Cheap flights to Edinburgh, which include stopovers in Asia and mainland Europe, take off from all east coast cities. Travellers wanting to go through London will need to look for specials with the likes of Qantas or Singapore who offer direct flights. Snaring a cheap flight to London may also be an option with a train trip from London to Edinburgh costing under $200. There is no need for Australians to obtain a visa to enter the United Kingdom if the planned stay is less than 6 months. For longer stays, or if the traveller is looking to work at any time (including volunteer work) it will pay to look at visa options on the United Kingdom’s home office website. Edinburgh Airport is about 8km (12 miles) west of the city centre, but there are several info points scattered throughout the arrivals terminal which have airport bus info and interactive journey planners to help visitors get to their next port of call.
Edinburgh is a compact city, so it’s not that difficult to walk around and soak in the sites. Travellerscan also hop a bike, with cyclists allowed to share the city’s bus green lanes in peak hours. There is also a large network of traffic-free cycle routes, which often run along old railway lines. Edinburgh is serviced by a network of bus services. The main one is the council-owned Lothian company, which takes its name from the surrounding region. A cheap day ticket, which allows for unlimited bus travel for a day, will cost £3.50 (about $5).Trains are of more use getting out the city to explore the rest of the UK, with four companies providing a variety of options.
As with most world cities, Edinburgh has a hop-on-hop-off bus tour which is a great way to get your bearings. The one-hour trip has 24 stops and as it winds through the 7 hills on which Scotland’s capital is based you will visit Edinburgh Castle, the Palace of Holyroodhouse (the royal family’s main digs in Scotland) and Our Dynamic Earth, an interactive, multi-media trip showcasing our planet’s past, present and future, using the latest technology, including 4D and 3D experiences. The city is famous for its festivals and while season starts in May and June with some children and music festivals, it really hots up in August with the famous Military Tattoo, the Festival Fringe and International Festival. It’s not all about the festivals though, with the city home to some impressive sites, such as Arthur’s Seat, one of Edinburgh’s four hill forts, which dates back 2000 years and offers fantastic views as well as unique grasslands and volcanic geology. The city is full of historic sites with Gilmerton Cove and Old Town worth a look if you manage to grab a cheap flight outside festival season.
For a good cheap night out any time of year head to the Grassmarket, a hub of down-to-earth pubs and restaurants. A more upmarket night can be found in George Street. Another entertainment centre is the Omni, at the Top of Leith Walk, which has a great mix of pubs, clubs, cinemas and restaurants. If travelling with children the Ocean Terminal and the Royal Yacht Brittania is an ideal place to spend a relaxed evening overlooking the water. Edinburgh has a number of shopping streets in the city centre. Check out Rose Street for electronics, George Street for fashion and Leith Walk for a great range of delicatessens.