Edinburgh on a Budget

Edinburgh on a Budget

Edinburgh, a city of captivating beauty, boasts a medieval Old Town steeped in history and legend, inviting exploration along its cobbled streets and charming closes. The locals exude warmth and hospitality, while the world-class pubs and breathtaking natural scenery add to its allure.

Yet, Edinburgh’s one drawback lies in its affordability. However, the city offers a silver lining with numerous free museums, historic sites, affordable eateries, and a plethora of outdoor activities, helping visitors balance the expenses of the more premium attractions.

See below some budget-friendly ideas on how to optimize your time and budget in this charming city.

Explore outdoor Edinburgh

Princes Street Gardens, a public park nestled in the city center between Old Town and New Town, offers an ideal retreat from the bustling Princes Street or a peaceful place to unwind in the castle's shadow.

For the most breathtaking cityscape, head to Calton Hill, where you'll be rewarded with sweeping panoramic views of Edinburgh's skyline, Arthur's Seat, and the Firth of Forth. Adorning Calton Hill are notable monuments, including The National Monument of Scotland and the Nelson Monument.

At the heart of the city within Holyrood Park stands Arthur's Seat, a dormant volcano and prominent landmark rising 251 meters above sea level.
For a leisurely 12-mile stroll alongside the river, explore the Water of Leith Walkway that meanders through the heart of Edinburgh.

Charming free attractions

Edinburgh abounds with free attractions, providing a wealth of experiences for every visitor. Immerse yourself in Scottish history at The National Museum of Scotland or explore the literary treasures of Scotland's renowned writers at The Writers' Museum.

Enjoy the tranquil beauty of The Royal Botanic Garden, marvel at art masterpieces at The Scottish National Gallery, and bask in the historical grandeur of St. Giles Cathedral and The Scottish Parliament. With these and more free options, Edinburgh offers a delightful array of cultural and educational adventures without breaking the bank.

Move around Edinburgh

Edinburgh charms with its compactness, making it a highly walkable city. Exploring on foot is the best way to experience its treasures, as most attractions are nestled within the neighboring Old Town and New Town.

For those who prefer public transportation, the buses offer convenience and affordability. A single bus ticket costs £1.50, while a day ticket, priced at £4.00, grants unlimited travel on trams as well. If you plan to use transportation for several days, consider opting for weekly passes to save money.

Traveling between the airport and the city center is made easy by the Airlink bus, which operates continuously. A single ticket for the Airlink bus is priced at £4.50.

Alternative accommodation options

Edinburgh provides a range of moderately priced accommodation options for budget-conscious travelers. Hostel dorm rooms are available starting at around £20 per night, while budget hotels such as Cityroomz and Motel One average around £80 per night.

For even more cost savings, consider exploring alternative options like Airbnb or HomeAway, where you can find affordable rooms for rent from local hosts.

Budget-friendly dining

In Edinburgh's Old Town, you can find grab-and-go style meals for under £5. Oink offers a delightful roast pork roll, The Piemaker serves hearty meat or veggie pies, and The Baked Potato Shop offers massive baked potatoes with a variety of delicious hot or cold fillings.

For a satisfying lunch or dinner, consider Mosque Kitchen, known for its affordable and authentic Indian cuisine, where you can enjoy a plate of curry, rice, and naan bread for around £7. Ting Thai Caravan is another excellent option for fantastic and inexpensive Thai food, with their delicious Pad Thai costing less than £10.

For those looking to indulge in Scottish cuisine, Mum's is a great choice for haggis and other classic comfort foods. Alternatively, The Dogs, a gastropub featuring traditional Scottish dishes with a contemporary twist, is worth exploring.

Visiting a charming pub

In New Town, Lucky Liquor boasts an enticing £5 beer & bourbon deal, while The Basement tempts with an array of inventive cocktails starting at £5.50. Over in Edinburgh's West End, Sygn offers a fair selection of cocktails for £5 as well. For a delightful pub experience, explore the dozen or so pubs on Rose Street and make your way to The Black Cat, where you can enjoy reasonably priced pints and live music on Mondays and Wednesdays.

In the heart of Old Town, Sandy Bell's awaits with its traditional folk music sessions every night of the week, offering pints starting around £3.50. For a unique haunt, visit Banshee Labyrinth, partly situated within infamous underground vaults and reputedly one of Edinburgh's most haunted bars. Here, many mixed drinks and pints are priced at less than £4.

Beer enthusiasts should not miss The Hanging Bat, a craft beer bar with an in-house brewery.

Steer clear of taxis

Taxis in Edinburgh can be quite pricey, so it's advisable to steer clear of them if you're on a tight budget. However, in case you're left with no other choice, consider using Uber, which has recently launched in Edinburgh and tends to be somewhat more affordable compared to traditional cabs.

Inexpensive City Tours

Embark on an eerie journey through Edinburgh's dark history with an Underground Vault Tour priced at £9. These hidden tunnels beneath Old Town have housed infamous characters, from serial killers to malevolent spirits, witches, and notorious criminals.

While whisky is a popular choice, Edinburgh offers more spirits worth exploring. Join the Edinburgh Gin Distillery's Gin Discovery Tour for £10, where you can delve into the history of Edinburgh Gin, tour the distillery, and savor their acclaimed gin.

Immerse yourself in the enchanting charm of Edinburgh's Old Town with the Free Walking Tour. Uncover the city's captivating history as you visit its main sights, accompanied by intriguing tales, legends, and ghost stories. Though technically not free, this tip-based tour still offers excellent value for an unforgettable experience.

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