Why go to Edinburgh (South Queensferry)?
One of the most stunningly situated capital cities in Europe; world-famous arts festival in August
Wet and cold from November to April
Scotland's capital is beautiful, the people are welcoming and the surrounding countryside is breathtaking
Edinburgh (South Queensferry) Cruise Port Facilities?
In Leith, the purpose-built cruise terminal offers tourist information, while the adjacent Ocean Terminal Shopping Centre has a taxi rank, bus stop with service to Edinburgh and ATM, in addition to a variety of retailers, a large cinema, cafes and restaurants -- some with stunning views out across the Firth of Forth. The Royal Yacht Britannia, the Queen's retired floating palace, is moored on Leith's waterfront (entry via the shopping center) and is worth a visit.
At Rosyth, there's a shuttle to the terminal building (two minutes), where volunteers provide information. This port has no shops, although souvenirs are available. The terminal lounge has restrooms and free Wi-Fi, and taxis are available. There's no ATM, but you'll find them, as well as shopping, in Dunfermline (15 minutes on the free shuttle service). Security does not allow passengers to depart the port area on foot.
South Queensferry doesn't have a terminal building, but the little town of South Queensferry is a few hundred yards from the pier. There, you'll find an ATM at Clydesdale Bank on High Street, as well as restaurants, shops and pubs. A welcome team at the pier can provide you with transport information, and a list of cafes with free Wi-Fi.
Good to Know?
Rain. It rains a lot, which gives the city some of its allure -- the misty, cobbled alleyways, the gorgeous green gardens -- but you will get wet.
Speaking of cobblestones, you'll encounter plenty of them in Old Town, so good walking shoes are a must.
Be careful when crossing streets because the Scottish drive on the left-hand side of the road. It's easy to forget that you need to look in the opposite direction for oncoming traffic. Same goes for mass transit. You need to board on the opposite side of the street from what you may be used to.
Many streets change names from block to block, so don't let this mix you up.
In July and August, especially out of town, Scotland is plagued by small biting insects called midges, so take plenty of insect repellent.
On Foot: Once in central Edinburgh, you can walk anywhere. Old Town and New Town are separated by the easily traversed Princes Street Gardens.
By Taxi: Central Taxis offers 24/7 service, and cabs can be booked in advance (0131 229 2468). Another option is City Cabs (0131 228 1211). Edinburgh Taxi also accepts bookings for mini-buses and chauffeur-driven cars (0131 610 1234).
By Bus: Buses are easy to figure out, and they're trackable on smartphones. The Leith port terminal is also a terminal point for several bus routes. Drivers do not make change; plan on exact fares. It's also possible to purchase a day pass (available from ticket machines at tram stops, from the tourism center, or by downloading an app from Lothian Buses) for unlimited combined travel on both buses and trams. For maps and timetables, check the Lothian Buses website.
By Tram: Trams travel in New Town on Princes Street and head as far as the airport, with many stops along the way. You need to buy a ticket from the machines, located at each stop, before boarding. It's also possible to purchase a day pass (available only at tram stops or from the tourism center) for unlimited combined travel on buses and trams. For information, check Edinburgh Trams.
By Car: Enterprise has a lot near the Leith port terminal (0131 555 0555). Other Edinburgh rental agencies include Thrifty (0131 337 1319) and Hertz (0843 309 3026). If you rent a car, remember that you need to drive on the left in Scotland.
Currency & Best Way to Get Money?
Currency is the pound Sterling. Scotland has its own bank notes, but they're interchangeable with English notes and have the same monetary value. For currency-conversion rates, check www.xe.com or www.oanda.com.
Old Town, New Town and the port area in Leith all contain plenty of ATMs.
If you are visiting from outside the European Union, you can get back some of the 17.5 percent VAT (value-added tax) you pay on certain goods. Not all shops participate, and there's a minimum purchase level. You need to have your passport and fill in a form at the time of purchase. Present the forms to customs officials at the final departure from the European Union, but keep in mind the agents probably will ask to see the goods. Visit www.globalrefund.com for more information.
Editor's Note: ATMs in Scotland require a PIN to be no more than four digits long, so plan ahead. Also, many display only numerals on the keypad. For pin codes that include letters, commit them to memory or jot down the translation to numbers.
English is spoken -- with a Scottish accent. This is fairly gentle in Edinburgh but much stronger in Glasgow, should you choose to take a daytrip there.
Where You're Docked?
Smaller ships (less than 50,000 tons) usually dock in Leith, while large ships stop at Rosyth or South Queensferry.
Leith is a historic port that's a 30-minute bus ride, a 15-minute taxi ride or one-hour walk from central Edinburgh. Located two miles from the foot of the Royal Mile, this is the closest and most convenient place to dock for sightseeing in Edinburgh.
Rosyth is on the other side of the Firth of Forth estuary, 15 miles from the Royal Mile, and has no direct public transportation, aside from taxis. For some ships, the port operates a free hop-on, hop-off service, which takes you to Dunfermline and North Queensferry. Or, you can opt to take a taxi to central Edinburgh (30 minutes). There's also a train from Dunfermline (35 minutes) or a bus (five-minute taxi ride to the stop; 40 minutes to central Edinburgh).
South Queensferry is a tender port, with good transportation connections; it's located 10 miles from the Royal Mile. You'll be anchored with great views of the Forth Bridge. Once ashore at Hawes Pier, you can take a private shuttle service directly from the pier to the city center (30 minutes), or opt for a public bus (40 minutes), train (10-minute walk to the station before a 20-minute train ride) or taxi (30 minutes).