See also: information on getting to DebConf.
You'll be given a map of Edinburgh when you arrive. Here's some information to get you started:
- Teviot, the DebConf venue, is on Bristo Square. Bristo Place leads north from Bristo Square to George IV Bridge (pronounced George-the-Fourth Bridge), which continues north to the Royal Mile. George IV Bridge is home to various bars, restaurants, and fast-food outlets, while Chambers Street, leading east from George IV Bridge, is home to two large museums. Candlemaker Row leads downhill from the start of George IV Bridge to the Grassmarket, where you'll find another concentration of bars and restaurants. If you instead head south from Teviot, you'll come to George Square, surrounded by Edinburgh University buildings -- some eighteenth century townhouses, some twentieth-century concrete blocks. South from George Square you'll find the open area of the Meadows, a public park.
- The Royal Mile (one road including the High Street, Lawnmarket and Canongate) runs west-to-east through the Old Town, the medieval city. The west end of the street begins at Edinburgh Castle, and from there it runs downhill, finishing at Holyrood Place. The Royal Mile contains many shops and museums aimed at visiting tourists, and is a good place to look for presents to take home -- although you may find the same products cheaper elsewhere. Many small closes run north and south from the Royal Mile, often with steps since they run so steeply downhill.
- The Cowgate runs east from the Grassmarket, in between and parallel to Chambers Street and the Royal Mile, but at a much lower level: walking along the Cowgate you go underneath the arches of George IV Bridge and South Bridge. The Cowgate has a lot of late-opening night clubs; even if you're not visiting them yourself, you might meet the clubbers in the street if you're out in the early hours of the morning.
- Princes Street runs east-to-west along the boundary of the New Town, the eighteenth-century planned extension of Edinburgh. Only one side of Princes Street has buildings; the other side slopes down to Princes Street Gardens, giving the street a panoramic view of the Old Town and Castle. Waverley station is in the valley below its east end. East beyond Princes Street is Calton Hill, topped with neoclassical monuments. Princes Street has many ordinary shops belonging to UK national chains, and several department stores, including Jenners, which has been in the same location on Princes Street since 1838. George Street runs parallel with Princes Street to the north, with designer stores, some specialist retailers, bars and clubs. Further north beyond Queen Street, the residential areas of the New Town haven't changed much since they were built in the eighteenth century and nineteenth centuries.
- Further north, Leith is the old port of Edinburgh, once a separate city. The old harbour area, the Shore is now home to bars and restaurants.
The best way to travel around Edinburgh is on foot. If you ride a bike, there is a reasonable network of cycle lanes and off-road cycle paths through the city -- though the steep hills probably explain why you don't see more cyclists around Edinburgh.
If you get tired, the next best way is by bus.
There are two main bus companies operating in Edinburgh; in some places they operate on the same routes, but tickets are only valid on buses of the company you buy them from. Lothian Buses provide the most useful services within Edinburgh, while First's routes run further out of the city into the surrounding towns and countryside.
http://www.travelinescotland.com/ lets you plan journeys using public transport.
Tickets are normally bought from the driver as you board the bus. Change is not given on most services, so you'll waste money if you don't have the exact fare ready. Fortunately this isn't as difficult as it sounds: for any ordinary Lothian Buses journey across the city, the fare will be £1. The airport bus, and longer distance buses, do provide change.
Ordinary tickets are valid for a single journey, not a set time period. This makes it good value to go from one side of the city to the other, but if you change buses you have to buy a new ticket on the second bus. If you will be taking more than two bus journeys in a day, you should instead buy a Day Ticket (currently £2.30), giving you unlimited travel for the day.
Several companies operate tourist bus services, going to and from the major sights with a commentary provided on the way. Some companies have these commentaries recorded in a range of languages.
A free bus service runs between the National Gallery on the Mound, the Dean Gallery on Belford Road, and the Portrait Gallery on Queen Street.
Most bus services in Edinburgh have one or two spaces for wheelchairs. The driver can lower a ramp, and/or lower the suspension of the bus.
Taxis are the 'London cab' type. It's normally easiest to call one in the street, but you can also call one of the taxi companies to ask them to pick you up. All official taxis in Edinburgh can take wheelchairs -- the driver will lower a ramp for you to enter.
To get to Teviot, it's quickest to ask the taxi-driver to take you to Bristo Square, then walk across the pedestrians-only square to reach the building.