|Edinburgh International Film Festival 2011, Scotland, a photo by undercoverfilms on Flickr.|
I may be visiting Edinburgh this summer, so I've done the legwork to discover the cheapest ways to spend a holiday or weekend in Edinburgh. Some things are free, others cost a few pounds, but hopefully these tips will help make someone's travel dreams a reality.
Cheap Transportation to Edinburgh
First things first: you have to get to the city. I looked up airline tickets and found that the cheapest flight from London to Edinburgh was £59.98 from easyJet.com. If a bus sounds good to you, fares can be ridiculously low at £12-15 (or even £5 with special promotions). For ease and speed, your best bet is probably the train. I found tickets at just £38.20, though they can sometimes be as high as £65. If you're up for it, you could go by road without renting a car. If someone happens to be going in your direction you could hitch a ride with them through gocarshare.com.
Once you're in Edinburgh, you should walk as much as possible, but you might consider a bike rental. That can be a bit pricey at £12-20 per day. However, it's just £3.50 for all-day pass on the Lothian buses, which should shuttle you around to the major sites quite quickly, sparing your legs all of that walking and cycling.
Cheap Hotels in Edinburgh
Searching for the absolute cheapest accommodation in Edinburgh (outside of a park bench), I realized that hotels were not the way to go. The cheapest I found was the Edinburgh House Hotel and Robert Burns Hotel at £35. Outrageous! For the truly budget-conscious, look no further than Brodies Hostel. This three star establishment has rates starting at just £9 for a bed in an 8-10 mixed dorm.
An alternative to staying at a professional establishment is hanging out with a local. Check out airbnb.com for homes in Edinburgh with an empty sofa bed, or even a guest bedroom. I found a double room for just $15 a night.
|Breakfast, a photo by photojenni on Flickr.|
Cheap Food in Edinburgh
Your first stop should be an Asda, Tesco, or Marks & Spencer to pick up picnic foods. But, if you must eat at a restaurant, here are some suggestions:
- Breakfast: If you're a light eater, get a croissant at the Spoon Restaurant for £2.75, but if you're out for something with substance visit The Standing Order for a decent breakfast under £4. Get a delicious cup of coffee and a cake at Peter's Yard for about £3.70.
- Lunch: The highly rated Baked Potato Shop is one place you have to visit. For £3.50 you get a huge jacket potato piled high with a wide variety of hot and cold fillings (vegetarian haggis, anybody?).
- Drinks: On the healthy side, pick up fresh juice at Henderson's (from £2.85). For cheap beer in an art-student atmosphere, head to The Wee Red Bar where drinks run about £2.
- Dinner: In Edinburgh, street food is the way to go. Stop by La Favorita Wagon for a delicious slice of £2 pizza. The Mosque Kitchen is serving some of the cheapest eats in town, with ridiculously affordable samosas at 60p, nan bread for £1, and seekh kebabs and tandoori chicken drumstick are priced at £1.20. £5 will buy you an absolute feast.
Cheap Attractions in Edinburgh
Counter-intuitive though it may be, this is probably where you will spend the least amount of money in Edinburgh. So many sights and activities are absolutely free.
- Walking is a must in Edinburgh. Grab a guidebook and meander around Old Town, the city's oldest neighborhood. Hike up to Arthur's Seat and stroll through Holyrood Park, ascend Calton Hill, walk the Royal Mile, and run along Portobello Beach for absolutely nothing. Take a free tour of the splendidly ugly Scottish Parliament.
- Parks and gardens like The Water of Leith, the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, and Princes Street Gardens are open for the enjoyment of the public.
- If you are an art-lover, visit the Scottish National Gallery, National Portrait Gallery, and National Gallery of Modern Art.
- History more your speed? Check out the Writers' Museum, Museum on the Mound, and the Museum of Edinburgh.
- If you're up for festival fun without festival fees, there is plenty of opportunity. Edinburgh Festival Fringe has hundreds of free shows and street entertainment, and other popular events like the International Film Festival and International Book Festival also have a free side.
- Experience some of Edinburgh's ecclesiastical marvels by touring St Giles’ Cathedral, Greyfriars Kirk (home of Greyfriars Bobby), Canongate Kirk and other churches that are free to view.
- If you're looking for something unique and unusual, the mysterious Gilmerton Cove is only £7.50 to tour. The Surgeon's Hall Museums is £5/£3 concession, and the ruins of Inchcolm Abbey are £5.00 (plus ferry charge to get over to the island).