Where and What to Hire
When hiring a car in Edinburgh there are many big name international car rental companies to choose from. At Edinburgh Airport, Thrifty, Budget and Easirent all offer car hire. In Edinburgh city centre National Car is located near Edinburgh Zoo, Europecar, Hertz and Enterprise are close to Waverley train station in the centre of the city while Ace, Enterprise, Arnold Clark and Go Green can be found along the coast near Leith and Seafield. All manner of cars are available for hire from nippy two-door city cars, family four-doors and people carriers, vans and even limousines.
Driving in Edinburgh is quite straightforward as it is a small capital city, although there are a few cobbled streets to navigate in the Old and New Town areas and some one way systems. Edinburgh also has two tram lines that run from the centre of town to the airport. There is also a big cycling community in the city with cycle lanes and cyclists merging with traffic so it is important to be aware of them on the roads. Rush hour in Edinburgh is between 8am and 9am and 4.30pm and 6pm. During August, Edinburgh becomes home to the Edinburgh International Festival. During this time large areas of the Royal Mile are closed off and many areas are busier than normal, so alternative routes may need to be found.
There is parking available within the city centre however it is not free of charge. On-street metered parking is split into two zones; the Central Controlled Parking Zone which is within the city centre during the hours of 8.30am to 6.30pm while the Peripheral Parking Zone and Outer Zone operates parking charges from 8am to 5.30pm. Parking is, however, free on Sundays. Charges vary depending on the location, from £1 to £3.50 per hour. There are also pay and display car parks and underground and multi-storey car parks that are open 24 hours a day and where cars can be left overnight. Park and Ride facilities are also available to encourage people not to bring cars into the city centre. Here, parking is 50 pence for a whole day and buses are reasonably priced.
Where to Go and What to See
There are some incredible places to see with a car in Scotland. Just 3 miles and a 12 minute drive from the city centre is beautiful Portobello Beach. This long stretch of white sandy beach is the perfect place to take the kids on a sunny day while the promenade is lined with cafes and cosy pubs for adults to while away evenings by the sea. Another nearby spot is Rosslyn Chapel which is a 30 minute drive from Edinburgh. Here, tales of the Knights Templar and the Holy Grail come to life in this real-life Templar Church. Recently restored, this breath-taking chapel is one of the finest of its kind in Europe and it sits on a hilltop perch overlooking some glorious countryside, all just a stone’s throw from the city. For those who want to play a game of golf on one of the finest courses in the world, a 50 miles trip to St Andrew’s is just the thing. Not only has it one of the most famous golf courses in the world but this medieval university town also boasts the largest cathedral in Scotland, a wonderful museum, cosy pubs and a beautiful windswept sandy beach. For those who are happy to drive the distance, the utterly captivating Glencoe is a 3 hour journey from Edinburgh. This heather carpeted, wild, rugged and staggeringly beautiful Highland location is one of the most iconic in Scotland. With Munroe’s to climb, ski centres to perfect those winter sports, cosy pubs with hearty fireside food to taste and glassy lochs to gaze into, this place is absolutely worth the drive. Glencoe is the heart of Scotland.