Daily life

Essential information you'll want to know before visiting Edinburgh.

Basics overview - daily
Princes Street Gardens


The UK uses Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), also known as Western European Time (UTC).

From late March to late October, the UK uses British Summer Time (BST), also known as Western European Summer Time (UTC+01:00).


The official language of the UK is English. Other languages spoken are Scottish Gaelic, Irish and Welsh.

Gaelic at the University of Edinburgh

Health care

If you are visiting Scotland from abroad, you may have to pay for any health care you need while you are here.

You should probably get travel insurance with medical cover before your trip.

The National Health Service (NHS) in Scotland provide a factsheet about free health care you may be able to get if you become ill or have an accident.

NHS Inform: health care in Scotland for holidaymakers (factsheet)

New students and health care


It is against the law to smoke in Scotland’s indoor public places and you may be fined up to £50.

This includes pubs, restaurants and cafés, enclosed bus shelters, public buildings, sport and shopping centres, hospitals, within airports and on public transport.


Unique to Scotland, you can only buy alcohol from stores between 10am and 10pm each day.

Some stores extend this further on Sundays and don't start selling alcohol until 12.30pm.

It is illegal to drink in public in Scotland, except in Edinburgh where the laws are relaxed due to tourism. However, anyone drinking in public in Edinburgh would have to stop if asked by police.

Shop opening hours

Most shops are open from 9am to 5 or 5.30pm, Monday to Sunday.

Some shops stay open later on Thursdays, and supermarkets, petrol stations and convenience stores are often open late into the evening all week round.

Faith and worship

The University Chaplaincy has a list of faith and worship facilities available in Edinburgh including mosques, churches, gurdwaras, temples, meditation spaces, and more.

Faith and worship facilities in Edinburgh

New students 

Our new student pages contain all of the essential information you need when moving to Edinburgh.

These pages cover topics such as as travelling to Edinburgh and accommodation, as well as information about the resources provided to help you make the most of your time here.

New Student Pages


British telephone numbers comprise an area code and then the local number. The Edinburgh area code is 0131.

The country code for the United Kingdom is +44.

The emergency services (police, fire and ambulance) can be called on 999.


The standard electrical voltage in the United Kingdom is 230 V, 50-60 HZ.

Sockets in the United Kingdom are designed for three-pin plugs; you may need to buy an adapter.

Weights and measures

Money, weights and measures are metric.

Distances and speeds on signposts are shown in miles.

Beer is served in pints.