Getting around Edinburgh and finding your way around the Scottish capital is easy thanks to the city’s compact size. Its whole urban area spans only about 100 square miles, while the Old City is only 140 acres – easily explored on foot. Even so, there’s a good variety of ways to explore Edinburgh so you can get from one sightseeing landmark to another swiftly and conveniently.

We’ve gathered useful Edinburgh travel information on how to use the various transportation options available in the city. These range from info on streetcars, taxi cabs, buses, and bikes to how to rent a automobile, ride a pedicab, and hiring an e-bike or e-scooter in Edinburgh. By knowing about these ways for getting around the city, you’ll be able to enjoy one of the most handsome capital cities in Europe with ease.

  • Edinburgh Streetcars

    For convenient travel along a single streetcar line

    Edinburgh Streetcars

    Edinburgh Streetcars is an efficient way to travel between major spots within the city. The service runs along a single 8.7-mile line that stretches between Edinburgh Airport and York Place. Transportation for Edinburgh, in operation since 2014, is the organization that owns and runs the tramway service. There are over a dozen streetcar stops with proposals to eventually extend the line to Newhaven, 2 miles north of the city centre. Among the most popular places in Edinburgh that have streetcar stops is Princes Street, the Scottish capital’s main shopping street. From there, you can hop off to enjoy the Royal Mile as well as the Old Town.

    The streetcars run daily between 5 am to midnight. Expect streetcars to stop at intervals of 7 to 10 minutes. Riding the whole streetcar line’s length takes about 45 minutes. Note that weekend times may differ during the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in August. Single fares for Edinburgh Streetcars are the same as for Lothian Buses, which Transportation for Edinburgh also runs. You can buy tickets from machines at streetcar stops or pay cashless using Transportation for Edinburgh’s Ridacard, smartcard, or m-tickets with credits you can top-up via their smartphone app.

  • Taxi cabs in Edinburgh

    Ride in an iconic black cab

    Taxi cabs in Edinburgh

    Taxi cabs in Edinburgh are mostly black, the iconic ‘hackney carriage’ like the ones you can find in London and elsewhere in the UK. They’re casually referred to as ‘black cabs’ and can often seat a company of 5. Among the many taxi cab operators in Edinburgh are City Cabs, Capital Automobiles, and Central Taxi cabs with dozens of taxi stands spread throughout the city. Even so, you’d be able to hail a black cab rolling down the street when there’s no rank around.

    You can use Uber in Edinburgh, although it doesn’t always translate to being cheaper than a taxi cab when you take surge pricing into account. It’s common to tip the taxi cab driver around 10% of the fare. Most cabs in Edinburgh also accept payment by credit card, with an added charge. You can also download and use the mytaxi app for convenient pick-ups by City Cabs anywhere in the city. Below are phone numbers for the main taxi cab operators in Edinburgh:

    City Cabs (+44 (0)131 228 1211)

    Capital Automobiles (+44 (0)131 777 7777)

    Central Taxi cabs (+44 (0)131 229 2468)

  • Lothian Buses

    Edinburgh’s main bus service

    Lothian Buses

    Riding a bus in Edinburgh, you’ll most likely use Lothian’s services, though there are several other companies also serving the Scottish capital. Municipally owned Lothian shares the same stops in Edinburgh with buses run by Aberdeen-based First. They’re different companies, and their bus numbers and tickets are different, too. Even so, Lothian as the dominant operator has a larger fleet and most routes within the city.

    You can buy bus tickets right on the bus, but you’ll have to present the exact amount of cash as the drivers don’t give change. For more convenience, download and use Transportation for Edinburgh’s smartphone app and pay using m-tickets. You can top-up your credits via their smartphone app, which is the same app for rides on Edinburgh Streetcars. Adult and family tickets are available. Simply inform the bus driver about the tickets you need. You can’t eat or drink on Lothian buses.

    photo by Kim Traynor (CC BY-SA 3.0) modified

  • Cycling in Edinburgh

    Pedal through the National Cycle Network

    Cycling in Edinburgh

    Cycling in Edinburgh is cheap and fun, especially in the summer months of July and August. The city itself is bike-friendly and offers a wonderful network of cycling routes. You can find most of the off-road cycling tracks in the north of Edinburgh, whose paths often link with one another. For paved cycling paths, however, look no further than the city centre. There are on-road cycle lanes, though it can be hard to cross junctions at times due to heavier traffic. Be sure to stay on the dedicated cycling lanes as it’s against the law to cycle on sidewalks in Scotland.

