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10 Useful Things To Know Before You Visit Edinburgh
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10 Useful Things To Know Before You Visit Edinburgh

Picture of Tori Chalmers
Updated: 26 March 2018
Edinburgh — Athens of the North and Scotland’s beloved capital is a resplendent land riddled with history, art, adventure, stories and Scots! Whether a native, returning visitor, first-timer, or paying a flying whistle-stop visit, there is an unspoken code to keep in mind. Here, Culture Trip divulges the top 10 useful tips worth knowing before you visit Edinburgh. Oh, and don’t worry — ‘Glasgow kisses’ are few and far between.

English Money Will Do Just Fine

Unlike the other way around, folks who visit Edinburgh with English pounds will not be ridiculed and ostracized; if it looks legitimate, it will do the job. In other words, there is no need to quote comedian Michael McIntyre with the line ‘I think you’ll find pal, that’s legal tender’. The Scots tend to pick their battles and ‘dinnae waste a penny candle huntin’ fur a bawbee’, meaning they work on getting their priorities right.

British Pounds | © quicksandala/Pixabay
British Pounds | © quicksandala/Pixabay

Don’t Mention The Trams…Sore Subject

Whatever you do, steer clear of ‘tram talk’, especially when in the company of taxi drivers. An incredibly raw subject, the trams may be fun to ride but are undeniably considered a grave inconvenience for drivers, who are now forced to seek alternative routes. On a lighter note, they are handy to hop on and off and do take you straight to the airport, offering a swift and easy exit.

Edinburgh Trams… | © Chris Fleming/Flickr
Edinburgh Trams… | © Chris Fleming/Flickr

Yes, You Will See Kilts Walking Down The Street

Try not to stare and just accept the fact that kilts are an integral part of Scottish culture and heritage. Still, this does not seem to resonate amongst those with a fixation for lads and lassies in kilts. For some, the thought of folk strolling through the city streets wearing a T-shirt and crisscross tartan skirt is quite the spectacle; to the Scots, though, this is a normality, so try not to bat an eyelid.

Be Prepared For The Scott Monument

The Scott Monument, slapped bang smack in the Princes Street Gardens opposite Waverley Train Station, is a menacingly handsome monument marveled by all who set eyes upon it. 60 meters tall and 287 (precariously placed) steps make this beauty the largest memorial to an author in the world. This being said — do not underestimate it. The climb is drastically steep, the walls ridiculously narrow, the light almost non-existent and the height feels much higher than it looks. Once more, nothing describes that daunting moment when two brave individuals have to negotiate who should let go of the handrail — someone has to. Still, once the bout of vertigo diminishes and the mind clears, the view and history is a welcomed distraction.

Don’t Always Expect Your History Questions To Be Answered

Edinburgh, like the rest of Scotland, goes hand in hand with a colorful and lengthy past. With this in mind, try not to expect those passing by to stop all they are doing and provide you with an extensive history lesson. Do you have any idea how long that could take? Next time you have a hankering to ask ‘how old is this building?’, think before you speak, or alternatively, try taking a closer look to see if the building is marked. At the end of the day, settle with the notion that everything is either ‘pretty old’ or ‘extremely old’.

A Very Leith Christmas | © Akio Takemoto/Flickr
A Very Leith Christmas | © Akio Takemoto/Flickr

But Don’t Worry About A Glasgow Kiss

Despite the fact that the average Scot may not be enthused about being quizzed on the date, age, and measurements of everything to do with Edinburgh, it is important to note that they don’t bite. Scottish folk, in general, are extremely approachable and exude a chipper essence filled with banter and an infinite supply of laughs. That being said, they tend to be as witty as they are friendly, so beware of being lured into a trap as a result of gullibility. As far as a Glasgow Kiss or head-butt is concerned, these instances, thankfully, are a rarity.

Edinburgh Festival Fringe | © Laura Suarez/Flickr
Edinburgh Festival Fringe | © Laura Suarez / Flickr

If You Listen To A Bagpiper, Tip Them

Do you really think that bagpipers are playing a Scottish tune just to serenade you and make your day? The bagpiper, alluring in appearance and captivating in sound, is a deftly skilled musician worthy of praise and deserving of monetary support. They tend to be dispersed throughout the city amidst the New Town and Old, so don’t be alarmed and instead, delight in their talent.

Bagpipers | Moyan Brenn/Flickr
Bagpipers | Moyan Brenn/Flickr

Battered Mars Bars And Haggis Actually Taste Delicious — Try Them

Some love these treats, and others hate it. Either way, it is only fitting to try haggis and a deep-fried Mars Bar when visiting Scotland’s capital. From fish and chip shops to fine dining, there is no need to travel far in order to find these inventive dishes. Although somewhat questionable food choices, they are actually bursting with flavor and delight. Think of it as truly immersive culinary adventure; if the taste buds simply won’t allow it, then at least sample the best produce from Scotland’s natural larder at any local restaurant.

Embrace Fringe Festival Crowds In August

No city does ‘Fringe’ better than Edinburgh. The largest open access arts festival in the world, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe is a truly unique and mesmerizing experience. However, those who feel anxious around crowds should be warned that, during August especially, Edinburgh is full of them. Not to worry though, for the crowds tend to be in high spirits after seeing shows, so embrace it and elbow your way through. Oh, and whatever you do, take the flyer, leaflet, banana or any other item that Fringe performers may be offering. If not, be warned — you will be ridiculed and heckled by the ominous mass of crowds.

Royal Mile At Festival Fringe | © Matito/Flickr
Royal Mile At Festival Fringe | © Matito/Flickr

Please (PLEASE) Do Not Ask A Scot If They Have Seen Braveheart

As tempting as it may be, the question ‘Have you seen Braveheart?’ should be considered socially unacceptable when on Scottish soil. Just go with the notion that despite the answer, you will not feel any personal gain or divine sense of being from hearing whether or not a Scottish person has seen the movie.

My Braveheart | © Loren Kerns/Flickr
My Braveheart | © Loren Kerns/Flickr