Updated: Feb 6, 2020
In my previous blog I offered some advice about going ashore for Glasgow. Today I'm going to talk about Edinburgh.
Being the capital and prime Scottish attraction it obviously sees a lot more tourists than say Glasgow. At times there can regularly be three cruise ships disgorging up to ten thousand people into an already full city. Add to that the "Festival" in July/August and the way you tackle going ashore needs to change.
First, almost everyone goes ashore. The anchorages are OK but this is not the Caribean. Ashore either at Newhaven or South Queensferry is a bus trip up to Edinburgh. Smaller ships can berth at Leith close to the Royal Yacht Britannia otherwise it's a bus up to the city.
Let me deal with July/August first. The city is jammed with people. The bus, whether it's cruise ship excursion, shuttle or local service (Lothian Buses) will take you right into the city.
Usually the excursion buses try and do a little tour but congestion and road closures preclude any real tour. So in the end you will be dropped either at St Andrew's Square or Regent Road in the New Town and left to your own devices. A booked excursion to the Castle will take you to Johnstone Terrace (just below the Castle) and then a climb up to the Castle itself. The tour of the Castle takes about two hours but with ten thousand other visitors that can be tricky.
A booked walking tour will concentrate on the Royal Mile area but again crowds make a meaningfull experience almost impossible.
Even the very experienced open top "Hop on Hop off" buses struggle. The one hour fifteen minute trip can stretch to over three hours. However the live English speaking guides are great (remember to tip). But at $20 they're good value. Every ten minutes and leave from Waverely Bridge next to Princess st, The Station, Scott Monument.
For the discerning traveller in July and August, Go North.
Head over the bridges toward St Andrews and the "Neuk" of Fife. Little known fact: Scottish strawberries and raspberries are the best in the world (unbiased opinion) and Fife is the epicentre of the growing trade. They're sold at the roadside and ready to eat.
St Andrews, yes its the home of golf it's also Scotland's oldest University and site of the Cathedral. twenty minutes away is the world's best fish and chip shop in the fishing village of Crail Anstruther.
On the way back to the ship stop off at Culross, ancient Scottish town and used as backdrop for the Outlander TV series.
Book a private driver guided tour.