Rent a Car for Travel in Edinburgh

With its medieval Old Town and Georgian New Town full of world-famous attractions, Scotland’s capital Edinburgh charms visitors from around the globe. Having your own set of wheels makes exploring this compact city and journeys into the surrounding Scottish countryside easy. Here’s a guide on renting and driving in Edinburgh.

Finding a Rental Car Company in Edinburgh

As a major tourist destination, Edinburgh is served by all the big international car rental brands, including:

  • Hertz
  • Avis
  • Enterprise
  • Europcar
  • Budget
  • Sixt

There are also local Scottish rental firms like Arnold Clark Car & Van Rental and Macklin Motors Driving School. Compare rates across multiple companies. Book early for the best availability and prices.

Documentation and Requirements for Renting

Typical documentation required:

  • Valid driver’s license from your home country
  • Passport
  • Credit card for payment and deposit
  • Proof of adequate insurance coverage

Some companies have minimum age requirements, typically 21-25 years old. Additional daily fees often apply for drivers under 25. Clarify all policies when you book.

Types of Rental Cars Available in Edinburgh

Car TypeExamplesDescription
EconomyToyota Aygo, Ford FiestaSmall cars for 1-2 passengers plus luggage
CompactVW Golf, Opel AstraModestly sized cars good for city driving
StandardVauxhall Insignia, Ford FocusMidsize sedans fitting 4 passengers and bags
LuxuryBMW 3-Series, Mercedes C-ClassPremium vehicles with luxury amenities
SUVRange Rover Evoque, Nissan QashqaiFor families and heavy luggage capacity
Passenger VanFord Transit, Mercedes VitoFor group travel, airport transfers

Both manual and automatic transmissions are widely available. Automatic is more common for larger vehicle classes.

Driving in Edinburgh – Rules of the Road

Key driving regulations and etiquette in Edinburgh:

  • Drive on the left side of the road
  • Seat belt use mandatory for all passengers
  • Strict drunk driving laws enforced
  • Use hazard lights if stopped on highways
  • No right turn on red light
  • Yield to pedestrians at crosswalks
  • Honking only allowed in emergencies
  • Congestion charge required for city center driving

Edinburgh’s winding streets and narrow lanes demand caution. Drive slowly and be alert.

Useful Rental Car Tips for Edinburgh

  • Reserve early for best selection and rates
  • Inspect vehicle thoroughly at pick-up and return
  • Refill fuel tank before drop-off to avoid hefty charges
  • Have offline maps and GPS on your phone
  • Purchase adequate insurance – Consider maximum coverage
  • Ask about including unlimited mileage in contract
  • Ensure you have valid parking permits if street parking
  • Carry coins for parking meters and toll roads

Taking these precautions provides peace of mind with your rental.

Top Day Trip Destinations from Edinburgh

Having your own rental car makes accessing incredible sights near Edinburgh simple. Top day trips include:

Stirling – See Stirling Castle and the Wallace Monument from Braveheart. 45 min drive.

St Andrews – The home of golf with beautiful beaches and ruins. 1.5 hr drive.

Loch Lomond – Scenic lake with cruises, villages, and outdoor recreation. 1 hr drive.

Glasgow – Scotland’s eclectic biggest city with museums and food scene. 1 hr drive.

The Scottish Borders – Abbeys, trails, castles like Jedburgh and Melrose. 1 hr drive.

Fife – Quaint fishing villages like Anstruther and St Monans. 1 hr drive.

Carefully follow maps or a GPS when driving outside Edinburgh. Road signage can be limited in rural areas.

FAQ About Renting a Car in Edinburgh

What documents do I need to rent a car in Edinburgh?

You’ll need a valid driver’s license, passport, major credit card, and proof of insurance. Some companies require an International Driving Permit.

What side of the road do the Scottish drive on?

As part of the United Kingdom, traffic in Scotland drives on the left side of the road, not the right.

What automatic transmission cars are available for rental?

Most major rental companies offer automatic transmission on certain economy, compact, and luxury vehicles. Availability varies by location.

Is driving in Edinburgh difficult?

The central Old Town has congestion and winding medieval streets that require caution. Outside the city center, driving is easier but roads are often narrow with sheep!


While Scotland’s winding roads and left-side driving take adjustment, having your own rental car is the perfect way to explore Edinburgh’s castles, museums, and atmospheric Old Town lanes while taking scenic day trips into the Highlands. Reserve early, examine cars at pick-up, and brush up on local driving laws. With your own set of wheels, legendary lochs, coastal villages, and monster sightings await! Just load up the car with tartan, tweed, and your favorite Outlander playlists before hitting the road.


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