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.
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).
- 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.
- 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.
- If you are brave you can check out couchsurfing which is a site where local people allow travelers to stay on a spare couch.
- 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
- Visit the National Museum of Scotland
- Admire the National Galleries of Scotland
- Go back in time at the Museum of Childhood (it’s adorable!)
- Walk through the Princess Street Gardens
- Take in the breathtaking ceiling of St. Giles Cathedral
- Window shop on Princess Street
- Be part of the crowd for the performers on the Royal Mile
- People watch in the Grassmarket area
- Climb Arthur’s Seat for an amazing view (or Calton Hill for the lazier traveler)
- 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
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)
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
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.
Thanks for sharing my adventures!! — Kiera