Edinburgh has become a popular tourist destination for good reason. It has lots of tourist attractions, history, festivals, plus it’s a good gateway to many other beautiful places in Scotland. We seem to visit Edinburgh about once a year. Not just to see the sights but we have some family nearby too.
While the airport may not be centrally located, it does have several public transportation options that are quick, easy, and convenient. In this post, I will tell you more about how to get from Edinburgh Airport to the city center and help you choose the best one for you.
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About Edinburgh Airport
Edinburgh Airport (EDI) is located about eight miles from the city center. While it is Scotland’s busiest airport, there is only one terminal. During my visits, I have been very impressed with the efficiency at this airport. For its current size, they handle a lot of passengers, and they do it well.
Fun Fact: Edinburgh Airport was actually a key military base in World War I.
Edinburgh Airport Transportation Options
From Edinburgh Airport, you basically have three choices to get to the Edinburgh city center – bus, tram, or car. All three could be good options depending on your circumstances. In the table below, I have put together a quick summary of the different ways to travel from Edinburgh Airport. Each option is examined in detail below.
|Edinburgh Airport Transportation Option||Cost||Journey Time||Frequency||Operating Hours||How to Book in Advance|
|Airlink Bus||£4.50 for one-way or £7.50 for a round-trip||30 minutes||10 minutes (or 15 minutes from 1:00 am to 4:30 am)||24 hours||Click here to book the Airlink Bus.|
|Tram||£6.00 for one-way or £8.50 for a round-trip||35 minutes||every 7 minutes||From 6:18 am to 10:48 pm||Click here to buy a tram ticket.|
|Taxi||£25.00 and up depending on drop off location||30 minutes and up depending on drop off location||On demand, there may be a line if you don't book in advance||24 hours||Click here to book a car service with Suntransfers.|
Edinburgh Airport Airlink Bus
There is an express bus service that runs from Edinburgh Airport to Waverley Bridge which is right next to Waverly Station, the main train station in Edinburgh. It runs every 10 minutes (or 15 minutes from 1:00 am to 4:30 am), 24 hours a day, and only takes 30 minutes.
The bus also stops at West End, Haymarket Station, Wester Coates, Murrayfield, Western Corner, Edinburgh Zoo, Drum Brae, Maybury, Airport Hotel. See a map of the route here.
The buses seemed brand new to me and have some nice features like a dedicated luggage area with CCTV security, power points, USB charging, and free WiFi. They are also fully wheelchair accessible.
Tickets for the Edinburgh Airport bus are £4.50 for one-way or £7.50 for a round-trip (tickets for children are reduced). You can buy the tickets online here. The tickets are valid for one year from the date you purchase them. Tickets can also be purchased at the airport or on the bus using a contactless payment method like Apple or Google Pay or a contactless debit or credit card.
At the airport, you can find the bus at Stance D look for the “Airlink 100 to City Centre.” If you want to take the bus from the city center to the airport, you can pick it up at Waverley Bridge which is right outside Waverley Station if you exit from the upper level.
Note: Airlink night buses are not available December 25th – 26th or January 1st – 2nd.
Edinburgh Airport Tram
In 2014, a tram was added as another option to travel from Edinburgh Airport to the city. The tram runs from the Airport to where York Place meets Broughton Street (about a 10-minute walk from Edinburgh Waverley Station).
It leaves every seven minutes from 6:18 am to 10:48 pm and the entire journey only takes 35 minutes. There are 15 stops including Edinburgh Gateway, Murrayfield Stadium, Edinburgh Park, Haymarket, St Andrew Square (for Waverley Station), and Princes Street. See a map of the route here.
The trams are modern and clean. There are luggage racks for your bags, and they have CCTV cameras for your safety. You can track the journey’s progress on monitors and there are audio announcements of each stop. The trams are fully accessible too.
It’s a little more expensive than the bus, but still very affordable at £6.00 for one-way or £8.50 for a round-trip (tickets for children are reduced). Tickets can be purchased from a machine that is available at every tram stop. Credit Cards and cash are accepted but no change is given. When you by a round-trip ticket, the return date is open and you can use it whenever you like.
Be sure to keep your ticket when riding the tram because if you are asked to show it and can’t, you will be charged £10.
