Scotland’s capital is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with an exciting mix of history, outstanding architecture, festivals, food and fun.
Stepping off the train in Edinburgh puts you right in the heart of the action. Emerging from Waverley Station, in the shadow of the Castle, you have the whole city at your feet.
Famed for its summer arts festivals, and colourful New Year celebrations, the city buzzes with excitement all year round. From the Old Town, with its medieval tenements and narrow wynds, to the planned elegance of the Georgian New Town, Edinburgh is one of the most beautiful and fascinating cities in the world.
Travelling from Glasgow, you get a great view of Murrayfield Stadium, Scotland’s International rugby ground. Travelling from Aberdeen or Dundee, you cross the Forth Bridge, one of the world’s most iconic feats of engineering. And if you’ve come from London and the south, you can enjoy wonderful views of the east coast as you approach the city. Even better, when you arrive by train you can take advantage of some brilliant offers, including 2 for 1 entry to some the city’s best attractions.
Getting to and from Edinburgh by train
- Aberdeen to Edinburgh – approx. 2 hours 25 minutes
- Dundee to Edinburgh – approx. 1 hour 20 minutes
- Glasgow to Edinburgh – approx. 55 minutes
- London to Edinburgh – approx. 4 hours 30 minutes
One or two days in Edinburgh
Although it’s a city of hills, Edinburgh is easy to explore on foot. Even better, walking is the best way to discover the city’s secrets, the small squares, hidden lanes, and historic buildings that give it its unique character.
Must see attractions include: the Castle (get there early to beat the crowds), the National Museum of Scotland, the Gallery of Modern Art, Holyrood Palace – the Queen’s home in the capital, and The Royal Yacht Britannia - the Queen's former floating palace.
Walk the Royal Mile, from the Castle to the Palace to get a taste of the city’s medieval past. Stroll the elegant New Town to experience Enlightenment Edinburgh. If that sounds like hard work, stop off to refresh yourself in one of the city’s many historic bars or world class restaurants.
Visit in August, and you can experience the thrills, spills and artistic highlights of the city’s world class arts festivals. Visit at New Year, and you can join the world’s biggest Hogmanay party.
Year-round, Edinburgh offers a range of events, exhibitions and festivals to suit every taste, age and pocket.
Days out from Edinburgh
Birds and beaches
If you want a break from the big city buzz, take the 35-minute train ride to North Berwick, in East Lothian. Not only is there some great scenery along the way, but the historic seaside town also offers great walks, beautiful beaches, fresh seafood and brilliant bird-watching opportunities. While birders can visit the Scottish Seabird Centre, or take a boat trip out to the Bass Rock – one of the most important seabird breeding sites in Britain - more energetic visitors can climb Berwick Law, a 187m high volcanic plug, which offers brilliant view over the North Sea, the rolling Borders countryside, and all the way back to Edinburgh.
Canals and Kelpies
For a fascinating day out, take the 25-minute train journey from Edinburgh Waverley to Falkirk High station. From there, take the bus or a 3.5km canal-side walk to the Falkirk Wheel and the Helix Park, home to two monumental steel sculptures – each nearly 100ft tall - depicting the heads of Scotland’s mythical water horses. The Falkirk Wheel, a huge rotating boat lift, links the Forth and Clyde Canal to the Union Canal. The biggest boat lift of its kind in the UK, this remarkable feat of engineering and design lifts and lowers canal boats – and their passengers – 24m from one canal to the other. With a visitor centre, playparks, boat trips, and cycling tracks, the centre offers a brilliant mix of old and modern technology.
Underneath the arches
North Queensferry, just 20 minutes by train from Edinburgh Waverley, lets railway fans cross the Forth Bridge, and then get up close to it. Built between 1882 and 1890, it is the world’s second-longest single span cantilever bridge, and is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site. To get a truly dizzying view of the 110m tall structure, pay a visit to Deep Sea World, Scotland’s national aquarium, and home to the longest underwater viewing tunnel in Britain. North Queensferry also offers boat trips on the Forth, from where you can get a sea-level view the estuary’s three crossings; the Forth Bridge, Forth Road Bridge and the new Queensferry Crossing.
Just 55 minutes away by train, Glasgow is Scotland’s biggest and brashest city. A startling mix of modern and Victorian architecture, the city is home to brilliant shops, great galleries and an eclectic mix of bars, nightclubs, and music venues. And with trains every 15 minutes, you can ‘do Glasgow’ and still make it back to Edinburgh in time for bed. Top attractions include Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, the People’s Palace Museum, and the Riverside Museum. For the best in ‘Glasgow style’, visit the Buchanan Galleries or Princes Square malls. And for great food and drink, in a historic neighbourhood, visit the bars and restaurants of the Merchant City.
Take a ride on Scotland’s newest railway line, the Borders Railway to explore this beautiful area. Stop off at Newtongrange for the nearby National Mining Museum , alight at Galashiels for the new Great Tapestry Gallery , bus and taxi connections to the surrounding Borders Towns or stay on board to the end of the line and visit Abbotsford House – home of Sir Walter Scott.
Find out more
Travelling from Edinburgh?
Edinburgh is a great starting point from which to explore the rest of Scotland. You can take the Borders Railway south, to visit Rosslyn Chapel (as seen in the Da Vinci Code), and Abbotsford House, the former home of the Scots writer Sir Walter Scott. Head north, and the scenic delights of Perthshire, the Highlands, Dundee, Aberdeen and Inverness await. Go west, and Glasgow opens the gateway to the Clyde coast and the spectacular mountain and glen scenery of the West Highland Line.
Ways to save...
- Spirit of Scotland travel pass : 1-2 weeks of train, bus and coach travel covering the whole country
- Central Scotland Rover : 3 days of unlimited off-peak travel within around the Central Belt
- Rail & Sail : combine train and ferry travel
- Kids for a Quid: for every paying adult, up to four children aged 5-15 can travel for £1 each
- Railcards : see if you could save with a national or regional Railcard