Welcome to Edinburgh

We can’t wait to welcome you to Edinburgh, Timeout’s best city in the world 2022!

The City

Calton Hill

Edinburgh is Scotland’s capital city, and the most visited city in the UK after London. It is perhaps best known as the home of the Edinburgh Fringe and International Festivals in August each year, but there is plenty to experience at any time of year. Many attractions and landmarks are within a few minutes walk of the conference venue, including Princes Street Gardens, the Scott Monument, the historic Old Town, the monuments and observatory at Calton Hill, and of course Edinburgh Castle and the Royal Mile.

Check out the following resources for some guides to the city:

Weather

Edinburgh’s weather is reliably unpredictable. May/June are typically some of the warmer and drier months of the year, but you should be prepared for any weather! It’s a good idea to have lightweight waterproof clothes with you, no matter how nice it looks first thing in the morning!

Getting here

By Air

Edinburgh Airport is just 6 miles from the centre, with direct flights to many destinations around the world. You can easily get to the centre of the city in around 20 minutes by taxi, bus & tram. You can find more information on getting into the city from the airport on the airport website.

The airport bus services are frequent, convenient and inexpensive. The tram is also a convenient way to get into the city centre.

By Train

There are two train stations in the centre of the city, Edinburgh Waverley, and Edinburgh Haymarket. It is approximately a 10 minute walk to the Assembly Rooms from Waverley, and 20 minutes from Haymarket. If you're travelling by train it's much cheaper to book in advance. You can book tickets online on the Trainline.

Accommodation

Edinburgh provides a large number and wide range of different hotels categories, which you can book on the usual online sites such as Booking.com and Hotels.com. Also check out accommodation links on Visit Scotland and Forever Edinburgh

Edinburgh is a popular tourist destination, and hotels can be in high demand, especially during the spring and summer months, so we recommend booking your accommodation as son as possible.

In addition to hotels, Edinburgh has lots of guesthouses, bed & breakfasts and hostels which can be a more affordable option for city centre locations.

In particular, some of Edinburgh's hostels are located in awesome interesting and historic buildings, and very central locations:

Edinburgh has extremely good public transport links, and the conference venue is accessible by the majority of bus routes as well as tram links. There are also a number of bicycle hire options (including e-bikes - the city is built on seven hills after all!). If you're thinking of staying a bit further out of the city centre, have a look at our guide to getting around below for more information on transport links.

Getting around

By Foot

Edinburgh is a safe and walkable city, and the main conference venue, the Assembly Rooms, is located on George Street, in the very centre of the city.

By Bus & Tram

Edinburgh has an excellent bus and tram network. Lothian Buses are the main city buses; the easiest way to buy tickets is with contactless payments on the bus; just tap when you get on - your card will be charged at the end of the day with the capped daily rate. You can also buy tickets with cash (buses can't give change, so make sure you have the exact fare), or mobile tickets via the Transport for Edinburgh app, which will also help you plan routes and see real-time information on buses.

Edinburgh trams run between the airport and St Andrews Square, at the east end of Princes Street. If you’re taking the tram, buy tickets before you board. Ticket machines are located at each stop.

By Taxi

There are multiple taxi companies in Edinburgh. Black cabs can be hailed on the street, although at busy times they may only pick up from licensed taxi ranks. There are several taxi ranks on George St, including outside the Assembly Rooms. A full list can be found here.

Uber and Gett are also available in Edinburgh.

By Bike

If you're happy cycling up some hills, cycling can be a very effective way to get around Edinburgh, especially if you're staying near one of the off-road cycle routes. You can hire bikes (including e-bikes) from the following hire shops:

If you do decide to cycle, please be very careful near the tram lines, as there have been a number of serious accidents crossing the tracks.

By Car

We don't recommend driving into the city each day as the roads can be very busy during peak times, and Edinburgh has restricted (and expensive!) on-street parking in the city centre. If you do drive, there is limited metered on-street parking on George Street and surrounding streets. The nearest multi-storey car parks are at Castle Terrace (11 minute walk), the Omni centre (13 minute walk) and the St James Quarter (10 minute walk).

Things to Do

If you have some free time around the conference, there are many things to do nearby.

Walking

One of the best ways to explore the city is to walk. The Old Town especially has all sorts of tiny hidden courtyards, staircases and narrow alleys to explore that you’ll only find on foot.

If you’re up for a more challenging walk, head out to Holyrood Park, and a hike up Arthur’s Seat (an extinct volcano). Or take a walk up Calton Hill for spectacular views of the city.

Museums and Galleries

Entry to the majority of museums and galleries in Edinburgh is free.

