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Edinburgh

Edinburgh will charm you with its stately cliff top castle, medieval architecture, hilly landscape and lively atmosphere. This city is also a great starting point for a trip to the mysterious lochs, green valleys and rugged coastline that Scotland is famous for.

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  • Before you leave Canada

    Entry requirements

    A valid Canadian passport is required for Canadians intending to visit the United Kingdom. The passport should be valid for at least the expected duration of stay in the country. For all other nationalities, consult your consulate or tourist board for details. You can also visit www.voyage.gc.ca for up-to-date information.

    Baggage

    Please refer to aircanada.com for baggage information.

    Airport check-in

    It is recommended that you present yourself at the airport counter of the airline indicated on your voucher 3 hours prior to departure. Air Canada or Air Canada Vacations representatives will be available starting at 5 a.m.

    During your stay

    City highlights

    Today, Edinburgh is most famous for its excellent cultural festival. The Edinburgh Festival is actually several festivals in one: films, books, comedy, drama, classical music, dance and more.

    Edinburgh is a city that lends itself to walking. The lively capital is home to the National Galleries of Scotland and its Old Town and New Town sport moody cobbled alleys, elegant streetscapes, handsome squares and placid parks.

    Nearby attractions include Linlithgow to the west, where Mary Queen of Scots was born; the rolling hillsides of the Borders to the south; and the coastal Kingdom of Fife to the east, where St. Andrews’ famous golf course awaits.

    Getting around

    Taxi

    You can hail a taxi or pick one up at a taxi stand. Meters begin at £1.45 in the day and a typical trek across town might cost about £6. Taxi depots are at High Street near North Bridge, Waverley and Haymarket stations, Hanover Street, North Street, Andrew Street and Lauriston Place. Fares are displayed in the front of the taxi and charges are posted, including extra fees for night drivers or destinations outside the city limits. You can also call a taxi. Try City Cabs at 0131 228 1211 or Central Radio Taxis at 0131 229 2468.

    Buses

    As there is no underground or subway in Edinburgh and only limited commuter train service, the city's numerous buses provide the chief method of public transportation. There are lots of them and most seem to go down Princes Street at some point on their route. Fares depend on the distance travelled, with the adult one-way (single) minimum fare (£1) covering the central Edinburgh districts. Children 5 to 15 are charged a flat rate of 60p, but children 13 to 15 are expected to carry a teen card (available in bus Travelshops – see below) as proof of age. Children 4 and under ride free.

    If you plan on taking multiple trips in one day, purchase a Dayticket that allows unlimited travel on city buses for one day at a cost of £2.30. Child Daytickets cost £2.

    Be advised that bus drivers will not make change, so carry the correct amount in coins. Prices are subject to change without notice. Visitors can buy tickets and get further information in the city centre at the Waverley Bridge Travelshop, open Monday to Saturday, 8:15 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday, 9:30 a.m. to 5:15 p.m., or at Hanover Street Travelshop, open Monday to Saturday, 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. For details on fares and timetables, call 0131 555 6363 or visit lothianbuses.com.

    Shopping

    New Town's Princes Street is a primary shopping artery in the Scottish capital. Old Town's Royal Mile is the place for Scottish souvenirs, whether tartan or trinkets. Unique gifts are perhaps best found at the shops in the city's various national galleries or the one in the Museum of Scotland.

    Shopping hours in central Edinburgh are generally from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Wednesday and on Friday and Saturday. On Thursday, many shops remain open until 7 or 8 p.m. On Sunday, shops open at 11 a.m. or noon and close at around 5 p.m. Curiously, shops in the city centre tend to close earlier than the shopping malls in outlying districts.

    Take along your passport when shopping in case you make a purchase that entitles you to a VAT (value-added tax) refund.

    Dining

    Edinburgh boasts some of the best restaurants in the country. You'll find an array of contemporary Scottish restaurants, French, fish and brasserie-style eateries, along with cuisine from around the world, particularly Indian and Thai food. Vegetarian options are pretty good, too.

