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My whirlwind jaunt to Edinburgh was filled with a surprising amount of sightseeing for the short time that I was there. Get enough travel bloggers in one place and that will happen, more often than not!
I always recommend visiting a city where your friends live and having them show you their favorite places. It’s also a great way to try out solo travel for the first time — particularly if your friend is working while you’re visiting.
I was lucky enough to have a friend in Edinburgh — Kash, The Budget Traveller himself — who really went above and beyond in being a great Edinburgh tour guide and showing us how to have fun on a budget!
Here are some cheap and fun things to do in Edinburgh:
This was the first thing that I saw after arriving in Edinburgh — and seeing Arthur’s Seat during the amazing summery weather made it all the more beautiful. You get great views of the city from the top, and it’s almost like being in the Scottish Highlands without booking highland cottages.
We got up by car — and be warned, I’ve heard climbing it is a LOT harder than it looks!
The Royal Mile
The Royal Mile is Edinburgh’s main drag — and while it’s part kitsch, filled with souvenir shops selling everything plaid you can imagine — it’s also a great place to see Edinburgh’s signature Georgian architecture and views all the way to the sea. (Yes, Edinburgh is a port city — strange, isn’t it?)
Scottish National Gallery
The Scottish National Gallery is home to some fantastic art, including a great selection of Impressionist paintings — and a room filled with multiple paintings of John the Baptist, post-beheading. If you’re into beautiful yet gruesome art, make sure you don’t miss that room!
Entry is free, though they request a £3 donation. Free museums are one of the UK’s great gifts to visitors.
Dog lovers, this story will make you cry. Legend has it that after a prominent Edinburgh businessman died, his Skye terrier Bobby was devastated — and each day, he went to the cemetery and sat on his master’s gravestone, until his own death several years later.
While some historians dispute this story, Greyfriars Bobby has become a symbol of enduring Scottish loyalty. He was buried just outside the cemetery with a memorial tombstone, and a statue was built in his honor. He even has a pub named after him, nestled in among the lovely Edinburgh cottages and restaurants.
Edinburgh has lots of great spots for cheap eats throughout the city, both classic and outlandish. My favorite? Mums, formerly the Monster Mash Cafe. For the very fair lunch special price of £4.95, we each got a bowl of the soup of the day and a main course.
Mums has quite the selection of sausages and mash. I loved my sausage, my horseradish mash, and my carmelized onion gravy — but the real highlight was the roasted red pepper and lentil soup, served with sun-dried tomato bread. I almost returned for dinner — AND lunch the next day!
Scotland is famous for its many whiskys (nope, no e in Scotland), and any aficionado must visit the Scotch Whisky Experience. We got to taste different whiskys, which were paired with cheese and chocolate, and got to explore the world’s largest whisky collection.
Of course, this trip taught me that I actually do not like whisky. I tried it; my mouth was on fire. I kept adding water; it just didn’t do it for me. (I do, however, love cooking with whisky! I’ve been making Jim Beam French toast and made a whisky apple pie last week!)
Tours include tastings and start at £12 for adults.
Wandering the City
My favorite thing to do in any city is to wander around and discover different neighborhoods. And being one of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever seen, Edinburgh most definitely lends itself to wandering! Even if you do nothing but stroll the city all day, you’ve spent your day well.
If you’re staying in Edinburgh, you can find a hotel here.