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Simon Calder's Holiday Helpdesk: What's the best for a London-Edinburgh return trip?


Q Best and cheapest London-Edinburgh-London route in your honest opinion? Hoping to travel to zoo in teachers' holiday before term starts.


A Edinburgh's zoo is certainly one of the UK's finest, and of course the city has much more to offer - see our most recent 48 Hours in the Scottish capital, available at bit.ly/Edinburgh48. The problem with a short-notice trip in the next couple of weeks is two-fold. First, the largest arts festival in the world - the Edinburgh Fringe - is on until 26 August, meaning demand for travel to and from the city is stronger than usual and fares are higher. For example, flying out on the morning of Saturday 24 August, back the following evening, the lowest fare is around £200 (on easyJet, out from Luton and back to Stansted).

In addition, if you were hoping to stay overnight, expect high rates. But during the following week, prices fall dramatically - fly from Southend on easyJet and you can find fares as low as £72 return. That's probably the cheapest deal, but as for the best: undoubtedly the train. Either the scenic day service, with East Coast Trains departures every half-hour, or ScotRail's sleeper - which of course removes the need for accommodation. Leaving on the first fast service (at 7am) on Wednesday 28 August, spending 12 hours in the city

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