Hostelworld Guide for Edinburgh


Edinburgh is a city which you will warm to straight away. Walking down Princes Street, the city's main thoroughfare, Edinburgh Castle hangs proudly over the Scottish capital reminding the locals and tourists alike of the city's medieval past. There are endless streets to explore, both in the Old and New Towns, numerous shops to keep the shopaholics occupied, while at night the city comes alive with an eclectic mix of young and old filling the city's many restaurants, bars and clubs.



In this Guide...      

Useful Information
After Dark
Places to Eat
Top Attractions
Budget Tips
Where to Shop

 The Essentials


Exchange Rates


Getting There

By plane: Edinburgh International Airport is 7 miles outside the city centre. The #100 bus (a 24 hour service) departs outside the arrivals hall every 15 minutes and goes to Waverly Bridge in the city centre. A return journey costs £5.

By train: Edinburgh has two main stations - Waverly Station and Haymarket Station. If you are going to the Scottish capital via train you will end up in Waverly Station in the city centre.

By bus: Edinburgh's main bus station is on Elder St in the city centre.

Getting Around

On foot: Edinburgh's city centre is extremely compact and getting around it on foot is simple. It takes just 5 minutes to walk from the Royal Mile in the Old Town to Princes Street in the New Town.

By bus/train: An efficient bus service runs throughout the city, but chances are you won't need to use it.

By taxi: As the city centre is so small, a taxi journey shouldn't cost anything more than £5. They can be hailed down quite easily.

The best time to visit the Scottish capital is during the summer when temperatures reach an average of 21°C. Unfortunately rain manages to raise its head on a number of occasions during July and August, but summers have been getting dryer in recent years. The skies stay grey in both autumn and spring and it is known to rain quite a bit during these two seasons. Snow is known to keep the Scottish Highlands cold for the most part of the winter but seldom covers Edinburgh which is a shame as it looks especially pretty after a blizzard.

avg temps

 Good to know...

Language: English
Currency: British Pound
Electricity: 230/240 Volts AC/50Hz. 3-pin plug.
Area Code: +44 (Scotland) 0131 (Edinburgh). Local numbers are 7 digits.
Emergency Codes: Ambulance 112/999, Fire 112/999, Police 112/999.
Time Zone: Greenwich Mean Time
Central Post Office: St James Shopping Centre, just off Leith St
Main Tourist Office: TIC, Waverly Market, Princes Street

Consulates / High Commissions

USA: +44 (0)131 556 8315 (C)
Canada: +44 (0)131 245 6013 (C)
Australia: +44 (0)131 624 3700 (C)
South Africa: +44 (0)20 7451 7299 (HC - London)
Ireland: +44 (0)131 226 7711 (C)
Germany: +44 (0)131 337 2323 (C)
Spain: +44 (0)131 220 1843 (C)
Italy: +44 (0)131 226 3631 (C)
New Zealand: +44 (0)870 005 6962 (HC)
France: +44 (0)131 225 7954 (C)

Hostelworld Guide for Edinburgh

 Cheap Eats

 After Dark

The Royal Mile Tavern, 127 High Street, Old Town This imaginatively-named pub on the Old Town's main thoroughfare is good value considering its location. Traditional Scottish haggis costs just £6.50, while if you're not feeling adventurous you can try standard fare such as fish and chips or a meaty burger. Open daily from 11am-11pm (Sun-Thurs) & 1am (Fri & Sat).

 The joys of being a backpacker

The Castle Arms, 6 Johnston Terrace, Old Town The proprietors of this pub just a stone's throw from Edinburgh's top attractions must have been backpackers in a previous help those travelling on a budget they have been kind enough to offer backpackers a 'traveller's menu', where main courses that would normally cost £8.50 cost a more reasonable £6.50. The portions aren't as big, but it's still great value. Show your hostel key to avail. Open daily from 11am-1am.

Eatings, 172 Rose Street, New Town For cheap breakfast on the go you can't beat the £1 sausage and bacon rolls from this bright orange take-away, just minutes from Princes Street. They also do a selection of sandwiches, rolls and cakes for those with a sweet tooth. Open daily from 6.30am-6pm.

