The bus service London-Edinburgh to create this travel journal was kindly provided by National Express.
There I was … the last time I visited Victoria Coach Station it was four years ago during the winter to take the National Express to Inverness and start an adventure alone.
Returning to the station brought me many memories even when it has changed a lot, probably just like me. Once again I was traveling alone because I honestly needed some time for myself, what better idea than to return to Scotland a place that I always loved, of course this time the destination would be different, I was heading to Edinburgh.
I decided to use National Express again because first it is the cheapest way to travel around the United Kingdom, second it is very simple to plan compared to traveling by train, I had very good experiences traveling with them and it is just great to go out at night from England to sunrise in Scotland and go crossing cities, small towns, what I love most about traveling to Scotland by bus is to see the countryside with its farms and the sheep grazing early morning even in winter with the snow the postcard becomes magical.
Being a long distance trip many people would probably ask “Is it actually nice to travel by bus such a long way?” If you ask me I would not doubt to say: Yes! National Express is the largest operator of scheduled coach services in the UK operating high-frequency services linking more than 750 destinations, this would include all major UK airports 24 hours a day, I use them all the time when I have to go to the airport and when get back home. National Express passengers benefit from:
○ Competitive prices with thousands of tickets for £5 or less (plus booking fee) if you book your trip well in advance it could be REALLY cheap
○ A guaranteed seat
○ The option of seat reservations on selected services (£2 per person)
○ A generous luggage allowance of two medium-sized suitcases, each weighing
no more than 20kg and a small piece of hand luggage and driver assistance
○ Wheelchair lifts (available on most services – passengers are advised to
○ Booster seats and the option to bring a child seat (subject to suitability and
the passenger will be responsible for fitting)
National Express coaches are modern and comfortable, never saw an old or dirty bus, they are all brand new perfectly clean, confortable leather seats, air conditioning or heat depending of the weather, toilets, power socks to never run out of battery with your phone, free entertainment via VUER – a complimentary onboard entertainment app
offering films, TV and magazines.
In the long distance trips I made with them like this one they made two stops during the night so you could go to a proper bathrooms in case you are not a fan of bus toilets or if you are hungry or thirsty to buy something to eat/drink or just to take some fresh air.
Honestly taking a long haul bus ride in the UK is probably the best way to discover many landscapes and small beautiful towns you won’t find in a typical tourist guide.
So if you want to explore Britain make sure to book your journey with National Express
As I said, I left London at 10 pm or 11 pm and arrived in Edinburgh at 6 am or 7 AM in the morning, I don’t know if the trip was comfortable or it’s me, but I didn’t feel tired at all once I arrived at the destination, Edinburgh bus station has very clean bathrooms so you can wash your face, brush your teeth etc, up just to start the fresh day. I noticed many young girls traveling together or by themselves which shows that Edinburgh is a safe destination for women traveling alone.
Edinburgh Bus Station is right in the middle of the city and is very easy to find. The hotel check-in was not until one in the afternoon so as I was close I decided to had a walk around Calton Hill, taking advantage that there would be no people for being so early, everything was wonderful until … it started to rain…If you decide to visit Scotland doesn’t matter the time of the year always, always bring an umbrella with you, or a rain coat and if it’s possible wellies
Calton Hill has probably one of the best views of Edinburgh and obviously a lot of history, is also a well visited place by local runners, a very romantic during the sunset too.
I went down to “old Edinburgh” for some Scottish breakfast as I was very hungry, probably there is no best way to start the morning:
There is no special place to have it, they serve great options all around Edinburgh and chances are that you will end up skipping launch after this. I do have to warn you eat in Edinburgh could be a bit pricey like this full Scottish breakfast was around £14 including a cup of latte.
My idea of this trip was to see a bit of the city during the Fringe Festival, but forgot that was also the season of the Edinburgh Military Tattoo, I did chit chat to other travelers, some of them didn’t know about the fringe, other couldn’t care at all, they just wanted to enjoy the place during the summer which makes perfect sense, so I want to make a stop here to say few important things before you plan your trip.
As I said many people is not interested on the festival or in the military tattoo, you should consider to avoid this date that normally is August, to visit Edinburgh. Price wise everything is far more expensive, the amount of people all around the city is insane, is impossible to enjoy a walk in the royal mile, take photos, some places have a limited access, the worst for me is that you won’t be able to enjoy a nice walk and view on the Edinburgh Castle Esplanade because all the infrastructure surrounding the Castle for the Military Tattoo, and for someone who has never visited the city before it would mean a lot, so it’s a detail to keep in mind.
THE FRINGE FESTIVAL AND WHAT TO EXPECT
If I have to be honest I wasn’t very sure how the fringe festival worked so it was bit of a blind trip, During basically a mouth Edinburgh host artists from all over the world doing all type of performances, from Dancing, Acting, Singing, Parodies, Acrobats, Humour, the list is endless, few shows could be found in the streets, the rest are all over the city in different places, from the University of Edinburgh to a very small pub or open bars, seriously I have never seen anything like that before, even few of the shows that many young kids were promoting on the streets were very bizarre like talking about politics, brexit, or alternative end for Game of Thrones, Feminist shows, for the fringe festival you need to go with a very open mind, in my case the ones I fancied to see were only during the night and I was only two night there and one was already for the Tattoo. The shows are all around the city so get ready to walk, have a google maps ready or have a map with you. If you are coming for the Fringe Festival it would be ideal to plan it well in advance, hotel, hostels, ect tend to be full booked, flights, trains even the bus were sold out, the Fringe festival has a massive amount of options in shows, it’s really hard to choose and trust me is really hard to decide once you arrive in the city with all the adrenaline that Edinburgh has at this time of the year, my advice is to visit the Fringe Festival Website to see the options, choose what you like to see.
THE ROYAL EDINBURGH MILITARY TATTOO
During my last visit to Edinburgh my idea was to experience the Fringe Festival and wasn’t aware that the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo was being performed during August too, as you can imagine I didn’t purchase the ticket online so when I arrived to the city I checked the official website for tickets for the nights I was going to stay there but there were not tickets for less than a £100 so I was a bit disappointed so I went to explore the city and I found the official store in the old town so I just went in to ask, the people at the desk were extremely friendly and really did search for the best price and seat available as I was by myself made it a bit easier, I managed to get a ticket for £68 for a nice seat with a great view of the whole show so I can’t complain, is expensive but it was one thing less on my bucket list, so it would be a good idea to book your tickets well in advance or if you are already in th city to check in this official store for tickets, AND!! Please avoid buying tickets from random people offering them in the streets mostly in the Royal Mile, first you don’t know if they are original, second when you purchase the ticket online or in the official shop this one has your name printed on it and you should carry any sort of ID to prove you are the owner of the ticket in case you get asked at the entrance. I really enjoyed the show (except for the rain) I know that military bands are everyone cup of tea but is part of Edinburgh and people from all around the world come to see it.
The second part for planning the perfect trip to Edinburgh will be available soon so keep an eye on the blog!
Have you ever visited Edinburgh? Did you travel with National Express around the UK? is always good fun to travel by bus!!