While studying abroad, I had a list of places I wanted to travel but, let’s face it, life can get expensive. I soon realized that if I was going to travel around Europe while I was here, it would have to be done on a budget. If I’m being honest, I am not always great with the whole planning a budget and sticking to it, but after my most recent trip to Edinburgh, Scotland, I realized it can be done! So if you are looking to spend a weekend in one of the most beautiful cities ever, here’s how!
Train Ticket: $22
Uber: $20 (roundtrip)
Total Cost: $78
This can sometimes be the most expensive part of your trip, with having to book flights and train tickets, but don’t stress. Europe has a great selection of budget airlines that, if booked in advance, can be really inexpensive!
Keep an eye out when traveling to Scotland, but I recommend flying RyanAir. If you can fit your stuff in a backpack, there is no baggage fee and my ticket cost me $36 roundtrip!
If you do want to pay a little extra you can bring a carry on and get priority boarding for only 8 quid! (That’s around $10.)
Depending on what airport you fly from, the cost of traveling to and from the airport can vary. But for the most part you can get really cheap train or bus tickets. We took the Stansted Express for $22 round trip and it made it very easy to get to and from the terminals. If you are flying out of Heathrow or Gatwick you can also take the tube or check for a bus which you can easily get for $10 or less!
Lastly, once you arrive at Edinburgh airport and are looking to get to your accommodations, the train is right outside the terminals and costs about 7 quid ( $9). If you are traveling alone, this is definitely the cheapest option of getting into the city. If there are two or more of you, it is about the same cost to split an Uber, which can be slightly more convenient.
Once there you can pretty much walk everywhere, so you won’t need to worry about spending anything on daily transportation!
Hostel: $32.45 (Two nights)
It was super easy to find affordable, comfortable accommodation in Edinburgh. You can find an affordable hotel or Airbnb in the city, especially if you are booking in advance, but I recommend going the hostel route. There are plenty to choose from, but we stayed at Castle Rock Hostel, and it was fantastic. It had breakfast for $2 every morning and was located right along the Royal Mile, overlooking the castle. It ended up being about $16 a person for a shared room, but you can upgrade to a more private accommodation, if you want to.
The great thing about the hostel route, is that they also offer free, or highly discounted events. Castle Rock had a pub crawl, beer pong, and even a Highland trip you could sign up for, if interested. It’s cheap and a great way to meet new people while traveling!
Ghost Tour: FREE - ($5 donation)
Harry Potter Tour: FREE - ($5 donation)
Arthur’s Seat: FREE
Total Cost- $10
The great thing about Edinburgh is how inexpensive it is to explore the city! The city is packed with free walking tours. Not only do they have historical guides, but also late night ghost tours, and of course a Harry Potter tour… all for FREE! The guides do ask for a donation at the end of your tour, but it is totally up to you how much you want to pay. This is a fantastic way to learn more about the city and go out exploring while spending little to no money!
This is another MUST while staying in Edinburgh. Located about a mile east of Edinburgh Castle, just outside the city center, is this beautiful dormant volcano. The hills make up the majority of Holyrood park, with Arthur’s Seat being the peak! There a variety of routes leading to the top, so you do not need to be an experienced hiker. It is absolutely free and, once at the top, you will be greeted with breathtaking views of Edinburgh and the neighboring towns.
Breakfast: $4 (Two days)
Elephant House Cafe: $15
For food, I just recommend giving yourself a budget. We used our hostel for breakfast in the morning, which was only $2 a person. Then for lunch, there are plenty of great shops along the Royal Mile and in the heart of the city.
We did one day with a cheap lunch where we grabbed a quick bite for 6 pounds (around $8) and then did one nice meal. If you are looking for a delicious, and affordable restaurant, OX184 is fantastic! It has a wide range of food and the service is great.
For dinner we usually grabbed something inexpensive, like a sandwich, or popped into a pub. However we did eat at a little diner called Mums Comfort food. The fish and chips were amazing.
Also, be sure to pop into the Elephant House Cafe, if you are a Harry Potter fan. It is where JK Rowling wrote parts of the novels, and it has great views of the city!
The Scotch Whiskey Experience
Platinum Tour: $50
Gold Tour: $35
Silver Tour: $20 (18 for students)
This is located right along the entrance to Edinburgh Castle, and is a fantastic way to learn more about Scotland’s favorite drink! The cost varies depending on which tour you want to do, but it offers an in depth tour on how Scotch is made, a tour of the largest unopened Whiskey Collection, and of course a Scotch tasting. It’s definitely worth it, and if you are a student they offer discounts! We did the silver tour and it was fantastic.
Drinks and Covers- $15
Edinburgh has a booming nightlife, and again it can cost you little to no money! Most of the pubs and bars have live music every night, for no cover charge! All you have to do is pay for drinks. (If you want to.) If you get a couple of rounds, it ends up being about $10-15 a person!
If you are into live bands-- check out Whistle Binkies. It has no cover charge and it offers a wide range of music genres.
If you are into jazz, I recommend checking out The Jazz Bar. It does have a 6 pound cover charge, but their acts are fantastic and it is a great place to relax and enjoy some fantastic live music.
TOTAL COST: $221.40
So you see, traveling can be done without breaking your bank! If you are thinking of visiting somewhere new, I highly recommend Edinburgh. It's cheap, fun, absolutely beautiful, and can be done in under $250!