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Edinburgh Vacation on a Budget

Updated on August 29, 2012
Keep your money in your wallet
Keep your money in your wallet | Source

Edinburgh Scotland's Capital City

Edinburgh is one of the finest cities in Europe, with a wealth of attractions for any visitor. Coming for vacation on a budget need not be a stumbling block, there are many Edinburgh hotels for cheap, places to eat and things to do and see all within the city centre. With hundreds of hotels, Edinburgh Guest houses, Bed and Breakfasts and hostels there is something to suit every pocket. Eating out needn't empty the pockets either, and although Edinburgh has many fine dining establishments there are some real hidden gems where a visitor can eat like a king for a couple of pounds. Many Edinburgh attractions are free too, whether spending the day exploring the spooky delights of the Old town, or visiting one of the many free art galleries or museums. Edinburgh is home to The Edinburgh Festival, the biggest cultural festival in Europe in which the city is transformed for three weeks in August into a melting pot of performing arts. As this is the month which attracts most visitors, prices go up accordingly, so you may want to consider a visit at another time of year, such as an Edinburgh Vacation in Winter. Edinburgh is a compact city, the centre is a few miles across in any direction, public transport is frequent and inexpensive, so ideal for those who want a vacation without the expense of hiring a car.

Where to stay in Edinburgh

There are a number of options for cheap accommodation in Edinburgh City Centre. Staying at a hostel is economical, Budget Backpackers is located two minutes walk from the Royal Mile, in the Cowgate, with private rooms, free hot showers and bed linen. The hostel also has a lounge and a well equipped, housed in a beautiful 19th Century building. Rates start at $10 for dormitory beds, a twin room costs $25. Princes Street East Backpackers is also in a good location, a stone's throw from Edinburgh Waverley station, and ideal for those who like nightlife. Also a perfect takeaway food bar just around the corner - Snax, which serve hot meals to take away at very cheap prices.

For those who prefer a quieter situation an area near Minto Street in Edinburgh's South Side just a mile or two from the hub of the city is perfect. A beautiful strip of Georgian properties,-once wealthy merchants houses in the 19th Century - spans an area either side of one of the main arterial roads in to Edinburgh City. Buses are frequent ( every 3 minutes) and is a 10 minute ride to The Royal Mile.
Many of the properties have been converted to Bed and Breakfasts and Guest houses, and the location is peaceful. Prices for this type of accommodation are very reasonable, usually costing between $25- $50 per night. This usually includes private facilities, TV and a hearty Scottish breakfast.

Edinburgh University was founded in 1583 and is one of the UKs most prestigious medical schools. With over 24000 students it also owns a huge amount of property in the city centre, much of it becomes vacant over the summer vacation period. The University rents student accommodation over the summer months to visitors. Facilities are excellent, and prices start from $45 per night.

A filling meal at the Mosque Kitchen
A filling meal at the Mosque Kitchen | Source

Where to eat on the Cheap

If you are spending the day sightseeing then its probably a good idea to carry a drink and a snack, depending on where you are you are you could end up paying a premium price for a bottle of water. Street food - like many Northern Capitals is limited, however there are a number of bakeries where you can buy a hot meat, cheese or vegetable pie for as little as 80c. If you are in the Royal Mile there is a bakery on South Bridge, just behind the Tron Kirk,called Greggs- part of a large UK chain, where a pie and a drink will set you back less than $2. Greggs is open only until 5pm. Over the other side of the Royal Mile, half way down Cockburn Street there is Edinburgh's oldest Mexican restaurant, Viva Mexico, where a sit down 2 course lunch will cost $9 .Food is fresh, atmosphere friendly. Edinburgh also has many traditional fish and chip shops, where you will take your food outside to eat. Most fish and chip shops will have a variety of food from fish, chicken, sausage, to traditional Scottish favourites such as white pudding ( vegetarian oatmeal) to haggis. Most take out meals cost between $4-$6.

