Image credit to Scottish Rugby Website
1. Getting there and getting around
On a match day, you and 60,000 others might all be headed to the same place, so don’t get there late and make the journey easy. Driving in, might at first seem to be the answer, but be prepared for the inevitable traffic jams and queues for parking. Should you be thinking of off street parking, it’s not only a source of annoyance for the locals but many streets are coned off - official parking areas are available but limited, so planning ahead will be essential.
2. Taking the bus or the tram
Lothian Buses runs regular buses to Murrayfield and on fixture dates the service is increased to cope with the demand. An unusual (but maybe very Scottish?) quirk is that the buses operate on an exact fare system for cash fares. A single ticket is £1.70 and if the only change you have is two pound coins, the driver cannot give you change. You can spend the rest of your journey wondering just what they do with all those extra 30p’s!
There’s a downloadable map of bus stops from the Lothian bus website but there’s at least 10 routes from the city centre so if you miss one there’ll be nine along any minute.
Edinburgh trams run at least 1 every 10 minutes with a dedicated Murrayfield tram stop.
3. Two wheels good - and no need for lycra
If you forgot to pack your trusty Molton, Edinburgh’s first cycle hire scheme, Just Eat Cycles , launched in September 2018. There are docking stations available at several points around the city itself and two close to Murrayfield. This is a scheme scheduled for rapid expansion - 1,000 manual bikes will be available across the city by the end of 2018 with 100 electric models being introduced in 2019. In common with similar city centre schemes, bikes can be hired and returned to any cycle hire point at any time, with the closest available hire points shown on an essential, downloadable app.
Taking the comparatively quick cycle ride to Murrayfield (20 minutes) also affords you the pleasure of taking in the sights and delights of Princes Street through to Haymarket and Murrayfield, giving you ideas of where to visit later in the day or on your trip.
4. “and I would walk 500 miles”
Can’t promise you’ll see the Proclaimers, but walking is a great way to see the Murrayfield area. Edinburgh “toon” itself is a very compact area and the walk from the centre to the stadium is around 4 Kilometres. That’s about an hour at a reasonable pace or, make it easy on yourself and take the bus to Haymarket first. A very easy 20 minute stroll will get you to your destination. Having got there on foot, it’s a great way to explore around the area itself.
5. The Water of Leith Walkway
“A silver thread in a ribbon of green” is how the Water of Leith has been described. A beautiful river winds its way through the heart of the capital through Haymarket and passing through the Murrayfield area.
The river can be explored on foot or bike and is home to a wide diversity of plants and animals from wild garlic and orchids to brown trout, heron, kingfisher and otter. The Water of Leith Walkway could be an ideal way to enjoy the relaxing way back to our aparthotel.
6. Get your skates on!
Murrayfield Ice Rink is just an axel jump away from the stadium. With at least one public session every day, you can practice those moves, watch, or just head for the café and let the others look ridiculous! There’s a skating school for newbies and for those wanting to brush up on their skills too.
7. Animal Magic
Close to the stadium (bus, bike or car) is Edinburgh zoo. Fabulous to visit at any time of year, for 50 nights from 16 November 2018 Edinburgh Zoo will become home to hundreds of magical and mythical creatures this winter. Unicorns, faeries, kelpies and Nessie the Loch Ness Monster will feature in “The giant Lanterns of China” - 450 giant lanterns providing spectacular illuminations. The inaugural event attracted 83,000 visitors and the zoo is determined that this year’s event will be bigger and better still. Gigantic, handmade steel and silk sculptures will take visitors on a completely new nocturnal trail around the Zoo.
If you’re in a car take a drive around the Main Reserve and then investigate the walk-round area on foot. The Wildlife Park has a wide and diverse range of animals from endangered animals of the world to Scottish wildlife.
Image credit to Scottish Rugby Facebook Page
8. Mad about rugby?
Take a 90-minute guided tour of Murrayfield, the home of Scottish Rugby, and you’ll be taken inside areas of the stadium that you would never ordinarily get to see and will be regaled with stories from Scottish Rugby’s rich history - seeing what the stadium looks like day to day and learning about the preparations for international matches.
