Allan P. McLean

Edinburgh Festival (Aug 5-29) and more by rail

Published: 28th June 2016

Edinburgh’s attractions by rail - leave that car behind.

The last thing a visitor to Edinburgh needs is a car in the city centre at a busy time – and that means rather a lot of the time these days.

Britain’s most popular city in the UK after London for visitors is a great place to get to by train. So leave that car behind. Or at least park it at your holiday accommodation and get into town by train or other public transport.

“Edinburgh is a compact city and the majority of venues are located within easy walking distance of each other,” to quote the official programme for The Edinburgh Festival Fringe which this year runs from 5 to 29 August inclusive.

That walking area includes many bus, coach and tram stops and the city’s most important railway station and bus station.

Edinburgh is officially Festivals City.

Several festivals are in August but there are other festivals and events around the year, including the Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival which in 2016 runs from 15 to 24 July.

If your holiday accommodation is in the city itself, incidentally, it is worth checking the exact location on a map to find out if it is convenient for a railway station.

Haymarket hotel area

Waverley station is handy for many central hotels and taxi and bus routes to other hotels. Haymarket station is more convenient for several hotels, especially on the western side of the city.

The distance between Haymarket and Waverley is little more than one mile but this can make all the difference.

There are also hotels handy for railway stations in the Edinburgh suburbs and also out of town with frequent trains into Edinburgh.

For example, Edinburgh Park station is close to at least two hotels, just inside the city bypass road A702. There are frequent trams and trains to town. Edinburgh Park also enjoys four electric trains an hour to Glasgow on a route through Bathgate and Airdrie.

Haymarket offers the easiest access of the two main stations between trains and trams. Bus stops and a taxi rank are also conveniently placed in the road outside the main exit.

There are no longer any taxis allowed under the roof of Waverley station. The main rank is in Market Street, just to the left of the exit near platforms 8 and 9. There is also a taxi rank on Waverley Bridge, reached by ramp walkway from the main station and just to the right outside.

It’s worth noting that Edinburgh’s Waverley station has several exits by escalator and lifts (“elevators” in American English) to make things easier. (People with luggage are advised to use lifts.) Check if your hotel is one with its own “lift” access from near the station.

Trams, buses and trains

To get around in Edinburgh, walking is relatively easy. Transport for Edinburgh operates Lothian Buses, Lothian Country Buses and Edinburgh Trams. The “My Bus Edinburgh App” is great for travel information on your smart phone. Clear information is also provided at stops.There is an excellent transport information office on the corner of Waverley Bridge and Market Street, beside the station.

Murrayfield rugby stadium, incidentally, has its own tram stop as well as nearby bus routes from and to Haymarket and Waverley stations.

Trains to and from Edinburgh, many serving Haymarket station as well as Waverley, are operated by several companies as part of the National Rail system. ScotRail operates most internal Scottish routes, while cross-border companies include Virgin Trains via both Carlisle and Newcastle, CrossCountry Trains, TransPennine Express and the overnight Caledonian Sleepers.

Although the RMT union is having a summer of one-day strikes in 2016 of members who are conductors, most Scottish trains will continue to run.

Glasgow trains are due to return to normal routes to and from Queen Street Station “High Level” platforms on 7 August, following major engineering work.

You can book your tickets to Edinburgh via

Websites for some Festivals:

Edinburgh International Festival , 5 to 29 August.

Edinburgh Art Festival , 28 July to 28 August.

Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo , 5 to 27 August.

Edinburgh International Book Festival , 13 to 29 August.

Edinburgh Festival Fringe , 5 to 29 August.

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