Heading to Edinburgh? Get ready to fall in love! Georgian houses along cobbled streets, a hilltop castle with sweeping city views and a stunning park in the grassy crater of an extinct volcano are just a few highlights. Try these fantastic things to do in Edinburgh on a budget!
1. Full Scottish breakfast
Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so why not try Roseleaf near the Ocean Terminal in the waterfront Edinburgh neighbourhood of Leith? Their breakfast special, “The Big Yin”, includes pork sausages, black pudding, bacon, baked beans, roasted tomato, flat cap mushrooms, a fried egg and a Scottish scone.
2. The Water of Leith walkway
After a full Scottish breakfast, you might want some exercise! This picturesque 12-mile walkway follows the Water of Leith River from Balerno all the way to the port of Leith, passing Murrayfield Rugby Stadium, the Gallery of Modern Art, Dean Village and the Royal Botanic Garden. Take the bus to the Water of Leith visitor centre in about 20 minutes’ time, where you can pick up a detailed map of the walkway for just £1.
3. The Museum of Edinburgh
Like the expression says, “You can’t know where you’re going until you know where you’ve been.” Dive into the city’s rich history at the Museum of Edinburgh right on the Royal Mile. One highlight includes a bowl and collar that belonged to Greyfriars Bobby, Edinburgh’s most loyal pet. And, best of all, entrance is completely free!
4. The Palace of Holyroodhouse & the Royal Yacht Britannia
At the end of the Royal Mile, the Palace of Holyroodhouse is home to the Queen when she visits Edinburgh. For £12.50, your ticket includes a palace audio tour including the chambers of the famous Mary, Queen of Scots.
Continue on to one of the top attractions in Scotland, the Royal Yacht Britannia docked next to the Ocean Terminal. At the Queen’s floating royal residence, you’ll see the state apartments, royal bedrooms, the royal deck tearoom and even the Rolls Royce that always travelled aboard. Admission is £15.50, or £13.75 for students.
5. Scotch whisky
According to the Scots, there’s a whisky for everyone. At pubs like Whiski Rooms and The Bow Bar, you can ask the bartenders to recommend a whisky based on your specific tastes.
6. The Scottish Parliament
With free admission, going on a tour of Parliament is a great way to get a glimpse into Scottish government. You can visit the Parliament’s public spaces from Monday through Saturday, but to go on the free tour you’ll need to book online in advance. You can even observe the happenings in the debate chamber!
7. Edinburgh’s markets
Edinburgh boasts three spectacular farmers’ markets, open from 10am-5pm: Stockbridge (Sundays), Leith and Grassmarket (Saturdays). Buy delicious produce fresh from the farm, handmade arts and crafts and street food ranging from Scotch eggs and pies to international fare.
8. Scottish literature
Just a stone’s throw from Edinburgh Castle, you’ll find the Writers’ Museum with free admission. Learn about the famous Scottish writers Robert Burns, Sir Walter Scott and of course, Robert Louis Stephenson, known for Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. Afterwards you can go on a literary pub crawl (£12 regular, £9 students, online price), where you’ll visit some of the writers’ favourite haunts.
9. Cheap eats in Edinburgh
Looking for a meal on the cheap? Try The Piemaker, serving pies with over 30 different fillings, or The Baked Potato Shop for cheap, hearty takeaway. If you’re in the mood for classic Scottish, Mum’s is the place to go for sausage and mash, pies or stew.
10. A discount for Edinburgh Castle
It’s a must! With an admission fee of £17, it’s a bit steep, but there is a 10% discount with the Euro 26 student card. If you can’t swing the price tag, head up to the castle esplanade (free) for great views of Arthur’s Seat and the city.
Have your own budget tips for visiting Edinburgh? Let us know in the comments below!