Alone in Edinburgh - some help needed!

Jan 15th, 2010, 09:41 AM
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Alone in Edinburgh - some help needed!

I've just made a last minute decision to visit Scotland, in particular Edinburgh and Glasgow for 5 days from 3 Feb to 7 Feb, and I've nothing planned, except that I know I want to visit Edinburgh to snap some pictures of the castle, the abbey and basically nature.

I will be travelling alone (and this will be my first time doing so!) and I need advice on the following:

1. I'm flying into Glasgow Prestwick at around noon. Does it make more sense for me to take the bus straight to Edinburgh and then make my way back to Glasgow for the last 2/3 nights?

2. I'm still deciding between 3 days Edinburgh and 2 days Glasgow or vice versa. Any suggestions? Is it the off-peak season now in Scotland? Im thinking of arriving in scotland and looking for accomodations, but i'm not too sure how wise this decision is.

3. Any recommendations on any pub that is not too rowdy and suitable for a single girl to eat/drink in? I'm Asian and am rather petite, and I look rather young for my age. I'm hoping to try some of the local food as well as soak in the Scottish atmosphere

4. Any recommendation on places to stay in Edinburgh (cheap and central) would be great too! I'm most likely joining a free tour in Edinburgh (heard great reviews about that) and should i get an Edinburgh pass? I know I sound ignorant but besides the National Gallery and Museum in Edinburgh, as well as the castle and abbey, are there any sites that I should probably visit in my 2/3 days in Edinburgh that I should not miss?

5. Finally, what will the weather be like in Feb? I know it'll be rainy but temperatures wise? Subzero? Should i bring my wellies?

insouciance is offline  
Jan 15th, 2010, 10:13 AM
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As far as I know there are no direct buses from Prestwick to Edinburgh. You'd either have to change coaches in central Glasgow, or take the train and change stations in central Glasgow.

I personally would spend the majority of my time in Edinburgh and just a day or two in Glasgow. Glasgow has some terrififc sites/pubs etc - but for most visitors, Edinburgh just has more.

Maybe take the bus or a train to Glasgow and stay the first night there. Then on to Edinburgh after lunch on day two. Then in the morning of your last full day head back to Glasgow and spend the night there. You'd get parts of 2 days in Glasgow, 3+ days in Edinburgh and still have easy access to Prestwick on both legs.

I wouldn't get the Edinburgh Pass, but I would look into a 4 days Great British Heritage Pass. It is only available to non-UK residents. You can buy it on-line, but it is also available at the Tourist Information centre at Waverly station.

It will cover the Abbey, Holyrood, Castle, and other sites like Linlithgow Palace which is an easy visit by train from Edinburgh.

If the weather is decent - you could take the train to Leuchars and a local bus to St Andrews for a day trip. The GBHP covers the castle and cathedral ruins there.

You can use the Tourist office to find you a place, but in Edinburgh I really like to know where I'm staying. What is your budget?

Weather could be anything (except hot ). I wouldn't bring wellies, but I would bring good substantial shoes or booties. Gloves, a scarf, warm jacket, and layers.
janisj is online now  
Jan 15th, 2010, 10:24 AM
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I would definitely take the bus to Edinburgh first and spend the three days in Edinburgh. Then take the train from Edinburgh to Glasgow for your last two days. I stayed in Edinburgh for several years some 45 years ago and there was no abbey in the place that I was aware of and I am fairly sure that that is still the case. Weather-wise, you must be prepared for everything. An umbrella is an essential. When you are in Glasgow, be sure to visit the Burrell collection in Pollock Country Park, as well as the Rennie Mcintosh collection. At that time of year, there will be unlimited accomodation available and since both cities have excellent bus service, you do not need to be in the city centre. Look at Garfield Guest House for the only one I can vouch for in Edinburgh. Google Bed and Breakfast in Edinburgh or Glasgow and you will see what I mean. Beware of pubs in Glasgow. They can be nasty places.
almcd is offline  
Jan 15th, 2010, 11:09 AM
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"was no abbey in the place that I was aware of and I am fairly sure that that is still the case.

Guess you missed it . . .

(It is back of the Palace)
janisj is online now  
Jan 15th, 2010, 11:11 AM
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Travel info. to and from Prestwick Airport is here:

You'll see that you can get a 50% discount on the rail fare if you produce your flight confirmation and photo ID.
The train runs to Glasgow Central station (takes about an hour)and you should then walk round to Queen Street station (takes about 10 minutes) for the Edinburgh train. They run every 15 minutes up to 7pm at night when it changes to one every 30 minutes. This journey takes around 45 minutes.
I'm not aware of any direct bus service between Prestwick and Edinburgh. The bus via Glasgow will take much longer than the train.
TheBigMan is online now  
Jan 15th, 2010, 11:26 AM
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Insouciance -

First - good for you!! I am also petite and look young for my age (so I understand you can be an easy target) and have done a lot of solo traveling over the years. I'm always cautious about the neighborhood, hotel, and what I share with people. For example, when dining or drinking alone and talking to the local guys "I'm traveling with my brother - he is going to join me here later..."