Royal Botanic Garden

Founded in 1670, the Garden covers 72 acres in the city centre and is a 20 minute walk from the conference venue. It is open daily, and admission is free.

Where to Eat and Drink

Unfairly described by Mike Myers as "the result of a dare", Scottish cuisine is actually something you should try! As well as the more famous (or maybe infamous!) dishes, as a country with a high proportion of coastline, fish and seafood is generally very good here. As well as Scottish and British restaurants, Edinburgh has a thriving constellation of restaurants specialising in cuisine from around the World.

Haggis (and other Scottish Cuisine)

Haggis is a traditional dish, consisting of the bits of a sheep that you don't want to think about, stuffed into the stomach of a sheep, and boiled! It sounds terrible, but is actually delicious, providing you know where to go to get a good one! Vegetarian and vegan versions also exist, and are equally delicious. We recommend Howies, which has three different restaurants specialising in a range of traditional and modern Scottish food. Fish & Chip shops also sell haggis, but it's sold as a battered, deep-fried sausage, not the traditional dish served with neeps and tatties. For a more contemporary take on Scottish fusion cuisine, check out Stac Polly.

Deep-Fried Mars Bar

A deep-fried Mars Bar is Scotland's 'street food'. Usually bought in a Fish & Chip shop after a night drinking too much, it's not exactly refined cuisine, but it is recommended that you try it at least once! Café Piccante on Broughton St is probably the best known for this but many Fish & Chip shops will fry it for you. Just be warned you may need to go for a run the next day to work off the calories!

Fish & Chips

Fish & Chips is a classic British dish, consisting of cod or haddock, deep fried in batter. The correct way to order it in Scotland is to ask for a Fish Supper (the "supper" means "with chips") and you'll be asked if you want Salt'n'Sauce. The sauce they're referring to is an Edinburgh tradition, and is slightly different in each shop. It's a mix of malt vinegar and brown sauce. You can say no, but be aware that you may get a strange look from the server. Good venues for Fish & Chips are:

  • L'Alba D'Oro- Shirley Manson's favourite Fish & Chip shop, when she's back in town. You can get classic Fish & Chips here, or some more refined variants.
  • City Restaurant - cheap, friendly and relaxed, and a favourite with students.
  • The Fishmarket - a little further away on the coast in Newhaven but well worth a visit for the freshest possible fish & chips, sourced from the excellent Welch Fishmongers next door.

Burgers

You'll find a few branches of burger chains such as Five Guys around Edinburgh, but the real place to go is Bread Meats Bread, a Glasgow institution that came to Edinburgh a few years ago and is thriving here.

Restaurants

The Assembly Rooms’ location on George Street means that you’re not short of nearby options for good food. On George Street itself you’ll find restaurants providing a variety of cuisine, including some well known names such as Browns, local tapas chain Cafe Andaluz, and more. Just off George Street, some more hidden favourites include Hakataya, for the best tonkatsu ramen in town.

Websites such as 5pm and opentable can be useful for last minute table reservations.

Pubs and Bars

An evening in the pub with a beer or a whisky is a favourite pastime in Edinburgh, although in recent years gin has become an increasingly popular export! As such, Edinburgh has many quality pubs and bars, most of which will have a range of excellent single-malt whiskies. Many of the pubs around Edinburgh also serve good food!

George Street is well placed for several good cocktail bars; Bramble, Panda & Sons, Hoot the Redeemer, Tiger Lily and the Candy Bar to name a few.

Other good pubs nearby are the Abbotsford for more traditional beer styles, Fierce Bar and The Hanging Bat for more modern craft beer. Red Squirrel and Brewdog have good pub food menus. A little further away, Cloisters is set in a nice old building, and there's a whole range of other options. For whisky specifically, the Bow Bar prides itself on its selection and the knowledge of its bar staff.

You can also go on a tour of the Edinburgh Gin distillery, which is a short walk from the Assembly Rooms, and there's a bar in the basement called Head and Tales.

Coffee

Edinburgh has a great artisan coffee scene. Near to the Assembly Rooms you'll find Cairngorm Coffee, Lowdown Coffee and Wellington Coffee. Further away, you'll find Cult Espresso, Machina Espresso, Brew Lab, Artisan Roast, and Castello Coffee, among many others!

Ice Cream

Despite (or maybe in spite of) the Scottish weather, Edinburgh has a number of must-try gourmet ice cream shops! The most famous is Mary's Milk Bar in the Grassmarket, which has queues even in the worst of weathers, and prides itself on its daily changing menu. Luca's has been an Edinburgh institution for over 100 years. Also check out Bon Bon and Alandas for fabulous italian gelato.