Budget Scotland!

View of Edinburgh while climbing Arthur's Seat

View of Edinburgh while climbing Arthur’s Seat

After I spent a week travelling and staying in downtown London I found my bank account had taken quite the hit! (The UK is expensive!) I knew I would need to wise up a little bit, ie spend less money, for my week in Scotland. I started my Scottish adventure in Edinburgh, the capital city, which is traditionally an expensive place but I tried really hard to have a fantastic time while spending as little money as possible. What follows is the some tips I discovered along the way to really enjoy Edinburgh without breaking the bank – and in case you didn’t know I absolutely loved Edinburgh, it was my favourite stop on my UK adventure. 

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The view from my dorm room in Edinburgh

Accommodation

Let’s start with the big one – besides airfare, accommodations are usually what eats up a large amount of every budget. I knew I wouldn’t be able to afford staying in a hotel so I looked into alternative places to stay. There are a number of options for budget travelers looking for a place in Edinburgh (or really any major city).

  1. Hostels – There are some highly regarded hostels right in downtown Edinburgh. Royal Mile Backpackers is in an excellent location. Doing some research on tripadvisor would aid in picking the right place.
  2. AirBnB – I met someone on the train heading to Edinburgh who was using AirBnB for a place to stay. Again some research would help you find a suitable place.
  3. If you are brave you can check out couchsurfing which is a site where local people allow travelers to stay on a spare couch.
  4. Student Dorms – This is where I chose to stay.  (Pollock Halls)
    In the summer the University of Edinburgh rents out their student housing. I loved staying here! My dorm was located about 20 mins. away (walking) from the Royal Mile and I felt like a University student again. I had a private room with a shared bathroom.
    Pros: – A generous buffet breakfast was included in the dining hall.
    – The location was easily accessible to and from the city center by bus, walking or $5 taxi.
    – Located right under Arthur’s Seat which was a beautiful view
    Cons: – Elevator is loud so bring a pair of earphones just in case
    – The bed was uncomfortable, but it’s student housing so the
    expectations are not high.
    I would definitely stay here again when in Edinburgh, I liked being outside of the center of town where it was quiet and scenic. (The University also has locations closer to the Royal Mile)
    Cost – $50 CAN/night

Now that you have found a place to stay you are going to need something to occupy your time, although a lot of time can be spend just walking around admiring the beauty and the atmosphere of the city.

10 Wonderfully Free Things to Do in Edinburgh

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  1. Visit the National Museum of Scotland
  2. Admire the National Galleries of Scotland
  3. Go back in time at the Museum of Childhood (it’s adorable!)
  4. Walk through the Princess Street Gardens
  5. Take in the breathtaking ceiling of St. Giles Cathedral
  6. Window shop on Princess Street
  7. Be part of the crowd for the performers on the Royal Mile
  8. People watch in the Grassmarket area
  9. Climb Arthur’s Seat for an amazing view (or Calton Hill for the lazier traveler)
  10. Enjoy some bag pipe music! Every where I went it seemed I was able to hear the bag pipes.

Take a day trip into the Highlands

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The Hairy Coo is a FREE day trip into the Scottish Highlands, and it’s a lot of fun! The idea being that if you enjoy your time on the trip you pay what you think it is worth at the end. This is a great tour and well worth a tip, but I at no time felt that there was a certain about of money that I was expected to pay so I paid what I wanted. (Read about my adventure with the Hairy Coo here)

Food!!!

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I loved the Grassmarket area, I think I mentioned that in another post, so I had lunch in that area both days. Pub food is pretty reasonable ($20ish) for a meal and drink. To cut down on expensive food, each morning I would have a big breakfast at my dorm and sneak a piece of fruit out with me to have as a snack later in the morning. Then in the late afternoon I would have a sit down meal at a pub. In the evening I grabbed something small to take back to my dorm with me (a snack, street food or dessert type treat). That worked for me and kept my costs at a minimum.

Getting Around Town

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Edinburgh is a compact city so I walked everywhere! And remember it’s all up hill, so its a great way to get in some exercise. I think walking around is the best way to get to know a city, so I didn’t mind. (I did take a taxi one time after I stayed out a bit later people watching on the Royal Mile but it was only about $5.)

And that’s how I stayed in Edinburgh a budget!! I am sure with more research I could have spent even less money but I was happy with the amount I spent. I hope if you get the chance to visit this wonderful city, you do! I can’t wait to return again.

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Thanks for sharing my adventures!! — Kiera

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