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Updated: 30 April 2023
On my first solo trip ever, I had no idea what to expect. Absolutely no idea. Leading up to my trip, I read and researched a lot of information, and whenever I felt tempted to cancel my trip, I would watch episodes of Rick Steves Europe on Youtube. Ultimately, I didn’t know if reading about solo travel on dreamy blogs would match up with the reality of being alone in a new place. Once I boarded, though, it was too late to turn the plane around to Newark.
Instead I landed at Edinburgh airport with knots in my stomach. The customs officer was SO excited for me, too, despite my anxiety! She handed back my passport and said I deserved a lovely vacation.
Personally, I couldn’t believe that I decided to fly across the Atlantic Ocean, alone, to explore Scotland. Little did I know that visiting Scotland would change my life forever.
By taking that first step, I managed to create a life jammed packed with adventures and new experiences.
I don’t regret going to Edinburgh at all. In fact, the city holds a very dear place in my heart as the first place I’ve ever traveled alone.
As for for those of you wanting to go to Edinburgh alone, stick around and read this guide, especially if you’re in the process of building the confidence to go on your trip!
All in all, Edinburgh is a wonderful city for solo travelers, especially those of you who feel a little bit nervous about the logistics of planning an international adventure.
Edinburgh is one of Scotland’s most beautiful cities, and you will fall in love with the historic charm, literary sites, castles, green spaces, and of course, the pubs! Edinburgh is also a very safe city.
Let’s plan together.
Solo Travel in Edinburgh: My Experience
As I’ve said, solo travel in Scotland is wonderful for someone who feels apprehension about exploring a new place alone. And Edinburgh? A great place to begin!
On my first day in Edinburgh, I managed to get lost on the way to the hostel (I walked around the same block a good five times), but that was the only mishap!
I walked down the Royal Mile and to the Edinburgh Castle, where I was blessed with a stunning panoramic view of the city, on one of those glorious sunny afternoons that do happen in the United Kingdom (from time to time).
I also had the good luck of staying in Edinburgh during the Fringe Festival! My new friends and I went to countless shows! Getting caught up in the artistic bustle of the city was an adventure in and of itself!
As a solo female traveler, I would absolutely visit Edinburgh again with no hesitations on my part.
Let’s talk about the reasons why solo travel in Edinburgh is a good idea.
Why Visit Edinburgh
Below, I’ve written all the reasons why Edinburgh makes a fantastic solo trip. It doesn’t matter if you are a new or experienced solo traveler, in my opinion. Edinburgh offers something for everyone.
First and foremost, Edinburgh is a wonderful choice for native English speakers. I don’t mind learning snippets of new languages. However, going to a city with English speakers may be less stressful for new travelers.
After all, the signs and menus are in English, and you won’t feel awkward asking if the waiter or tour guide can switch to English.
Lastly, the Scottish accent is quite thick in the Highlands and at times, difficult for non-locals to understand (I love the accent, though, haha). But in Edinburgh, I didn’t have any issues trying to understand the accent.
Great Tourist Infrastructure
Edinburgh is always included in itineraries for Scotland. As a result, the tourist infrastructure is strong.
While you explore, you’ll find that there are plenty of signs indicating where the best attractions are located in the city. You’ll also see that there are loads of opportunities to take guided tours, especially if you walk down the Royal Mile, which cuts through Scotland’s fascinating Old Town.
For example, This is Edinburgh is a fantastic resource for anyone who wants to visit alone and prefers to have a set itinerary.
Without a doubt, solo travel in Edinburgh is made easy with the abundance of resources available to visitors.
Few Safety Concerns
Solo travelers, including women, won’t have too many safety concerns in Edinburgh.
Do you need to stay aware of your surroundings? Absolutely, just like you would anywhere else!
Like much of the United Kingdom, Edinburgh has a very active pub culture, and as a solo traveler, it’s always a good idea to limit your alcohol intake. If you hit the pubs, you may want to go in the afternoon or take an organized pub crawl (for you fellow nerds, Edinburgh even has a literary pub crawl).
Over all, however, Edinburgh is a really safe city. I didn’t encounter many scams compared to other European cities such as Lisbon and Paris.
Easy to Meet Other Solo Travelers
Edinburgh is one of Scotland’s most popular destinations. You’ll make a lot of new friends as a result of this popularity!
This cultural city is even more popular in August when festivals take over the city streets. One my best solo travel experiences was exploring Edinburgh at the height of the Fringe Festival.
Solo travel in Edinburgh won’t mean you’ll feel lonely. Quite the contrary.
Experience a Unique and Beautiful City
I loved venturing through the Old and New Towns in Edinburgh. The Old Town reminds me of Diagon Alley. You’ll stumble upon souvenir shops, quirky pubs, medieval attractions and graveyards, and more.
Meanwhile, the New Town is filled with elegant Georgian homes that make you feel like the protagonist of a Victorian novel.
And if you want to go into nature? Edinburgh offers plenty of options! I personally loved Dean Village, which is one of Edinburgh’s prettiest corners. I really felt like I was in a small village in the countryside rather than in a bigger city.
Solo Travel Edinburgh: More Suggestions!
Solo travel in Edinburgh doesn’t have to be a gigantic undertaking that gives you unreasonable anxiety. The planning process might be a lot of fun!
To wrap up this guide, I have a couple more suggestions that will help you create a wonderful itinerary for your adventures in Edinburgh.
Independent Travel vs. Tours
Honestly, if you really love being alone, it’s easy enough to do an independent tour of Edinburgh. This is a city that is incredibly walkable and accessible. You can even do day trips strictly by using public transportation. For example, a day trip to the famous golf and university town St. Andrews is easy to reach using the train.
