How to get from Edinburgh Airport to Edinburgh city center is one of the most common questions we get asked by our guests. Edinburgh’s only airport is located just outside of the city, near the Ingleston area, just under 6 miles west of the City Center. Despite its relative closeness to Edinburgh in comparison to other cities, it isn’t exactly walking distance. However, we have created this easy guide explaining exactly how to get to the city from the airport so you can concentrate on enjoying your stay in our beautiful city.
Table of Contents
The Edinburgh tram system is a long line that stretches all the way from the airport in the west of the city to York place, in the east of the New Town. There is only two routes: towards the airport and away from the airport. It opened on 31st May 2013 and provides both travelers and locals with a convenient and affordable means to travel from one side of the city to the other. It is also one of the easiest ways to get from the airport to the city center.
According to the Edinburgh trams website, the journey time is roughly 35 minutes from the airport to the city. Of course, this depends on exactly where you are getting off, but this is a good guide for those planning their journeys.
The tram leaves the airport more or less every 7 minutes from 6.18am. Of course, as with all public transport, there may sometimes be slight delays but on the whole, the trams are extremely reliable in terms of timings. They run all through the day and evening until 10.48pm. There are tram stops all across the city center, from Haymarket to York Place. Take a look at the map below to see the various stops:
Tram fares are £6 for an adult single or £3 for a child. However, if you are going to be travelling back to the airport at the end of your stay, it makes sense for you to buy a return which is £8.50 for an adult and £4.50 for a child. It is best to buy your ticket before you board. Each tram stop has a ticket machine which you can use credit or debit cards with. You can also use coins, however no change is given. The machines do not accept cash.
The trams are our favorite way to get to the city center due to the comfort and efficiency. It is just so easy to just hop on the tram at the airport. Simply follow the signs when you leave arrivals, and two minutes later you can be on one! They have lots of luggage racks for backpacks and bags, dedicated space for wheel chairs and are low floor. The only cons of the trams is that they finish running between 22.48 and 06.18. If you are arriving into Edinburgh between these hours, you will have to try one of the other means of transport mentioned here.
Edinburgh’s bus system is an absolutely fantastic way to travel across the city. They are comfortable, convenient, affordable and the bus network is spread right across the city. During your stay, be sure to take advantage of the bus system to take short trips just outside of Edinburgh. Getting the bus from the airport is also a brilliant way to travel to the city center.
There are a couple of different options. The one that we recommend is the Airlink Bus number 100. This takes you right into the heart of the city, to Waverly Bridge, just off Princes Street. It has a number of stops throughout the city. Be sure to check the Lothian Buses website to see the exact stops.
The journey time is roughly 30 minutes from the aiport to the last stop on Waverly Bridge. However, it is important to mention that the bus has to stop for a lot more traffic than trams. Therefore, if you are travelling during rush hour, please allow a lot longer. Edinburgh traffic, like most major cities, can be an absolute nightmare! Rush hour is normally from 7:30am to 9:30am and again from 3:30pm to 6pm.
The bus leaves the airport roughly every 10 minutes between 4.30am and 1am, so you won’t have to wait too long before making your way into the city. Between the hours of 1am and 4am, it leaves every half hour.
You can book tickets before you arrive on the Edinburgh Airport transfer website. However, you can also buy your ticket when boarding the bus from the driver. Please note that the driver cannot accept card so make sure you use exact cash for the exact amount- they do not give change. Just get on the bus at the front door and ask the driver for the ticket you want. Hand them the money and you will receive your ticket in return.
The cost of a bus ticket is £4.50 for an adult single, and £7.50 for an adult return. There are also reductions for children.
When returning to Edinburgh airport by bus from the city center, it is important you go to a bus stop that the Airlink stops at. We have heard stories of travelers running late for their flight, waiting at a bus stop, only for the bus to drive straight past them. If in doubt, just get the bus from Waverly Bridge, which is the first stop on the return journey.
Please note that the bus does not run between 1am and 4.30am from the airport, or midnight to 4am from Waverly Bridge back to the airport.
Yes. The Airlink 100 schedule is 24 hours. Just remember, they are slightly less regular between 1am and 4am, coming every 30 minutes. You can also use the N22 from the airport. This is a night bus and follows a similar route. This bus continues on past the city centre, so be sure to keep a look at for the Waverly stop. If in doubt, ask the driver (not while he is driving though!). It runs 7 days a week and costs £3 for a ticket.
The journey time from Edinburgh airport to the city center takes approximately 25 minutes. However, during busy, rush hour times, this can take a lot longer. Therefore, journey times can sometimes be slightly longer.
Taking a cab from the airport to the city is probably the most comfortable way to get to Edinburgh. However, it is also one of the most expensive. A taxi from Edinburgh airport to the centre will cost approximately £20. If you are a solo traveller, you may not want to part with this much money, given you can get a return ticket on the bus or tram for less than half of this. But if you are in a group, a taxi can become cost efficient when you split the cost by 5 or 6 people.
When you come through to arrivals at the airport after you have collected your luggage, look up at the sign. Straight away you should find one with an arrow pointing you in the right direction. If you follow these arrows you will eventually come to the airport pick up area, just outside the aiport. This area can be quite chaotic, with people picking up and dropping off travelers, and various ques for taxis all over.
You can get a standard airport taxi which are the normal black cabs you see all over the city or an airport private hire taxi. You will see ques for both once you enter the pick up area. If you are arriving at a busy time, the ques can take quite a while. So, even though a taxi can take less time to get into the city center, as it doesn’t stop to let other people off, you may lose this time by waiting in line. Nevertheless, a taxi is a nice way to travel in style and comfort to your next destination. Often you may get a taxi driver who can answer any questions you may have about the city, including some of the free things to do in Edinburgh. It is also a convenient way to travel if you are arriving once other modes of transport has finished.
We often get asked if it is possible to walk, or even hitch hike from the airport to the city centre. Whilst it is possible, we don’t recommend it. This is for a number of reasons. First of all, the roads are mostly motorways, so it is not particularly safe to be walking beside them. Many of them don’t even have a pedestrian pavement. So, for this reason, we say please don’t walk! As for hitchhiking, Edinburgh itself isn’t exactly famous for this past time, so we don’t recommend it. It has been done, but we have also heard from travellers who were stuck for hours waiting to be picked up. Despite this, the rest of Scotland can be a great place to hitchhike!
So there you have it. Our guide to reaching the city centre from the airport. We hope you find it useful and you are able to use it to maximse your time and enjoyment in the beautiful city of Edinburgh. Have you taken a different mode of transport from the airport? Let us know about your experience!