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Getting to Edinburgh by air

Man waiting for planeEdinburgh airport's modest size is both a blessing and a hindrance for air travellers. On the one hand, international links aren't great, especially if you're travelling from outside Europe. On the other hand, there are plenty of connections from inside the UK - and it won't take you long to clear the compact airport when you get here.

From the UK and Europe

Flights to Edinburgh leave from all London's airports, several times a day. British Airways and Virgin compete on the route from Heathrow, while BA and EasyJet go head-to-head from Gatwick; EasyJet also operates from Stansted and Luton, and BA and Air France subsidiary CityJet both fly the more expensive route from London City. Regional airports are also well-served - Cardiff, Manchester and Birmingham are obvious possibilities, and smaller airports from Norwich to Newquay are accessible through low-cost airlines.

Internationally, while Edinburgh is nowhere near as well-connected as London, there are still direct links to many European capitals: these include Dublin, Paris, Madrid, Amsterdam and Copenhagen. Other major cities with direct flights include Barcelona, Cologne/Bonn, Frankfurt, Geneva, Munich and Zurich; there are also services to a few smaller airports across Europe, but these are designed more for getting Scots to tourist hot-spots abroad than for convenience when heading in the other direction.

For an up-to-date list of destinations, check out Edinburgh airport's own website - see "Elsewhere on the Web" below.

From North America and the rest of the world

Options to fly directly from North America to Edinburgh are severely restricted: Continental flies daily out of New York's Newark airport and Air Canada offers a route from Toronto, but there are no direct flights to the rest of the world at all.

The nearby city of Glasgow is much better-served and, though the 50-mile journey from Glasgow Airport to Edinburgh is a bit of a schlep, many travelers think it's a worthwhile sacrifice to avoid the inconvenience of a connecting flight. Be warned that rival Glasgow Prestwick is not the same airport, and is located considerably further away from Edinburgh.

Most travellers from outside Europe will instead fly to another European airport and transit to Edinburgh. If you're planning a change of flight, particularly between airlines, try to avoid doing it at London Heathrow - one of the world's oldest airports, it's inevitably one of the most sprawling, and a transfer from an inter-continental to a domestic flight can take the better part of two hours. If you can arrange to connect at the smaller London Gatwick, that's a smarter choice. Or skip London altogether: other options for transit include Birmingham or Manchester or, outside the UK, the major hubs of Paris Charles de Gaulle or Amsterdam Schipol.

Many visitors from North America or further afield plan a two-centre holiday in London and Edinburgh. In that case, don't overlook the possibility of connecting between the cities by train - particularly at the London end, you'll save a fair amount of aggravation getting out to the airport.

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