We recently went for a long weekend break to Edinburgh, Scotland. The aim was to enjoy a city break on a budget, and we started this off in style with a nine hour overnight bus ride. The journey was a bit of a struggle, but for £48 for the two of us to get from London to Edinburgh, and back, we were happy to take the bus.
We arrived early Thursday morning, it was cold and had just started to snow. But this felt appropriate for Scotland! But it wasn’t long until the sun was shining and we were off exploring the city.
Here’s how we spent a budget weekend in the beautiful city of Edinburgh – and how you can do the same!
1. Visiting the castle
Our first glimpse of the castle was at night. High up on Castle Rock, this is an iconic sight in Edinburgh and it was so lovely to see it lit up at night, with no one else around.
We went back to the castle the next day to take a better look around. If you want to go inside it will cost you around £17 per person. We chose not to pay to enter, but instead went off the beaten track walking around the grounds and down the rock face.
Whether you choose to go inside, or whether like us you explore what’s around will depend on your budget. But either way, a trip to the castle is an absolute must when visiting the city!
2. Walk the Royal Mile
Running from the Castle, down to the Palace of Holyroodhouse, the Royal Mile goes right through the centre of Edinburgh’s old town. It’s a beautiful walk from start to finish. Following the cobbled streets you’ll notice lots of small pubs and restaurants nestled away down small alleys.
The mile itself is populated with souvenir shops, local pubs, bars, restaurants and museums. There are also a number of small gardens to sit and enjoy, particularly when the sun is shining! And if you’re looking for whiskey the Royal Mile is a must!
With so much to see and take in on this one stretch of road, you really don’t need to spend much money – it’s easy to keep to a budget!
3. Enjoy the whiskey
You can’t go to Scotland without trying the whiskey! And there are shops everywhere stocked with hundreds of different varieties to try. The staff are all so friendly, so if you’re looking for a bit of advice on what’s right for you, they’re happy to help.
You can visit the official Whiskey Experience on the Royal Mile. The silver package costs £15 a person and offers the tour and opportunity to try one dram of whiskey. But you can upgrade this depending on what you want to do while you’re there.
4. Visit Victoria Street
When we stumbled upon Victoria Street we couldn’t imagine how lovely it would look. Said to be the inspiration for Diagon Alley, in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books, there’s plenty of quaint independent shops and Harry Potter merchandise to be found. Perfect if you’re a fan of the books and/or movies!
But so much more than that, the street is packed with tall colourful buildings that stretch the length of the cobbled road. There are some small cafes and restaurants where you can stop for a drink and take in the beautiful surroundings.
5. Take a walk up Calton Hill
When we first arrived we decided to take a scenic walk up Calton Hill to see the National Monument of Scotland. Not only is this a lovely walk, but the views from the top of the hill are incredible!
While you’re up there you can also visit Nelson’s Monument, built in memory of Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson. If you pay small fee you can climb to the top and are rewarded with stunning panoramic views of the city, and overlooking the sea.
6. Stop for a quiet (or not so quiet) drink
Edinburgh has some wonderful pubs and bars where you can stop and watch the world go by. In particular the smaller local pubs have a great atmosphere. If youre looking to enjoy a wee dram of whiskey, we would highly recommend Dirty Dicks.
Throughout the city you’ll find a range of different venues. If you really want to get a feel for an authentic Scottish local, the Scotsman is great. Plus you’ll find most places offer live music throughout the week!
7. Just take a walk around
Just take some time to walk around one of Europe’s most amazing cities. The tall medieval buildings, the sounds of bagpipes in the air (you would think this is very cliché, but you’d be surprised how many we heard!) and the busy people moving through this exciting city.
We were lucky enough when we visited to see the Lumen project around the city, encouraging passers-by to take some time out to be mindful and enjoy the tranquil music and lights. But there’s always new and exciting things to be discovered here.
If you’re considering a weekend break in Edinburgh, it really is worth a visit. And with so many beautiful places to visit, you can explore the city on a budget!