Edinburgh, Scotland | Instagram: @thepoorlondoner
Edinburgh is one of Europe’s most beautiful cities, draped across a series of rocky hills overlooking the sea. Often dubbed as Athens of the North, the city's picturesque Old Town is lined with medieval buildings on the Royal Mile - a definite treat for sore eyes. However, it is also the capital of high culture and lofty ideals, of art and literature, philosophy and science; which, sometimes, makes it just a tad bit expensive for travellers on a tight budget.
However, where there's will there's a way! Here are 8 budget-friendly experiences/ideas (with tons of locations listed in each category) that'll cost you just £10 or less:
1) Commuting and Travelling:
Edinburgh’s a very walkable city (despite its hills), and easy to navigate. With the Old Town on one side of the railway line and the New Town on the other, buses and trams run throughout the city. A day ticket for unlimited bus and tram travel is for £4 for adults, and £2 for children. Tickets are available on board and online via their mobile app.
The cheapest way from the airport to the city is via the Airlink Bus to Waverley Bridge. It costs £4.50 single or £7.50 return, takes 20 minutes and runs every 10 minutes, 24 hours a day.
2) Free Edinburgh Tours:
Plenty of cities across Europe offer free city tours, and work on a "tip" basis. Tour guides are often enthusiastic locals offering heaps of information, recommendations, suggestions etc. At the end of the excursion, guides are tipped according to individual level of satisfaction. It could be as less/as much as you like!
Some of my favourite walking tours are as follows:
Offered in English, Spanish and German, five times a day for 2.5 hours (every hour between 10am and 3pm). Just look out for red and white umbrellas with Sandeman's logo, outside Frankie and Benny's restaurant on 130 High Street.
Both companies also offer themed tours, such as the Harry Potter tour and Edinburgh ghost tours. Make sure to book (reserve a spot) in advance and you're good to go!
3) Museums and Galleries:
Most of the museums in Edinburgh are free. These include but are not limited to:
* National Museum of Scotland:
Displaying collections relating to Scottish antiquities, culture and history.
* Scottish National Gallery:
Offers the chance to witness world's greatest art in the heart of Edinburgh.
* Scottish National Portrait Gallery:
Exhibiting giants who shaped Edinburgh's past, present and future.
* Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art:
Presents best of modern and contemporary art.
* Royal Museum:
Displays collections covering science and technology, natural history, and world cultures.
Some of my favourite museums from around the world are in Edinburgh. And it's not just the ones I've mentioned above; the capital comes with its fair share of quirky museums! These include:
* The Writers' Museum:
Not only is the museum free, it also celebrates the lives of three giants of Scottish Literature – Robert Burns, Sir Walter Scott and Robert Louis Stevenson. Robert Louis Stevenson in particular is huge inspiration for me as a travel journalist. He's mostly noted for Treasure Island, Kidnapped, and the infamous; Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. The little museum is a beautiful gem for literary nerds visiting Edinburgh.
* Museum of Childhood:
This fascinating little museum is the first of its kind (in the world), that is dedicated to the history of childhood. It displays toys and objects from generations, and also explores aspects of growing up (eg: what it means to be an adult etc).
* The People's Story Museum:
The People's Story Museum provides unique insight into Edinburgh's working class between 18th-20th century. It focuses on history, culture, traditions, objects, along with key events and occasions from said time periods.
4) Brilliant City Views:
* Arthur's Seat:
Arthur's Seat is an ancient volcano that sits 251m above sea level, offering excellent views of Edinburgh. It is also the site of a large and well preserved fort.
* Calton Hill/Nelson Monument:
Calton Hill is one of Edinburgh's main hills, set right in the city centre. It is unmistakable with its Athenian acropolis poking above the skyline, and offers breathtaking views of the city for free.
* Scott Monument:
Standing tall and proud right in the heart of Edinburgh, visitors can climb 287 steps up Scott Monument to enjoy spectacular views of the city. Open daily, it is dedicated to Sir Walter Scott, and is the largest monument honouring a writer anywhere in the world.
Scott Monument | Instagram: @thepoorlondoner
* St. Mary's Cathedral:
St Mary’s Cathedral is the mother church of the Diocese of Edinburgh in the Scottish Episcopal Church. Cathedral spires are visible from all over the city; especially Princes Street, towards the west of the capital. It is a spectacular place of worship and well worth a visit.
* St. Giles' Cathedral:
St Giles’ was founded in 1124, and in the 16th century became the focal point of the Scottish Reformation. The church is regarded as the Mother Church of World Presbyterianism and welcomes visitors from all corners of the globe. However, a visit to the beautiful landmark doesn't come cheap. Various discounts are available for different age-groups, but a single adult ticket will set you back a good £30. But, St. Giles Cathedral holds free lunchtime concerts, and organ recitals at 6pm every Sunday. Alternatively, rooftop tours of the cathedral are also available, along with a peek behind the scenes in its clock tower. Tours cost £6 per person and run from 10.30am–4pm from Monday to Saturday, and 1.30pm–4pm on Sundays.
St. Giles' Cathedral | Instagram: @thepoorlondoner
6) Outdoor excursions:
* Royal Botanic Gardens:
Price: £7 (adult) | £5.40 (student discount) | Free (15 and under) | Only garden entry, without visiting the glasshouse (free for everyone)
Set in over 70 acres of beautiful landscape and just one mile north of the city centre, the Garden offers superb panoramic views of the city skyline featuring Edinburgh Castle. The Botanics, as the Garden is affectionately known locally, is breathtaking at any time of year.
* Princes Street Gardens:
Princes Street Gardens are two adjacent public parks in the centre of the capital, lying in the shadow of Edinburgh Castle. Brilliant during summer for picnics on lazy weekends!
* Edinburgh Zoo (little pricey):
Price: £17.50 (adult) | £9.95 (child) | £15 (student/senior citizen/registered different ability) | Free (under 3)
Edinburgh Zoo is home to the only giant pandas in the UK. The female is called Tian Tian (Sweetie) and the male is Yang Guang (Sunshine)! As an animal (and a panda) lover, it's definitely one of my favourite places in the city!
Edinburgh Zoo | https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:6990634-panda-hug.jpg
7) Royal Residences:
This is where things get a bit tricky, budget wise! Historic residences always cost a bit of money, however; there are plenty of discounts available for various age-groups.
* Holyrood Palace:
Price: £15 (adult) | £13.50 (Over 60/student) | £8.70 (Under 17/differently-abled) | Free (five and under) | £38.70 (Family - 2 adults and 3 children under 17)
Located at the bottom end of the Royal Mile on the opposite end to Edinburgh Castle, it is the official residence of the Royal Family in Scotland.
Holyrood Palace | Instagram: @thepoorlondoner
* Edinburgh Castle:
Price: £17.50 (adult) | £10.50 (5 to 15) | £14 (60+/unemployed)
Edinburgh Castle is a world famous icon of Scotland and part of the Old and New Towns of Edinburgh’s World Heritage Site. It was also recently voted top UK Heritage Attraction in the British Travel Awards, and is Scotland’s number one paid-for tourist attraction!
8) Food and Beverages:
Edinburgh offers value meals for all budgets, however; the area around Nicholson Square is a popular student/budget-friendly haunt with affordable international restaurants.
Deep fried mars bars at Nicholson Square | Instagram: @thepoorlondoner