Navigating your way around a strange city can be difficult enough, but Edinburgh in particular seems to find it amusing to convert from Old Town to New Town, or quiet side alley to bustling city street, in the blink of an eye. The following information should help keep you on the right track.
Edinburgh offers a frequent and easy-to-use bus service with a full timetable at every stop and, quite often, real-time digital noticeboards updating you on the progress of your bus. Almost all buses pass through the busy Princes Street area, which will be your start and/or end point for most journeys. The number 22 service is a local favourite for its quick, direct route to Ocean Terminal shopping centre, situated right beside The Royal Yacht Britannia. Number 22 buses run an incredible three minutes apart from each other. Another popular route is the 49 that will take you to Rosewell, a stone’s throw from Roslyn Chapel - that now famed historical site featured in The Da Vinci Code. At the opposite end of the 49 route is Portobello beach, perfect for a long stroll on a lazy weekend. All Lothian buses during the day will cost you £1.10 for a single journey. For multiple journeys a £2.50 day ticket can be bought from the driver. A range of night buses operate into the wee small hours. They are less frequent and cost more but do offer a handy alternative to an expensive taxi. Theflat rate is £2.50 (your Lothian
Bus day ticket won’t be valid) and they depart around every half-an-hour from midnight until approximately 4am. Again, Princes Street is your pick up point for most services. More information, including maps and timetables, is provided by Lothian buses: www.lothianbuses.com, 0131 554 4494.
A good way to see the city is by bike - with the wind in your hair and, frequently, the rain in your face. The central Edinburgh hire shops offer a range of cycles including mountain bikes, slim city bikes, two-seater tandems or the more stylish option (because let’s face it, that’s a key concern) of a Brompton, a fold-up bike with a low frame and long elegant handle bars. If you feel the need for speed, opt for the brand new Powabyke - an environmentally friendly, rechargeable bike with a 200watt motor that will propel you around the city. Pedicabs offer the open-air quality of a bike but without the effort, as a driver will do all the pedalling for you. These rather old-fashioned looking things have a sheltered passenger seat attached to the back half of a bicycle. It’s half cart, half bike: the centaur of city transport. There are 40 pedicabs operating around Edinburgh and they can generally be found around the Royal Mile and Grassmarket area. You can also book in advance on their website or by phone: Pedicabs, Edinburgh, 07876 030 203, www.pedicabs.net. Journeys cost around £3-4 per person depending on how far you travel.
11-13 Lochrin Place (D6), 0131 228 6633, www.biketrax.co.uk, £16 per day, £70 per week.
Edinburgh Cycle Hire
29 Blackfriars Street (F4), 0131 556 5560, www.cyclescotland.co.uk, £10-15 per day, £50-70, per week.
Leith Cycle Company
276 Leith Walk, 0131 467 7775, www.leithcycleco.com, £10 per day, £50 per week.
For comfort, ease and speed, a taxi is the only way to go. Over 1000 traditional black cabs can be hailed on the streets of Edinburgh. Otherwise, there are many taxi ranks dotted around the city (see information below). Taxis can also be pre-booked by phone from a number of private hire firms (including those listed below) and you can book special 8-seater taxis if you’re travelling in large groups. Remember to only ever hail a licensed taxi, which will be clearly marked with small numbered licence plate. The driver will also be required to have an ID tag on show, usually around his neck.
Radiocabs: 0131 225 9000.
City Cabs: 0131 228 1211.
Festival Cars: (for 8-seaters)0131 552 1777, around £8 for a 10 minute journey.
Central ranks: Waverley train station, Lothian Road, Radisson SAS Hotel, Omni Centre.
Edinburgh is also a lovely city to spend a day wandering through on foot. Starting from The Pleasance (a long road running south out of the city) you can walk around the back of, and then through, Holyrood Park, passing below Arthur’s Seat. The park is a little slice of the Highlands in Edinburgh city centre. The Water of Leith has a scenic walkway that trails alongside the tranquil river and it will take you from Leith right up to Fountainbridge in about an hour, bypassing the hustle and bustle on the main roads.