Edinburgh is an incredibly compact city that's really easy to get around, but if you’re in a new place by yourself, it can all be a bit mind-boggling! That’s why we’re here, with our guide on how to navigate Auld Reekie.
Most of the public transport services are run by Transport for Edinburgh who operate Lothian Buses and Edinburgh Trams.
Lothian Buses provide the majority of bus services in and around Edinburgh and they run the most important bus services for you! From the city-centre to the Heriot-Watt Edinburgh campus; the number 25, 34, 45 and 63 services.
The number 25 is the most popular way into the campus. It runs from Restalrig via the City Centre, Haymarket, Dalry, Gorgie, Saughton, Sighthill and Hermiston Park & Ride. This service tends to run every 10 minutes at peak time. The journey time from the campus to/from the city centre is usually 30-40 minutes depending on what time you're travelling.
The number 34 also serves the campus. It goes from Ocean Terminal in Leith through the City Centre, FountainPark, Slateford, Sighthill and Hermiston Park & Ride. It takes you via the Research Park at the university – handy if your class is in a far-away academic building! This service tends to run every 15 minutes or so at peak times and the journey tends to take 40 minutes into the city centre.
Other services include the 45 and 63. The 45 goes to Currie, Morningside, Tollcross, North Bridge, Portobello and eventually ends up at Queen Margaret University. The 63 goes out to South Queensferry via Hermiston Retail Park and the Gyle Centre.
There is free Wi-Fi on most buses to keep you entertained/keep your Google Maps running so you can rest assured you’re going the right way. Some of their newer buses even have built-in USB charging ports too!
Like most cities around the world, Edinburgh's transport providers have upped their cleaning and sanitising but there are still a few things you can do too! All asking passengers are being asked to wear a mask if you can and to sanitise their hands before and after travelling. Many services also have social distancing measures in place so if there's room, try to sit in a row with no other passengers!
How much is a bus ticket?
A single bus journey anywhere in Edinburgh costs £1.80. You can also get a day ticket which gives you unlimited all-day travel. It costs £4.40 when paying cash or using the app, and £4.40 when paying with contactless! You need to have the exact amount ready for the driver – they can’t give you change.
Do the buses run at night?
Night buses are back to running a normal service! This means you can get into the city centre from campus until 3:40 AM - perfect for those late-night cram sessions at the library or a super-early shift at work!
Night bus fares are £3.00 or £4.00 if you buy a LATEticket (available after 18:00). This is a much cheaper option than a taxi to Riccarton!
What if I regularly travel via bus?
It's worth considering a Ridacard which gives you unlimited travel on the buses, tram, Airlink (airport bus) and Night buses. It saves you having to find change for the bus and there are lots of payment options. You can 'top-up' as you go with 1 week/4 week/1 year options or the easiest option is to set up a Direct Debit. It's £45 a month for a Student Direct Debit Ridacard and you can get one from Lothian's Waverley Bridge Travel Hub.
Who carries coins anymore?
It's worth remembering that if you're paying with cash you'll need the exact fare however, Lothian Buses have a new m-tickets app which lets you buy tickets on your phone. You simply show the driver your 'activated' ticket when you board the bus. You can even send a ticket to a friend if you have a new pal in need.
If you're not sure how many journeys you're going to make in a day there's always the option for contactless too! You can just tap on as many times as you like and your payment will be capped with the cheapest daily fare for that day. This means you could travel all over Edinburgh and only pay £4.40 (just make sure you use the same card or device each time)!
How do I know when my bus is coming?
Google Maps is generally pretty good but you can download the Transport for Edinburgh app which will give you live departure information (there's usually a 'BusTracker info board at most stops but not always) and a range of journey planning tools. Across Edinburgh also, there are updated digital timetables with arrival times of buses for each stop. They're usually very accurate so if you're on a main route around the city, you can rely on them!
You can also download the "EdinBus" app which gives you real-time tracking information for each bus stop.
Getting to the airport
On your holidays or heading back home? You can get to and from Edinburgh Airport using either Edinburgh Trams or a good old bus. Edinburgh Trams run from York Place all the way along Princes Street to the airport with a journey time of about 30/40 minutes, at a cost of £6.50 for a single or £9 for an open return. The handiest part is you can use the same return ticket on an Airlink or the N22 night bus when the tram isn't running.
Alternatively, the Airlink 100 bus service costs £4.50 with a journey time of about 30 minutes. Another option is the 35 bus service, which is a long journey but will only cost you £1.80.
The main train stations in Edinburgh are Edinburgh Waverley and Haymarket. Both are situated in the city centre. Haymarket is slightly closer to Heriot-Watt and the 25 bus runs from directly outside. Waverley is the biggest in Scotland and the second biggest station in the UK! From either of these stations, you can get to most parts of the United Kingdom and the rest of Scotland. Why not pop through to Glasgow, Scotland's biggest city? - It only takes 49 minutes on the train!
For more information on routes and travel options near you, check out the websites below. A lot of the providers also have apps you can download so you'll be aware of delays and updates as they happen!