A couple of years ago I decided to book a trip to Edinburgh to visit the Edinburgh Fringe – ticking off both a place and an event that had been on my bucket list for a really long time. I was only there for a couple of days over the August bank holiday weekend, but it was so good and I’d definitely recommend it to anybody. There is SO much to see and do that it feels a bit like a city break on steroids – I think my coffee intake went up by 689% while I was there.
ANYWAY, if you’re planning a trip to the Edinburgh Fringe next month or in the future, here are my top tips on how to visit as a solo traveller:
Stay in a backpacker hostel
Definitely consider staying in a hostel during your trip as you’re guaranteed to meet other solo travellers who are visiting Edinburgh for the festival season. (I ended up sharing a dorm room with a girl from Nottingham who was on the same course as my university housemate at the time. What are the chances?!)
There are plenty of hostels to choose from dotted around Edinburgh, so you won’t be stuck for choice. I stayed at Kick Ass Hostels which was literally about 30 seconds away from Edinburgh Castle and a short walk away from Grassmarket, Victoria Street, and the Royal Mile. I even saw a bit of the fireworks display during the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo’s performance from my dorm room window (‘Bit’ meaning the very edges of each firework that just about came into view behind Edinburgh Castle, but that still counts, right?)
See a good variety of Fringe shows
There are so many different Fringe performances on offer during the festival, so try and see a good mix of shows while you’re there. When I got to Edinburgh I already had a couple of shows in mind that I definitely wanted to see (David O’ Doherty and Paul Foot, both hilarious and made me cry tears of laughter) but I discovered some really good shows just by walking past the venue and grabbing a flyer from the people stood outside.
Another way to make the most of the Fringe shows is by getting involved where possible, though I may have taken my own advice a bit too far there. One of the shows I went to required audience participation, and because the venue was quite small, I’d ended up on the front row in prime audience-picking position. I ended up being chosen to go up on stage and was paired up with comedian Mark Dolan to play a cards against humanity type game. (Apart from being quite awkward, not that funny, and incredibly sweaty from all the lights shining on the stage, I don’t think I did too badly).
Go on a pub tour
On the second night of my trip, I decided to go on the Edinburgh Literary Pub Tour to try something a bit different after a full day of Fringe shows. It was such a fun way to spend an evening in Edinburgh and as a History graduate it felt like an appropriate thing for me to do, even if I didn’t know what the tour guides were talking about half the time. While I was on the tour I buddied up with another girl from Australia who was also visiting Edinburgh on her own, an added bonus of the pub tour because we made plans for the next day too.
Visit Edinburgh’s other sights and attractions
When I visited Edinburgh it wasn’t just my first time visiting the Fringe but also the city itself, so I wanted to make sure I saw all the main sights and attractions as well. This was also a really good way of breaking my days up into a mix of Fringe shows and other stuff. I went to Edinburgh Castle, Holyrood Park, Calton Hill, and about 10 minutes of the path up to Arthur’s Seat (I was cold, it was foggy, I gave up). I also went to The Elephant House, AKA the Harry Potter cafe, which had quite a long queue but was definitely worth the wait.