Just because Edinburgh is a small city doesn’t mean it can’t handle itself when it comes to an influx of people. Great planning goes into the organisation of such a well known worldwide festival and everything seems to work like clockwork. Although to some Edinburgh residents, it may feel like a strain some days, however we embrace the injection of energy and enjoy the perks that it brings. I especially love being able to get in a coffee shop after 5pm! Although the city is prepared, YOU should also be prepared! So as an insider, I thought I would give you my survival tips on getting the best out of the festival and the city.
1) I am stating the obvious here but it’s a very important one. Fail to plan, plan to fail. I always make an itinerary no matter where I go in the world, sometimes I don’t stick to it completely but it’s great to have a structure in your head so you know where to be to get the most out of your trip. It’s especially important in Edinburgh during the festivals. My first tip if you are coming from another country would be to book your hotels and flights well in advance. The prices of these often go up dramatically near the festival time. Therefore, by planning ahead you could save yourself a lot of money.It’s also good to book any particular restaurants to avoid disappointment and not get ‘hangry’. Most importantly if you’re planning to see a lot of shows then grab some tickets, as soon as they are released, and utilise the websites.
2) It is no secret that Scotland’s weather is rather unpredictable, so you have to be well prepared and wear sensible clothing and footwear. With blue skies in the morning and driving rain in the afternoon, people are often surprised with the constant changes in weather. The best advice is to wear layers as you are able to remove or add throughout the day. If you can, waterproof layers are also advisable. Having an umbrella is okay, however unless you want to do your Mary Poppins impression due to the common gust of winds, a jacket with a hood should be sufficient.
3) If you ever wanted to work out while walking around, then Edinburgh is the perfect city. Wear comfortable shoes as Edinburgh is built on numerous hills, thus walking from A to B can be like a mini hike. Adding to that is the cobbled streets and uneven pavements, wearing your Sunday bests, are probably not advisable.
4) If you’re visiting from another country, or even from a different part of the U.K. Be prepared for the Scottish accent and unusual/slang words and phrases. We try our best but often forget to slow down for tourists. Being the capital there are many Scots from around the country and dialects change from town to town. Check out some words and phrases here. It shouldnae be that hard fir ye!
5) On a serious note, it’s now time to talk about pedestrian lights. Red means Stop, so don’t be tempted to cross the roads on a red man. We’ve seen it many times where people walk out in front of buses and cars, causing serious accidents.
6) This maybe easier said than done but try and avoid Princes Street, unless of course you’re out for a fantastic day’s shopping. This street is usually packed full of people coming from all directions and at this time of the year, it doesn’t make walking through the city a pleasurable experience. Instead, head to the other side of the road and walk through Princes Street Gardens. It is more open and pleasant, enabling you to see the ever changing architecture of Princes St on one side and the old town and imposing castle on the other… much better for photo opportunities!
7) Queues! I’m sorry tourists but we like our queues, we are still British after all. Whether its buses, banks or ticket lines etc we like to be in straight lines and heaven forbid you should cross it 😀
8) As Edinburgh is a small city, getting from one part of the city to the other can be easy, however at busy times (like during the festival) it can take much longer. Instead of getting a taxi everywhere, save money and get a day time ticket for our local bus service, Lothian Buses. The bus journey may feel a tad slower due to the increase in people and the introduction of the 20mph limit within the city but the network is great. The new Edinburgh Tram system is also a fantastic way of getting to and from the airport or back and forth Princes Street without getting stuck in traffic.
9) If you cannot come for the entire month, why not try to come at the beginning of the festival or the end. Come at the beginning and you will see the spectacular opening ceremony and also manage to grab lots of free shows or 241 deals. Come at the end and you will experience the great closing ceremony with its fireworks against the beautiful castle.
10) Although being in the festival is incredibly entertaining, there is still an entire city and country out there to explore or relax in. If you are a little tired, there are plenty areas to go to breathe a sigh of relief. There are pockets of relaxation around Edinburgh and you just need to know where to look, head to my previous blog post for some ideas. If you feel adventurous get on the train and head to the Kingdom of Fife, not only will you catch a glimpse of the beautiful Forth Rail Bridge that spans the Forth River, you can also experience the birth place of golf; St Andrews and its surrounding fishing villages such as Anstruther, selling the best fish and chips in Scotland.
If you want to venture even further, head for Perthshire and experience the gateway to the highlands. With rolling hills, cascading rivers and woodlands, Perthshire is only 1h45min from Edinburgh by car and it’s a great day trip away from the city.
Edinburgh is a fantastic city to visit at any time of the year but at festival time you can see a completely different side to the city. Follow these steps and your guaranteed your time will go smoothly and you will get the best out of the city making you long to come back again and again. Haste Ye Back!
Blu Blazer Guy