I was in Edinburgh a few months ago and loved it. The castle was nicer than I expected and there is a guided tour with admission that you shouldn't miss - funny, informative, and brief. Great photo ops from there.

I loved the National Gallery - it is small and won't take long and it has a really nice gift shop and cafe downstairs where you'll be comfortable lingering for a while. See if they do a tour as that would make it more interesting in the Scottish artists section I think. There was a wonderful Burns exhibit with photos and celebs and I LOVED it. Hopefully it will still be there - downstairs. I knew little about this poet but bought a book of poetry in the gift shop I was so taken...

I didn't love the shopping in Edinburgh but I am now an old lady so you may feel very differently...

I can't help you with the pub except to say Edinburgh is a very friendly, welcoming place and you will be fine.

Have fun and report back to us!!

gruezi is offline  
Jan 15th, 2010, 11:31 AM
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Of course you can go straight to Edinburgh (train would be my choice). The reason I suggested staying over in Glasgow on both ends of the visit is just to be closer to Prestwick.

If you are flying in long haul, would you want to take a train, then lug your bag to a different station and then take another hour (train journey plus waiting time in Glasgow), then transfer to your hotel --all after landing back at Prestwick?

And of course - you'd want to be in Glasgow on the last day before flying out.

Now, IF you are only flying in from the continent and jetlag/sleeplessness isn't an issue -- I personally would go straight to Edinburgh too.

Just something to think about - partly depends on how long flights affect you.
janisj is online now  
Jan 15th, 2010, 12:34 PM
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Here's the thread with a lot of Glasgow info
alihutch is offline  
Jan 15th, 2010, 12:44 PM
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And for accommodation in Edinburgh, check out the YHA hostel

....very civilised, my 27 year old single female Swiss friends stayed there on her own a couple of years ago.
alihutch is offline  
Jan 15th, 2010, 02:18 PM
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Regarding pubs, you may want to take the Edinburgh Literary Pub Tour, see

It operates only on Fridays in February. I enjoyed it very much, both for the pubs and for the light-hearted take on Scottish literary giants.

If you are visiting pubs on your own, two that are on the tour would be fine, I think, The Ensign Ewart and the Jolly Judge. I'd probably avoid The Beehive and any other pubs on the Grassmarket. I don't know the last pub that the tour currently visits; when I went on it, Milne's was the final stop.
ron is offline  
Jan 15th, 2010, 11:42 PM
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hello all,

thanks SOOOO much for the advice given! I'll be travelling in from Brussels, so I doubt there'll be much jetlag. I think I'll stick to 3 days Edinburgh and 2 days Glasgow as suggested. and since there's a discount with the train, i'll probably take the train to edinburgh and make my way down from there!

janisj, my budget is probably around 15GBP or less per night for a dorm, more if it's a private room of course. thanks for the tip on the heritage pass. If say I don't get a pass and choose to visit the attractions individually, will it amount to more than 38 pounds (the price of the 4day pass)?

thanks ron and the rest for the pub advice!
i'm also interested in trying a number of scottish food like the black buns, pies and of course haggis! any recommended place to try these food?

insouciance is offline  
Jan 16th, 2010, 01:49 AM
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Hi insouciance,
In only my second solo trip, I am not long back from Edinburgh , Glasgow and Brugges , though sadly I am neither petite nor young. Despite this, I found the people very friendly and helpful - exceptionally so!

My trip report may have some ideas for you at

If you are looking for a cheap and cheerful place in Edinburgh, I liked Merith House at Leith Links as I wanted an inexpensive private room rather than a dorm. I have enclosed my review below. But If you are a budget traveller, I like HostelWorld as you can read reviews and they offer hotels and B and B's as well.

As for the ruined Abbey behind Holyrood Palace, it is truly magnificent and ethereal. I didn't write about it in my trip report which is a regrettable oversight. It is an absolute highlight.

I am happy to answer any questions you may have based on just a week there, though a resident such as Caroline_Edinburgh will really give you expert and interesting answers.

One quick tourist recommendation is the free tour of the museum in Edinburgh.If Teresa is doing the tour that day, you will thoroughly enjoy it.


