Edinburgh Travel Tips: What to Know Before Visiting

Edinburgh is the capital city of Scotland. However, isn’t the typical “city vibe” that places like: Madrid, Berlin, NYC give. Scotland is definitely an old town. One of the oldest parts of the city is actually named “Old Town” because of the medieval buildings and street plans. With cobblestone and narrow streets, Edinburgh reminded me of the Beacon Hill neighborhood in my hometown of Boston. I came to Edinburgh with the visual of London, but this city looks nothing like it. Edinburgh has acres of greenery and provides ancient-looking architecture that London just doesn’t provide. I also noticed that a lot of merchandise were Game of Thrones themed and/or involved sheep skin and unicorns – my friend explained that Scottish people love their sheep and unicorns. In fact, it’s their national animal… the unicorn, not the sheep.


Getting Around

Edinburgh is a really small city, you can literally walk to all of the main attractions through alleyways and main streets. But there’s also transportation here if you don’t feel like hiking up hills or stairs.


Food & Drink

Cuisine may be the only area where Edinburgh and London have commonalities. They both provide a diverse range of food. I was happily surprised to see that Edinburgh was as diverse as London! I ate at rather cheap places on both of my trips, but the quality of food didn’t disappoint. And just like the cuisine, you can easily find pubs/bars for your drinking needs.


Money

It’s fairly expensive in the U.K., so make sure you have taken out enough pounds to suffice for your stay. Since everything is pretty much in walking distance in Edinburgh, you shouldn’t have to spend too much on transportation.


Interacting with Locals

Everyone I encountered in Edinburgh were extremely bubbly and friendly. I never felt intimidated to talk to locals because everyone was so welcoming.

You may run into locals who have heavy Scottish accents. Don’t hesitate to politely ask them to repeat themselves if you didn’t understand what they said. This happened to me when I was taking a taxi to Waverly street to catch the airport shuttle bus.


Safety

I walked around Edinburgh with my friends between 1am-4am and never felt uncomfortable. While the streets can be eerily quiet in the early hours, I didn’t feel unsafe. When leaving Edinburgh on my first trip, I walked to the airport shuttle bus around 3am by myself. At no point did I feel nervous or uneasy by myself. That’s not to say that crime doesn’t happen in Edinburgh, but I didn’t experience anything during my stays.


Other tips/advice: 

  • Like London, and the rest of the U.K., Edinburgh is typical rainy. Bring an umbrella and/or raincoat. It was raining as soon as I stepped off the airplane, and when leaving, both times I visited 😫.
  • When arriving at the airport, or going to it, I’d recommend you take the Airlink Bus. My friends introduced it to me. It’s a double-decker bus that runs 24-hours a day and offers wifi! You can buy a single ticket, or open return ticket that can be used getting back to the airport.
  • Certain English terms/phrases that are common in the U.S. may mean something else in the U.K. For example: ‘cheers’ in the UK means goodbye’, or thank you’, not clicking glasses for a toast.

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