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General Questions + Solo Dining and Drinking in Edinburgh

Hello All,

I'm planning a trip to Edinburgh and London this November, much of which I'll spend on my own. I would appreciate input from those who know Edinburgh on a couple things:

I will post this on the London board if necessary, but will check here first - I arrive at Gatwick at 0630. I will be taking the Virgin train from Kings Cross to Edinburgh (unless someone has a better suggestion). How much time should I leave - ie, what is the earliest train you'd be comfortable booking? is 0930 too early?

As for Edinburgh:

  • I am pretty comfortable dining solo, but would like to do a pub crawl with a group. I've found a couple online (Literary Pub Tour and the Edinburgh Pub Crawl), but one uses actors (which might be fine, but I actually don't mind a bit of "dry" history along with my beer) and the other seems more about large groups getting drunk. Both could be very fun, but perhaps not my cup of tea. I have spent a bit of time on TA looking for other pub crawl tours, but haven't come across much. My preference would be a small group tour that focuses on the history of Edinburgh. Context didn't have anything. Any recommendations I might be missing in my TA and Google searches?

    • I think I will plan afternoon teas at Balmoral and The Dome. Any other recommendations?
    • If you've traveled to Edinburgh solo (or live there), are there any restaurants that you feel would be especially comfortable for solo diners? My only note is that I don't care for seafood - I'm up for pretty much anything else. :)
    • If you've visited the Sheep Heid Inn on a Sunday (for the roasts), would you have felt uncomfortable dining alone there? It seems like a really social place, but I've read that they also have bar seating that might be a little more comfortable for me.
    • I would like to spend one day in Glasgow (and return later when I have more time). If I purchase the open return ticket from Waverly, may I leave from any station in Glasgow, or only the one at which I arrive?

Thanks very much,


Posted by
3111 posts

To your first question, I would allow more time before needing to catch the train to Edinburgh. If your flight is right on time and everything else goes smoothly, 9:30 might be OK, but you never know if there may be some delay, and you have no control over it. Personally I'm not familiar with whether you can book a flexible ticket in case you miss your desired train, but I would definitely not buy a nonrefundable ticket for 9:30 on your day of arrival.

Posted by
2426 posts

I'd look at flying from Gatwick to Edinburgh with BA or Easyjet - quicker than 5 hours on the train

Posted by
779 posts

Stacy -

My son went to university at Edinburgh, and we visited him there a couple of times, so I have some suggestions. Though I don't know how old you are or what your price point is. I would have been comfortable as a solo diner at really any of the restaurants we've eaten at in Edinburgh.

In terms of pubs, my son really liked (and so did we) Usher's, which is frequented more by graduate students than undergrads, and is more laid-back, with some more interesting beers (and hard ciders, which I much prefer to beer). There are various kinds of seating, not only tables - sofas and the like. It's at basement level, but it's quite a nice pub.

Whiski Rooms, on North Bank, has a restaurant side and a bar side; if you want to go to try whisky, it would be an excellent place to do that. I happen to know, also, that their sticky toffee pudding is very tasty. They have a sister restaurant, Whiski Bar & Restaurant, on the High St., where traditional music is played. It's an older-ish crowd, and pretty calm, so I wouldn't hesitate (I'm a 53yo female) to go there in the evening to have a couple of drinks and listen to the music.

We had afternoon tea (not high tea) at Clarinda's, on Canongate. Cute and quaint, though I'm sure not the production it would be at the Balmoral or the Dome.

On which train to book, before you decide, see what the change fee is. On one trip we took to France, where we flew into CDG, then went to the train station to head south, we booked a train where we had plenty of time to get to it. We made good time, and arrived at the train station in enough time to take the next-earlier train. We were warned there would be a change fee - of 5 euros. You might be able to do the same thing.