National Express provides bus service to and from London and other major towns and cities. The main terminal, St. Andrew Square bus station, is a short walk north of Waverley Station, immediately east of St. Andrew Square. Long-distance coaches must be booked in advance online, by phone, or at the terminal. Edinburgh is approximately eight hours by bus from London.
Lothian Buses provides much of the service between Edinburgh and the Lothians and conducts day tours around and beyond the city. First runs buses out of Edinburgh into the surrounding area. Megabus offers dirt-cheap fares to selected cities if you book in advance.
First (0871/2002233. www.firstgroup.com.)
Lothian Buses (0131/555–6363. www.lothianbuses.com.)
Megabus (0900/160–0900. www.megabus.com.)
National Express (08717/818178. www.nationalexpress.co.uk.)
Lothian Buses is the main operator within Edinburgh. You can buy tickets on the bus. The Day Ticket (£3.50), allowing unlimited one-day travel on the city's buses, can be purchased in advance or from the driver on any Lothian bus (exact fare is required when purchasing on a bus). The Ridacard (for which you'll need a photo) is valid on all buses for seven days (Sunday through Saturday night) and costs £17; the four-week Rider costs £51. Buses are great for cheap daytime travel, but in the evening you'll probably want to take a taxi.
Lothian Buses (Waverley Bridge, Old Town, Edinburgh, EH1 1BQ. 0131/555–6363. www.lothianbuses.com.)
Three centuries after the Union of Parliaments with England in 1707, Edinburgh is once again the seat of a Scottish parliament. A new parliament building, designed by the late Spanish architect Enric Miralles, stands adjacent to the Palace of Holyroodhouse, at the foot of the Royal Mile.
The first-time visitor to Scotland may be surprised that the country still has a capital city at all, perhaps believing the seat of government was drained of its resources and power after the union with England—but far from it. The Union of Parliaments brought with it a set of political partnerships—such as separate legal, ecclesiastical, and educational systems—that Edinburgh assimilated and integrated with its own surviving institutions.
Scotland now has significantly more control over its own affairs than at any time since 1707, and the 129 Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs), of whom 40% are women, have extensive powers in Scotland over education, health, housing, transportation, training, economic development, the environment, and agriculture. Foreign policy, defense, and economic policy remain under the jurisdiction of the U.K. government in London. A referendum, set for September 2014, will let voters decide whether Scotland should remain in the United Kingdom or go it alone as an independent state.