Edinburgh on a budget – the perfect trip!

Here is my advice so that you can have the perfect trip to Edinburgh, without breaking the bank!


Edinburgh is possibly the prettiest major city I have ever visited. My friend and I had two full days to explore Edinburgh. We definitely made the most of our time. We set ourselves a jam packed itinerary and had the perfect weekend away, but didn’t spend a fortune. Here is my advice for your trip to Edinburgh, without breaking the bank!

How to get there:

  • We jumped in the car and drove to Edinburgh as when we booked our trip, train tickets were significantly more expensive than the cost of sharing the fuel. Of course this was realistic for us as it was a 4 hour drive. Any further distance and driving wouldn’t have been an option.
  • Top Tip: search around, look at flights, trains, work out the mileage for your round trip to see how much fuel would be if you want to drive (but REMEMBER PARKING COSTS, unless your accommodation has free parking).

Where to stay:

  • Air Bnb – I would highly recommend staying just outside the centre of Edinburgh in an air bnb. We found the places to stay were a little cheaper outside of the centre.
  • Location I would recommend – Leith. We stayed in an apartment overlooking the harbour and the Firth of Forth. The views were incredible as the living room had floor to ceiling windows and access to a balcony which if it had been warmer we would have taken full advantage of!
  • At a cost of £38 per night per person, this was a significantly cheaper option to staying in a hotel.

How to get around:

  • Download the Edinbus, Transport for Edinburgh and TfE M-Tickets apps.
  • Day bus tickets cost just £4. The number of buses in and around the city meant they were the perfect way to travel and see everything we wanted to.
  • Drawback – the need to have three apps got a little confusing. There is one for tickets, one for the map of the bus routes and one for live travel times. It was worth it though as the buses were such a convenient way of getting from A to B.

Free places to visit:

We visited everywhere that’s on the list below. It creates a crazy, packed itinerary! The perfect busy weekend, without spending anything!

  • Greyfriars Kirkyard – a graveyard where notable people are buried. However, perhaps the most famous burial here is Greyfriars Bobby, a dog that sat by his master’s grave until the day he died. 14 years he sat by his owner’s side! This is also where JK Rowling found lots of character names for the Harry Potter series, including Tom Riddle.
Greyfriars Kirkyard
  • National museum Scotland – if you love museums, you will adore this place. 7 floors of knowledge, with so many different sections: the natural world, science and technology and world cultures to name a few. Top Tip: allow yourself plenty of time for this visit, as you will find so much to want to look at and explore further.
The rooftop of the museum gives you 360 degree views of the city.
The Natural World section was my favourite.
  • Dean village – a picturesque little village only a few minutes outside the centre of Edinburgh. Here you can wonder down to the river and walk the waterway, walking all the way back to Leith if you choose! It’s amazing to experience such a calm, green place when you’re still in the heart of a bustling city. Top tip: If you fancy visiting both Dean Village and the Royal Botanic Garden (mentioned next on this list), you can walk the waterway between the two.
Dean Village
  • Royal Botanic Gardens – on a sunny day, a walk through the gardens is just what you should do. The Gardens are vast, with endless areas that make the perfect picture spot!
  • Portobello Beach – only 25 minutes on a bus from the centre of Edinburgh, you reach the beach! There’s a cute place to grab a crepe and a coffee on the promenade too. The advantage for us was the bus that took us to the beach actually stopped right outside our apartment, so it was only an hour’s journey door to door.
Portobello Beach
  • Leith Harbour – we got so lucky with our Air Bnb apartment, as this is the view we overlooked! After a long day of exploring, we decided to take a more relaxing walk along the harbour wall. Top Tip: even if it has been sunny all day, wrap up! By the time you reach the entrance to the harbour it’s much colder and more exposed to the elements!
The Harbour at Dusk

Food options:

We decided to take full advantage of both the Lidl down the road from our apartment and our well equipped kitchen and so we did not eat dinner out at all during our trip. Instead, we had movie nights every night and it was perfect.

However, here are two places I would recommend.

  • Afternoon tea at Holyrood Palace café – they have a really good selection of vegetarian sandwiches too. Admittedly, this was not cheap. It was £18.95 per person. However, if you’re willing to spend a little bit more, it was worth the money.
Afternoon Tea
  • Porto and Fi in Leith – recommended by a friend, this place did not disappoint! It was our breakfast stop before we began the drive back to England. We both had the most amazing pancakes. Prices were very reasonable also!

The beautiful thing about Edinburgh is that there are so many places to see and things to do that are free. It really gives everybody the opportunity to explore the city without feeling like they’re missing out.

The city also has the perfect mix of city life, greenery and even sand and sea! There really is something for everyone.

19 comments on “Edinburgh on a budget – the perfect trip!”

  1. I travelled to Edinburgh from London back in March and I drove too because of the insane rail and air fares. It took us 7 hours but was definitely worth it. I also stayed in Leith in an Air BnB, there are some gems out there and much more personal than some hotels 🤩 I love the look of your afternoon tea and Dean Village looks beautiful! Great post x

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Me too – me and my partner love to drive and it was definitely the cheapest option, shy of taking a 14 hour coach (which we did not want to do!) I can’t wait to return to Edinburgh one day soon.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Edinburgh is one of my favorite cities!
    I love walking around the old town and hiking up to Arthur’s Seat.
    Now I’ll have some new things to do on my next visit, thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

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