Edinburgh

Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland, but it is only the second most populous city of the country. But, if you come to Edinburgh you will soon realize why this is a city both nationals and internationals love so much.

In this article, we would like to give you the most important information that you need about Edinburgh. We will present to you the most important attractions in Edinburgh, give you advises on the best activities in Edinburgh, come with some tips on where to eat and give you other practical information about Edinburgh.

Attractions in Edinburgh

The Royal Mile

This is the most famous walk/street in Edinburgh, and the most used street in the Old Town of Edinburgh. It connects the Edinburgh Castle with the Holyrood Palace. The length of the walk is around a Scots mile, and the street you walk along as you do the Royal Mile are Castlehill, the Lawnmarket, the High Street, the Canongate and Abbey Strand.

Walking the Royal Mile will not only let you discover the Royal Mile itself, but you will also see some of the most important attractions of Edinburgh, so following now we will write about the most important attractions to discover as you walk the Royal Mile.

Royal Mile in Edinburgh
Kevin George / Shutterstock

Edinburgh Castle

This is the number one attraction in Edinburgh, and the attraction you simply must visit. This is the starting point of the Royal Mile and it is the number one visitor attraction in Scotland. Once inside you can not only visit the St Margaret’s Chapel, The National War Memorial and the Half Moon Battery, but you can also enjoy some magnificent views towards all of Edinburgh. What makes it even more exciting is that the castle has been built on an extinct volcano. Make sure not to miss out on this one!

Shahid Khan / Shutterstock
Shahid Khan / Shutterstock

St Giles’ Cathedral

After leaving Edinburgh Castle you do not need to walk much before you discover St Giles’ Cathedral. The church has been one of the most important places for worship in Scotland for almost a thousand years. The building as you see it today was constructed in the 14th century, but it should be mentioned that lots of restoration work was done on the building in the 19th century.

Giles Cathedral
matthi / Shutterstock

Camera Obscura

This is a very special attraction, and the oldest of all attractions in Edinburgh. It was built with the purpose of being an attraction for tourists, and it is very easy to discover due to its big, white tower. At this place, you can see a mirror that reflect the city through three different lenses. It is one of the most popular attractions in Glasgow, and absolutely worth a visit. The entrance fee is around £10 for adults.

Palace of Holyroodhouse

At the very end of the Royal Mile you will find the Palace of Holyroodhouse. This is a building that has been central in the Scottish history, and today it serves as the Queen’s official Edinburgh residence. When the Queen is elsewhere the building can be visited. You can find more information about how to visit the building at https://www.royalcollection.org.uk/visit/palace-of-holyroodhouse.

Holyrood Park

This park is often referred to as Queen’s Park or King’s Park. This is a gorgeous and big park located just next to the Palace of Holyroodhouse. It is not a park in the way most people think of a park, as it is a sweet mixture of small lochs (lakes) cliffs and all sorts of landscape. And it is for that reason that you should visit the park while in Edinburgh.

Scottish Parliament

In the Holyrood area you can also find the Scottish Parliament. This is a very modern and nice looking building that was finished in 2004.

These are some of the most famous and interesting attractions in Edinburgh, but there are much more to see if you are really interested. But, do not stop reading, because now we are about to present to you some of the coolest and most interesting activities and programs in Edinburgh.

Edinburgh information
Richie Chan / Shutterstock

Activities in Edinburgh

Would you like to enjoy a program in Edinburgh together with your family? Are you looking for a program which will give you an experience to remember for a long time? Here we will present to you some of the coolest and most interesting programs available in Edinburgh.

Edinburgh Zoo

For those coming to Edinburgh with children this is an ideal program. The zoo is located not far from the city center and it can easily be visited using a local bus. The zoo gives home to more than 1000 different animals, including koala beers, chimpanzees and lots of other cool creatures.  You can find out more about the Edinburgh Zoo at http://www.edinburghzoo.org.uk/

The entrance fee for adults paying upon arrival to the zoo is £19.00.

Pandas in Edinburgh Zoo
Pandas in Edinburgh Zoo

Edinburgh Dungeon

Lots of people have heard about London Dungeon, a very popular activity in London. But, what about Edinburgh Dungeon? The principle is exactly the same, but the story presented to you is different. Every visitor in Edinburgh Dungeon will be taken on a tour through the darkest history of Scotland, so this is both cool, dramatic and useful at the same time. Tickets can be bought for £13.00 per person (there are more expensive versions as well).