Review "I really liked it here at Merith House. Good location.Bus outside door-only 15-20 mins to town centre. Really nice managers-very friendly and helpful.Good b/Fast.TV in room.Comfy.Only thing was that the front room was a bit noisy and bright at night from the park across the road, so rooms at back may be better.But it didn't bother me much as everything else was fine. I would definitely return and recommend Merith House as a great place to stay.I'd have liked to stay longer!"
KERRYAJS1 is offline  
Jan 16th, 2010, 04:12 AM
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hello kerry, thanks for popping by

i've to admit that i was reading your trip report but have not gotten past half of it yet. I'm afraid I'm supposed to be studying for exams now and will only be able to do some serious planning in 2 weeks' time - hopefully by then accoms are not too hard to get.

as for holyrood, did you participate in the guided tour or did u just walk about yourself?
insouciance is offline  
Jan 16th, 2010, 04:37 AM
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Hi insouciance.

I just strolled through Holyrood but found the attendants very helpful and informative if you have any questions. If there is a tour, it would probably be great to do though.

I never used to do guided tours but have since found them excellent if you want more than a cursory idea of what you are seeing. Of course, time and money (if they are not free)can be a factor.

Best wishes on your exams, insouciance.Wishing you every success.
KERRYAJS1 is offline  
Jan 16th, 2010, 09:13 AM
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For Scotland you'd need the or websites. (the one linked above is for England/Wales)

Even at a hostel - your £15 per night will be awfully difficult. City centre hostels can cost nearly twice that. Really cheap ones might be very iffy.

As for the GBHP - whether it makes sense for you partly depends on if you take any day trips out of Edinburgh.

Here are admission prices (you'd pay a little less if you have a recognized student ID)

Ed. Castle - £11
Holyrood + the Queen's Gallery - £14.30
Linlithgow - £5.20
St Andrews Castle/Cathedral - £7.20
Sterling Castle (and easy day trip from either Edinburgh or Glasgow) - £9

But more than likely you'll be spending most/all of your time IN Edinburgh and Glasgow. Some covered sites like the Tenement House in Glasgow and Gladstone'sland and the Georgian House in Edinburgh, aren't open in Feb. So the GBHP might not save you any money.
janisj is online now  
Jan 16th, 2010, 10:23 AM
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"For Scotland you'd need the or websites. (the one linked above is for England/Wales)"

Oops...sorry....don't tell anyone they'll chuck me out! But my Swiss pal did stay in this one...

and thought it was very good

Also know someone who stayed here...

and don't think that she had any problems..

"Sterling Castle" ...I'm sure it is sterling, but it's spelt Stirling....

All Glasgow museums and galleries are free....(someone one will find an exception now, but most are!)

Glaswegians are VERY friendly and chatty.....
alihutch is offline  
Jan 16th, 2010, 12:36 PM
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oops - Stirling Castle!!!!

Of course - (And I've even corrected folks over that )

I could say it was a mere typo but the 'i' and 'e' are far apart on the keyboard. I know Stirling Castle like the back of my hand so I have NO idea where that came from??

My guess - Just a senior moment . . . .
janisj is online now  
Jan 16th, 2010, 12:43 PM
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Oh - I'd book the Central Hostel ASAP. I just plugged in 3-5 Feb and got £58 total/ £19.33 per night for a dorm room which is excellent. Especially since their twin rooms cost £95/night.
janisj is online now  
Jan 16th, 2010, 01:35 PM
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Thanks for the tips guys, some more questions below:

1. I just checked the train from Prestwick to Edinburgh Waverley and it's £14.60 - does the 50% mean that the ticket will be £7.30 then? Also, I see that I've to change a train, and the scotrail website states walking time as about 40 minutes. Is that a generous estimate? This is because I'm rather bad with directions and am afraid I might require more than 40 minutes to hunt for the train station.

2. I'll be getting into Edinburgh at about 3pm, with just enough time to check into the hostel. I've checked and most of the attractions close at 5pm - with just 1 hour before the last admission, where should I head to first? I'm also interested in doing some shopping heh What time do shops close in Edinburgh? And any residents kind enough to tell me what time does the sun set nowadays? Does it get dark around 4pm?

3. As for the next day, I'll be taking a 3 hour city tour at about 11am - any suggestions on what to do before that?

4. Oh and for the National Gallery of Scotland, am I able to purchase any audio guide of sorts or is there a guided tour?

5. I haven't had time to really check but some of my photog friends have told me that Calton Hill is a good spot for capturing Edinburgh. How far is it from Edinburgh Castle? (for me to get a rough idea how far I've to travel)

6. Thanks for the heads up on the 2 pubs Ron. Any suggestions on where else to eat and spend my evenings?

More questions to follow later since I haven't done my research on the other attractions!
insouciance is offline  
Jan 16th, 2010, 01:51 PM
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Also, I see that I've to change a train, and the scotrail website states walking time as about 40 minutes. Is that a generous estimate? This is because I'm rather bad with directions and am afraid I might require more than 40 minutes to hunt for the train station.

It actually takes about 5 minutes to walk between the stations or there is a free bus that connects them as well.
alihutch is offline  

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