Travelling to Edinburgh
The map below shows, together with the conference venues and proposed accommodations, the location of Waverley Station, Edinburgh Bus Station, and the city centre stops of the Airlink bus (see below).
There have been recent (May 2012) reports of long delays for passport control at London Heathrow Airport. You may wish to consider changing at a European hub instead (London, Paris, Amsterdam, Frankfurt) or in North America. If you do this, then you will go through passport control in Scotland rather than at Heathrow. The passport control queues at Edinburgh and Glasgow are usually reasonable.
Edinburgh Airport (EDI) is the most convenient destination when travelling by plane. Regular connections exist with the largest hubs in Europe (London, Paris, Frankfurt and Amsterdam), and budget airlines (including EasyJet, RyanAir, Jet2, BMI and GermanWings) fly from Edinburgh to/from many UK/European destinations. Continental Airlines offer direct flights between Edinburgh and New York.
On the airport website you can find the full list of flights from and to Edinburgh Airport and the relative map.
From Edinburgh Airport, a cab to the city centre takes about 20 minutes and costs about £20. Airlink runs a shuttle to Waverley Steps that takes 30 minutes and costs £3.50 one-way or £6.00 return. Return tickets are available at a small discount here. Airport buses run every 15 minutes throughout the day, and pick up/drop off outside Haymarket station, in Shandwick Place (West End), and on the bridge to the West of Waverley Station.
From Glasgow airport, Citylink runs a shuttle to Edinburgh Bus Station that takes about two hours and costs about £11. Citylink also runs a shuttle to Buchanan Street Bus Station in Glasgow city centre which takes 25m and costs £4.20; from there you can then walk to Queen St Train Station and catch a train to Edinburgh Waverley Station that takes 45m and cost about £10, or catch another bus to Edinburgh Bus Station.
RyanAir also fly to/from the rather less convenient Prestwick Airport (PIK). This airport is about 2h15m by train or bus to Edinburgh, and you will have to change in Glasgow. Note that if you travel by train, you will need to transfer station from Glasgow Central to Queen St; there is a shuttle bus between the two.
Edinburgh Waverley Station is the stop for downtown Edinburgh, while trains to/from Glasgow also stop at Haymarket in the West of the city. Fast trains to/from Glasgow run every 15 minutes from both main stations. There is no train to/from the airport.
The National Rail Enquiries website gives train times and prices, although buying directly from the rail company websites you will avoid administration fees. Buy tickets before you travel. You can buy tickets at the station, but for long journeys booking in advance and fixing train times can be significantly cheaper.
The Eurostar service connects Paris to Edinburgh in around eight hours.
Local transport in Edinburgh
Local buses are mainly run by Lothian Buses (red and white buses), who have an interactive route map. Buses run frequently throughout the day, with restricted routes for night buses between midnight and 4am.
Local buses are fixed fare and no change is given (but the Lothian Buses kiosk at the airport has been known to give change). Pay when you board the bus. A single ticket (any journey length) is £1.30. A one-day ticket can be bought on the bus and offers unlimited travel for £3.20 (not valid on the Airlink buses). A one-week ticket costs £16 and is available from three city centre locations.
Most city centre destinations are within 15-30m walk.
Taxis are usually easy to find: look for black cabs, with amber lights indicating they are available. They will pick up anywhere in the street, except near a taxi rank, where there is a queuing system. Of course you can also call a taxi, or book one in advance.
A taxi from the airport will cost about £20; a typical journey inside the city might be about £5. Taxi drivers need not be tipped, but it is common to round the fare up.
Driving in Edinburgh
Note that driving in central Edinburgh is not recommended (Princes St, George St, Shandwick Place and around), because of the tram works that are ongoing at the moment. If you do have to drive watch out for diversion signs (which may change from day to day), and be aware that SatNavs may not know the current state of the road system.
Beware that on-street parking is generally quite limited and can be expensive in the city centre. On-street parking is generally free on Sundays and after 18:30 on other days. If you are staying at a large hotel, they may be able to offer private parking spaces for a fee.
It is possible to find free parking about 1-2 miles from the city centre, e.g. in Leith (and then take a bus), or to use one of the Park and Ride facilities on the edge of the city (but the journey time to the city centre is then usually around 30-40m by bus).
There are many car hire companies operating both from the airport and from locations in the city (but mostly a little way out of the centre). The usual cost is about £25-30 per day for a small car.
Holiday Autos usually offer good value and full insurance is included.
Where to eat
The University of Edinburgh has collected a comprehensive list of shops and restaurants.