Time is flying and Edinburgh is becoming that real home kind of place. Things that shocked and amazed me during my first visit are now a daily routine and I keep on forgetting how WOW Edinburgh can be on the first sight. A castle on the rock in the very city centre, the mountains right next to the parliament, endless hills and the sea view from any high spot – how crazy and how too much for just one city! Not even talking about the old town and the stunning architecture!
But behind the wow-effect of the outside beauty is the real living city. And some things in Edinburgh are done differently (well, for those coming from the Mainland at least). For my friends, I am becoming the go-to person if someone is travelling to the Scottish capital and wants a word of advice. And I keep on typing those must-know things every time. This time I will type them into a blog post!
So, here’s a list of things you need to know if you are visiting Edinburgh for the first time.
Getting to the city from the airport
Option one: a cab. An average taxi ride will cost you approximately £22. But don’t expect a huge line of cars waiting to give you a ride. Taxis are usually pre-ordered, I haven’t seen more than one cab waiting there in the taxi area. But there are always tons of them next to the airport. Get to the taxi waiting spot, give them a call and wait for your black cab! (For example, CityCabs + 44 0 131 22 81 211). Most cabs will accept both cash and card, but make sure to confirm card payment with the driver!
Option two: a tram. Ok, honestly I have never taken a tram. It simply wasn’t convenient for me. People of Edinburgh are not very happy about the tram cause the building of the route took years and millions of pounds. And unlike many other places out there, this tram has just one route: from the city centre to the airport. You can check more information on the website. A single adult ticket to the airport is £6, return one would be £8.5. In Scotland, most of the return journeys are valid within 30 days from the initial ticket purchase. You need to buy a tram ticket before boarding: there are ticket vending machines om each stop that accept cash and cards.
Option three: a bus ‘100’. My usual way of getting to the airport is by bus. You can find the blue buses right next to the Waverly station on the Waverly bridge. They are very regular and will get you to the airport in 30-40 min (depending on traffic). A single trip is £4, return one – £7.5. The bus has a few stops on the way, make sure to press the STOP button if you want to get out on a certain stop. And if you are waiting for the bus on the bus stop (and this is important about all the buses!) you have to RISE a hand to make sure that it stops. Card and cash payments are possible on this bus.
Taking a bus in the city
I hardly ever take buses, cause I usually walk, but if you need to take one you can download the app or simply check the routes on the Lothian Buses website. So two important things about the buses: as I have already said, don’t forget to wave to make sure it stops and you HAVE to have the EXACT change to pay for your trip. What it means, you have to have £1.7 for a single trip in coins. If you have £2 – you’ll pay £2, there’s no option for a change. You can not pay with a card, neither can you pay with notes. The driver doesn’t do change and will not accept notes. Weird, I know. But it is what it is. One pound seventy in coins are to be dropped into the metal box next to the driver and then you get your ticket. Tickets are valid only per one journey on one bus, you can not use it again on the next bus if you need to make a change. But you can buy a day ticket for £4 and then use it on every bus.
Paying in pubs and restaurants
In most of the places you can pay with a card, but sometimes there will be a small fee for that transaction. Just ask your waiter :) If it’s cash only, usually it’s quite easy to find a cash machine anywhere in the city. If you order a beer, remember that in the UK the measures are in pints (roughly 0.6l) and half pints (~0.33l). Water and juices will also come in pints.
Museums in Scotland are FREE. Yes, you heard me correctly: public museums and galleries are free of charge, except for the special exhibitions. But if you want to visit a castle you’ll have to pay.
An important one, huh? There are a few public toilets in the city (on both sides of the Princess str gardens, for example) and they are free of charge. If you need one at the central station, you’ll have to pay a small fee. Otherwise, there’s no problem walking into the pub, museum or a department store and using one for free. I think, Edinburgh is quite relaxed about this subject matter, no one will try to charge you if you ask nicely.
Oh, this was a BIG one for me after five years in Berlin: shops ARE OPENED on Sundays! Supermarkets, bookshops, departments stores, clothes, local fishermen and butchers – most of them are open every day. Sometimes with the reduced hours, but working. It is very convenient and there’s no need to rush to make your food shopping on Saturday.
If you want to buy a bottle of wine make sure you get it before 10 p.m.! You can not buy alcohol after 10 o’clock unless you are in a bar. Keep in mind, that the pubs have limited license for selling alcohol and (depending on the bar) will close at 1-2am. Smoking inside is not allowed. Also, if you are a smoker, I would advise bringing your own cigarettes: in the UK a pack will cost you £11! (And this is how I quit smoking, true story). By the way, in Edinburgh, you can legally drink outside! Fancy some champagne on the Calton Hill? Just get the glasses and enjoy your bubbles:)
Oh, I think that’s all for now. What did I miss? Do you have any questions? Please let me know in the comment section!
xx, love, Liza
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