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How to Get Around Edinburgh Using the Public Transport System

If you’re visiting Edinburgh for the first time, you may be overwhelmed trying to figure out how to get around this Scottish city and see all the sights. Fortunately, Edinburgh has a highly functional public transport system that will get you from Point A to Point Z in minutes. Some good options include bus, tram, bike, and taxi. So, leave your bags at your hotel (you don’t want to lug them along with you) and start navigating Edinburgh landmarks effortlessly.

Take the Bus 

You won’t wait long for a bus to take you from the city center to the landmarks on the outskirts of Edinburgh. Public buses run 24 hours on specific routes, with several bus companies offering trips throughout the city. Take note that the bus company with the most routes is Lothian, while First offers more trips to the far reaches of Edinburgh. If you want to spontaneously visit city attractions over a couple of days, you won’t need to buy a day ticket. However, if your accommodation is outside the city center, you will need a day ticket, and find out which bus line is closest to your hotel. You can buy day tickets or single and return tickets from the bus driver, but make sure you have the correct amount of money, as drivers don’t carry change. While you’ll mostly take day buses to travel between sights and landmarks, there are also night buses to catch. You can take a night bus to a nightclub or pub during the early hours. This is the safest and most convenient way to experience Edinburgh’s nightlife scene. And don’t forget about the hop-on hop-off bus option, which is great if you want to spend the entire day exploring the city. You can get off when you want to see a building or attraction up close or stay seated and take in the views around you.

Go on a Taxi Tour 

If you have mobility issues, a taxi tour might be the easiest way to get around Edinburgh. A taxi can take you anywhere you want to go within the city limits. The best part about taking a taxi tour is that the driver can give you insider information about the city and places you shouldn’t miss out on. Taking a taxi in Edinburgh is pricier than taking the bus, but if you prefer your own space instead of bus crowds, this is a fantastic option. You can hail a taxi on the street or use specific apps to book (like when booking an Uber). 

Wait for a Tram 

Edinburgh also has a 14-kilometer tram line connecting the airport to the city. The line stops along the famous Princes Street, from where you can visit The Royal Mile, the Old Town, and the New Town. If you’re on an early flight, you can catch the first tram from the airport at 6:15 a.m. If you miss it, don’t fret. There is a tram every 10 minutes before 7 a.m. and every seven minutes afterward until 7 p.m. If you’re flying in at night, the last tram you can take from the airport is at 10:48 p.m. You can buy tram tickets from any stop in Edinburgh. The ticket machines have single, return, and day tickets available. Pay with exact change in coins or by card if the transaction is more than £3.

Explore the City on a Bicycle 

Edinburgh is the perfect city to explore with a bicycle. The various cycle lanes here cover the entire city, and some even extend to the towns and villages on the outside. It is very safe to ride a bicycle here, as the cycle lanes are separate from car lanes. They also pass through some popular parks, including Holyrood Park and The Meadows. If you want to get to the Water of Leith, you can go down a special cycle path that runs along this river. This route allows you to enter and exit several points and join other cycle lanes to explore other parts of Edinburgh. You can rent any bike of your choice, including town and country bikes. Bike renting companies also offer e-bikes and road bikes, depending on preference. You can take your bike on a tram outside of rush hours and on a bus if it can fold into a carrying bag. 

Choose an Electric Bus Ride 

As part of efforts to reduce personal carbon footprints, Edinburgh has also made strides in decarbonizing some of its bus fleets. This city already has several electric buses, which help reduce emissions and promote a healthier environment. If you want to do your part to help rid Mother Earth of harmful emissions, choose an electric bus ride to explore the city.

Walk Where You Want to Go 

If you want to immerse yourself in Edinburgh’s historic atmosphere, go on a walking tour of the city. Edinburgh is small enough to walk from one end to the other in less than an hour. It is also safe for pedestrians, but remember to watch out for traffic lights and cars (they drive on the other side of the road in the UK). You can walk the entire Old Town and check out the bridges and alleys. Just be sure to take a map with you because the streets can be confusing to navigate. Some landmarks you’ll encounter on foot are Arthur’s Seat, the highest peak of Holyrood Park, and the Union Canal, which leads to Glasgow. 

Proper Planning Is Highly Recommended 

Whether you’re walking Edinburgh’s streets or catching a tram or bus, you must plan your routes and stay updated with real-time changes. When you know where you’re going and how to get there, it is easier to enjoy your trip and seek out the stories behind the stunning landmarks in the city. And, with the various affordable transport options, you won’t have a dented pocket at the end of your vacation.

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