actual travel time and is much less costly.

Buses are the cheapest, but not the most efficient mode of transportation for travel between Edinburgh and Europe or other parts of the UK. Discount rail tickets are competitively priced.

Arriving By Plane

Edinburgh is about an hour’s flying time from London, 393 miles south. Edinburgh Airport (tel. 0131/333-1000) lies 6 miles (10km) west of the center, receiving flights from within the British Isles and the rest of Europe. A double-decker Airlink bus makes the trip from the airport to the city center every 10 minutes, discharging passengers near Waverley Bridge, between the Old Town and the New Town

Other Modes of Transportation for Reaching Edinburgh

Edinburgh lies 46 miles east of Glasgow and 105 miles north of Newcastle-upon-Tyne in England. No express motorway links London and Edinburgh. The M1 from London goes part of the way north, but entry into Edinburgh is via secondary roads: A68 or A7 from the southeast, A1 from the east, or A702 from the north. The A71 or A8 comes in from the west, A8 connecting with M8 just west of Edinburgh; A90 comes down from the north over the Forth Road Bridge. Allow 8 hours or more for the drive north from London.

InterCity trains link London with Edinburgh and are fast and efficient, providing both restaurant and bar service as well as air-conditioning. Trains from London’s Kings Cross Station arrive in Edinburgh at Waverley Station, at the east end of Princes Street (tel. 0345/484-950 in London for rail info). Trains depart London every hour or so, taking about 4 1/2 hours

Overnight trains have a sleeper berth, which you can rent for an extra amount. Taxis and buses are right outside the station in Edinburgh.

The least expensive way to go from London to Edinburgh is by bus, but it is an 8-hour journey. Scottish CityLink coaches travel between London’s Victoria Coach Station and Edinburgh’s St. Andrew Square Bus Station, St. Andrew Square (tel. 0800/23-23-23 for information).

Getting Around

Bus

The bus is the chief method of transportation. The fare you pay depends on the distance you ride, referred to as “stages.” A stage is not a stop but a distance of about half a mile with a number of stops. Children 5 to 15 are charged a flat rate but teenagers 13 to 15 must carry a teen card as proof of age, and children 4 and under ride free. Exact change is required if you’re paying your fare on the bus. A family ticket for two adults and four children is available at a reduced rate.

The Edinburgh Freedom Ticket allows 1 day of unlimited travel on city buses at a set price. Tickets and further information are available in the city center at the Waverley Bridge Transport Office, Waverley Bridge (tel. 0131/554-4494; Bus: 3, 31), open daily 6:30am to 10:30pm, or at the Hanover Street office (Bus: 3, 31), open daily 9am to 7pm. For details on timetables, call tel. 0131/555-6363.

Frequent LRT Airline buses run from Waverley Bridge near the train station to Haymarket and the airport, taking 35 minutes. Other bus services are frequent and cheap, and most leave from either St Andrew Square bus station or Waverley Bridge. Two main companies, Lothian Regional Transport and Scottish Motor Traction, compete on some services and their tickets are not interchangeable.

Trains

Edinburgh does not have its own separate rail network. Trains running through the city are part of the national rail system. Trains heading west and north link Waverly station with Haymarket. A less costly alternative is to catch a bus down Princes St. There are regular trains west to Dalmeny and east to North Berwick.

The East Coast line is the fastest inter-city railway in Britain, and links Edinburgh’s Waverley station with London and Europe. ScotRail, Railtrack and West Coast lines link the city with northern and western Britain, and the latter are ideal for side trips to the English Lakes, Chester or Bath.

Driving a Car

Though useful for day trips beyond the city, a car in central Edinburgh is difficult to handle. There is restricted access on some streets and many are one-way. Public transportation is the most efficient way to navigate the steeper hills. Walking through the city is pleasant and preferable to driving. Because of its narrow lanes, wynds, and closes, you can explore the Old Town in any depth only on foot.

Edinburgh is fairly convenient for the visitor who likes to walk, as most of the attractions are along the Royal Mile or Princes Street or on one of the major streets of the New Town. Even with steep hills, Edinburgh is idea for cycling – nothing is more than half an hour away, and there are well marked cycle routes.

