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A Budget Guide to Edinburgh

Edinburgh is known as the Athens of the North, but with so much to do and see it can get real pricey real quick. Here are some top tips to have an amazing trip without breaking the bank.

Avoid August!

From the first weekend to the last weekend in August, the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and the Edinburgh International Festival are taking place.

While this is an amazing time to see so many theatre shows, comedians and artists, the population of the city doubles for the whole month. For a simple weekend, you'd be expected to pay easily £500 for accommodation.

While it's an amazing time to visit, if you want to see the city properly, August is a definitely a time to avoid.

Free Activities

Between tours and travel and the biggest tourist attractions, it's easy to spend a lot of money on things to do. Below is a list of free activities that you can spend your time doing, where you'll still absorb a sense of the city without that major price-tag.

  • Arthurs Seat: No trip to Edinburgh is truly complete without a trek up the dormant volcano of Arthurs Seat. The trek may be tricky if it's a cold or wet day, but on a clear day, you'll get the best views of Edinburgh so make sure to pack a camera. Make sure to travel during the day, as if it gets dark you can get stuck at the top and that's no fun for anyone!
  • The Royal Botanical Gardens: Especially in Spring and Summer the botanical gardens offer a beautiful look of various flowers and plants. There is a beautiful Chinese Garden with a duck pond - a truly peaceful, a possible romantic, way to spend a couple of hours.
  • St Giles Cathedral: On Edinburgh "Royal Mile" St Giles won't require a particularly difficult commute to get to. With tours available, you can see a lot of art and discover much about the history of the Cathedral.
  • The Scottish Poetry Library: A unique thing to Edinburgh, the Scottish poetry library allows people to enter with coffee and tea from the outside. Also offering free Wifi, the Scottish Poetry Library has a full collection of the best poets and prose writers in Scotland. 

Shop Around

When looking to book somewhere to stay, shop around. Hotels are a great option but can cost a lot to stay for more than a couple of nights. Many landlords rent out rooms in Edinburgh on AirB&B or you can find them on comparison sites like booking.com or Trivago - there may be different options depending on what country you're from.

The Other great option is Hostels—there is a wide variety all over the city. Make sure to read the reviews; with the strong competition available the hostels try and keep themselves in a good position.


While it can be tempting to use Taxis in a city you're unfamiliar with, Lothian buses operate regularly during the day or night. £4 will buy you a day ticket that allows you on any Lothian bus in the city, for the entire day—or if you're more of a night owl, you can buy a day to night ticket for £3.50 and get a night bus as well. This can be bought after 6:30 PM and you can buy it on the bus.

Top Tip: The buses do not give change, so coins are needed. Alternatively, you can download the Lothian Bus app and buy whatever tickets you need.

Places to Eat

When you go on any holiday, you'll find yourself eating out a lot. There are plenty of places in Edinburgh that you can get amazing food at very reasonable price tags; there are also loads of places for Coffee & Tea so you don't need to go to Starbucks for your daily coffee fix.

  • City Cafe
  • The Tron
  • Wings
  • Mum's Comfort Food
  • Brew Lab
  • Black Medicine Coffee

To ensure you have the best trip possible, make sure you do your research. No one wants to spend their spending money on travel and accommodation when you can spend it on making sure you have a fantastic trip!

You can always visit https://www.visitscotland.com/destinations-maps/edinburgh-lothians/ to find out more information.

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