Waverley Station is the main train hub of Edinburgh. Every day, thousands of passengers including commuters, tourists, shoppers and day-trippers come through this nerve centre.
Waverley literally connects Edinburgh to the rest of Scotland and beyond. Regular trains run to Glasgow every 15 minutes, and you can get over the water to Fife every 10 minutes or so. East Coast, CrossCountry and Virgin also run regular services to destinations down south such as London, York and even as far as Penzance.
So how does the first-timer navigate it without losing their minds, or even worse, missing their train? Well hand on tight, dear reader, because I’m about to tell you all you need to know to get around Waverley Station with ease…
Getting to Waverley Station
Waverley Station is located to the east of Princes Street and, including the train lines into it, takes up a great deal of the land in Princes Street Gardens. This becomes particularly evident from North Bridge, where you can see the roof of the station cover much of the land like some cool glass flooring.
Because it’s so big, you can get into it from four main points:
- Princes Street to the north
- Market Street to the south
- Calton Road to the north-east-ish
- Waverley Bridge to the east
Once you’re in however, it’s pretty easy to get to any platform which are a maximum of 3-4 minutes walk away, so which entrance you choose should really just be determined by your convenience. Most city centre buses stop near one of the entrances above, and the airport bus terminates at Waverley Bridge, seconds from the east entrance.
PRO TIP! If you are coming by taxi from the north – get them to drop you off at Calton Road, as stopping off on Princes Street will just create a logistical nightmare. If you’re coming from the south, Market Street is probably your best bet – but I will cover taxis in a bit more depth later.
Finding your way around
Getting to the main concourse might be a bit intimidating, especially if there are a lot of people around, but it’s actually pretty easy to find your way around.
Getting your ticket
If you don’t have one already, you’ll need to get a ticket before you get on a train, or in some cases even onto the platform. If this is the case, arrive in plenty of time as queues can get quite long.
Getting a ticket is really easy. Simply go to one of the ticket machines in the main concourse (pictured above), search for your location and follow the instructions. Most machines take both cards and cash, however some are card only.
You can also use these machines to pick up already purchased tickets, however if I would recommend going to the dedicated ticket pick up machines in the East Coast office (in the waiting hall at the back) as these tend to be quieter. Also remember to bring the card you bought the ticket with and your booking reference number, as you’ll need both before your ticket will be printed out.
Finding your platform
You’ll (hopefully) see the details of your train and the platform on the big board over the entrance barriers. If you are on platform 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17 or 18 then you’re in luck – they are just beyond the barriers.
Other platforms are scattered around the station, but are all quite easy to find. If you’re standing at the main concourse looking at the board:
- Platforms 1, 19 and 20 are to your right, with platform 1 and 20 accessible up and over the stairs
- Platform 2 is also to your right, but turn right again up towards Caffe Nero and head right to the back of the station
- Platform 3 and 4 are also at the back of the station, but you can access these either via the Caffe Nero route or by the old taxi rank round the left hand side
- Platforms 7 and 11 are to your left
- Platforms 8, 9 and 10 are also to your left, but they are accessible up and over the stairs
In any case, all platforms are well signposted so you should be able to find the one you’re looking for in no time.
Amenities at Waverley Station
If you have some time to kill, there are plenty of amenities in the station so if you need to get some cash, run to the loo or even drop off your luggage for a little exploration of the city before your connecting train, you are sorted.
There are two main places you can get cash in the station:
- The back of the waiting hall (pictured above)
- Beside Cafe Nero towards platform 2
If you’re heading down south use the HSBC machine in the waiting hall, which will give you English notes.
If you have to go and you can’t wait until you’re on the train, you’ll find facilities to the back of the waiting hall. There is a charge though – 30p last time I checked. If you can, wait until you are on the train so you can “spend a penny” without… you know… actually spending a penny.
There are left luggage facilities run by the Excess Baggage Company near platform 19, ideal if you want to drop your luggage off for an extra day of sightseeing.
At the time of writing, leaving your luggage costs £6 for 3 hours, £10 for 24 hours and £5 for every additional 24 hours after that. They are open every day from 7am to 11pm.
Shops at Waverley Station
Forgot your toothbrush? No problem, Waverley Station has a handful of shops so you can grab the essentials for your journey:
- WHSmith are quite pricey, but here you can buy magazines, books and snacks.
- Boots is the place to go if you’ve forgotten any medicines or toiletries, but you can also get a wee sandwich here as well.
- M&S Simply Food are great for sandwiches and train snacks, but a lot of commuters pop in here too for a pint of milk, or something for dinner later.
Food and drink at Waverley Station
In addition to WHSmith, Boots and M&S, you can get food for your journey or sit in at one of the following establishments:
- Caffe Nero is the place to go if you want a coffee (essential for an early morning train!). You can either sit in at their cafe up towards platform 2 or grab and go at their kiosk in the main concourse.
- Upper Crust in the main concourse is a fab place to get a substantial sandwich for your journey, with a wide range of fillings in freshly baked baguettes.
- Pasty Shop offer indulgent pasties and always smell amazing when I walk past!
- Millie Cookies has a kiosk on the main concourse and sells (as the name suggests) cookies, muffins and hot drinks like coffees , teas and hot chocolate.
- Bagel Factory have a huge range of hot bagels, perfect for breakfast.
- Burger King has a branch at the back of the waiting hall, with sit-in facilities available.
- The Nor Loch is Waverley Station’s pub, so if you have some time to kill before your train you can have a cheeky wee pint before you set off on your journey.
Leaving Waverley Station
If you’re arriving in Edinburgh for the first time via Waverley Station, it’s pretty easy to make your onward connection, wherever that may be.
If you’re getting a bus, head up to the Princes Street exit as most city centre services pass by or near there. If you’re wanting to get the bus to the airport, head up the long ramp to Waverley Bridge, where the excellent Airport 100 will get you there in around 25 minutes.
If you want to take a taxi, it’s a little more complicated than it used to be. Historically, you could get a taxi right in the station beside platform 7 but, since an experiment with a barrier system went horribly wrong, no taxis are allowed in any more. Now, you need to get your taxi from Market Street, which is the exit up to and beyond platforms 9 and 10. Turn left when you get out and you’ll see the taxi rank up on the left hand side.
So there you have it folks, everything I know about Waverley Station in one easy-to-digest post. I’ve tried to make this as comprehensive as possible but if there’s anything I’ve missed, or if you would like my advice on any other aspects of passing through Waverley Station, please let me know in the comments below.