    Just Eat Cycles is Edinburgh’s bike hire scheme. Simply download the app and sign up. Find a bike station near to you, unlock the bike, ride it, then return it after you’re done. Tariffs are per minute after the first hour. You can also rent a bicycle the conventional way with mountain bikes, city bikes and folding bikes available from various bike shops around the city. Most bike shops in Edinburgh also offer bike tours and safaris, either within or outside the city, for couples, families, and pro cyclists. For hiring a bike in Edinburgh, check out these companies below:

    Biketrax (+44 (0)131 228 6633)

    Eastside Bikes (+44 (0)131 466 1740)

    Leith Cycle Co. (+44 (0)131 467 7775)

  • Electric bikes and e-scooters in Edinburgh

    An easier way to pedal around Edinburgh

    Electric bikes and e-scooters in Edinburgh

    Edinburgh introduced its new electric bike (e-bike) scheme in March 2020, run by Serco. The e-bikes are available at the same bike stations as the Edinburgh’s Just Eat Cycles bike hire scheme. These stations are many and they’re well spread throughout the city. On a full charge, an e-bike can get up to a safe maximum speed of 15 mph and a range of 50 miles, taking you on a pleasant cruise in and around the city. Serco watches the battery levels of each unit remotely and replaces them fresh at the stations, so you can grab one that’s ready to go.

    E-scooters, on the other hand, although available in Edinburgh and at most of the city’s bike shops, are categorized as motorized vehicles. They’re only legal if they’re hired in a share scheme like Just Eat bikes.

  • Automobile rentals in Edinburgh

    Driving in the Scottish capital

    Automobile rentals in Edinburgh

    Edinburgh isn’t the most driver-friendly city in the UK. Moreover, the city centre is where you’d spend most of your days and most of the highlight spots are within walking distance to each other. The traffic in Edinburgh also tends to be congested at most times of the day and parking spaces are scarce and come at a price. Navigating the roads in Edinburgh may also be confusing to most drivers new to the city.

    If you do need to rent a automobile in Edinburgh, renting one from Edinburgh Airport (EDI) may be a good move. Find the automobile rental center beside the multi-storey carpark, just a short walk from the terminal building via the covered walkway. Automobile rental companies include Alamo, Europcar, Avis, National, Hertz, and Thrifty. Driving from the airport and entering the A8 and M9 serves as a soft introduction to the driving conditions in the city.

  • Edinburgh pedicabs

    Fun old-fashioned cruising on pedal-powered rickshaws

    Edinburgh pedicabs

    Edinburgh pedicabs are a fun way to explore some parts of the city by pedal power, but without needing to put in your own legwork. On these 3-wheeled vehicles, you’ll be strapped in with seatbelts inside a half-covered carriage that seats up to 3 – all while a driver steers and pedals your ‘cab’ around. This unique mode of transportation has been rolling around Edinburgh’s city centre since 1996.

    Pedicabs in Edinburgh are popular among night owls who want to be ferried around the city in the late evenings in a fun way. You can usually catch one around the Royal Mile with ease as well as the Grassmarket area and behind Edinburgh Castle. You can also find pedicabs that operate in other neighborhoods such as the Meadows, a mile south of the city centre. Fares are per person and depend on travel distance.

  • Walking around Edinburgh

    The simplest and surest way to explore the Scottish capital

    Walking around Edinburgh

    Edinburgh, as Scotland's capital, is compact enough that it's easily walkable. Most of the main highlights are within the city centre and close to each other. Walking down the city's winding, elegant Georgian streets is just part of its charm. In fair weather, you'll easily be able to tick the main must-do spots off your list – be they Edinburgh Castle, St Giles' Cathedral, the National Museum of Scotland, Calton Hill, the Royal Mile, and the excellent dining and nightlife spots in between.

    Note that it gets wet and gray around October. April is the driest month, so you're bound to have pleasurable walks around this time. Just remember to wear light and good footwear as the cobblestones and hilly terrain in the city centre might present a challenge for some. Bring adequate drinking water and an umbrella – it can come in handy for either rain or shine.