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Advice for Edinburgh August 2016

My wife and I will be flying into/out of London August 2016. We took advantage of a good sale on business class fares on BA so we already have the tickets. We plan to spend 4-5 nights in London and are considering Bath and Edinburgh for at 2 nights each.. We have 9 nights total (arrive on 8/22 and depart 8/31). We are really interested in attending the Military Tattoo one night and I am aware that the International Festival will be going on at time as well. Any insights on the International Festival? There is not a calendar of events available yet, so just looking for general impressions. My other questions relate to travel to / from Edinburgh as well as lodging. Plane vs train? Based on what I have seen so far, the time for each will be about the same if you include security, early check-in, etc. Is there any reason to even consider flying? Second - I have a lot of hotel points and I see quite a few properties available in central Edinburgh during our time there. Should I go ahead and snatch up the "free" rooms? Do the hotels near all of the action usually sell out early? Also, any recommendations regarding Bath lodging/activities? We considered going there first, then Edinburgh and finishing up in London. Too much? TIA!

Posted by
823 posts


In my humble opinion, I would leave Edinburgh, a city I dearly love, for another trip. 9 days isn't nearly enough time to take in London so why cut that in have in order to spend over 8 hours traveling back and forth to a another incredible city for only a 2 day visit?

London is perhaps my favorite city in the world. I have spent a total of 15 days/nights there and can't wait to return. The museums are incredible (and most are free). The city parks are incredible. The monuments are incredible. The churches are incredible. The palaces are incredible. After 15 days visiting London, I feel I have just scratched the surface.

Edinburgh is also an incredible city. Having spent 4 days there site seeing, I don't feel I have even scratched the surface. I will return one day to finish up where I left off.

That all being said, if I were in your shoes, I would stick to London and do a day trip, escorted or unescorted, to Bath.

Posted by
12372 posts

And I will take the opposite view. London is also one of our favorite cities. Since we always fly BritishnAirways to Europe, we always include a few days or up to a week in London, but we always go somewhere else as well (usually Italy).

But I agree that 9 day'stime is too short for the three cities. Bath is actually the one place I have visited In the UK that did not appeal to me; I can't define why but it just seemed to lack something. So I would skip it. On the other hand, we loved Edinburgh (and Scotland in general) last year. The train is a great way to go---easy, relaxing, and very inexpensive if you buyAdvance tickets. if you do want to see another city, you could stop overnight in York on the way, or on the return.

If you have points for a free hotel in Edinburgh, I would book that now---the rooms will disappear. I am surprised they haven't blocked out theTattoo period already.

Posted by
6354 posts

I somewhat agree with Todd. I'm not sure the long train ride to Edinburgh is worth it for just 2 nights (1 full day) unless it's specifically to attend the Tattoo. I would pick either London & Bath (and maybe another day trip somewhere) or London & Edinburgh with 4 nights in Edinburgh.

Posted by
782 posts

You might consider taking the night sleeper train to Edinburgh both going and coming back then you wouldn't be wasting any of your normal daytime. It was still running as of 2 years ago so I assume it still is.

Posted by
1187 posts

Hi Stephen,

I would give Edinburgh 3 days and the rest for London. The military tattoo is fabulous and the theater festival is fun. Performers will be in the street in costume and in character promoting their plays so even if you don't go to a performance you will get a little taste.

Posted by
12372 posts

The New Caledonian sleeper does not depart London until 23:50, which I personally would find disruptive to my sleep. The direct train to Edinburgh takes only 4 h 20 min.

With 9 nights to stay, they could spend 5 in London, 3 in Edinburgh, and one on the way back, within "striking distance" of Heathrow---depending on the flight departure time. Or they could fly back from Edinburgh to Heathrow, but I am usually not comfortable with same-day flights on separate tickets.

Posted by
2715 posts

You have gotten a lot of great advice already. Check and see, since you've already bought your airline tickets, what it would cost to change your departure to Edinburgh Airport. That way, you wouldn't have to backtrack to London.

Lola's suggestion of London, train to York, train to Edinburgh is a great one. If you haven't been to York before, you'll be amazed by what a neat place it is. Don't miss York Minster Cathedral, the City Walls, the Shambles, and Jorvik Viking Centre (Museum). Spend at least one night in York.

You can take many day trips from London, either on your own, or with guides. Have a look at the guided walks around London ($7 to $10) and the Day Trips out of London with a guide($15 to $20). They do a guided trip to Bath in which you meet your tour guide at the train station in London, you board the train together, guide goes with you to Bath, guides you all around explaining the history and architecture, then gets you back on the train to London. Easy, fun and inexpensive.

I would do Bath this way as a day trip, given the short amount of time you have. That way you don't have to check out of your London hotel and haul all your luggage to Bath and back (which you do, if you spend the night in Bath). If you do go to York and Edinburgh, go by train.

Posted by
5563 posts

The International Festival is amazing. There are actually multiple festivals in Edinburgh in August. There is the International Festival is the juried festival. It has the symphony concerts, choral concerts, plays, ballet and more. Then there the Fringe Festival. It started at the same time as the International Festival but isn't juried. Basically, some arts companies showed up who hadn't been invited back after WWII and found space to put on their shows. Today, you get all kinds of wonderful performances. It's bigger now in terms of the number of performances. Every crook and cranny in Edinburgh is absorbed by this. The streets are full of performers, there are children in cute costumes, people from all over the world come to perform.

Then of course, there is the Tattoo. This is the military performance and it's pipe bands from all over the globe. It is performed in front of the castle on the Esplanade. Oh, and there is a book festival too!

If you love performance of all kinds then it's worth a trip to Edinburgh to experience the festival.


Posted by
4637 posts

Advice for Edinburgh August 2106 - you really want to live a long time.