Around Edinburgh – by public transport
We often suggest that a car and Edinburgh don’t mix. I tend to leave my car on the outskirts and use public transport to get to where I need to be in the city centre. I know the city well, having lived there for a decade but it’s a city built for foot and horse and carriage not mass motoring and car parking can be eye wateringky expensive in the centre.
Most of my time living in Edinburgh, I didn’t own a car. If I wanted one, I’d hire one but I’d generally get around the city by foot or bike : Edinburgh bikes often had extra low gears – I could cycle up The Mound in third! Car ownership in Edinburgh remain low : unlike many cities, people live on almost every street (yes, there are residents even on Princes Street).
Lothian Buses are the publicly owned operator if the buses and trams. Fares are low, frequency of buses are good so most people find they needn’t bother with a car. There is a great App for planning journeys and buying tickets – and Free Wifi about to help you use it. Within 30 minutes you can get just about anywhere in the city from the centre.
Within 2 hours from the centre of Edinburgh you can reach most of Glasgow, Stirling, Perth, Dundee, Arbroath, Berwick on Tweed along with almost anywhere in the central belt and most of Fife. The Borders Railway helps you reach the great borders towns of Melrose, Galashiels, Selkirk and St.Boswells. You can even reach Kilmarnock. Whisper it – you can even get to Newcastle and Durham in England.
For more detail on public transport, see our post here.
So what if you based yourself in Edinburgh and alternate say one day in the city and one day exploring further afield?
Let’s look at a three of the many possible day trips – but let’s keep travel time under an hour.
This city was built on Jam, Journalism and Jute. Journalism stays and there is nothing more delightful than tayberries and Dundee marmalade but today the city is becoming known more for its creative industries especially games and its culture.
Dundee Rep and Dundee Contemporary Arts have long had a high reputation and they are shortly to be joined by the Scottish outpost of the Victoria and Albert Museum on the redeveloped waterfront (opening 2018).
Add the Verdant Works and the ships Discovery and Unicorn and you have a very full day – perhaps continuing into the evening.
Train : on current timetable, the 09:30 from Waverley gets you to Dundee at 10:33. There is a return train about every half hour with the last train to Edinburgh being at 22:45.
Verdant Works http://www.verdantworks.com
Dundee Rep https://dundeerep.co.uk
Dundee Contemporary Arts http://www.dca.org.uk/whats-on
V&A Museum of Design, Dundee https://www.vandadundee.org
The Borders Railway
Trains every half hour really open up The Borders for exploration.
Let’s start by hopping off the train at Newtongrange for the Scottish Miining Museum. It’s a short walk from the station and worth timing your visit to join one of the Pithead tours – check times. But there is enough to see above ground while your wait.
Then back on the train to the current end if the line at Tweedband for Sir Walter Scott’s house, Abbotsford. It’s about a mile walk from the station or look out for the Border Weaver bus to drop you off at the driveway (and also provides links to Galashiels and Melrose)
Scottish Mining Museum http://nationalminingmuseum.com/visiting/
Border Railway http://www.bordersrailway.co.uk
Border Weaver Bus https://www.scotborders.gov.uk/downloads/download/440/borders_weaver_bus_service
The Scottish Sea Life Centre at North Berwick is a super place to see our wealth of sea birds, and with cameras linked to display screens and high powered telescope available, you can be assured of a good view of the action. Lots of effort has gone into providing information and activity to keep children busy. Even better are the various boat trip operators out of North Berwick to see the birds on the cliffs and even out of the Bass Rock and that haven for seabirds (especially puffins), the Isle of May.
Take your time to enjoy a walk along the coast to Tantallon Castle (part of the John Muir Way) – there is a different delight in a glorious sunny day or wild coastal winds.
Of course you get a different perspective again from the sea and there are a good choice of trips from gentle potters along the coast to fast ribs.
SeaLife Centre https://www.seabird.org
Boat Trips https://www.seabird.org/visit/boats/10/22
John Muir Way – North Berwick to Tantallon http://johnmuirway.org/route/north-berwick-dunbar/poi/tantallon-castle
Getting there : hourly trains to North Berwick (just over half an hour journey time) or rather slower buses and a pleasant walk through the town and onto the headland.