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Is Edinburgh expensive? Can you visit Edinburgh on a budget? When is the best time to visit Edinburgh? Questions we hear often by Scotland fans planning a trip to Edinburgh. This guide details how much a visit to Edinburgh costs and includes transport fares, accommodation options, food and drink costs and activity ticket prices.
We’ve also created a section on tips for visiting Edinburgh on a budget.
Planning a bigger trip to Scotland? Here’s our 7-day itinerary.
How Much Does a Trip to Edinburgh Cost?
As with any trip, the answer to the question ‘how much does Edinburgh cost’ really depends on your style of travel.
Anything is possible in Scotland’s capital.
If your budget is a little more conservative there are hostels in Edinburgh, pubs with somewhat student and backpacker prices and food options that won’t break the bank while feeding your belly.
Transport Prices in Edinburgh
If you have ample time and want to save money, walking is your best mode of transport.
Edinburgh is a very walkable city, it has its compact size to thank for that.
You can walk from Calton Hill to the West End in 40 minutes.
- Join a hop on hop off bus, like this one
- Buy a Lothian Buses DAYticket for under £5 per adult or a single ride for under £2
- Get a Network DAYticket which lets you use the bus and tram* for under £5 or a tram single for under £2
- Head to a taxi rank and get in a taxi. Prices vary depending on tarifs
- Order an Uber or Gett for transparent prices
*This doesn’t include the tram ride from Edinburgh Airport to the city. Read our guide on how to get from the airport for full options.
Edinburgh Accommodation Costs
Room prices will depend on when you visit.
Avoid the Festival Fringe and Hogmanay/New Year if you are on a budget and read our guide to affordable hotels in Edinburgh.
Below are some examples of hotel prices for high end and affordable accommodation.
Edinburgh Hotel Prices
Edinburgh Apartment Prices
Apartments in Edinburgh can be expensive, especially those located in the Old Town or City Centre.
- Apartment for one night: £110 – £250
Edinburgh Hostel Prices
Hostels in Edinburgh are cheaper than in London but more expensive than Glasgow, as to be expected.
- Shared dorm example: £14
Food and Drink Prices in Edinburgh
This is where you can really start putting away the pounds, in currency and weight gain!
- Two alcoholic drinks at an Old Town pub: £10-12
- Two cocktails at a Royal Mile pub: £18-20
- Two pizzas and two alcoholic drinks at a pizza restaurant on the Royal Mile: £34
- Two speciality gelatos in the Old Town: £10
- Two breakfast rolls and hot drinks on Cockburn Street: £16
- One wine and one beer at Italian on Lothian Road: £12
- One takeout sandwich in Leith: £5
- Two Thai takeout meals and two soft drinks in Stockbridge: £18
- Afternoon tea for one at Prestonfield House: £42.90
Do these Edinburgh prices surprise you?
Edinburgh Activities and Attractions Costs
There are heaps of free stuff to do in Edinburgh which we’ll go over below but there are some attractions you will want to pay for to learn more about the city.
Popular paid-for activities include:
- Edinburgh Castle: £15.50
- Underground Vaults Tour: £14 (review)
- Royal Yacht Britannia: £17 (review)
- Camera Obscura: (review)
If a walking tour is “free” you should always tip at the end.
Some visitors tip guides on top of pre-paid tours too.
Currency in Edinburgh
The Scottish Pound and the British Pound (GBP/£) are both used in Scotland.
The most up-to-date exchange rates can be found here.
Currency comes in the following:
- Notes: £50, £20 (image below), £10 image below), £5
- Coins: £2, £1, 50p, 20p, 10p, 5p, 2p, 1p
Credit Cards and ATMs
The majority of credit cards are accepted at hotels and attractions.
Annoyingly, American Express is not widely accepted in cafes, restaurants, pubs and shops.
There are many ways to pay.
Tap a debit or credit card on the machine to activate contactless payment for low amounts, use the chip and pin function or sign for the payment. The latter is not used frequently anymore.
Some locals use digital wallets on their phones and watches.
ATMs, cash dispensers, are widely available and mostly free to use attached to banks and outside of stores such as Tesco.
Avoid small corner shop ATMs as they often charge for use. An alert will tell you if this is the case.
Contact your bank to find out how much they charge for transactions abroad.
Tipping in Scotland
Tipping is not mandatory but is appreciated.
10% is customary for good table service and some places will add the charge on so check the bill.
If hotel staff help with luggage, tipping is expected.
You don’t have to tip your taxi driver.
Edinburgh on a Budget
You don’t have to splurge to visit Scotland’s capital. Here are our tips on how to visit Edinburgh with a few quid.
- Visit during low season, avoid summer months and December
- Visit Monday-Thursday for cheaper accommodation rates
- Walk or buy day tickets for the bus if you need transport
- Carry your own refillable water bottle
- Eat your biggest meal at lunch time
- Consider set menus for lunch, here’s fine dining options for under £30
- Eat where the students go for big portions and smaller prices – try Nicholson Street
- Download the Too Good To Go app for cheap take out meals
- Grocery shop at Lidl or Aldi for cheaper options, avoid Waitrose in Stockbridge
- Take shopping bags with you to save 5p and the environment
- Check out 5pm.com and Groupon for hotel and attraction deals
- If visiting for the Festival Fringe, bag the 2-4-1 tickets at the start of the calender
Free Things To Do In Edinburgh
There’s plenty of money-saving free things to do in the city. Here is a selection.
- Visit the gardens such as Princes Street, Starbank and the Meadows
- Enjoy Edinburgh walks up Calton Hill, Arthur’s Seat and along the Waters of Leith
- Visit Edinburgh museums, the majority are free to enter
- Do a self-guided Harry Potter tour
- Spend the day at an East Coast beach
Cost of living in Edinburgh
Like Edinburgh so much you plan to move to Scotland?
Long Stay Apartments
Edinburgh rent prices are naturally more expensive closest to the City Centre but one-bed flats (apartments) can be found for under £600 per month.
Rentals tend to be for a minimum of six months and require a deposit as well as proof of person and reference.
Bills such as gas, electricity and WiFi aren’t usually included so factor this into your costs.
Don’t want to commit to a long lease?
One month rentals tend to start at around £1600 per month.
Parking and Petrol Prices in Edinburgh
Parking in Edinburgh City Centre is only free after 18:30 and Sunday morning.
Car parks tend to be pretty pricy hitting double figures for an all-day ticket.
Residents need permits in the City Centre. You have to go as far down as Leith for free parking.
Read our guide to parking here.
Petrol prices in the city aren’t that more expensive than on the outskirts if you use supermarket petrol stations such as Asda, Tesco or Morrisons.
There are very few petrol stations near the City Centre so don’t get caught out, fill up when half empty.
Most cars are unleaded, double check what petrol/gas the car takes before filling up because if you make a mistake you are in for a hefty fee!
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