If you read my blog post from last week, it will be no surprise to you that I spent 3 nights in Edinburgh over the New Year period. Since I spent last week focusing on Hogmanay and ticking something off my Bucket List, I thought this week I would talk about the rest of the time I spent in Edinburgh – and how we managed to spend our days there being busy, but without spending much money.
I’ve thought of a few tips for you if you want to do the same and get a feel for a city without shelling out, because I always want to travel to more places and I simply don’t have the budget for it!
First up is a relatively simple tip, as it is pretty much common sense that you can save money by walking everywhere rather that taking public transport. I know it’s not always possible to walk to everything you want to visit, but if you just make the conscious effort to walk to as many places as possible you’ll no doubt end up saving money!
We were staying out of the city centre and so it simply wasn’t possible for us to walk in every day, but we tried to walk one way and get the bus the other way. I hadn’t been on a bus for absolutely ages so I don’t know what a standard fare is, but it was only £1.60 for a single which I would say is pretty reasonable. An occasional £1.60 is far better than shelling out on taxis all the time at any rate!
This is another plus side for walking everywhere – you stumble across all sorts of free entertainment that you would miss if you were on the bus/in a taxi. We managed to find a free comedy improvisation show in a tiny little bar on a Sunday afternoon which turned out to be really funny. Like hold your face to stop your cheeks from hurting so much funny! We definitely wouldn’t have found it if we were going past in a vehicle so our free method of transport led to a free afternoons worth of entertainment… The following day we found another pub with free live music all evening just by walking past it – and that was another evening of free entertainment sorted.
Not wanting to seem too low-brow in our choice of entertainment we did spend a particularly rainy afternoon looking around the Scottish National Gallery. Believe it or not it was my first time looking around an art gallery, and despite it not being my usual type of fun I did quite enjoy it! I wasn’t a big fan of many of the paintings (I’m not really someone who appreciates art all that much!) but there were a couple that I absolutely loved. I really enjoyed people watching in there as well – it was clear that some people simply didn’t want to be in an art gallery, for example the mother and daughter snoozing on the seats in the middle whilst waiting for the rest of their family!
Now, I’m not sure if I can claim to have actually ‘done’ Edinburgh Castle as we didn’t go inside but I have pictures of it so it definitely counts right?! That in itself is another tip for spending less money though – only go in to places if you know you really want to. We walked (surprise surprise) up to Edinburgh Castle on our last morning before catching our train home because we felt like it was something we should see before leaving.
It is a pretty impressive castle to look at and the views over the city are really impressive. If we had more time and the weather was better (or just not constantly raining!) it would have been nice to go up Arthur’s Seat to get more views but those from the castle are lovely all the same. Rightly or wrongly we decided not to pay to go in to the castle because many castles seem to be the same (or at least very similar!) inside so we were happy with admiring from outside.
Obviously this is a very seasonal specific thing to do, but if you find yourself in Edinburgh whilst the Christmas markets are happening, I would definitely recommend going to them. It’s another free afternoons worth of entertainment and you can spend as little or as much as you want on souvenirs to take home. It always seems so much nicer taking home something small from a market rather than the standard touristy stuff that they have in other shops!
We didn’t really buy that much in Edinburgh but the Christmas markets was where the majority of our purchases were made. I think going after Christmas was a good time to visit as well because the stall holders kept adding in more freebies just to get rid of their stock!
Finally, if you can manage to I would say try and limit the number of meals you have out in cafes or restaurants. I know it can be difficult if you aren’t staying at a proper house with a kitchen etc and that it is nice to not have to cook meals but the money quickly adds up when you’re eating out for multiple meals in a day. I suppose I am kind of lucky in that front because when I am in an unfamiliar place I don’t get hungry so I never really mind where I eat! What we found worked for us quite well was eating brunch out somewhere, picking up a snack somewhere in the afternoon (such as churros at the Christmas markets) and making any more food we wanted in the flat when we returned in the evening.
I know that won’t work for everyone (we did end up making quesadillas 2 days in a row!) but there are ways of finding cheaper options for meals out. Even if you just go a couple of streets away from the main touristy areas there are cheaper options. One night we ended up in a student area and went to an Indian place that had massive plates of good curry for about £6 so it is possible!
And that brings this post to an end. All in all I had a lovely few days in Edinburgh and it was so lovely being able to see a different city without feeling like we were spending too much money. Hopefully it means I’ll be able to afford to explore some other places this year!
Have you ever been to Edinburgh? If so, what was your favourite thing that you did whilst you were there? If not, where do you want to visit this year? I love being nosy and adding to my travel ideas list! Let me know in the comments down below.
Oh, and if you have any more tips for travelling cheaply please comment them down below as well, I’d love to hear more ideas!
Until next time,