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Long layover in Edinburgh

I'll be flying through Edinburgh next summer (on the way to the Faroe Islands) and will have a long (7 hour) layover in EDI. We will probably want to pop into town for a few hours (although we will also want to be absolutely certain that we get back to the airport in time for our onward flight).

We have been in Edinburgh before (and we will have a couple days to spend there on the way back) so we don't need to try and knock off major tourists sights (and I have flown through through EDI previously - going from Orkney to London - but never have come or gone to/from the airport). We will probably just want to wander the Royal Mile, have lunch, maybe do some shopping or light sightseeing. Basically, we would rather spend those hours enjoying Edinburgh instead of killing that time at the aiport (which I recall as being fairly easy but not huge or offering lots of entertainment for a full day).

I assume getting from the airport to the city center (and back) is fairly quick and easy. What's the best way to do that, and how long should one allow? (We will arrive at EDI around 8 am and our onward flight departs around 3:20 pm, on a Monday in early July.)

Thanks!

Posted by
3478 posts

Since your departing flight leaves at 3:20 p.m., be sure you have enough time to go into town, have a walk about, and get back to the airport for your next leg. If your arrival is late or if it takes longer than usual to clear the airport, you may not have as much time as you think and might have to scale back you plans. Assuming all goes well, the most reliable way from the airport to town and back is the tram system. As you exit the airport look to the left and you'll see the tram boarding area. There should be folks there from whom you can buy round trip tickets. The tram runs right along Princess street so plenty of places to shop and have lunch. Not that far to walk to get to the Royal Mile. The tram system has a really good web site so google it and see what you think.

Posted by
5011 posts

If your arrival is late or if it takes longer than usual to clear the airport, you may not have as much time as you think and might have to scale back you plans...

Oh yes, I'm keenly aware of that. If we miss our onward flight the next one going isn't for 2 more days and that would be a disaster, so I will be extremely careful about the time, and will adjust as needed to have us at the airport a ready for the flight with plenty of cushion.

Tram sounds good - will investigate. Thanks.

Posted by
21204 posts

Personally I think layovers of this length are a sucker play. You think you have the time but really don't. You could take the train (Tram) in but that could be an hour to an hour and a half from the time you plane hits the ground. You need another hour to return depending on waiting time, etc. So 2.5 hours gone. At that time of day probably need to be back in the airport around 1.30 for security etc. That is 4.5 hours gone. So you have about three hours in the city. Somewhere along the line you might need a water closet break or two and maybe lunch. In the end you might have a good two hours walk around. IMO, hardily worth the effort. But sitting in the airport for six hours is a pain also. Good time for reading and planning.

PS - Given your comments above about your next flight you might only an hour or so in the city. I would stay put.

Posted by
5011 posts

Given your comments above about your next flight you might only an hour or so in the city. I would stay put.

Duly noted, and I almost agree with you. Thats said, we were in Edinburgh a couple years ago and we have fond memories of tea and goodies at a place just off the main street. I suspect that might be a powerful magnet (versus food at the airport). But I'll need to take a close look at the travel time on the tram, then run the numbers. Even if we only end up with 2-3 hours in town, we will be tempted. But we're not going to cut it close (or miss our onward flight), no matter how good those scones with jam and clotted cream were...

Posted by
21204 posts

David, I would agree with you to a degree but still you have some risk. But it is something to do. A couple of years ago we did something similar and then the train stopped running on the way back to the airport. Just a lot of announcements in Italian. Fortunately it started running about 30 minutes later and the security long was short or we could have had a problem. Future temptations will be limited.

Posted by
2746 posts

Just a side note about the free WiFi in the airport. Once you log into it (for example, if you decide to stay put and pass the time reading Facebook or online news articles), it is only free for a limited time. I don't remember the limit, but it's either 90 minutes or 2 hours, something like that, in a 24-hour period.