Edinburgh trams become latest tourist attraction

Time Out's guide includes scaling the Scott Monument. Picture: Greg Macvean
Time Out's guide includes scaling the Scott Monument. Picture: Greg Macvean
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IT is renowned worldwide for its spectacular landscape, centuries-old architecture and cultural attractions.

But an unlikely new entry has arrived on a “must-see” list for potential visitors to Scotland’s capital – its notorious tram project.

The £776 million scheme – which ended up more than twice the original budget and five years late – has been named one of the best things to do in Edinburgh in a new online guide.

Time Out’s guide, which showcases “essential things you have to do for a true Edinburgh experience”, includes enjoying the view from Edinburgh Castle, scaling the Scott Monument, and strolling through the Meadows, as well as taking in a film at the Cameo cinema and visiting the Scottish National Gallery.

A ride on the city’s tram – which is being used by more than 90,000 people a week – is also rated alongside sampling a cocktail at trendy New Town bar Bramble, shopping in Victoria Street, dining at a Michelin-star restaurant, and a night out at arts venues such as the Traverse Theatre and Summerhall.

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The guide to “20 Great Things To Do In Edinburgh” admits the tram is still a “sore point” among locals. But it adds: “It’s almost certain to be a topic of conversation in any bar or shop you visit along its route – make sure you have a go on it so you’re fully equipped for the debate.”

Business expert Graham Birse, of Edinburgh Napier University, said: “It wouldn’t be on my list of 20 essential things to do in the city. A few pints in the Bow Bar and a trip out to Murrayfield is much more of a real Edinburgh experience.”

Michael Apter, director of West End gift shop Paper Tiger and vice-chair of the local traders’ association, said: “This sounds a bit tongue-in-cheek and I suspect Time Out is having a bit of a joke at Edinburgh’s expense. However, the numbers suggest a lot of people are using [the tram] and like it. For a quick trip through town it is definitely quicker than the bus.”

The first phase of the tram only runs between York Place and Edinburgh Airport after the initial line was curtailed due to funding problems. Trams finally started running at the end of May – more than seven years after work first started. However, 1.5 million passengers used the tram in its first 100 days.

The Scottish Government finally approved a public inquiry into the fiasco in June, which is to be conducted by former Lord Advocate Lord Hardie.

Tom Norris, general manager of Edinburgh Trams, said: “It is great Time Out has listed us as one of the top 20 great things to do in Edinburgh. Our staff aim to provide a warm welcome. We hope this will build on what is already a popular service.”

Edinburgh City Council’s transport leader Lesley Hinds added: “I’m delighted to see trams highlighted as a ‘must do’ experience for visitors.”

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