If you want to know more, visit the homepage of Edinburgh Dungeon – http://www.thedungeons.com/edinburgh/en/

National Museum of Scotland

This is one of  the 20 most visited museums and galleries in the entire world, and it is among the top 10 visited attractions in the United Kingdom. It came to be in 2006 after the merger between the Museum of Scotland and the Royal Museum. This is a perfect museum if you want to know more about the history of Scotland and see some of the most important and famous artifacts in the nation. And what makes this even better is the fact that the museum can be entered for free.

National Museum of Scotland
National Museum of Scotland

Royal Botanical Garden

On a busy city trip, there are few things more relaxing that visiting a botanical garden. In Edinburgh you can find the Royal Botanical Garden, a perfect place for a walk in a relaxing and beautiful environment. Inside the park you will find ten glasshouses with different climate and tropical plants, you can enjoy stunning views towards the city center of Edinburgh and the Edinburgh Castle, and you can even watch some beautiful art in the very gallery belonging to the botanical garden. This is yet another free activity in Edinburgh.

Scottish National Gallery

You might not expect to much from a gallery in Edinburgh, but you will be surprised to find out that this is an amazing gallery, especially considered its location in the middle of nowhere in a city in Scotland. In the museum, you will get introduced to some of the most famous masterpieces made by the hands of Scot painters like Ramsay, Raeburn, Wilkie and McTaggart. But, maybe does names means very little to you. A great comfort to you will then be that you can also enjoy the works of world-famous painters like Raphael, Velázquez, Vermeer, Monet, Cézanne and Van Gogh in the Scottish National Gallery. Now, that is something, ain’t it? To make the visit even sweater, the entrance to the Scottish National Gallery is completely free! You might have to pay for some temporary exhibitions from time to time, but all the permanent exhibitions are free to visit.

National Gallery in Scotland

Shopping

It is no surprise that you want to do some shopping while in Edinburgh. You can find almost anything in Edinburgh, and if you visit the most popular of all shopping streets, Princes Street, you can also enjoy a stunning view towards Edinburgh Castle while shopping. If you come with Edinburgh with train and leave the train at Waverly station, you can either leave the station towards the Royal Mil,e or Princes Street, either the Old Town or the New Town.

f11photo / Shutterstock
f11photo / Shutterstock

Princes street is the number one street for shopping in Edinburgh. Here you will find famous brands such as Primark, Zara, Debenhams, The Body Shop, an Apple store and much more. In the Princes street gardens there are different markets and programs going on, the most famous of them all is the annual Christmas market.

Just next to Princes street you can find George street. This is not the street for famous international brands, but instead you can find lots of local designers and fashion stores.

If you want to do some more exclusive shopping in Edinburgh, then you should head towards the  Multrees Walk.This is not far from Princes street and George street, but still very different. They pride themselves in being “the definition of luxury,” and here you can find stores such as Louis Vuitton, Nespresso and also Harvey Nichols. The latter is a department store, and on the inside you can find brands such as Celine, Victoria Beckham, Balenciaga, Gucci, Christopher Kane, Marc Jacobs and Stella McCartney.

Do not forget that even though the Royal Mile is an attraction and a beautiful walk, it is also a street full of shopping opportunities. Keep your eyes open, because you might discover something in a store window that you didn’t even know that you need.

Some dry Edinburgh information

The city is the second largest city in Scotland, and the seventh largest city in the UK. The city is however the largest financial center in the UK after London. The city itself has a population a little less than 500,000 people, but if you count the entire city region then the number is way higher.

The city was founded in the 7th century, and it has been the capital of Scotland since the 15th century.

Edinburgh Airport, which is located not far from the city center of Edinburgh, is the most used airport in all of Scotland. It can easily be reached using the Edinburgh tram, or using a local taxi.

Climate in Scotland

One of the most important things to prepare for when planning your trip to Scotland is the weather. A sunny day can make the saddest day beautiful, and a rainy day can make the brightest day sad. So, what can you expect when you come to Scotland?

One of the interesting things about the climate in Scotland is that it changes all the time. This is something we experience all the time, and something you as a tourist can expect to notice. A tourist once told us about their trip to Urquhart Castle (by Loch Ness). As they arrived it was raining all the time and they almost did not manage to leave the car. After a short break, it suddenly stopped and the rain was shining and it became really warm. They paid the entrance fees and walked down to the castle itself. As they had a stroller with them one decided to wait outside while the rest of the group climbed the stairs to the top of the castle. By the time, they had reached the top the one standing with the stroller had turned soaking wet due to heavy rain that lasted for about 15 seconds.

The climate in Scotland
Sara Winter / Shutterstock

Average temperatures in Scotland

The climate in Scotland is categorized as temperate and oceanic climate. It tends to be quite calm, quickly changing, but seldom extreme.  The average temperature during the winter is around 0 Celsius, while the summers have an average temperature between 15-17 Celsius.

