Many people arrive in Edinburgh via Edinburgh International Airport, which is found about ten miles to the west of the central city area. After arrival at the airport you can choose to hire a car from the airport terminal or take one of the many forms of public transportation.
There is a dedicated airport shuttle service called the Airlink Express, which can service 100 people at a time, and runs from the terminal to the city centre in Edinburgh near the Waverley Bridge every ten minutes until 22.00, and then on the half an hour until 04.45.
The bus also departs from the Waverley Bridge across from the train station to take those leaving Edinburgh back to the Airport on the same intervals daily. A single trip costs £3.50 and £6 for an open return journey. On average the shuttle takes about 25 minutes to complete either way.
Another option is the regular Lothian Buses service 35 which runs to the Ocean Terminal via the Royal Mile, from the arrivals buildings at the airport terminal. Although it does not have as much space for baggage as the other service and takes longer to get to and fro the city centre it is much cheaper and costs just £1.20 for a single fare.
Once inside the city of Edinburgh the city is largely pedestrian orientated with the major attractions and sites within the New Town and Old Town sectors located within 15 minutes of each other. There are some formidable hills however, which can make the city hard for those who are not in good shape.
Compared to other major cities within the UK such as London, the Edinburgh city public transport system is not very well developed and is heavily dependent on buses. Although the bus service runs on a regular basis, the timetable is often slowed down due to heavy congestion, which also can make it hard to drive in the city.
At the same time the suburban railway network is not very well developed, although it has been improved in the last few years and there is currently work underway to link the city centre to the airport and Leith via a tram system that will open in 2011.
There are two primary bus companies in Edinburgh the ‘First’, which is operated by a private company, and the Lothian which is operated by the Edinburgh City Council. Both companies share the same bus stops and charge the same fares but the route numbers are not the same and the tickets are not interchangeable.
Lothian is the largest operators within the city and is easily recognized by the cream and burgundy colours of the bus, which have become iconic for the city of Edinburgh. The more popular routes can be recognized by different colours on the roof and the bus, which can help passengers on the street identify the correct bus.
The company also offers an all day ticket that only costs £3 pounds that is helpful if you plan on touring the city independently, and want to save money booking a slot on a regular tourist tour bus.
If you are flying out of Edinbugh Airport, then be sure to check out the various Edinburgh airport parking options, and if you don’t want the stress of an early morning and motorway traffic it’s worth looking at the selection of Edinburgh airport hotels.