Edinburgh is a beautiful city that has plenty of options for budget travelers — except when prices are jacked up during the multi-week Edinburgh Festival each August. Many of the museums are free, but other attractions can be pretty expensive. Food and drink are fairly reasonably priced.
This article is part of our City Price Guide Series — Click here to see all our city price guides.
Average Daily Cost For Visiting Edinburgh
These prices are based on what you’ll need to visit the city comfortably — they don’t include things like big nights out at the bar/pub, club entry fees, souvenir/clothing shopping, tours, random purchases, nicer food, etc. Don’t forget to budget extra for those “non-essentials.”
Daily Cost of Budget Travel in Edinburgh: £58 (Approx. $90)
- Attractions: £14 (one paid attraction + any free sights)
- Food: £26
- Breakfast: £5
- Lunch: £6
- Dinner: £11
- Treat (dessert/beer/wine): £3.50
- Transportation: £1.50
- Accommodation (hostel): £15
Daily Cost of Frugal Travel in Edinburgh: £31 (Approx. $49)
- Attractions: £5 (free walking tour + visit one of the free sights)
- Food: £13
- Breakfast: 0€ (free hostel breakfast)
- Lunch: £4 (ethnic street food, takeaway shop fare, or similar)
- Dinner: £6 (make your own meal in the hostel or grab something cheap)
- Beer (pint): £3.50
- Transportation: £0 (the city is very walkable)
- Accommodation: £13 (cheap hostel bed)
Edinburgh Attraction and Museum Prices
National museums are free, but nearly every other attraction is pricey. Edinburgh is a compact city, so taking a stroll around is a great free activity.
- Edinburgh Castle: £16.50 (+£3.50 for an audioguide)
- National Gallery of Scotland: Free
- Arthur’s Seat: Free
- Royal Yacht Britannia: £14
- National Museum of Scotland: Free
- Saint Giles Cathedral: Free, £3 suggested donation, £2 for photography permit
- The Scotch Whiskey Experience: £14 (includes one dram of Scotch Malt Whiskey)
- Day-trip to Loch Ness: £45-£52
- Walking tours: Free (but you should tip the guides) — £9-£11 (for paid tours)
- Bike tour: £20-£30
Edinburgh Food Prices
Food in Edinburgh wouldn’t be too bad if it weren’t for the British Pound — but you can still eat without spending a ton. Like always, venture to where the locals eat to get the best deal and quality food. Also, you need to try some fine scotch, so set aside a little money for a tasting (a tour will run from £14-£40, depending how many scotches you want to sample).
Budget Breakfast: Free – £10
- Many hostels will offer a free simple breakfast that normally consists of cereal, bread/croissant, and maybe milk, coffee, tea, or juice (some hostels will offer more and some less).
- Filled roll & coffee/tea: £4-£6
- Porridge: £3-£5
- Full Scottish breakfast: £8-£10
Budget Lunch: £3-£8
- Super budget travelers can make a super cheap lunch of bread, cheese, and fruit from any grocery store for a few euros.
- Sandwich: £4-£8
- Scotch pie/bridie (meat pastry): £2-£5
- Haggis: £5-£7
- Curry: £3-£6
- Cheap takeaway meals (like a kebab with fries): £5-£7
Budget Dinner: £5-£15
- Fish & chips: £5-£8
- Bangers & mash: £6-£8
- You should also be able to find dinner at a restaurant in a less touristy part of town for around £15.
- Many of the options from the Budget Lunch section above also apply for dinner.
Drinks and Alcohol
- Pint of standard beer out: £3.50
- Pint of beer from a grocery store: £1.60
- Bottle of (drinkable) wine from grocery store: £7.50
- Cup of coffee: £2.50
- Irn Bru (soft drink) from grocery store: £1
Edinburgh Transportation Prices
Lothian (city) buses are your best bet for getting around Edinburgh if you don’t feel like walking or if you’re staying a bit outside of the city center. They also have a new tram line that runs between the city center and the airport.
Lothian Buses and Edinburgh Trams
- Single journey: £1.50
- Day pass: £3.50
- Ridacard one week pass: £17 (purchase in advance, £3 card fee)
Tram from airport to city center: £5 (£8 roundtrip)
Taxi from airport to city: £23
Edinburgh Hostel/Hotel Accommodation Prices
Accommodation in Edinburgh is fairly affordable by Western Europe standards. Prices shoot up during August because of the Edinburgh festival.
Hostels: £13-£20 (bed in a shared dorm room)
You should budget about £15/night per person for a decent hostel — although many hostels raise their prices on the weekend. Remember, these prices are for bed in a shared dorm room. If you want a private room, expect to pay £30-£60.
We book our hostels through Hostel World.
Budget Hotels: £70-£120
At the low end, you shouldn’t expect much, but once you get around £80/night, the hotels get a bit better (think Super 8 or Motel 6). A room with a private bathroom will cost around £70-£120.
Rental Apartment: £60-£120+
From my experience, rental apartments (via Airbnb) tend to be much bigger and much nicer than similarly priced hotel rooms. Plus, you’ll get a kitchen so you can save more money by cooking your own meals — click here to get $30 off your first stay.
Furthermore, if you’re traveling in a group, it can often be cheaper per person to rent a single apartment.
Read More About the Cost of Visiting Europe
We’ve created a guide about the costs of backpacking Europe (including more city price guides) — Click here to read more.
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Thanks! — Susan and James