Local information


A compact city that is easily accessible on foot, Edinburgh is comprised of different 'villages', each with their own distinctive character. 

At the heart of the city lies the Royal Mile, a succession of streets lined on either side by towering tenements that are among the busiest in Edinburgh. Nearby you'll find the Grassmarket, a former medieval market place that sits in the shadow of Edinburgh Castle, now filled with lively drinking holes and restaurants.

Explore the city's cultural hub in the West End, home to many of its top arts venues including the Usher Hall, The Filmhouse and the Royal Lyceum Theatre, and find some of Edinburgh's best attractions located just a short distance from Haymarket including Murrayfield Stadium and Edinburgh Zoo.

Uncover a myriad of cafés, boutiques and galleries in the bohemian enclave of Stockbridge situated by the Water of Leith, and follow the route of the river to reach the vibrant district of Leith. Resting on the shores of the Firth of Forth, the Royal Yacht Britannia is now berthed here beside Ocean Terminal Shopping Centre.

From the atmospheric cobbled streets of the Old Town to the beautiful Georgian avenues of the New Town, Edinburgh’s architectural landscape is one of dramatic contrasts which reflect its rich and intriguing past. Allow yourself to be transported back in time as you wander its atmospheric streets, from the iconic Royal Mile leading to the medieval fortress of Edinburgh Castle and the Palace of Holyroodhouse, to bustling Princes Street where the towering Scott Monument stands. You can learn more about the city’s fascinating past at countless world-class museums and historic attractions such as the National Museum of Scotland and The Real Mary King's Close.

For more information, please visit the Scotland national tourist board website at www.visitscotland.com

Useful local information - Edinburgh

  • Money - Britain's currency is the pound sterling (£). Credit cards - especially Visa and Mastercard - are widely accepted in Edinburgh's restaurants, bars, cafés and shops. American Express and Diners Club cards are less commonly accepted. There are plenty of cash machines (also known as cashpoints or ATMs) dotted around Edinburgh.

  • VAT - The sales tax, or value added tax (VAT), is currently applied at 20% to most goods and services except food, books and children's clothing. Restaurants must, by law, include VAT in their menu prices. If you are travelling for leisure or business purposes, you may be eligible for a VAT refund. The VAT refund scheme is called the Retail Export Scheme or Tax-Free Shopping. www.hmrc.gov.uk/vat/sectors/consumers/overseas-visitors.htm

  • Electricity - UK appliances are fitted with three-pin plugs that can be connected to the UK mains supply through wall sockets. Unlike the sockets in many other countries, these have a switch to turn the power supply on and off - make sure you've turned it on if you're trying to charge your appliance! UK power sockets deliver an average voltage of 230v, although in practice this can be slightly higher. To charge devices that are compatible with this voltage, simply buy the appropriate adapter from the airport or from high street shops. If your device runs on a lower voltage, however, then you will also need a converter to stop it from over-heating. Even if your country uses lower voltages, remember to check whether your device is dual-voltage (look for the 110-240v notation) before buying a converter.

  • Telephone - If you're visiting Edinburgh from abroad, don't forget that the UK dialling code is +44 (which replaces the 0) and to check your own country's code before you travel. Edinburgh's landlines start with a '0131' area code. If you are in the UK you would call Edinburgh by dialling '0131' if you are outside of the UK an Edinburgh number would start '0044 131 '. If you are travelling to Edinburgh from abroad, using your mobile phone may cost you more than it does at home. Check your network's roaming charges before you travel.

  • Climate and weather - Edinburgh has a changeable climate. January and February are generally the coldest months in Scotland, with the daytime maximum temperatures that ranges of an average of around 5° to 7 °C. For the latest local BBC weather report click here.

  • Health services - The National Health Service (NHS) is the main healthcare provider in the UK. NHS treatment is free for UK residents. Overseas nationals are not eligible for free NHS treatment except if they need emergency treatment while in the UK. You are strongly advised to take out travel insurance to cover any medical expenses. If you come from a country that holds a UK healthcare agreement, you are entitled to free or reduced-cost medical treatment if needed immediately for a condition that started after your arrival in the UK. If you're visiting from Europe, you need to carry a valid EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) in case you need immediate and necessary medical treatment in an NHS hospital. Without this you can be charged for treatment. Travel insurance is still advisable as it offers greater flexibility over where and how you're treated, and can cover expenses not paid for by the NHS. Find out more on the NHS website www.nhs.uk/NHSEngland/Healthcareabroad

  • Emergencies - Visitors should be aware of their personal safety. Call 999 for the emergency services (police, fire and ambulance) which is a free call from any phone. You can also call 112 for non-life threatening assistance and to report crimes. To report non-urgent crime, call the police on 101 from within the UK.

Key dates

  • Abstract submission deadline (extended):
    14 October 2015
  • Early registration deadline:
    11 November 2015
  • Registration deadline:
    10 December 2015