However, I always enjoy doing a combination of individual exploring and guided tours. Edinburgh is a fantastic city and an informed guide can make Edinburgh’s historical magic spring to life! Tailor tours to your personal interests.
For travelers venturing outside Edinburgh, keep in mind that Scotland’s nature – although gorgeous – is very remote and road conditions are much different than what you might be used to at home. If this doesn’t scare you off, great!
I’ll admit, though, that I am not the most confident driver in the world, and for me, taking a guided tour around Scotland was very much worth it.
If you want a more extensive guide, then check out my 10 day itinerary of Scotland to plan a road trip around this gorgeous country.
How to Get Around Edinburgh
Your own two feet are the best way to get around Edinburgh!
I spent most of my time meandering throughout the Old and New Towns without much of a plan.
The most popular tourist attractions are within walking distance of each other. Edinburgh isn’t huge in the same way as Paris or New York is. You don’t really have to rely on the trams, for example.
Take walks, especially on sunny days.
The only time you might want to use public transportation is on your arrival and departure days.
Edinburgh Airport isn’t too far from the city center, but the distance isn’t walkable. However, the airport has great busses that run on a regular basis!
You just need to book a return ticket on the Airlink 100 – Express Bus. This bus has several stops in central Edinburgh including Haymarket, West End, Princes Street, and St. Andrews Square.
Where to Stay in Edinburgh
Solo travel in Edinburgh is always a good idea, but you want to make your trip even better by choosing high-quality accommodation. Edinburgh has a ton of different places to stay and prices vary wildly throughout the year. For example, everything is a going to be a lot more expensive during the Fringe Festival, as well as New Year’s Eve. Your budget might not always go as far as you want.
Still not sure where to stay? Check out my recommendations.
- Castle Rock Hostel: Do you want a vibrant and social hostel that is super close to Edinburgh Castle? Look no further! (see prices on TripAdvisor.com and Booking.com)
- CoDE Pod Hostels – THE CoURT: Want a bit of history with your hostel? This highly-rated hostel is housed inside a former courthouse and jail! (see prices on TripAdvisor.com and Booking.com)
- Kick Ass Grassmarket: Grassmarket is one of my favorite locations in all of Edinburgh. This hostel puts you in the middle of all the action. (see prices on TripAdvisor.com and Booking.com)
- B+B Edinburgh: Are you looking for a more stylish form of accommodation? Then this boutique hotel is perfect for you! (see prices on TripAdvisor.com and Booking.com)
- Cairn Hotel Edinburgh: This hotel is perfect for those seeking a taste of luxury outside the busy Edinburgh city center (see prices on TripAdvisor.com and Booking.com)
- Eden Locke, George Street: Spend the night is a stunning Victorian building located right on George street (see prices on TripAdvisor.com and Booking.com)
Things to do in Edinburgh Alone
Ultimately, solo travel in Edinburgh is wonderful, because this city has plenty of things to see and do on your own without feeling awkward. I didn’t stand out once, nor was I harassed. It was so easy to just blend into the crowd and enjoy the city.
Personally, I recommend bringing a guidebook for Edinburgh so you can tailor your itinerary to fit your personal interests. As a side note, I’ve also written a guide on solo travel essentials to help you pack everything you need for a trip to Edinburgh. With that being said. I’ve listed some of my favorite things to do in Edinburgh alone below for you.
A Ghost Tour
Edinburgh is a delightfully spooky city! I highly recommend taking a ghost tour. Plenty of options are available to suit your needs.
My personal favorite ghost tour is strictly adults only and takes you underneath Edinburgh’s vaults. You’ll hear bloody stories of Edinburgh’s past before heading underground into the dark. Shudders.
If you prefer a lighter tour, Edinburgh has options for you too!
As I’ve said, solo travel in Edinburgh isn’t limited to city views.
Arthur’s Seat is an extinct volcano peak that looms over the city. Pack your best hiking shoes and go early. For those of you who want to go to the top, the entire hike takes about two hours, so make sure to allow yourself enough time.
Castles, Castles, and Castles
Scotland’s most beautiful castles are definitely in the wild Highland, but Edinburgh also has great options if you don’t want to travel too far.
For example, Edinburgh Castle, is the most visited castle in all of Scotland. You’re able to see the Crown Jewels, as well as several smaller museums located on the castle grounds. The views are great too!
At the other end of the Royal Miles, you will discover Palace of Holyroodhouse, one of the official residences of the Queen in Scotland. What I loved about this castle was the audio tour about Mary Queen of Scots. Her story is wild! The gardens are also beautiful.
Without question, solo travel in Edinburgh means seeing lots of gorgeous castles.
All Things Literary
Edinburgh is a literary city – no question about it. Many famous writers, from novelists to poets to playwrights, have called Edinburgh home. English majors will feel as if they’re on a pilgrimage here, which is even more meaningful if you’re traveling alone.
First of all, Edinburgh was the home of many renowned authors, such as Robert Louis Stevenson of Jekyll and Hyde fame.
If you come to the city in August, you’ll be able to participate in the Edinburgh Book Festival and listen to several wonderful authors speak about the power of the written word.
And, as for Harry Potter fans, you need to book yourself on a Harry Potter Walking Tour to see all the best wizarding sites around Edinburgh! By taking this tour, you might make good travel pals with similar interests!
I hope you enjoyed reading all about solo travel in Edinburgh! What are your favorite things in Edinburgh to do alone? Would you do a solo trip to Scotland? As always, feel free to reach out to me for solo travel coaching if you need more help planning your solo travel in Edinburgh.