On your tour you will see some of Scottish Rugby’s memorabilia including the Calcutta Cup, step onto the set in the TV Studio and learn about the famous Voice of Rugby in the Bill McLaren Press Gallery. Rounding-up the tour by taking a thrilling walk through the famous and atmospheric tunnel and visiting Scotland changing room and finish by taking in the atmosphere pitch side.
There’s a tour every day except Sunday and they must be booked ahead on the e-ticket website.
9. Beer ‘n Rugby
With no shortage of pubs around the Murrayfield Stadium, you’ll be looking for the best - here’s some suggestions.
Stop off at Platform 5 - perfectly positioned on Clifton Terrace on your way to the Stadium from Holyrood ApartHotel. Aside from an excellent selection of draught ales and lagers, the menu of pub classics includes lots of love-local dishes like a signature Balmoral Burger (served with a jug of whisky sauce) and Haggis and Potato Pie (spicy haggis layered with neeps and tatties). All the big games can be enjoyed ‘live and loud’ at Platform 5.
If you’re feeling really patriotic (why wouldn’t you be?) you can get stuck into a plate of haggis, neeps and tatties for just £6.45, washed down with a pint of local beer at the
Murrayfield Bar and Kitchen is a ten-minute walk from the ground on Roseburn Terrace.
Situated a 15 minute walk from the stadium on Angle Park Terrace, the Caley Sample Room is the perfect spot to grab a few pre-match pints and a bite to eat. If you aren’t lucky enough to have tickets to a game at Murrayfield, you can set up base in front of the Caley Sample Room’s big screen and watch the action unfold.
A few doors down from the Caley Sample Room is the Athletic Arms (also known as Diggers). Located a short distance from the ground, Diggers is also equipped with a number of TV screens so you can watch the rugby from a comfortable distance. You can toast a Scottish victory after the game, with a dram of one of the hostelry’s 250 single malt whiskeys.
10. Retail therapy
If you prefer your shopping fix in one hit, then head a little west in Murrayfield to the Gyle Shopping Centre. It’s right next to Edinburgh Gateway station for that easy (if shopping laden) journey back to the aparthotel. The Gyle has everything you’d expect in a large mall, from food and drink to clothing etc. and all the major stores and brands have a presence here.
If you can make the time for it, a more adventurous and ultimately more satisfying shopping experience, walk from Haymarket back to the Hotel. The Royal Mile (which includes the off streets too) is simply jam-packed with shops and stores from tiny artisan gift shops to traditional , large department stores selling all things Scottish. Luxury brands, beautiful boutiques and quirky independents – they’re all here.
Image credit to Locanda de Gusti Faceboo Page
11. “Aw hallaw! Ye’ll have had yer tea?”
No excuses at all for getting “hangry” – restaurants of every description can be found in the Murrayfield area. Locanda De Gusti on Dairy Road is very highly rated Italian restaurant specialising in seafood. Cafe Presko on the Gorgie Road has been described as an “absolute gem”. You can pop in simply for a coffee and scrumptious cakes or for a meal - breakfast, lunch or dinner. The menu is extensive as it offers a Scottish menu as well as Filipino. Try their bubble waffles – they look too good to be true.
Also on Gorgie Road and definitely not to be missed is Gorgie Fish Bar. A great chippy is what makes match days really special and the regulars swear this is the best in Edinburgh. Haddock’s the Scots preferred fish choice to cod and don’t forget your can of Irn Bru too. If you must, you can even order a deep-fried Mars bar – not everyone’s favourite, but maybe worth it for the experience?
12. Join the Guides?
No, not them, a proper tour with local guides to really enhance your trip. Iconic Tours offers bespoke walking tours, driving tours and photography tours and Edinburgh from a local perspective, not just stories and history, but the best places to eat, get a whisky or have a beer. The dedicated founders of the business offer a real local insight into their beloved country.