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Edinburgh during August Festivals & Side trips

Greetings. Any advice to navigating the city during the first week of the Festivals this August? I plan to take the tram from the airport and then walk everywhere to avoid traffic. In addition to Festival activities, I would like to do sightseeing highlights - - am I going to be able to get into them for the crowds? Is there a multi-site discount card? For side trips, I plan to take the train to Glasgow one morning (architecture) and the train to St. Andrews one morning (no interest in golf). Any don't miss highlights there? Thanks all!

Posted by
11294 posts

For Glasgow, if your interest is architecture and you only have one day, you may want to take a taxi right to the House For An Art Lover. My review of this, which was an unquestioned highlight of the many wonderful things I did in Glasgow, is in my trip report:

Two other Charles Rennie Mackintosh sights are in the center, but alas, you cannot see them at this time. The Willow Tea Rooms are being renovated, and the Glasgow School of Art is almost totally obscured by scaffolding. So, don't waste time trying to see these. However, there's lots of other interesting architecture in the city centre. After seeing the House For An Art Lover, I'd taxi back to the centre and follow Rick's walk. This also has the advantage of putting you in the centre, near the train and bus stations, for your trip back to Edinburgh.

Or, you may want to take a spin or two on the hop on, hop off (HOHO) bus; this would allow you to see lots of the city. Since they come every 10 minutes, you could even get off at something you like, then get another bus (they run until about 6 PM). They don't go to sights south of the Clyde, like the House For An Art Lover - hence my recommendation of a taxi directly there upon arrival.

Do look at Rick's Glasgow chapter (same chapter in his Scotland book and his Great Britain book), and see if anything draws you particularly for your day there. Again, the HOHO goes to almost all the sights.

Posted by
6513 posts

We were in Edinburgh for the Festival 3 years ago, and took a few buses and taxis, but walked almost everywhere. With all the festival happenings, we didn't actually get to any of the major museum sights (!), but did reserve seats for the Tattoo one night, and spent part of an enjoyable afternoon touring the Royal Yacht Britannia, which wasn't too, too crowded. If you enjoy traditional music, see if there's anything playing at the Royal Oak pub, either in the tiny upstairs or especially if there's music in the downstairs room, where our time there was exceptional!

I spend most Augusts in Edinburgh but don't find the big tourist attractions as extra-busy as you'd expect, mostly because the festival-goers are there to see shows!

I'd advise going to the Castle first thing in the morning, because that does get super-busy. Holyrood Palace isn't too bad.

But I've found the brilliant free attractions - National Museum, the National Gallery & Portrait Gallery and the small free museums at the bottom end of the Royal Mile (Museum of Childhood, Museum of Edinburgh, The People's Story) - to be havens of peace during the Fringe & other festivals.

Walking or buses are the best way to get around Edinburgh in August. Walking takes longer than usual and you'll need a high tolerance level for people trying to get you to see their shows and thrusting leaflets at you, but then that's part of the fun. Enjoy it - and go and see some shows while you're there.