Events

January:

New Year’s celebration
Starting New Year’s Eve for 3 days — Hogmanay, the Scottish celebration of the New Year, is marked with concerts, street parties and a massive bonfire on Calton Hill. It features street theater; lively processions, illuminated by firebrands; and the burning of a long boat.

By 1997, the crush to attend Europe’s largest winter festival forced the city to limit numbers, the consequence being that access to the city center after 8pm on New Year’s Eve is by ticket only. For details, call 0131/473-3800.

January 25 – Burns Night
The celebration of the birthday of Scotland’s national poet on January 25 traditional supper of haggis, neeps (turnips), and tatties (potatoes), accompanied by a wee dram of whisky, while listening to recitals from the works of Scotland’s Bard, Robert “Rabbie” Burns, whose birthday is being celebrated. Burns suppers are held in hotels and restaurants all over the city.

 

April:

Edinburgh Science Fair

Lectures and events covering all branches of science and technology, held in over 40 centers city-wide.

 

May:

Museum Week

Annual events to publicize Edinburgh museums, with a series of art workshops, guided walks and exhibitions.

Scottish International Children’s Festival

Schools performances Monday – Friday
Public performances Friday – Sunday
Telephone 0131 225 8050 The largest festival of the performing arts in the United Kingdom for children and young people.
Come to Britain’s Biggest Performing Arts Festival for Children and enjoy:

  • A unique live theatre experience – mermaids, angels, cosmonauts and animals!
  • Cultural Diversity
  • Performances from the best theatre companies from Germany, Denmark, England and Scotland
  • Dance Workshops And Story Sessions
  • A Safe And Comfortable Environment
  • Great theatre venues and cafés with children’s menus

 

June:

Royal Highland Show

Includes a huge variety of events, such as pedigree livestock judging; show jumping; and agricultural displays over a period of five days.

 

August:

Edinburgh International Festival

Edinburgh Festival

The Hub, Castle Hill, Edinburgh EH1 7ND
0131/473-2000
fax 0131/473-2003
open Monday to Friday 9:30am to 5:30pm.
The highlight of Edinburgh’s year comes in the last weeks of August during the various festivals. Since its inception in 1947, I The International Festival has grown into one of the world’s largest and most important arts festivals. The festival has attracted artists and companies of the highest international standard in all fields of the arts, including music, opera, dance, theater, poetry, and prose.

Edinburgh Festival Fringe

180 High St.
Edinburgh EH1 1BW
0131/226-5257
This festival began unofficially at the same time as the Edinburgh International Festival and grew in tandem to become the largest such event in the world. Over 500 amateur and professional groups present every possible kind of avant-garde performance in venues all around the city.

The Edinburgh Military Tattoo

Tickets and mail-order bookings are available from the Edinburgh Military Tattoo, Tattoo Office, 32 Market St., Edinburgh EH1 1QB 0131/225-1188
The Edinburgh Military Tattoo takes place on the Esplanade of Edinburgh Castle. The show is an extravaganza of daredevil displays, regimental drill, and swirling bagpipes and ends with a single piper playing a lament on the battlefields.

The Tattoo features the precision marching of not only the British Army’s Scottish regiments but also performers from some 30 countries, including bands, dancers, drill teams, gymnasts, and motorcyclists, even horses, camels, elephants, and police dogs. The music ranges from ethnic to pop and from military to jazz.

Edinburgh International Film Festival

88 Lothian Rd., Edinburgh EH3 9BZ
0131/228-4051.
This is the world’s longest running film festival. It features both mainstream and independent new releases, with interviews, discussions, and debate. It occurs at the same time as the Military Tattoo.

Jazz and Blues Festival

Also at the same time as the Military Tattoo. This festival runs the gamut of jazz forms.

Edinburgh Book Festival

Scottish Book Centre
137 Dundee St.
Edinburgh EH11 1BG
0131/228-5444
Occurs annually. The festival occupies a tented village in Charlotte Square and attracts a wide spectrum of visitors.

 

September:

Fireworks Concert

A fantastic fireworks display against the backdrop of Edinburgh Castle, accompanied by classical music.

Open Doors Day

Cockburn Association
Trunk’s Close
55 High Street EH1 15R
0121 557 8686
Some of the finest private homes in Edinburgh are opened to the public on one day of the year, in September.

Leave a Reply