After 12 years of this site I’m now doing a guide for Edinburgh. Not sure why it took me so long.
A tram takes you from Edinburgh airport to the city centre as detailed in the airport Transport Links. In August 2018 the single fare is £6 and return £8.5
There are three airport buses – the 100, 200 or 300 and the route map is here
In the city you can buy day tickets for unlimited travel on the tram and buses for £4.50 ( March 2020) and you can use contactless or have the exact change. Note each person using contactless needs a card. An easier option may be the m-ticket app for Android phones or iphones although there is a minimum £10 spend.
There is loads to chose from so no point mentioning any. Bruntsfield and Stockbridge are two nice areas of Edinburgh to base your self in and you can walk into the centre ( if fit). Portobello by the sea is a nice alternative although you are quite far out the city.
Things to Do
I am assuming you know about the castle, palace , Britannia and all the tourist sites. Here is a list of things you may not find in the guides.
1. Climb Arthur’s seat to see the city from the volcano in its centre.
This is for the fit only. It can be windy and slippy at the top so you need to be careful. If you suffer from vertigo don’t do it. But this is voted the number 1 activity for everyone I have taken round the city. It’s a bit spiritual I suppose as you are frightened and knackered when you get to the top, sometimes for me clambering on all fours for the final bit. And then you look down on the city.
You need to walk the road up to Dunsapie Loch then start climbing from there.
2. Play Pitch and Putt on the oldest continuously used Golf Course in the world.
Everyone knows Scotland is the home of golf and many visitors make the pilgrimage to St Andrews. But the rules for golf were invented in Edinburgh and Bruntsfield Links has been home to golfers since 1665. The Golf Tavern is the oldest golf clubhouse in the world and for £5 you can hire clubs and play the links for free.
3. Walk the water of Leith
This walkway takes you from Leith Docks all the way to Balerno in the Pentland hills. It’s 12 miles from end to end as shown in this map but you can do as little or as much as you want. Take a 44 bus to Balerno and get off at Bridge Road.
4. Visit WW2 Cramond Island and Roman Bath House
Check the tides before you walk out to this world war 2 fortified island so you do not get stranded. The gun emplacements are all deserted now but you get a sense of what it was like to defend the bridges from German bombers in WW2. On the mainland there is a Roman bath House here, now covered up to protect it from the weather, and you can see some Roman inscriptions in the churchyard nearby. the bath house stones were used to build the church.
5. Cycle Edinburgh along Disused Railways
This is a great way to get around and for families there is no traffic as they are dedicated cycleways. There are a number of hire companies – Greasemonkey is £22 a day and they deliver or Leith Bicycle Company is £17 a day. The Tartan Bicycle Company do guided tours for £45 including the Water of Leith ( called sky to the sea tour)
6. Go to the beach at Portobello
Edinburgh has its own beach with a Victorian indoor salt water pool. Get the bus and have a coffee on the seafront. The famous 99 cone was invented in Portobello.
Beach volleyball is played at the weekend and there are cafes on the promenade to sit outside and enjoy a coffee.
7. Go To The National Museum of Scotland.
This is free and there are lots of interactive exhibits for children and adults. A favourite exhibit is the full scale T-Rex skeleton ( click on link)
8. Visit Roman Bath House and Fort
Septimus Severus the emperor of Rome reconquered Scotland in AD 209 and camped near Cramond where you can see the remains of a bath house and Roman fort. The emperor strengthened both the Antonine and Hadrian’s wall and left some of the largest Roman marching camps across this part of Scotland.
So many but here is a selection of Victorian era bars ( others look Victorian but are for tourists)
Abbotsford – Preserved Edwardian pub featuring an original island bar carved from Spanish mahogany, elegant Jacobean ceiling, and upstairs restaurant. 3-5 Rose St, Edinburgh EH2 2PR
Cafe Royal – oyster bar and restaurant serving fine food and a great selection of continental lagers, beers and local ales. 19 West Register Street Edinburgh EH2 2AA
The Guildford Arms – Been around in the same family since 1896 and next to Cafe Royal. Serves food. 1 West Register Street Edinburgh , EH2 2AA 0131 556 4312
Mathers – This bar does not have a web site and is frequented by older Scotsmen. This is the most basic pub in the list but then probably the most typically Scottish. No food and just hot pies. 1 Queensferry Street, Edinburgh, EH2 4PA
Roseburn Bar – My favourite bar slightly out the city centre and therefore full of locals. No food other than Bains pies ( said to be the best in Edinburgh) and toasties. 1 Roseburn Terrace, Edinburgh, EH12 5NG
The Bow Bar – A great selection of whiskies as well as beer and traditional small Scottish bar. Standing room only. No food. 80 West Bow, Edinburgh EH1 2HH
Stockbridge Tap, 2-6 Raeburn Pl, Edinburgh EH4 1HN – voted Edinburgh pub of the year
Edinburgh Rendezvous – Edinburgh’s oldest Chinese restaurant established in 1959 and still a favourite for family celebrations. 10a Queensferry St, Edinburgh EH2 4PG
Kushis – Visit Edinburgh’s oldest curry house established in 1947 and choose the old style curry to taste what folk in Edinburgh ate before the menu’s worldwide became anglicised. I first visited in 1982 to the original restaurant and love the nostalgia of this restaurant. 10 Antigua Street, Edinburgh, EH1 3NH
Karens Unicorn – A wee bit upmarket but wonderful service and food in a lavish friendly environment. 8b Abercromby Place, New Town, Edinburgh EH3 6LB
Ghillie Dhu – A Scottish bar with Scottish food. Get a booth round back where you order drinks through a wee hatch. 2 Rutland St, Edinburgh EH1 2AD
Michael Neave Kitchen and Whisky Bar – Expensive but usually have a lunch deal. Best food and service I have experienced.
Verdo Turkish, 21 Newington Rd, Edinburgh EH9 1QS – Nice meat dishes cooked in front of you. Inexpensive, fresh and nice atmosphere. Visit the Cask and Barrel round the corner for a pint of Scottish beer first
Miros Mexican Cantina 184 Rose St, Edinburgh EH2 4BA – Not the usual menu.
Butternut Squash – near Portobello beach.