A complete guide on things to do in Edinburgh during & after COVID lockdown

Reading Time: 6 mins
Last update: 25/06/20

Things are starting to get back to normal in Edinburgh and travel will start again soon – but with some key differences.

What exactly are these differences? Well, when we started to ask ourselves this question, there wasn’t a single guide out there. We had to look at so many different websites just to get some information together. In doing this research we decided to create a complete guide on things to do in Edinburgh during & after COVID lockdown. We will be updating this guide with more information as it is released.

This guide will cover everything you need to know before you visit Edinburgh. This includes all the current rules in place that you must follow.

We update this guide x2 times a week so remember to check back to get the latest information.


1.1 Key/General City Rules
1.2 Travelling into Edinburgh
1.3 Travelling Around Edinburgh using Public Transport
1.3.1 Edinburgh Lothian Bus Service
1.3.2 Edinburgh Tram Service
1.4 Hotels & staying overnight in Edinburgh


Key/General City Rules

    • Stay at home
    • Only go outside for essential food, health and work reasons
    • Stay 2 metres (6 feet) away from other people
    • Wash your hands regularly and as soon as you get home

    Travelling into Edinburgh

    Q: What rules apply to travellers entering the UK by plane, ferry or train?

    A: Before you travel to the UK, you should provide your journey, contact details and the address where you will self-isolate for 14 days. You will need to complete a form 48 hours before you arrive in the UK. You must wear a face-covering when travelling by train, ferry service, in an enclosed ferry terminal.

    Q: Can I travel to Edinburgh if I live in England or Wales?

    A: Since lockdown measures differ in each nation of the UK, it is advised not to travel between them and instead must “respect” each area’s measures.

    Q: What happens if I don’t complete the form?

    A: If you do not complete this form you may be fined £60 in Scotland. You also may not be allowed to enter the UK (unless you are either a UK citizen or a UK resident). Please note that the £60 fine can be doubled up for each subsequent offence up to a maximum of £500.

    Q: How can I get to my accommodation?

    A: If you are not displaying symptoms when you arrive in the UK, you must go straight to the accommodation you are staying at. Only use public transport if you have no other option. If you do use public transport, wear something that covers your nose and mouth and stay 2 metres apart from other people.

    If you develop coronavirus symptoms while you are travelling to the UK, you should tell the crew or driver on your plane, boat, train or bus so they can tell you what you should do next. If you have coronavirus symptoms, you will not be allowed to travel by public transport and will need to demonstrate that the accommodation where you will self-isolate is safe.

    Q: What can I do in those 14 days?

    A: You should self-isolate in one place for the full 14 days, where you can have food and other necessities delivered, and stay away from others. You should not have visitors, including friends and family, unless they are providing essential care. The only friends and family who you can have contact with are those who travelled with you or people you are staying with. If you need essential assistance and do not have a network of support to help you, you can contact the national helpline on 0800 111 4000, or via textphone on 0800 111 4114.

    Q: Is anyone exempt from self-isolating?

    A: Anyone arriving from the Common Travel Area (CTA) – the Republic of Ireland, the Channel Islands, or the Isle of Man – does not have to enter quarantine, only if they have been in the CTA for at least 14 days.

    Travelling Around Edinburgh using Public Transport

    Q: Are there any changes to using public transport in Edinburgh since COVID-19?

    A: Transport Scotland have developed a few rules that you must follow when using public transport. You are expected to, wear a face covering when using public transport as a consideration to your fellow passengers and transport staff. When travelling comply with any signage or instructions on public transport or from transport staff as the safety measures in place are for everyone’s benefit. Signs and notices may include information about: which seats to use or how to queue – any physical restrictions such as screens and barriers or floor markings – requests to board through different doors or to move to less busy areas – the reduced number of passengers allowed on vehicles because of physical distancing measures.

    You may remove your face covering if you need to take medication or to eat or drink where reasonably necessary. You should remove your face covering temporarily to comply with a request by a relevant person, such as a ticket examiner who needs to check identity in respect, for example, of a concessionary card. 

    Q: Is public transport tunning normally?

