How to Save Money While Traveling | Edinburgh on Budget

Edinburgh is a fantastic destination with an abundance of attractions and activities to enjoy. Yet, embarking on a Scottish holiday can be a substantial financial commitment. In this post, I’ve put together valuable tips to help you make the most of your visit to Edinburgh while keeping your budget in check. We will delve into three essential elements of a memorable travel experience: accommodation, things to do, and dining options. Welcome to Edinburgh on Budget!

Where to Stay?

Firstly, we need to find a place to stay. I always suggest, when possible, staying close to the city center since most of the attractions are located in the heart of Edinburgh and within walking distance of each other. There is a great number of low cost hostels and student accommodations located in town, which will help you save time, money, and transportation expenses while getting around.

Now, the interesting part is where to stay. Have you heard of couchsurfing? It’s a website that allows guests and hosts to connect (You stay at someone’s place for free which is a perfect option for Edinburgh on budget). Simply register yourself and try to find a host in the city you are visiting by sending a personalised message. I have used couchsurfing many times and through the platform, I have not only secured a bed for the night but have often made some friends with whom I still keep in touch today. It also gives you a chance to experience the city through the eyes of a local person rather than a tourist.

Another option is a hostel. There are many hostels, especially in the old town, that offer bunk beds for £15-£25 a night in a shared room. Obviously, the cheaper it is, the more people you would have to share your room with. I’ve stayed in lots of hostels around the world, and it’s especially a great option for a solo traveler as you can meet other fellow travelers and, again, perhaps make some friends or trip companions. My top choices for edinburgh on budget are Kick Ass Grassmarket and Castle Rock Hostel.

If you have a slightly bigger budget and prefer to have a room to yourself, then Edinburgh has many guesthouses and budget hotels where you can expect to pay between £40.00-£80.00 per night. TIP for Edinburgh on budget: If you are traveling to Edinburgh during the low season and are willing to take a risk, you can always book your accommodation on on the SAME DAY as you arrive. Yes, it’s risky, but in my experience (I’ve done it many times), 90% of the time, it has worked out well for me. Why do I suggest that? Often, hotels will drop the price for same-day bookings as they want to sell the room, so it’s like grabbing a hot pie; you just need to keep your eyes open.

Good areas to stay include the Royal Mile, Grassmarket, Haymarket, Stockbridge, Leith Walk, New Town, West End, and Newington.

Free Things to Do

Edinburgh is full of free sites and places to visit, where you can have a really good time or hide from the rain if you are traveling during autumn or winter. Here is a list of my TOP favorite free attractions and museums in Edinburgh.

  1. National Museum of Scotland: If you want to learn not only about Scotland but also about the world in general, this museum is a must-visit. It has many cool exhibitions, and you can easily spend the whole day here.
  2. Arthur’s Seat: This is my personal favorite place. It’s a hill located in the center of Edinburgh that offers a beautiful view of the city. The climb takes approximately 30 minutes.
  3. Calton Hill: Another beautiful viewpoint close to Arthur’s Seat, but it’s an easier climb (about 10 minutes).
  4. Museum of Edinburgh: A small museum that tells the story of the city.
  5. Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh: A great day out when the weather is nice.
  6. Stockbridge: A quirky central area that is nice to walk around and look at the architecture.
  7. National Galleries of Scotland: For those who love art.

Another great way to explore Edinburgh on budget is by joining a free walking tour (you tip at the end as much as you like). Whenever I travel to a new place, I always try to go for a free walking tour as it allows me to learn about the city, ask questions, and meet other explorers like me. Just type in “free walking tours Edinburgh” on Google and select the one you like the most. I personally love ghost tours (Boo).

How to Save Money on Food?

The best way to save money while traveling is to opt out of dining outside and cook food at your accommodation. Most hostels have kitchens equipped with pots and pans, and everything you need for cooking. However, if you are interested in food and want to try local cuisine, then of course, you should not miss out on this experience. I have collected a couple of recommendations for you that I personally tried where you can have a meal for under £10.00.

  1. 10 – 10 in Delhi: Love their peanut butter chicken curry and its perfect for Edinburgh on budget.
  2. Ting Tai Caravan: Cheap and delicious Thai food.
  3. Wetherspoons: A British chain of pubs that offers cheap British food and alcohol.
  4. German Doner Kebab: Known for fabulous fries and sauces.
  5. The Haggis Box: Are you brave enough to try the famous haggis?

Additionally, many shops feature a shelf with items that are about to expire, offered at reduced prices. You can inquire at the shop near you about the timing for placing these discounted items on the shelves and return at the specified time to seize yourself a bargain.

Budget Calculator

To help you establish your Edinburgh on budget trip, I’ve created a list of average prices (as of 2023) for the most common things:

  • Bus Ticket/Day Ticket: £2.00/£5.00
  • Coffee: £3.50
  • Taxi from the center to the Airport: £20.00
  • Bottled Water: £1.00
  • Beer: £5.00
  • Cocktails: £10.00
  • Paid Attraction: £20.00
  • Breakfast Roll: £3.50

These average prices will give you a good idea of what to expect during your trip to Edinburgh, helping you plan your budget more effectively.

So how much money would I actually need?

Great question! If you manage to secure accommodation through Couchsurfing or opt for a budget-friendly hostel dorm, plan to enjoy at least one meal out, and use public transportation, then you should budget a minimum of £40.00 per day. If you’re planning to include drinks in your itinerary, add an extra £10-£20 to your daily expenses. On average, tourists in Edinburgh typically spend around £150 per day.

Conclusion (Edinburgh on Budget)

edinburgh on budget

Exploring Edinburgh on a budget doesn’t mean missing out on any of the excitement this city has to offer. From the free attractions to budget-friendly dining options, you can experience the heart and soul of Edinburgh without breaking the bank. So, pack your bags, plan your trip, and get ready to make unforgettable memories in the land of kilts and haggis.

Looking for things to do in Edinburgh? Read my post on Top 10 activities to do in Edinburgh.

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