There are a great number Indian and Chinese restaurants to choose from, Jimmy Chung's is situated just at the entrance to Edinburgh's Main Railway station, Waverley, just off Princes street. Here you can eat all you like from a very wide variety of Chinese dishes, lunch is $10, dinner $15. Another option to the South side if the City is the Mosque Kitchen. Situated at the rear of the grounds of the City Mosque is an outdoor eating area, which serves delicious authentic curry dishes on paper plates with plastic forks. It is a cafeteria style operation, the food is piled high, and guests sit under a plastic roof for basic alfresco dining. Food is wholesome and traditional with an outside grill for the warmer months. Don't expect polished dining, but there is a good range of meat and vegetarian foods, with a a huge plateful starting at $5. Also on the South side of the city is a vegetarian food Cooperative - The Engine shed, the Building built in the 1830s was originally owned by the railway network but is a light and friendly place to enjoy a variety of vegetarian and vegan food at very low cost.


Out and About In Edinburgh for FREE

Edinburgh is one of the most beautiful cities in Europe, with much of the city centre dating back to medieval and Georgian periods. A UNESCO World heritage sight, the stunning architecture is a feast for the eyes, simply to walk around the Old Town to soak up the atmosphere or to stroll down the elegant crescents of the New Town can be a true highlight of any vacation to Edinburgh, regardless of budget. Many of the best things to do in Edinburgh are free, and well worth spending time to visit. The Scottish National Portrait gallery in Queen Street explores the lives of great Scots who have changed the world. Two other art galleries sure to please are the National Gallery on the Mound, and the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art half a mile from the East end of Princes Street.

In the Centre of the Royal Mile stands the imposing Gothic building of St Giles Cathedral a wonderfully gothic, dark building which dates back to 1385.

On the lower end of the Royal Mile there are some delightful small museums which are worth a visit; The Museum of Childhood is a delightful trip down memory lane , and a fun day out for the whole family. The museum exhibits hundreds of toys some of them centuries old, with plenty of hands on activities for young and old alike! Further down the Royal Mile is The People's Story Museum which delves into the lives of ordinary people at work and play from the 18th Century.The People’s Story is housed in the Canongate Tolbooth, a Royal Mile landmark built in 1591 and used in the past to conduct burgh affairs, collect taxes and as a jail.

Huntley House Museum opposite holds thousands of Edinburgh's iconic objects created by craftsmen, again the museum was built in the 1500s, with low beams and timbered floors, the building itself is a delight to explore.

Five minutes walk from the Royal Mile is Edinburgh's biggest Museum, the National Museum of Scotland in Chambers Street.

One mile North of the City is The Royal Botanic Gardens. Founded in 1670, and extending over 70 acres it provides a tranquil haven to refresh and energise the spirit. A world renowned scientific centre there is a rolling programme of events and education ,story telling and craft workshops throughout the year.

If You are visiting Edinburgh for a summer vacation, you will be in for a treat, as Edinburgh is a very green city with lots of outdoor spaces to explore. In the centre of Edinburgh , adjacent to the main railway station is Princes Street Gardens, once a loch or lake was drained to make way for a beautiful park, right in the heart of the city. At the bottom of the Royal Mile lies Holyrood Palace, the official Scottish residence of Queen Elizabeth II, set in a vast public park, on which stands Arthur's seat, the rocky ancient heart of a long extinct volcano. Standing at over 800 feet, it is well worth a climb for the panoramic views of the city.


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    • Silver Fish profile image

      Silver Fish 7 years ago from Edinburgh Scotland

      Thanks so much for your kind comments, it surprised me too that there was so much to do in Edinburgh for free, it wasn't until I started thinking about it that even with a limited budget there is so much fun to be had.

    • thougtforce profile image

      Christina Lornemark 7 years ago from Sweden

      As you know, you are kicking in an open door with me as regards Scotland and especially Edinburgh , but this is such a useful hub. It need not be expensive to go on holiday. I'll remember this hub and read it before we go. The pictures are wonderful, who needs expensive hotels with that beautiful environment!