edinburgh taxi at the royal mile

Top tips for getting around Edinburgh & navigating public transport

Edinburgh is a delight to explore, from the charming Old Town to the grandeur of the New Town, seven climb-worthy hills, and pretty harbour towns. With so much to see, it’s extremely useful to know how to navigate the city efficiently. In this guide, we’ll explore top tips for getting around Edinburgh, whether it’s walking, public transport or the Hop-on Hop-off bus.

What is the easiest way to get around Edinburgh?

The easiest way depends on your personal preferences, the distance you plan to cover, and the level of flexibility you want. A few options to consider are:

Walking in Edinburgh

  • Pros: The city centre is compact, and many attractions are within walking distance of each other. Walking is a great way to explore the charming streets, uncover hidden gems, and enjoy the city’s vibrant atmosphere.
  • Cons: Edinburgh is built on seven hills so be prepared for some uphill walking and stair climbing, especially when exploring certain areas of the Old Town. As such, it may not be practical for longer distances or reaching places further afield.
walking in edinburgh

Edinburgh public transport (Buses and Trams)

  • Pros: There’s an extensive network of public transport including buses and trams. Buses cover the city centre and suburbs, while trams connect the Port of Leith and city centre with the airport.
  • Cons: Public transport can get crowded during peak hours, as well as during the busy summer months. However, the continual flow of transport means it’s without doubt a cost-effective and practical option for getting around.

Edinburgh Taxi and Rideshare services

  • Pros: Taxis are readily available throughout Edinburgh, as are rideshare apps. If you’re short on time or unsure of public transport they can be particularly useful.
  • Cons: Taxis are more expensive than public transport, and traffic conditions may affect travel time.

Edinburgh Hop-On Hop-Off Bus tours

  • Pros: The Hop-On Hop-Off bus provides a narrated tour with stops at major attractions, allowing you to explore areas at your own pace, and learn about the city via the commentary.
  • Cons: The tour has a fixed route, and the ticket cost can be higher compared to other transport options. It’s ideal for those who prefer a structured, informative tour.

Ultimately, the easiest way to get around the city might involve a combination of these options, depending on your itinerary. Choose the mode of transportation that aligns best with your plans.

Can you walk everywhere in Edinburgh?

The city’s compact size makes it pedestrian-friendly, and wandering along the charming streets is undoubtedly one of the best ways to soak up the atmosphere. Many of the city’s attractions, including the Royal Mile, Princes Street Gardens, and the iconic Arthur’s Seat, are within walking distance of each other.

The Old Town and New Town, divided by Princes Street Gardens, offer a fascinating blend of historic sites, designer and high street stores, and cosy cafes. Exploring these areas on foot means you discover lots of hidden gems at your own pace. However, if your mobility is restricted or you plan to cover longer distances it may not be the most practical option.

Is public transport in Edinburgh expensive?

The cost of public transport in Edinburgh is reasonable, and there are several options for tickets to suit different travel needs.

The city’s bus network is extensive, covering both the city centre and the suburbs. A single bus ticket typically costs £1.80–£2.00 (child/adult), and day tickets, which allow unlimited travel on Lothian Buses, are priced at approximately £2.50–£5.00.

There is the option of Ridacards, offering unlimited travel for a week or month, providing excellent value for those planning an extended stay.

Additionally, Edinburgh’s tram system connects the city centre and the Port of Leith with the airport. It’s a convenient and cost-effective option for visitors arriving at the airport. A single ticket covering the airport and city centre zone is £7.00 (or £9.00 for a return.)

*Prices quoted are correct at the time of writing/publishing this blog

How do I pay for transport in Edinburgh

Paying for public transport in Edinburgh is a straightforward process. For buses, you can pay with exact change when boarding, or even more conveniently, by using the contactless payment option on buses, trams, and tram stops. Simply tap your contactless card or mobile device on the reader to pay for your journey.

If you plan on using public transport frequently during your stay, consider purchasing a smart card or Ridacard. The smart card allows you to preload credit, making it easy to swipe and go. Ridacards, on the other hand, provide unlimited travel for a specified duration, offering convenience and cost savings for regular commuters and visitors alike.

Is the Hop-On Hop-Off in Bus in Edinburgh worth it?

The Hop-on Hop-off bus tours are a popular choice for visitors looking to cover a lot of ground and learn about the city’s history. Edinburgh’s open-top buses offer a narrated tour with stops at major attractions, allowing passengers to explore at their own pace. Whether it’s your first visit or repeat, the Hop-on Hop-off bus offers a unique perspective on the city.

The big advantage of this tour is the flexibility it provides. You can disembark at any stop, explore the area, and catch the next bus when you’re ready to move on.  The commentary on the bus provides interesting insights into Edinburgh’s history, architecture, and culture, so you learn as you go!

However, whether the Hop-on Hop-off bus is worth it depends on your personal preferences and travel style. If you enjoy a structured, informative tour with the flexibility to explore independently, this option is perfect. If on the other hand, you prefer a more spontaneous and immersive experience, exploring the city on foot or using public transport may be a better fit.

Travelling to the city centre from Edinburgh Airport

Trams and Airlink buses are super convenient. Journey times typically average 40 minutes, potentially shorter in early mornings and late evenings. Taxis are also readily available from the rank upon arrival.

Visitors who opt for car hire at the airport can follow signs to the city centre, or enable GPS for detailed directions. It’s a fairly straightforward route.

In addition to these options, we can arrange a private transfer on arrival.  We highly recommend Not Another Taxi Company who provide executive chauffeur services, in E-class or 8 seater Mercedes Benz.

Contact our helpful Reception team, and let us handle the planning, including a meet and greet on arrival with a personalised name board, and luggage assistance. Take the stress out of your travel arrangements!
Phone alternative: +44 131 226 6050

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