    Scotland's reputation for excellent fresh produce is growing, so look out for the following in season: shellfish such as langoustines, oysters, mussels and scallops; locally landed finned fish such as halibut, bream and sea bass; and lamb, Aberdeen Angus or highland beef.

    Remember, a majority of the restaurants close in the afternoon, so don't plan to eat lunch too late in the day; bars on the premises may keep longer hours. Many restaurants are also closed on either Sunday or Monday, sometimes both. But during the annual Edinburgh Festival from late July to the end of August, many also offer extended hours. Because of the number of visitors to the city, it’s a good idea to reserve tables in advance.

    For ideas on dining options, buy The List magazine's comprehensive Eating & Drinking Guide, an annually updated publication that lists and reviews hundreds of restaurants, bars, and cafés in Edinburgh.

    Sightseeing

    The Scottish capital is one of the most picturesque cities in Europe. At the heart of Edinburgh is the Old Town, with Edinburgh Castle at one end of the Royal Mile, and the Palace of Holyroodhouse at the other. Across the valley to the north, now filled by the verdant Princes Street Gardens, is the city's New Town, which dates to the 1770s. Here you’ll find tidy streets and broad avenues with restaurants, bars, shops, squares and attractions, such as the National Portrait Gallery. South of Old Town is the sprawling Meadows, with its acres of grass and the precincts of Edinburgh University. North is the port of Leith along the Firth of Forth, which empties into the North Sea.

    Entertainment & nightlife

    Every summer, the Scottish capital becomes the cultural capital of Europe when it hosts the Edinburgh Festival, which encompasses the Fringe, International Festival, Book Festival, Film Festival and Jazz Festival. All totaled, they bring in thousands upon thousands of visitors to see hundreds upon hundreds of acts. In August, the Scottish capital becomes a proverbial "city that never sleeps."

    The most active areas for pubs and clubs are the Cowgate and Grassmarket in the Old Town and Broughton Street in New Town, although the university precincts on the south side of the city are lively, as are the pubs on the waterfront in the port of Leith.

    The West End is the cradle of theatre and music, with the legendary and innovative Traverse Theatre, as well as the Royal Lyceum Theatre and, for concerts, the classic Usher Hall. Nearby, the Filmhouse offers the best in independent and art-house cinema. Other venues for drama include the Playhouse and Festival theatres, while live music of a more contemporary vein takes place at venues such as the Liquid Room in Old Town. The folk scene centres on a couple of pubs (Sandy Bell's and the Royal Oak), and for jazz, your best bet is Henry's Jazz Cellar. Many of the city's pubs and bars are open until the early hours of the morning during the Festival. Remember, all venues and bars are now non-smoking.

    The heart of the gay community is the area northwest of Calton Hill, incorporating the top of Leith Walk around the Playhouse Theatre and Broughton Street.

    For a complete rundown of what is happening in Edinburgh, pick up a copy of The List, a biweekly magazine available at all major newsstands and book shops.

    Your departure from destination

    Hotel checkout

    Hotel checkout times may vary depending on the property but generally you must vacate the room by 12 p.m. (noon).

    Duty-free shopping

    After an absence of 7 days or more, Canadian residents are permitted to return with a maximum of 750 CAD of merchandise per trip without paying duty. Each time you leave Canada for at least 48 hours, you are eligible to declare up to 200 CAD of merchandise. A written declaration may be requested. Each adult is allowed 1.1 litres (40 oz.) of liquor, 200 cigarettes, 50 cigars or cigarillos, 200 tobacco sticks and 200 grams (7 oz.) of manufactured tobacco. To calculate the number of days absent, do not count the day you left Canada but include the day you return. If you include cigarettes, tobacco sticks and loose tobacco in your personal exemption allowance, only a partial exemption will apply. You will have to pay a minimum duty on these products unless they are marked “Canada-Duty paid.” Canadian made products sold at duty-free shops will be marked this way.

    Customer care

    For inquiries relating to extension of stay or change or hotel changes, please e-mail us at: prevoyageclientele@vacv.com We are at your service seven days a week; from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. EST and from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. EST Saturday and Sunday.