Taking the Bus in Edinburgh

Edinburgh Bus Princes Street

Taking the Bus in Edinburgh

Edinburgh has an extensive public bus network, making it quick and easy to travel around the city, and to the surrounding towns in Midlothian, West Lothian, and East Lothian.

How do I take the bus in Edinburgh?

There are two public transport operators for buses in Edinburgh, Lothian Buses and First Bus. The former is the most commonly used, with over 30 routes, which you can find details of here.

Buses are either single or double deckers, with both standing and seating room. There are designated wheelchair and pram spaces, a small amount of luggage storage, and free WiFi access.

At bus stops, be sure to wait in line – queueing etiquette is very important to British people! – and wave to the driver to indicate you want them to stop, as they may drive past otherwise. In most cases, you enter and exit through the same front doors, so be sure to let passengers disembark first. There are some new eco-friendly buses that have separate exit doors in the middle instead.

You will have to buy or show your ticket upon boarding. Inside, most buses have a screen displaying the upcoming stops, and you should ring the bell when approaching your destination – or again, they might drive past it!

How much does the bus cost?

Edinburgh buses have various ticket options depending on how frequently you use them. You can find the current Lothian Buses fares here, and their tickets are also valid on the Edinburgh tram, except for airport journeys. First Bus charges the same, but you can’t transfer a ticket between the two companies.

Single tickets are a set fare no matter the distance you travel, however, if your journey requires you to change between routes, you have to buy a new ticket each time. Therefore, if you plan to take 3 or more journeys on the same day, it’s more cost-effective to buy a day ticket.

For longer stays in Edinburgh, consider buying a Ridacard, which is paid for upfront, and offers unlimited travel by bus and tram for 1 week, 1 month, or 1 year.

If you’re taking a Lothian Country bus, to a destination outside the city, your fare will be determined by the distance you are travelling. When boarding, tell the driver your destination and they will inform you of the price.

How do I buy bus tickets?

You can buy tickets from the driver when boarding the bus, either by cash or card. Be aware, drivers don’t have access to change, so you need the exact fare in cash. Card payments are contactless, and will automatically stop charging you once you’ve taken 3 journeys and reach the day ticket price.

You can pre-purchase mobile tickets on the Lothian Buses ‘m-ticket’ mobile app, but you must buy at least £4 worth of tickets per transaction. You can also only use 1 mobile device per person, except family day tickets.

Ridacards are bought in the Lothian Buses Travelshops, of which there are several around Edinburgh city centre. You can also purchase advance day tickets there, and ‘citysmart’ prepaid top-up cards.

Buses in Edinburgh on Princes Street

How frequently do the buses run?

Most of Edinburgh’s bus routes operate regularly throughout the day, from early morning (around 6am) until midnight, with buses running 10-15 minutes apart. In the evenings and on Sundays, they may be less frequent, often 30 minutes apart. Some services only run on weekdays or until a certain time in the evening.

There are designated Night Buses on select routes, which run once an hour between midnight and 5am, and charge a higher fare.

You can check bus times online here, or using the Transport for Edinburgh mobile app. Many bus stops also have electronic screens displaying the real-time next arrivals.

How do I take the bus from Edinburgh Airport to the city centre?

There are four designated airport bus routes, whose vehicles have a larger amount of luggage space, free WiFi, and USB charging ports. The Airlink 100 is an express service, which reaches Edinburgh city centre in just 30 minutes, and runs every 10 minutes, 24 hours a day. The Skylink 200, 300 and 400 are longer routes, which run from 6am until midnight, every 20-30 minutes.

Airlink 100 – City Centre – via Drum Brae, Corstorphine, Haymarket, West End, Princes Street

Skylink 200 – North Edinburgh – via Corstorphine, Clermiston, Drylaw, Granton, Newhaven, Leith

Skylink 300 – West Edinburgh – via Edinburgh Park, Sighthill, Slateford, Fountainbridge, Newington, Cameron Toll

Skylink 400 – South Edinburgh – via Edinburgh Park, Sighthill, Wester Hailes, Colinton, Oxgangs, Gracemount, Niddrie, Fort Kinnaird

Airport buses charge a higher fare, but offer an open return ticket, valid on different days. When travelling into the city, tickets are bought from the counter at the bus stop outside the terminal building. To return to the airport, buy from the driver or show your return ticket when boarding. Mobile tickets, smartcards, and Ridacards can all be used on these services.

The N22 Night Bus also serves the airport, from the city centre and Leith, between midnight and 4am. It is not a designated airport bus, so uses the regular Night Bus fares.


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