Arriving at the airport there is an excellent regular bus service called Airlink to the centre of the city which runs 24 hours a day and also three other services called Skylink linking the airport to other parts of the city including leith. A brand new tram service to the centre of the city began in May 2014.
Getting around can be done mainly on foot but if you need to use the bus then you must have the correct fare available, all fares are currently £1.70, the best value is a day ticket which you can use as often as you want and costs £4.00 currently.
There is a tourist office at the airport and in Princes Street at Waverley Mall.
There is a wide range of eating available in the city and most guide books will list a variety from Scottish, French, Chinese and Indian and many others, Edinburgh also has the second highest number of Michelin star restaurants in the UK outside London, amazing for a city if its size.
These include Martin Wishart and The Kitchin both in the Shore area of Leith, they are fantastic so if you are in the mood for a splurge dinner book them up, but well in advance. If the dinner menu prices are too much you could go for lunch, both offer set three course menus at under half the price of the dinner menus.
However you do not have to go for Michelin prices as there are so many other excellent places to try, see some recommendations below.
Six by Nico, 97 Hanover Street, is a fairly recent opening after the success of their Glasgow restaurant. There is a 6 course tasting menu which changes every 6 weeks and is themed by a country or an event. The menu costs £28 and there is matched wines available. Having tried a number of the menus I have always been very impressed, they serve all day but booking is essential at peak times.
Café Marlayne, 76 Thistle Street, Central, this is possibly the best value for money cooking in town, French cooking using the best of Scottish produce. The menu changes daily and has a variety of fish and meat options, the staff are excellent, the only slight downside is that there is not a lot of room and you can be eating fairly close to your neighbours. It does not put off the regulars who have been coming here for years, booking advised.
Michael Neave’s Kitchen and Whisky Bar, 21 Old Fishmarket Close, is up in the higher price end for dinner but try the set lunch on a Saturday which is top quality and incredibly reasonably priced. The service, quality and attention to detail makes you want to dash back for dinner.
The Honours, 58 North Castle Street, Central, is owned by the Michelin star chef Martin Wishart and is a more relaxed and bistro style place than his Leith restaurant. The service and quality of food however shows the pedigree and is a well worth a visit. There is usually an excellent value lunch menu.
Field, 41 West Nicholson Street, Central, is a small place so booking is required. The owner and chef have both worked in some of Edinburgh’s best places and the pedigree shows. There is an excellent lunch and pre-theatre menu.
Three Birds, 3-5 Viewforth, Bruntsfield, is only a short walk from the centre but you then find a real neighbourhood gem. There is a wide variety of dishes and also shared platters including seafood, all reasonably priced. Really friendly service but you need to book at the weekend. They also have another couple of places in town, The Apiary and The Educated Flea.
Taisteal, 1-3 Raeburn Place, Stockbridge, this is an excellent restaurant offering dishes with a twist on Scottish produce based on the chef/owners travels. Good value lunch menu and a la carte dinner.
The Walnut, 9 Croall Place, Leith Walk, a favourite since it opened, offering top notch cooking and very reasonable prices and also BYO with a reasonable corkage charge. The husband & wife owners are ideal hosts and it never fails to impress.
Origano, 236 Leith Walk, is a great addition to the Leith area offering fabulous pizzas and some sharing boards of meat & cheese. The pizzas are without a doubt some of the best I have ever eaten anywhere. A great atmosphere in this cool space makes booking advisable.
Pickles, 56A Broughton Street, is a warm & welcoming basement wine bar doing excellent meat & cheese platters, you cannot reserve and it is so popular these days that going as it opens is advised to secure a table.
There are a number of bars that also do good food at reasonable prices, Indigo Yard, 7 Charlotte Lane, is a trendy bar at night but excellent value for lunch or an evening meal. Ricks in Frederick Street and Tiger Lilly in George Street, are all part of the same group and are very stylish and often with special offers for drinks and meals.
George Street these days is the place for the trendy smart bars some of which are worth just having a drink in because of the fabulous buildings others because they are the new in place ! Queen Street nearby has some well hidden cocktail bars.
Rose Street contains some old fashioned bars such at The Abbotsford and at the far end the Café Royal and The Guildford.
For an old fashioned bar a stones throw from George Street try the Oxford Bar, Young Street, a no frills locals bar home to the character of Inspector Rebus.
The Thistle Street Bar, Thistle Street, is close by and is a well run bar offering a good selection of drinks and also excellent meat and cheese platters with produce by local suppliers.
The Grassmarket is full of bars which attract hen and stag parties at the weekend and therefore not the place for a quiet drink with the exception of the Bow Bar in Victoria Street, a lovely old fashioned bar with a great range of beers and also whisky.
Sandy Bells, Forrest Road, should be a must on any visit , it is a traditional bar with excellent folk music sessions most evenings and some afternoons. This is Edinburgh’s home to traditional music and where any visiting musicians pop in while visiting the city. The bar is well run, great choice of beers and friendly staff.
In the summer Leith is a great for a drink by the Shore with lots of bars and restaurants to choose from, try some of the more quirky ones like Roseleaf at 23-24 Sandport Place.
The Safari Lounge, 21 Cadzow Place, Abbeyhill is slightly out of the centre but only a short walk from Holyrood and the end of the Royal Mile. This is a gem of a bar with a good selection of craft beers and wines and really good and reasonably priced food. An unusual menu with some really tasty starters and excellent mains and also great bar staff.
Nauticus, 142 Duke Street, is a recent addition and very welcome. Opened by a couple of well known bar professionals it specialises in Scottish beers, spirits and food such as meat and cheese platters. It has been beautifully designed and fitted out and is well worth a visit.
Whisky is what most people associate with Scotland and even if this is not your normal tipple then you should at least try a malt whisky during your visit. The purists might say do not add water but many specialists think this is the only way to bring out the flavour. The taste depends a lot on what area they are from, so for a beginner try a Lowland or Speyside as they are more gentle than the full on Islay ones.
The Scotch Whisky Experience on the High Street near Edinburgh Castle has tours and tastings which explain the process. The Scotch Whisky Society is probably the best place to relax and try from a huge range but is sadly only open to members, try and find a local friend who is a member.Failing that try the Bow Bar, Victoria Street, for a huge selection, some of which are extremely rare and expensive.
The other refreshment to try is one or more of the many Scottish craft beers, there are over 50 micro breweries in Scotland and more bars are now carrying a wide range of both Scottish and English craft beers and specialised beer bars are opening up. Around Edinburgh there are a number of these breweries therefore keep an eye out for Williams Brothers, a personal favourite, Alchemy, Stewart Brewing, Barney’s and a relatively new one Liquid. Brewdog is now sold worldwide but they have there own bars in the city in Lothian Road and the Cowgate, also try The Hanging Bat in Lothian Road.
The city is full of historic buildings, museums and galleries as well as being a beautiful city for walking around. If you are visiting the various National Galleries it is worth noting that there is a free shuttle bus service linking the National Gallery of Scotland with The National Portrait Gallery and the Dean Gallery and Gallery of Modern Art. Also visit the lovely Botanic Gardens, wonderful to walk around and with lovely views of the Edinburgh skyline.
August of course means the festival, the Official and the Fringe and there are many more during the year, Science, Film and Jazz to name a few. The city really buzzes in August with numerous open air bars and cafes springing up at the various venues but beware accommodation can be very difficult to find and also very expensive.