In June, Edinburgh is on UTC+1 (BST). Times are normally given using the 12-hour system, although formal written material often uses the 24-hour system for clarity.
DebConf includes midsummer; on 21 June sunrise and sunset will be at about 04:26 and 22:03 respectively.
At one o'clock each afternoon a cannon (the 'One O'Clock Gun') is fired from the castle, while a ball drops on a mast on the Nelson Monument on Calton Hill.
The large clock on the tower of the Balmoral Hotel on Princes Street is traditionally set two minutes fast, to help travellers be on time for their trains at the adjacent Waverley Station.
The currency in Edinburgh is the pound sterling. Euros are occasionally accepted, but the exchange rate is unlikely to be in your favour.
As of April 2007, £1 is about €1.5 or US$2.
You will find four types of banknote in circulation: Bank of England, Bank of Scotland, Clydesdale Bank, and Royal Bank of Scotland. All these banknotes are also valid in England, although shopkeepers in provincial areas may not recognise them. The most common banknotes are £5, £10, and £20. There are also £50 and £100 notes.
One pound (£1) is equal to 100 pence (100p). The coins in circulation are 1p, 2p, 5p, 20p, 50p, £1 and £2. The Royal Bank of Scotland still issues £1 notes, but these are now rarely seen in circulation.
Using a debit/credit card
There are many ATMs/cash machines in central Edinburgh. There is a machine inside Teviot, near the entrance; otherwise, the nearest machines to Teviot are on the Potterrow building to the east of Bristo Square, and at the Royal Bank of Scotland on the corner of Lauriston Place/Forrest Road. Normal cash machines do not charge for withdrawals; any machine that will charge you for the transaction must warn you on screen beforehand.
All normal shops and restaurants, and most bars, will allow you to pay with a card instead of using cash. It is rare to pay with a card for transactions below about £5. Some bars, for example, will impose an additional fee for small transactions paid with a card.
Tax and tipping
Sales tax (VAT) is already included in the prices you see.
Tipping rates are lower than in, for example, the US: 10% would be a normal tip for average/good service.
Tipping is expected in table-service restaurants (not within Teviot). Some restaurants add a service charge to the bill automatically for large groups.
It is not required that you tip taxi-drivers, but they will thank you if you do. It is common to round up the fare rather than calculate a percentage precisely.
Tipping is not expected when you buy drinks at a bar/pub.
Alcohol and other drugs
The legal minimum age for buying alcohol from a bar/pub/off-licence (liquor store) is 18, though there are some bars which only admit people over 21. It is not normal to be asked to show proof of age, unless you look like you are too young.
In some circumstances people over 16 but less than 18 can buy beer, wine or cider with a meal. (The legal minimum age for drinking alcohol is 5.)
It is illegal to drive a car with a blood alcohol concentration of more than 80mg per 100ml.
The legal minimum age for buying cigarettes is currently 16. It is illegal to smoke in any enclosed public place, including for example Teviot, pubs, restaurants, railway stations, airports.
Many drugs, including cannabis, are illegal to possess, with harsher penalties for selling them.
- Detailed guide to pub etiquette: http://www.sirc.org/publik/pub.html
In most pubs and bars you are expected to order drinks and food at the bar yourself. It is normal to buy drinks in rounds: in a busy pub, you should send one person to the bar to buy drinks for your group, rather than all go individually. You should try to find a space to stand directly next to the bar, and silently make eye-contact with the serving staff to show that you are waiting, and they will try to serve customers in the order that they arrived at the bar. If you order hot food, it will be brought to your table later.
Beer is served in pints (568 ml, larger than a US pint) and half-pints. It is unusual for men to order half-pints.
Spirits are served in measures of either 35ml or 25ml (depending on the venue). You can also ask for 'a double' to receive twice the amount.
In a pub people may make conversation with strangers at the bar, whereas it is not normal to speak to strangers sitting in groups at tables.
Type G power sockets are used.
Mains electricity is 240V, 50 Hz.
To dial numbers in Edinburgh from outside the UK, use +44 for the UK and remove any leading 0. For example, from outside the UK 0131 6504504 should be dialled as +44 131 6504504. (0131 is the Edinburgh area code.)
The international dialling prefix for calling other countries from the UK (for which + is a placeholder) is 00.
Mobile (cell) phone networks in the UK use the GSM standard on 900 MHz and 1800 MHz.
The emergency services can be reached by the European standard number, 112.
Stamps for sending letters within the UK are available in many shops and newsagents. Letters can can posted in red postboxes on the street.
The nearest post office to Teviot is on Forrest Road.
There are no special health precautions that should be taken visiting the UK.
Visitors from participating countries should obtain a free European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) before travelling. If you need medical attention while in the UK, this card shows that you are entitled to free treatment on the National Health Service.
You are also entitled to free healthcare for immediately necessary treatment, using your passport as proof of entitlement, if you are a citizen of Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Moldova, New Zealand, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, Russia, Uzbekistan, or the Ukraine. Or, using your passport or residence card as proof of entitlement, if you are resident in Anguilla, Australia, Barbados, Bosnia-Herzegovina, British Virgin Islands, Channel Islands, Croatia, Falkland Islands, Gibraltar, Isle of Man, Macedonia, Montenegro, Montserrat, Serbia, St Helena and the Turks & Caicos Islands.
Tap water is safe to drink (except where there is a sign to say otherwise).
Edinburgh, including the city centre, is generally a very safe city. If you are on your own late at night we suggest that you avoid walking past nightclubs on the Cowgate or Lothian Road, where there may be crowds of drunk people in the street. Avoid walking through park areas such as the Meadows alone late at night.
Don't refer to the UK as "England" or call Scottish people "English".
The main tourist information centre in Edinburgh is at 3 Princes Street, above the Princes Mall shopping centre.