There is quite a lot of rain in Scotland, and especially in the Western Highlands one can expect lots of rain. In an average year it falls around 4,577 mm of rain in this area.  Parts of the country have between 50-100 days a year also with snowfall, but you will not notice this so much if you stay in the big cities such as Glasgow and Edinburgh.

You should also be aware of the fact that Scotland is the windiest country in Europe, but this again is not something you will notice so much as you visit Glasgow and Edinburgh, but if you travel to Shetland, Orkney and similar areas you will for sure discover it!

Currency in Scotland

What is the currency in use in Scotland? Where can I get the local currency? Is it Euro? Is it Scottish money, or do they use British Pounds?

One of the most important things to know before arriving to a country and a city is the local currency. What should you use to pay your taxi driver taking you from the airport to your hotel? Which currency can you use if you want to buy a cup of coffee at the airport, before traveling towards the city center?

Kanuman / Shutterstock
Kanuman / Shutterstock

The currency in Scotland

Since Scotland is a part of Great Britain, they use the same currency in Scotland as they do in Wales, Northern Ireland and in England. The currency is the British Pound and it is very easy to get hold of.

If you want to change money before your trip then you can easily get British Pounds in your local bank, or in a local currency change office. If you wait till arrival then you will find lots of ATM’s at the airports in Scotland, the easiest and cheapest way to get hold of the local currency.

Can I pay with Euro in Scotland?

You can try at some places, but you will do much better paying with British Pound, which is the local currency. It is always useful to have some cash available in your pocket, so we recommend using an ATM to get some British Pound as soon as possible.

Can I pay with my card in Scotland?

If you do not want to withdraw much money, then you should be happy to hear that you can pay with a card almost anywhere in Scotland. Some taxi drivers do not accept card, but in stores and similar places card acceptance is normal.

Transportation in Scotland

Looking for a way to get around in Edinburgh, Glasgow or maybe for a travel around in Scotland? Where to find prices for the Scottish Railway? We have all the information you need!

If you come from central Europe or the United States, you will probably be scared to rent a car in Scotland. The steering wheel is on the “wrong side”, and the traffic is therefore hard to get used to for foreigners. For this (and many other) reasons you will probably want to use public transportation instead.

Here we will try to give you all the information you need about public transportation in Edinburgh, in Glasgow and general information about traveling around in Scotland.

The most famous bridge in Scotland – Nick Fox / Shutterstock
The most famous bridge in Scotland – Nick Fox / Shutterstock

Public transportation in Edinburgh

In Edinburgh, you will find a tram that will take you around to the most important destinations. It starts from the airport and will take you all the way to the city center and the Waverly railway station. The price for a single ticket is £1.60. This ticket is available for all stops, except from the Edinburg Airport stop. For a tram ticket including the airport you will need to buy the Airport Zone ticket which cost £5.50. You can buy tickets from vending machines located at the different stops.

Tram lines in Edinburgh
Tram lines in Edinburgh

Public transportation in Glasgow

The easiest way to get around in the city center of Glasgow is using the metro. You can find a metro map beneath. The main station for those traveling to the city center is Buchanan Street. During peak hours, the metros leave every 4-5 minutes and traveling the entire circle takes around 24 minutes. A single ticket cost £1.60 for adults. An all-day ticket cost £4.00.

Glasgow Metro Map
Glasgow Metro Map

There are different bus companies operating in Glasgow, so ask the receptionist at your hotel for information on travel times, prices and more.

Transportation in Scotland

The most convenient way to travel between big cities in Scotland is using the railway. ScotRail is the name of the service, and they operate trains between all the big cities in Scotland. Their website is easy to use and you can easily book your tickets online beforehand. They also have great service at the different railway stations, so if you do not want to book your tickets online, then you can easily buy your tickets at the different railway stations.

The main railway station in Edinburgh is the Waverly station. This is in the heart of the city, so if you arrive here by train you can leave the train station and be in the middle of the city at once.

In Glasgow, there are several central stations, but the most common to use is the Glasgow Central. This is also located in the heart of the city and will serve as a good starting point for visitors arriving to the city.

Scotrail: https://www.scotrail.co.uk/

Traveling with bus, rail and everything

There are more than 200 bus companies operating in Scotland, meaning that it can be a mess finding all the information you are looking for. Luckily there is a service named Traveline Scotland, where you can add your location and your destination, and at once they will show different options for how you can travel between the different places. This will combine usage of metro, bus and train, making it a great tool for planning your tours around in Scotland.

Traveline: http://www.travelinescotland.com