    A: Scotland are continuing to operate a revised timetable to keep key workers, and those making essential journeys, moving.

    Q: Can I travel around Edinburgh?

    A: Only travel if your journey is essential, for example, for work or shopping.

    Q: When time in the day is it best to travel?

    A: If you can, you should travel at off-peak times which are likely to be less busy.

    Edinburgh Lothian Bus Service

    Q: What’s changed with Edinburgh’s Lothian bus service since COVID-19?

    A: Following the Scottish Government’s announcement on 23 March, we are currently operating a Critical Services Network for key workers and those that require to make necessary journeys for food/medicine. We would encourage everyone to follow the government’s advice and only travel when necessary to do so.

    Q: Do I need to wear a face-covering?

    A: We would ask customers to consider the Scottish Government’s advice that people should wear a face covering when using public transport.

    Q: Are your buses operating normally?

    A: There are some changes to the bus services in Edinburgh as of 21st June which can be found here.

    Q: Are you carrying out additional cleaning on your services?

    A: All of our vehicles are cleaned externally and internally on a daily basis, and we have introduced heightened cleaning measures in response to this situation including more enhanced cleaning of the main customer touch-points such as hand poles and grab rails and our driver cab areas.

    Q: Are Edinburgh Bus Tours still operating?

    A: No, We are following government guidelines to prevent the spread of Covid-19, and have taken the decision to cease to protect our customers and staff.

    Edinburgh Tram Service

    Q: What’s changed with Edinburgh’s Tram service?

    A: Key markers are introduced so that travellers stand apart at the stop. Edinburgh Tram service encourage you to Buy tickets using the TfE app so that you don’t need to use the ticket machine.

    The single doors at each end of the tram are not currently in use. Tram doors will open automatically, then board one at a time. If the tram is too busy to maintain social distancing please be responsible and do not board. Seats at the ends of the tram are not in use. No need to touch the door buttons, doors will open automatically and windows are open to allow a flow of fresh air into the tram – please do not close these if you are on board.

    Q: How often are trams running?

    A: Tram services are running every 15 minutes from 5 am to midnight. Please click here for detailed timetable information.

    Q: Can I use Edinburgh’s Tram service for any journey?

    A: You are only allowed to travel if your journey is essential, for example, for work or shopping.

    Q: How can I maintain social distancing on the tram?

    A: Please follow all signage present at the tram stations and inside the tram.

    Q: When is the best time to travel?

    A: At the moment, our busiest times are between 12 noon – 2 pm. However, our trams have a normal capacity of 250 and are currently operating from every 15 minutes. Therefore, it is easy to maintain social distancing at all times.

    Accommodation in Edinburgh

    Q: Are there any changes to hotels, short-term let apartments (Airbnb) and hostels?

    A: Hotels, short-term let apartments & hostels are complying with government regulations to ensure they remain safe for travellers. Businesses providing holiday accommodation (including hotels, hostels, B&Bs, campsites, caravan parks, boarding houses, and short term lets) are to remain closed for leisure-related stays.

    Most hotels, short-term let apartments & hostels have drastically changed the way in which they operate. Here at Safestay for example, we are implementing some key changes to our Edinburgh hostel – Safestay Edinburgh Royal Mile.

    Rigorous deep cleaning is being carried out during lockdown within our hostels and hotels by our trained teams. We have reinforced the frequency of cleaning which involves the housekeeping team disinfecting rooms, common spaces & private areas of the hostel, and particularly shared-use objects and areas (lobby, elevators, door handles, public bathrooms, room cards, etc).

    Q: How is Safestay protecting guests?

    A: On top of rigorous & frequent deep cleaning, we’ve introduced a contact-free check-in service via WhatsApp. When you next make a booking at Safestay you will be sent a confirmation via Email and also WhatsApp. Our WhatsApp service will allow you to check-in online before you arrive. This will make it very quick to check-in and collect your key, whilst maintaining social distancing.

    Also, there are no mixed dorms. We’ve changed our room configurations to make sure, when you book, you are booking a whole room. We are currently not providing single beds in mixed dormitory rooms until we know it’s safe to do so.

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