The Best Way to Experience the Magic of Edinburgh on a Budget

Edinburgh is a city for dreamers, artists, writers, poets, and foodies. Whether it’s the castle that strikes your interest or stories of the nearby Loch Ness Monster, it has something for you.

Scotland’s capital city deserves long walks not just on its famous Royal Mile but to explore the World Heritage Sites in both the Old Town and New Town. Whether you are visiting the Fringe Festival in August or the Winter Festivals, this enchanting city has enough culture and heritage to keep you in awe.

And while the U.K. might have a reputation as an expensive place to spend a vacation, it doesn’t have to be. Here are my tips for visiting one of the U.K.’s most magical cities without spending a king’s ransom.

Budget-Friendly Eating

Edinburgh has enough variety and budget-friendly places for your palette. The following three places caught my attention not just for the excellent food, but for their excellent value.

Oink is a sandwich shop that serves all things pork. Imagine Latin-American chicharrones (pork rinds) meets South Carolinian pulled pork and together they create this yummy quick stop for your crispy yet juicy pleasure. I would suggest going earlier in the day to get the freshest product possible.

How about lunch for less than $7? Away from the tourist path, go to Rocksalt where you can get a homemade soup and sandwich deal for around $6.

Fish and chips are predictable when you visit the U.K., but what if healthy eating is a priority? Head to Cairngorm Coffee for a menu that will keep you coming back. From turmeric lattes to a grilled cheese with a sweet chili jam that will make your eyes pop out in anticipation, it’s a must-stop for healthy food that doesn’t taste healthy.


Head to The Writers’ Museum, The Scottish National Portrait Gallery, and The National Museum of Scotland. You can literally spend a whole day full of art and culture and not pay a penny.

Elephant House

A Harry Potter fan? Why not head to the Elephant House tea and coffee shop and sit in the back room to see where J.K. Rowling once started writing her famous books. To add to the experience, order scones and tea to spark your own creativity while gazing out the window at Edinburgh Castle.

Free Walking Tours

Speaking of Harry Potter, take the excellent Free Walking Tour of Edinburgh, which dedicates a part of the tour to fans as well as history enthusiasts. Is it possible the George Heriot School inspired Hogwarts? You won’t have to pay for the tour, but don’t forget to tip your tour guide!

If history is not really your thing, there are ghost tours, pub crawls, and even free tastings of whisky if that is more to your liking. In addition, hiking Arthur’s Seat or Castle Hill is an experience to remember for those that like to incorporate physical activities as part of their trip.

Search for Nessie

Finally, no trip to Edinburgh would be complete without your personal visit to find the Loch Ness Monster. Timberbush Tours offers incredible value for a full day trip to the Highlands. Loch Ness is the largest body of water in Britain by volume. In other words, all the lakes and rivers of Wales and England could fit in it. The elusive “Nessie” is said to lurk in its considerable depths, and sightings have been reported since the 6th century. Take a trip and maybe you will meet this monster eye to eye.

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