How to Get to Edinburgh Festival Fringe

by Jessica

May 6th, 2010

fringe4No matter where you’re coming from to go to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, you have one thing in common with everyone else who will be there – you need to figure out how to get to Edinburgh from where you are. If you’re coming from overseas, that could mean flying to Edinburgh Airport and getting a shuttle into the city. If you’re coming from England or Scotland, that could mean taking a train or coach to Edinburgh.

Whichever method of transportation – or combination of methods – you need to use, it’s a good idea to have as much of it sorted out before you’re supposed to leave home for the festival. This is a massive event, so it may not work to just hope that you find a train ticket or an available rental car when and where you need them.

Here are your options for how to get to Edinburgh for the Festival Fringe.

>> The 2012 Edinburgh Festival Fringe runs from 3-27 August
>> Don’t miss this Scotland travel guide

Flying to Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Those of you traveling to Edinburgh from far enough away will need to factor in at least one plane trip as part of your journey. So the first thing you’ll want to do is find cheap airfare to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe – and then figure out how to get to the festival from the airport. The easiest option is to fly into Edinburgh International Airport, but if you can’t find a cheap flight to Edinburgh then you’ll want to expand your search and see if there’s a cheaper option into another nearby city.

When you look at different airports other than Edinburgh, however, it’s important to keep in mind how you’re going to get from the airport into Edinburgh to get to the festival. Is there good public transportation, like a train line or a shuttle service, or will you have to rent a car or take a taxi for part of the way? What will your ground transportation cost you? If the ground transport costs more than what you’re saving in airfare by flying into a different airport, then it’s probably not worth it.

>> More information about the airports to use for the Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Taking the Train to Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Edinburgh has a large train station and serves as a major regional rail hub, so once you’re on the British Isles it’s pretty easy to get to Edinburgh by train. The main station is called Edinburgh Waverley – this is the station with regular service from London’s King’s Cross station.

The train trip from London to Edinburgh by train is about 4.5 hours. From Manchester, it’s about 3 hours; from Newcastle, Inverness, or Aberdeen, it’s about 2 hours; and from Glasgow it’s less than an hour’s train ride to Edinburgh. Waverley station is right in the city center, so it’s also easy to get from the station itself to anywhere else in Edinburgh by walking (if you’re not too far from your hotel or hostel) or taking a city bus.

Taking the Bus to Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Edinburgh is a big enough destination year-round that you will find coach services making regular trips into the city – but during the Festival Fringe, it can be an even more appealing option. Taking the train to Edinburgh isn’t necessarily going to break the bank, but taking the bus to Edinburgh is going to be even cheaper.

There are coach services that run from major cities all over England and Scotland to Edinburgh, but keep in mind these aren’t short trips. London-Edinburgh can be around 10 hours and Manchester-Edinburgh around 7 hours, while Aberdeen and Newcastle are more in the 3-3.5 hour range from Edinburgh.

Driving to Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Getting to Edinburgh by car isn’t difficult – it’s a major city that’s well-connected to a network of highways throughout the United Kingdom. What may be challenging is finding a place to park your car once you get to Edinburgh, given that thousands upon thousands of other people will be converging on the city just as you are.

If you’re staying in Edinburgh, it might behoove you to make sure your hotel or hostel has a parking solution you can take advantage of. And if you’re renting a car to drive to the Festival Fringe and you plan go be in the city for awhile, you might consider dropping the car off at a rental office in Edinburgh and then arranging for a second rental at festival’s end to get home again.

Here are some estimates for drive times to Edinburgh, traffic jams aside:

  • London to Edinburgh – 7.5 hours
  • Birmingham to Edinburgh – 5.5 hours
  • Manchester or York to Edinburgh – 4 hours
  • Inverness to Edinburgh – 3 hours
  • Newcastle to Edinburgh – 2.5 hours
  • Aberdeen to Edinburgh – 2 hours

The Edinburgh Festivals website recommends using The AA route planner to get the most accurate driving directions from where you’re starting to the festival in Edinburgh.

Taking a Ferry to Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Edinburgh is a city on an island, so it makes sense that there would be an option to get to the city via the water. There are ferry connections to Scotland from Belgium, Amsterdam, and Belfast. The landing points for these ferries isn’t Edinburgh, but the distance from the cities where the ferries land to Edinburgh ranges from 30 minutes to 2.5 hours.

Norfolkline ferries from Belgium depart from Zeebrugge to the Scottish town of Rosyth, StenaLine ferries from Belfast arrive in Stanraer, and DFDS Seaways ferries depart from Amsterdam and arrive in Newcastle.

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