How to Visit Edinburgh on a Budget


With winding cobblestone streets, secret underground tunnels, and a castle perched atop an ancient volcano, it’s easy to see how J.K Rowling found inspiration in for Harry Potter in Edinburgh. This magical city has influenced generations of writers and artists.

Although not as expensive as London or Paris, the Scottish capital isn’t exactly known for being an affordable destination. But with the right tips and tricks, it’s possible to fill your itinerary and have an amazing trip to Edinburgh on a budget. Keep reading to find out how!


Edinburgh on a budget: Know before you go


Scotland is NOT England

The UK is comprised of Scotland, England, Wales, and Northern Ireland. Scotland is a unique nation with its own distinct culture, customs, and history. Be sure not to call them English.


You’re probably pronouncing it wrong

It’s not pronounced Ed-in-burg or Ed-in-burrow. It’s Ed-in-burr-ah or, if you want to get properly local, Edd-n-brah.


Avoid Edinburgh in August

In August, hordes of tourists flock to the city for Edinburgh Festival Fringe, the world’s largest arts festival, as well as the International Festival, a 3-week performing arts festival. It’s an amazing time to be entertained in Edinburgh but a downright terrible time to be in need of an affordable hotel room.


Pack for the weather

The weather in Scotland is ever-changing. Summers tend to be dry, but even a sunny day can quickly turn into a torrential downpour. After packing your shorts and t-shirt, don’t forget to also add a waterproof layer and some rain boots (or ‘wellies’ as they’re called in Scotland).




Free and cheap things to do in Edinburgh


Take advantage of all the free museums


One of the most impressive things about Edinburgh is the sheer volume of incredible free admission museums – though many do have suggested donations. Some of the top free museums in Edinburgh are:


See Edinburgh from atop an ancient volcano


Named after the legendary King Arthur, Arthur’s Seat is actually an extinct ancient volcano. Located in Holyrood Park, it’s also one of four ancient hill forts in the area, each dating back more than 2,000 years.

A hike to the top (about two hours round trip) is one of the best things to do in Edinburgh on a budget, and provides sweeping views of the city below.


Stroll the Royal Mile


This stretch of road connects two of Edinburgh’s most important royal residences: Holyrood Palace and Edinburgh Castle. Once the busiest street in Old Town, today the Royal Mile is dotted with souvenir shops, pubs, and historic landmarks.

Don’t miss St. Giles’ Church, also known as the High Kirk (Church) of Edinburgh. Founded way back in 1124, this historical church is the Mother Church of Presbyterianism. The church is free to visit and provides free guided tours every half hour or a guided rooftop tour for £6 per person – making it one of the top things to do in Edinburgh on a budget.


Explore Dean Village


Located a short walk from Princes Street, paying a visit to charming Dean Village is a bit like stepping back in time. Situated along the River Leith, this enchanting area was originally built for local mill workers. Although the picturesque village has caught the attention of Instagram, it still maintains its historic charm, with sleepy medieval houses and cobbled streets dotting either side of the gently flowing river.


Discover 17th Century Edinburgh at Mary King’s Close

Beneath the Old Town of Edinburgh lies a series of underground tunnels and streets. Back in the 1600’s, Mary King’s Close was a bustling marketplace and shopping center – until the plague swept through Edinburgh, and the Close was demolished and built over. Since then, it’s become the site of numerous ghost stories and urban legends.

In fact, what remains is a remarkable preservation of medieval life. Tours of the Close offer a glimpse into Old Edinburgh through the eyes of the people that lived there, with each tour guide taking on the persona of a 17th century resident.


Greyfriar’s Bobby

Edinburgh dog statue

Greyfriar’s Bobby is something of a local legend in Edinburgh.

The story goes that back in 1850, a policeman named John Grey decided to bring his Skye Terrier – Bobby – on his nightly rounds. John and Bobby soon became a familiar sight in Edinburgh’s streets. When John died in 1858, he was buried in Greyfriar’s Kirkyard, where Bobby refused to leave his side. The graveyard keeper tried to evict the dog on several occasions, but Bobby always returned. Eventually he gave up and built the dog a small shelter to sleep in.