The Baked Potato Shop, 56 Cockburn Street, Old Town Specialising in vegetarian food, 'The Baked Potato Shop' has queues forming outside on occasion, it's that popular. They are all waiting for the one thing - tasty baked potatoes filled with everything from curried rice peppers to chick pea salad. Open daily from 9am-9pm.

Snax, 15 West Register St, New Town While it's slightly difficult to locate (it's just behind Princes Street in the New Town), take two minutes to find and you'll be treated to full breakfasts for £2.60 and cheeseburger and chips for £2.30. Open 6.30am-6pm Mon-Sat, 8am-6pm Sun.

Rush Bar, 3 Robertsons Close, Cowgate, Old Town This bar is extremely popular with students and backpackers because of this - show your hostel card when buying your first drink and you get a loyalty card. After that all spirits and mixers cost £1, alcopops cost just £1.25, while selected pints on draught cost a measly £1.75. And don't worry about not liking the music - you can choose tunes from their jukebox! Open daily from 4pm-1am.

The Globe, 13 Niddry Street, Old Town Edinburgh's number one backpacker bar has something going on every night. Monday is quiz night, Thursday is karaoke night, while the rest of the time it's just buzzing with the travellers enjoying the cheap beer on promotion. Open Mon-Fri 4pm-1am, Sat & Sun 12 noon-1am.

 Gay / Lesbian Edinburgh

There are an ever-growing number of bars and clubs around the city, with most of the action concentrating around Broughton Street in the New Town. The Outhouse (12a Broughton Street Lane) is (unsurprisingly) an exclusively gay bar and extremely popular. Another hotspot popular with Edinburgh's gay community is the unpretentious Pop Rokit (2 Picardy Place), while the best-known club is CC Blooms (23 Greenside Place).

Ghost tours of Edinburgh Edinburgh is one of the most haunted cities in the world, and if you want to be told old legends and tales about the city's ghastly ghouls and ghosts, embark on one of the numerous haunted tours which depart from various points along the Royal Mile every night. Some start at 7.30pm, others start at 9, then some bring you to places others don't have access to. Do your homework before booking.

Bar-hopping in the Grassmarket area, Old Town This area just below Edinburgh Castle is where you will find Edinburgh's largest concentration of bars. Some of the most popular include 'Biddy Mulligans', the district's most popular Irish bar, 'The Last Drop' which is at the site of the last public hanging in Scotland, and 'Alba', Grassmarket's trendy pub.

Opal Lounge, 51 George St, New Town When you want to don your gladrags, sip cocktails and dance the night away, this late night bar/club on Georges St is the best place to go. The perfect excuse to adorn your body with those 'good clothes' you never thought you'd wear on the road. Open 7 days a week from midday until 3am.

 Don't Miss

 Mark Your Calendar

St Giles' Cathedral, Royal Mile, Old Town Also known as the High Kirk of Edinburgh, St Giles' Cathedral dates back to the 1120s. Within the cathedral there are over two hundred memorials honouring different Scots along with a notable collection of stained glass windows. Open Mon-Fri 9am-7pm (until 5 between Apr & Oct), 9am-5pm Sat and Sun; admission free, donations welcome.

Royal Museum/Museum of Scotland, Chambers Street, Old Town These museums which stand side by side are two of Edinburgh's most enthralling. The former houses everything from old Elton John outfits to enormous whale skeletons, while the latter is dedicated to everything Scottish and has great views from its rooftop which is open to the public. Open Mon-Sat 10am-5pm, Tues 10am-8pm, Sun midday-5pm; admission free.

 Scotland's numero uno

Edinburgh Castle, The Esplanade, Old Town Scotland's number one attraction looms over its capital and shouldn't be missed. Highlights include the Crown Jewels, the Royal Apartments and the National War Museum of Scotland. Dedicate at least two hours to appreciate it fully. Open daily from 9am-5pm (winter) / 6pm (summer); admission £15.

