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Scotland

 

Accommodation Budget hotel: £60-£80 per night
Luxury apartment: £160-£200 per night
Area  264 km2
Culture and Arts The city hosts a series of festivals that run between the end of July and early September each year. The best known of these events are the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the Edinburgh International Festival, the Edinburgh Military Tattoo, the Edinburgh Art Festival and the Edinburgh International Book Festival.

The longest established of these festivals is the Edinburgh International Festival, which was first held in 1947 and consists mainly of a programme of high-profile theatre productions and classical music performances, featuring international directors, conductors, theatre companies and orchestras.

This has since been overtaken in size by the Edinburgh Fringe which began as a programme of marginal acts alongside the “official” Festival and has become the world’s largest performing arts festival. In 2017, nearly 3400 different shows were staged in 300 venues across the city. Comedy has become one of the mainstays of the Fringe, with numerous well-known comedians getting their first ‘break’ there, often by being chosen to receive the Edinburgh Comedy Award.

The Edinburgh Military Tattoo occupies the Castle Esplanade every night for three weeks each August, with massed pipe bands and military bands drawn from around the world. Performances end with a short fireworks display. As well as the various summer festivals, many other festivals are held during the rest of the year, including the Edinburgh International Film Festival and Edinburgh International Science Festival.

The annual Edinburgh Hogmanay celebration was originally an informal street party focused on the Tron Kirk in the Old Town’s High Street. Hogmanay now covers four days of processions, concerts and fireworks, with the street party beginning on Hogmanay. Alternative tickets are available for entrance into the Princes Street Gardens concert and cèilidh, where well-known artists perform and ticket holders can participate in traditional Scottish cèilidh dancing. The event attracts thousands of people from all over the world.

Currency British £ Sterling
Electricity 240V, 50Hz, 3-pin rectangular plugs. Low-power portable equipment such as electric razors have a 2-pin plug.
Food Traditional Scottish dishes such as haggis or Cullen skink are well worth trying and offer very different flavours to English food. While not the healthiest, Edinburgh rock is a locally produced traditional sweet.
Getting around Edinburgh’s Old and New Towns are both very walkable, although climbing up and down Castle Rock to travel between the two can be exhausting. There are buses, taxis and (in the New Town) trams to help you if you need it.
Government website https://www.edinburgh.gov.uk/
History The area around modern-day Edinburgh has been inhabited for thousands of years. Its origins as a settlement can be traced to the early Middle Ages when a hillfort was established in the area, most likely on the Castle Rock. From the seventh to the tenth centuries it was part of the Anglian Kingdom of Northumbria, becoming thereafter a royal residence of the Scottish kings. The town that developed next to the stronghold was established by royal charter in the early 12th century, and by the middle of the 14th century was being described as the capital of Scotland. The area known as the New Town was added from the second half of the 18th century onwards. Edinburgh was Scotland’s largest city until Glasgow outgrew it in the first two decades of the 19th century. Following Scottish devolution in the very late 20th century, Scotland’s Parliament was established in Edinburgh.
Holidays
  • 1-2 January (New Year’s)
  • Easter
  • Third Monday in April (Spring bank holiday)
  • Second Friday in May (May Day)
  • Third Monday in May (Victoria Day Public Holiday)
  • First Saturday in July (Trades Holiday)
  • Third Monday in September (Autumn Public Holiday)
  • 25 December (Christmas Day)
  • 26 December (Boxing Day)
Money Scottish banknotes (printed by RBS, Bank of Scotland and Clydesdale Bank) look different to Bank of England notes and make fun collector’s items, but are just as valuable. All Scottish and English banknotes can be used equally all over the UK, so you won’t need to exchange your currency either.
Official language English
Opening Hours
  • Banks 9:00-17:00 (ATM access 24/7) Mon-Fri, 9:00-13:00 Sat.
  • Post Offices (varies by location, typically 9:00-17:00)
  • Restaurants 8:00-22:00
  • Shops 9:00-18:00
  • Supermarkets The largest may be open 24 hours, except on Sunday
Population: 518,500
Smoking Banned indoors and in enclosed spaces outdoors.
Things to do Why not start your break with a morning visit to Edinburgh Castle, Scotland’s top visitor attraction? From there it’s a short walk to the modern home of the Scottish Parliament and the Palace of Holyroodhouse, taking in the sights of the historic old town and Royal Mile along the way.

The superb National Museum of Scotland houses collections celebrating the nation’s culture, history and people. It’s a great way to explore Scottish history, from the primeval age right up to the modern era, and the 360-degree views of Edinburgh from the roof garden are spectacular. General entry is free although some special exhibitions may have a charge.

Directly across the road from the National Museum, you’ll find a small statue commemorating one of Edinburgh’s best loved residents – a little Skye terrier known as Greyfriars Bobby. Made famous by numerous books and a Disney film, Bobby faithfully guarded over his owner’s grave in the nearby Greyfriars Kirkyard for fourteen years.

Edinburgh has more restaurants per head than any UK city outside London and a wide range of trendy clubs and sophisticated bars in which you can enjoy a traditional Scottish tipple or a freshly mixed cocktail. Alternatively you could catch a play at one of the city’s arts venues, dance the night away at a traditional ceilidh or explore the ghostly ruins of Edinburgh’s old town on an evening tour.

Try and get tickets for one of the country’s most iconic comedy clubs – The Stand. All the top jokers on the circuit have stood behind the microphone here, and with shows every night of the week, you could be chuckling away to comedy legends or catching the next big thing.

Princes Street, George Street and Multrees Walk provide the opportunity for some retail therapy whilst the Grassmarket, Old Town and West End offer a wealth of small, individual boutiques, gift shops and specialist stores along with cafes, restaurants and bars for a light bite or fine dining experience. Edinburgh’s districts of Bruntsfield, Morningside, Southside and Stockbridge also boast a variety of independent shops and eateries particularly enjoyable for a weekend browse.

Home to some of Edinburgh’s trendiest, shops, bars and restaurants, George Street is the perfect spot to indulge in some retail therapy and catch up with friends for drinks, dinner or a light bite. Spoiled for choice, why not create your own cocktail in the stylish surroundings of Tempus Bar at the George Hotel, Tigerlily, Le Monde, The Dome or Harvey Nichols Forth Floor Bar to name but a few.

If you prefer the great outdoors, Edinburgh’s beautiful Royal Botanic Garden is the perfect location for a leisurely afternoon stroll or short walk through the gorgeous grounds.  For those feeling more energetic, a walk up Arthur’s Seat will reward you with stunning views of the city, Fife and the Pentlands.

Transport
  • Air Edinburgh airport is a 90-minute flight from London. You don’t even need a taxi when you arrive, as there are easy connections to a tram service that will take you all the way to the city centre.
  • Land Edinburgh Waverley station lies in the heart of the city, between the Old and New Towns, well connected to taxi and tram routes on Princes Street.
Travellers with disabilities The city’s main tourist attractions are disability-friendly.
Toilets In areas with low-capacity plumbing, some toilet cubicles contain bins for used toilet paper. Use of these bins is discretionary but usually recommended.
Visa: Tourists usually receive a visa on arrival, valid for 180 days. For details, please check visa checker.
Women travellers No special precautions for female travellers.