Edinburgh is already the second most popular tourist destination in Britain (after London), but during the main festival month of August the population of Edinburgh more than doubles, with hundreds of thousands of performers and visitors descending on the city. As a result, finding accommodation can be difficult, and is often booked up months in advance.
The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is the World’s largest arts festival, with more than 20,000 performers taking part in up to 3000 different shows. Almost 2 million tickets are sold, which doesn’t include the hundreds of free shows on offer.
With the city so busy, the best piece of advice is to book your accommodation early!
The vast majority of Fringe Festival venues are located within the centre of Edinburgh, meaning any centrally-located accommodation is ideally-placed for the Festival. There are a concentration of venues on the Royal Mile and around the Grassmarket, as well as along the North Bridge and South Bridge. Leith also plays host to an increasing number of venues.
You can view a list of accommodation in Edinburgh by clicking here.
If you’re part of a group, arguably the best accommodation choice for the Festival is to rent a self-catering apartment. This often works out as the best value when sharing with several other people, and offers some flexibility regarding the number of people staying.
There are a number of specialist self-catering apartment providers, such as Hoseasons.
Many Edinburgh residents also rent out their own apartments for the duration of the Festival, and one of the best ways to find these is on Gumtree.
In some cases private rents can be quite high, but there are also home exchange sites such as Intervac.
You can view a list of self-catering apartments by clicking here.
There are of course a range of styles and prices, ranging from basic and affordable through to extremely luxurious. One advantage of staying in a bed and breakfast or guesthouse is the access to the local knowledge of your hosts.
Staying in Edinburgh for the Festival doesn’t necessarily need to be expensive. There are dozens of hostels in Edinburgh offering budget accommodation with a mixture of private single and double rooms, mixed dormitories and same-sex dormitories.
Some of the hostels are independently-run, while others are members of the Scottish Youth Hostel Association (SYHA). While it’s sometimes cheapest to book direct with the hostel, some of the hostel booking sites (such as Hostelworld) have special offers and discounts, so it’s worth signing up to their newsletters to potentially make your stay even cheaper.
Hostels offer good value for money, and also give you the chance to meet like-minded people staying for the Festival, which is particularly beneficial if you are travelling on your own.
There is one campsite on the south edge of Edinburgh at Mortonhall Caravan and Camping Park, with the option of either pitching your own tent, staying in a wigwam, or renting a caravan. Mortonhall is a 30 minute bus journey from Princes Street in the centre of Edinburgh on Lothian Buses’ number 11 bus.
Although booking in advance is obviously the best way to ensure you have somewhere to stay, it is still possible to find somewhere at short notice. Hotels, apartments and hostels may have late cancellations, so not all is lost if you’re looking to book late.
The major hotel booking sites, such as Booking.com and Hotels.com make it easy to find out what is still available if you’ve left it late.
Staying outside Edinburgh
While the majority of people will want to stay within Edinburgh itself, good transport links means it’s possible to stay somewhere else and travel to Edinburgh for the Festival. Parking in Edinburgh can be an issue during the Festival, so choosing somewhere with good bus or train services to Edinburgh is probably the best idea.
There are a few hotels around Edinburgh Airport – connected to the centre of Edinburgh by bus – although these are likely to be booked up in advance.
Glasgow and Stirling are both around one hour from Edinburgh by train, while Perth is around one hour and twenty minutes away. Much of the county of Fife is a short train journey from Edinburgh.