Rosslyn Chapel, Rosslyn If you've read Dan Brown's 'The Da Vinci Code', which you probably have at this stage, then make sure to visit this quaint chapel not far from Edinburgh. It features towards the end of the novel and is a nice excuse to get out of the city centre for a while. To get there take bus #15 from St Andrew's Square.

Camera Obscura, Castlehill, Old Town One of Edinburgh's oldest attractions, here you can enjoy breathtaking panoramic views of the city as well as enjoy the hands-on attractions. Open daily from 9.30am/10am-5pm/6pm/7.30pm; admission £9.95 (adult), £7.95 (student).

January - Hogmanay Edinburgh's annual Hogmanay is Europe's largest winter festival and attracts over a quarter of a million revellers every year. The New Year is traditionally a more important celebration in Scotland and you'll see why if you visit during Hogmanay.

February/March - Six Nations Rugby The annual Six Nations Rugby tournament is one of the year's biggest sporting events and attracts thousands from France, Italy, and Ireland every year.

April - Beltane Celebrating the end of winter and the beginning of spring, Edinburgh's annual Beltane festival is one of the year's most unique events. Expect fiery rituals involving lots of drumming and buckets of body paint.

June - Caledonian Brewery Beer Festival Edinburgh's annual beerfest dedicated to their home brew gets bigger every year. Choose from over 30 beers to sample and get treated to lots of live music.

July - Edinburgh Jazz & Blues Festival This 10-day long event kicks off Edinburgh's festival season and attracts top jazz and blues acts from both home and abroad.

August - Edinburgh Fringe Festival Edinburgh's Fringe Festival is the largest arts festival in the world and entertains over 1 million people annually.

August - Military Tattoo One of Edinburgh's most famous festivals, this is where marching bands with pipes and drums perform in front of the impressive backdrop of Edinburgh Castle.

August - Edinburgh International Festival The Edinburgh International Festival is very similar to the Fringe festival but this showcases the more 'classic' arts and for three weeks the very best of opera, theatre, music and dance entertains lovers of the arts.

September - Edinburgh Mela Founded in 1995 by members of Edinburgh's Pakistani, Indian and Bangladeshi communities, Mela is Scotland's biggest intercultural festival.

November/December - Capital Christmas From the end of November Britain's largest open-air ice-rink can be found just under Edinburgh Castle in Princes Street Gardens as part of this annual festival. Other highlights include the 'Edinburgh Wheel' and a traditional German Christmas market.

Hostelworld Guide for Edinburgh

 Get Connected

 Budget Tips

Web 13, 13 Bread Street, Old Town This place has every service you would expect from an internet café - faxing, photocopying, printing and (of course) web access. Open Mon-Sat 10am-10pm; Sun 12noon-6pm; £3 per hour.


easyInternetcafé, 58 Rose Street, New Town It seems everywhere in the world has an easyInternetcafé, but this branch was the first one outside London. One of Edinburgh's most central internet cafés, it is located just 30 seconds from Princes Street and has a grand total of 448 terminals. Open 7.30am-10.30pm 7 days a week; rates vary during the day, minimum purchase £1.

That Internet Café, 18 West Matelands St, Haymarket The decor in this cybercafé makes writing emails back home more pleasant than usual and if you are staying in Edinburgh's Haymarket it's worth coming here just for a coffee. Open from 8am-9pm 7 days a week; 4p per minute.

The Internet Café, 98 West Bow, Grassmarket, Old Town Located at the top of the Grassmarket, you can pay by the minute here if you're only visiting once or buy pre-paid tickets if you think you'll return. Open Mon-Sat 10am-11pm; £1 per half hour or £2 for 67 mins with pre-paid cards.

Electric Frog, 42-44 Cockburn St, Old Town With only 7 terminals, you might be waiting for a free PC, but it boasts a fantastic location on Edinburgh's coolest street. Open Mon-Sat 10am-10pm; £2.50 for 30 minutes.


Embark on a free city walk Yes, that's right - a FREE walking tour! Where and when I hear you ask? Get down to the Starbucks Café by the Tron Kirk on High Street (Royal Mile) at 11am or 3pm where the tours, which take in Edinburgh Castle, Princes' Street Gardens and more, depart daily. All it will cost you is a tip!

