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What You Need To Know

Hilly Edinburgh, Scotland’s capital, has a medieval Old Town and an elegant Georgian New Town, with gardens and neoclassical buildings. Its home to Arthur’s Seat, an extinct volcano in Holyrood Park with sweeping views from its peak. Looming over the city is hilltop Edinburgh Castle, home to Scotland’s crown jewels and the Stone of Destiny, traditionally used in the coronation of Scottish rulers. Edinburgh is divided into the Old and New Towns. The New Town south of Princes Street Gardens is where you’ll find the city’s best shopping and Georgian Crescents, while the Old Town is full of cobbled streets and small neighbourhoods such as Cowgate and the Grassmarket. It is also where you’ll find Scotland’s most famous street, The Royal Mile.
Population: 495,360 (2011)
Area: 101.9 mi²

Currency

  • The currency in Scotland is not different from the rest of the United Kingdom in that it is also consists of British Pounds (£), although Scottish banks print their own versions. These “Scottish notes” are widely accepted throughout the United Kingdom, although cases have been reported of a few shops outside Scotland refusing them.
  • Money can be exchanged in banks, at foreign exchange bureaus and hotels. The exchange bureaus are generally open for longer than banks are but charge higher commission rates. Banks are usually open from 9:30am to 4:30pm from Monday to Friday. Some banks are also open on Saturdays.
  • If you plan to use American Express, MasterCard or Visa Cards, you will find that credit cards and debits cards are widely accepted. The same is true of Travelers cheques which should be in GBP to avoid extra exchange rate charges. There are also a multitude of ATMs available throughout Scotland so you will have easy access to cash.

Climate

Like most of Scotland, Edinburgh has a temperate, maritime climate which is relatively mild despite its northerly latitude. Winter daytime temperatures rarely fall below freezing and are milder than places such as Moscow and Newfoundland which lie at similar latitudes. Summer temperatures are normally moderate, rarely exceeding 22 °C (72 °F). The highest temperature ever recorded in the city was 31.4 °C (88.5 °F) on 4 August 1975 at Turnhouse Airport. The lowest temperature recorded in recent years was −14.6 °C (5.7 °F) during December 2010 at Gogarbank.

Languages 

The language spoken in Edinburgh is English. Scottish Gaelic is spoken is some areas of Scotland.

Safety Tips

Although Edinburgh doesn’t have a particularly high crime rate, it’s still advisable for visitors to be on the alert for petty thieves that are prevalent on public transport and around the city’s main tourist attractions. Tourists are advised to keep money and valuable well out of sight, and to protect purses or wallets from the reach of pickpockets. Pickpockets and purse snatchers tend to target victims in crowded places, such as transportation centres, on board public transit, at popular attractions and in busy shopping areas.

Late at night, streets in areas such as Cowgate, Lothian Road and the top of Leith Walk tend to fill up with a loud and boisterous crowd that’s had too much to drink. It’s advised to avoid these areas to be on the safe side. It’s also advised that women avoid the Meadows after dark. On the outskirts of Edinburgh, around high-rise developments care needs to be taken to steer clear of crime and drug-related activity- use caution and keep aware.

Get around

  • By Bus: Edinburgh has two main bus companies, Lothian, which is majority-owned by the Edinburgh City Council, and First, a private operator. These two companies share the same bus stops, but the route numbers and tickets are not interchangeable and they operate different fare structures.
  • By Foot: Edinburgh is a beautiful city that’s full of history. There is no better way to see it than to walk.
  • By Taxi: Like most major British cities, Edinburgh offers a choice between Black Cabs, carrying up to 5 passengers, which can be hailed on the street, and minicabs, which must be pre-booked. Black cabs display an orange light above the windscreen to indicate that they are available to hire. It’s usually quite easy to find a cab in and around the city centre, and on the main radial routes running out of the centre. There are also Taxi Ranks dotted around the city, where black cabs will line up to be hired.
  • By Train: A small number of suburban rail routes run from Waverley station, most of the stations lying in the south west and south east suburbs of the city, and are useful for reaching the outer suburbs and towns. Services to North Berwick, Bathgate, Fife or Glasgow Central will make stops at these various stations. Note that standard National Rail fares apply to these trains – there are no credible daily season ticket options available.
  • By Tramp: The long-awaited Edinburgh Tramway opened in May 2014, linking St Andrew’s Square in the centre of Edinburgh to Edinburgh Airport on the west, passing through the New Town to the city centre. After disputes with the main construction contractor and delays in construction, the line started running on the 31st of May 2014. As it links the airport, rugby stadium, both main train stations and Princes Street, it is helpful for some visitors to the city. Single tickets to and from any stop (except the airport) cost £1.50. A ticket to the airport from any other stop costs £5, or £8 for a return. Day tickets are available for £4.00, which allow unlimited travel on the trams (all stops excluding the airport). Tickets must be purchased from a machine prior to travel – no change is given, however the machines accept cards.

Tax
A 17.5{e76343a0c2b6aa15d6216944f7b6ecea75add4a3457a943f126b9257a8fb69b3} sales tax (VAT) is levied on all goods and services in Britain. It does not apply to books or food. By law it must be included in your restaurant bill. With regards to shopping, this tax can be claimed back on goods taken out of the country by non-nationals but not all stores participate in this ‘Retail Export Scheme’ so, before purchasing, look for a sign or enquirer.