The tram stop is located on the east side of the terminal, just follow the covered walkway.
Taxi from Edinburgh Airport to the City
Like any other airport, there is the option to take a taxi. It takes about 30 minutes to get to the city center by car and you should expect to pay at least £25.00 depending on traffic conditions and final destination.
Even though it is much more expensive than the Airlink Bus or the Airport Tram, it could be the best option if you have a lot of luggage and/or your hotel is not close to one of the bus or tram stops. It could be a hassle to take the bus or tram and then have to switch to another bus, train, or taxi. Taxi service door-to-door makes life easy!
You can grab a taxi at the terminal but it might be easier to book one in advance. I like Suntransfers because they offer high-quality door-to-door transfers at reasonable prices. You can choose either a car or a van. The quoted price includes unlimited waiting time so you don’t have to worry if your flight is delayed. They don’t charge fees for using credit cards and tolls and gratuities are also included. If plans change, it’s free to cancel up to 48 hours in advance (or for a small fee you can add the option to cancel up to the time of your transfer).
While it is easy to get from Edinburgh Airport to the city center 24 hours a day, you need to keep in mind that if you are planning to take a train (or bus) to another city it may be an issue late at night. For example, the last train going to Galashiels (from Edinburgh Waverley) is 11:54 pm.
It’s something to keep in mind when booking your flight. If you arrive late, you may not be able to catch a train to get to your final destination. In this case, you have two options either book a car service (like Suntransfers) or cab to your destination or a hotel for one night. (Click here to check out the hotel options near Edinburgh Airport).
Edinburgh Airport Bus vs Airport Tram
Both the Edinburgh Airport Bus and the Airport Tram are affordable public transportation options. The cost difference between the two isn’t much, so you may be wondering which one to choose.
In most cases, I would say that the bus is fine and there is no reason to spend the extra (small amount). The one reason I would say you would need to take the tram is if you only have cash to pay the fare. (Note: While cash is accepted for the tram, they do not give change).
Also, while the routes for both the bus and tram are similar, there are some differences. If your accommodation is closer to a stop for the tram then it might make sense to take that.
Getting Picked Up at Edinburgh Airport
If you are lucky enough to have friends or family in the area that can come and pick you up from the airport, be aware that unless they pick you up from the Long Stay Parking lot there is a fee. The fee depends on how long they have to wait for you. It’s £4 for the first 15 minutes and £7 for 15 – 30 minutes.
If you want to avoid the fee, have them wait somewhere near the airport. Then let them know when you are waiting for the shuttle to the Long Stay parking lot. They can pick you up for free there but they are only allowed 10 minutes for free. After 10 minutes, the charge is £3.00.
Note: There is a fee of £2.00 for dropping off on the ground floor of the multi-story garage next to the terminal. To avoid that charge, you would need to be dropped off at the long-stay parking lot and then take the free shuttle to the terminal building.
Traveling back to Edinburgh Airport
You have the same options when traveling back to the airport in Edinburgh as discussed above. Just remember that if there are delays it could cause you to miss your flight, so it’s always a good idea to allow extra time. If you get to Edinburgh Airport early, you can relax in one of their two lounges. (Note: These lounges are for Priority Pass members. Click here to find out about becoming a Priority Pass member. If you are not a member, day passes are available subject to availability).
The Best Way to Get to Edinburgh City Center from Edinburgh Airport
Luckily, Edinburgh airport has several excellent transportation options. Personally, I think the Airlink bus is best because it is the cheapest way to get to Edinburgh from the airport. Plus, it’s fast, convenient, and comfortable. (Click here to book your Edinburgh Airlink Bus tickets in advance). Still, it might make sense to book a taxi depending on how much luggage you have and your final destination.
What do you think is the best way to go from Edinburgh Airport to the city center?
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Expert Tips for Traveling between Edinburgh Airport and the City Center
- Both the Airlink Bus and Airport Tram are reliable and affordable ways to travel from Edinburgh Airport to the city.
- Book your transportation in advance so that you have one less thing to worry about and you avoid lines if there are any.
- Be careful about booking flights that land late at night if you need to make a connection to another train. You may need to book a hotel if you get to the train station after the last train is gone.
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