 Not for the faint hearted

Conquer Arthur's Seat It takes a bit more energy that most other things to do in Edinburgh, but dedicate about two hours of your day to climbing Arthur's Seat and you won't regret it. The vista from the top is breathtaking with views of the entire city and the Scottish Sea also.

Go museum-hopping on the Royal Mile The Royal Mile in the Old Town is full of museums - top and bottom. What's best about them is that they are all free. This includes the 'Writers' Museum' which is dedicated to the lives and times of its famous authors, the 'Museum of Childhood', and 'The People's Story', a local favourite.

Visit Parliament Hall Just behind St Giles’ Cathedral is Parliament Hall, the very place where the United Kingdom was founded. Stick your head in for five minutes to see the age-old tradition where solicitors walk up and down the hall so the sound of their footsteps ensures nobody else can hear their conversation. Admission free.

Check out Edinburgh's free art galleries All of Edinburgh's main art galleries are free. The oldest one is the National Gallery of Scotland on The Mound which houses Scotland's greatest collection of Scottish and European paintings while also in the city centre is the National Portrait Gallery on Queen Street. Just outside the city on Belford Road you'll find the city's National Gallery of Modern Art and Dean Gallery.

 Retail Therapy

 A Day in Edinburgh...

Princes Street Edinburgh's main thoroughfare is also the city's premier shopping district. HMV, Levis, Benetton and other well known high street names can be found here, but the most rewarding aspect of shopping here is the view of Edinburgh Castle you are treated to from every point of the street.

Princes Mall, Princes Street, New Town This central shopping mall has a varied selection of stores selling everything from clothes to music. There's also a good food court on the basement level. Open Mon-Sat from 9am-6pm (7pm on Thurs), Sun 11am-5pm.

Jenners Department Store, 48 Princes Street New York has Bloomingdales, London has Harrods and Edinburgh has Jenners, the oldest department store in the world. Find everything from the best names in fashion to watches and everything in between. Open Mon-Sat from 9am-6pm (8pm on Thurs), Sun 11am-6pm.

The Royal Mile Ok, so it might be the most touristy place to shop in Edinburgh, and most shops deal in nothing else only woolly jumpers and tartan hats with wigs, but it does get cold up in the highlands, and if you are going there from the Scottish capital you'll be glad you got one here first of all. Also, this is where you can get cheap boxes of shortbread biscuits which go down a treat with your tea.

 Alternative shopping

Cockburn Street This long, winding, steep street which connects the Royal Mile to Waverly Bridge has Edinburgh's most eclectic mix of shops. Route 1 is aimed at skaters, while Cookies is one for the girls and heaving with pink merchandise. Kick Ass has a good selection of male and female clothes, and Whiplash Trash sells smoking paraphernalia and S&M gear if you're that way inclined.

Get up early and take a hike up Arthur's Seat. If you're not the most energetic person in the world or you don't like heights, ignore this and skip straight to 10 o'clock.

Visit Edinburgh Castle, Scotland's most visited tourist attraction. Wander through the Royal Apartments, gaze at the crown jewels and explore the prison cells.

Grab your lunch in 'The Baked Potato Shop' at the top of Cockburn Street. Afterwards take a look in the shops on the same street - they're the funkiest in the city.

Explore the Royal Mile, a combination of 4 different streets - Castle Hill, Lawnmarket, High St and Canongate. Discover free museums, St Giles' Cathedral and more.

Explore one of the free museums or galleries. These include the Museum of Scotland and the National Gallery (below).


Go over to the New Town through Princes Street Gardens and savour the view of the castle. Then stroll down Princes Street, Edinburgh's main thoroughfare.

Many good restaurants are in the New Town, although they can be expensive. If you're on a tight budget, get some traditional Scottish fare in a pub on the Royal Mile.

For a good night out, grace 'Rush Bar' with your presence. This bar is always popular with backpackers thanks to its drinks which never get more expensive than £1.75!

If you have any energy left, hop in a cab bound for Georges St (they're cheap in Edinburgh) and finish the night off dancing away in the Opal Lounge.

Hostelworld Guide for Edinburgh