The people of Edinburgh took it upon themselves to care for Bobby, but he remained loyal to his master. For fourteen years, he kept constant watch over John’s grave. A statue was dedicated to Bobby in1873 to commemorate his loyalty.

Today, you can visit Bobby’s statue and his namesake pub just across the street.


Visit the world famous Royal Botanic Gardens


At over 350 years old, the Edinburgh Royal Botanic Gardens are an impressive sight. Visitors can explore 70 acres of local and international plant life, with highlights including the Rock Garden, the Chinese Hillside, and the Scottish Native Plants Collection. Located just one mile north of the city, the garden lookouts provide sweeping views over Edinburgh.

Best of all? The gardens are open every day and admission is always free.


Where to stay in Edinburgh on a budget


Eden Locke

Eden Locke offers boutique studio apartments in a Georgian townhouse. Just a short walk to popular shops, restaurants, as well as Princes Street Gardens, the location simply can’t be beaten.


B + B Edinburgh

Located near Dean Village, this charming bed and breakfast is situated in a grand Victorian townhouse. B + B Edinburgh offers comfortable, modern rooms and a free cooked Scottish breakfast.


Castle Rock Hostel

Located – as you might expect – right beneath the castle,  this in a 19th-century house isn’t your usual dingy backpacker hostel. Castle Rock Hostel offers colorful rooms, a “posh lounge” with a free book exchange and ornate decor, as well as a “groove lounge” with guitars and records.


CoDE Pod – The Court Hostel

This 1693 courthouse-turned-hostel offers travelers the chance to stay in trendy pod-style bunk beds that are made to feel like private rooms. Though the Court Hostel also has private rooms available, including their “jail cells”.




Cheap flights to Edinburgh

Recently, Dollar Flight Club members have saved between 70-90% on cheap flights to Edinburgh. On average, our members spent $$$ on their tickets and saved over $$$ per ticket. Here are a few samples of cheap flight deals that Dollar Flight Club members have received recently.

New York City (JFK) to Edinburgh (EDI)

Price with Dollar Flight Club: $$$

Average Price: $$$

Boston (BOS) to Edinburgh (EDI)

Price with Dollar Flight Club: $$$

Average Price: $$$

Los Angeles (LAX) to Edinburgh (EDI)

Price with Dollar Flight Club: $$$

Average Price: $$$


Edinburgh pub


Where to eat in Edinburgh on a budget

Mosque Kitchen

This no-frills, canteen-style curry joint originally opened in the wake of 9/11 in an effort to teach their neighbors about Islam and alleviate any concerns. To this day, they remain a local favorite, serving affordable meals to hordes of hungry locals for around £5.



Born from humble street food beginnings, Oink now has 3 locations in Edinburgh, where they serve what is often called the city’s best pulled pork. Choose your serving size, bread, choice of stuffing or haggis, and sauces such as barbecue or homemade chili jam.


Snax Cafe

Snax is a simple local chain of ‘greasy spoons’ serving unpretentious food in massive, affordable portions. With deals like £4.30 for their All Day Breakfast or just £4 for a burger and chips (that’s french fries, America), it’s easy to see why they’re a local favorite.


Lourdes Mexican Food

When in Rome Edinburgh, right? The Haggis Box is a great place to try this local delicacy, complete with mashed neeps (turnips) and tatties (mashed potatoes). Not feeling the sheep stomach? They also accommodate vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free diets.



Situated on Leith Walk inside a Grade C Listed historic building, this neighborhood pizza joint is one of the best places to eat in Edinburgh on a budget. All of Origano’s pizza is made in house and cooked on a wood-fire. With a cozy atmosphere and reasonably priced wine list, it’s the perfect place to end a day of sightseeing.


Edinburgh estate


Start planning your trip to Edinburgh

A visit to to Scotland’s charming capital doesn’t have to break the bank! There are plenty of free things to do if you’re visiting Edinburgh on a budget, from hillside hikes to free museums and historic castles.

Remember to save this budget travel guide and sign up to receive cheap flight deals, so you can start planning your trip to Edinburgh today!

  • Zach Anderson

    Zach was a digital marketer, copywriter, and flight deal expert at Dollar Flight Club where he helped 1 million people travel more. As a digital nomad, he is deeply passionate about location independence, Thai food, and helping others see the world affordably.

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