Edinburgh is possibly my favourite city in the world. And on a totally unrelated topic, it happens to be my hometown. In my opinion, the only downside to Edinburgh is the weather, and it’s honestly not as bad as it’s made out to be. So, I thought I’d put my expert knowledge of Scotland’s beautiful capital to some good use, and put together a travel guide for those of you who are, like myself, on a bit of a budget.
Now, I’ve done my fair share of shopping on a budget, and I’ve spent more than a couple of days tugging armfuls of bags around the center of Edinburgh. My go-to is always Primark for clothes, accessories and miscellaneous stuff. Now, the clothes aren’t the best quality of course, but you can buy an awful lot of stuff for practically nothing. I bought a simple dress there for only £2 the other day.
For all things beauty I’d hit up Superdrug or Boots. I always make sure to stock up on Rimmel nail polish and foundation, Revolution primer and brow pomade, and Sleek contour and highlight kit. Some of these brands aren’t available in Sweden, where I currently reside, and those we do have are much pricier.
For books, hit up one of the many second hand bookshops. Southside Books has quite the selection, a lovely atmosphere, and a very chatty and helpful owner, and you’ll find both old classics and modern finds in good condition at a fraction of the price.
The Boots meal deal is always my first choice for exceptionally cheap, good and healthy food. There’s everything from sandwiches to salads and even sushi, and there are plenty of vegetarian options. My friend and I lived off these when we went to Edinburgh for a week of shopping, and we didn’t get tired of them until the end of the week. There are similar deals at Superdrug (but the shelves tend to be surprisingly empty) and Marks & Spencer. Eat your meal deal in the Princes Street gardens for a view fit for a Scottish queen.
Here’s a hidden gem: Piemaker. If you like pies, then boi. Yah gotta try Piemaker. Right in the center of town, just round the corner from Princes Street, there’s a small shop, from which wafts the scents of many a scrumptious pastry. My personal recommendation: the chicken and mushroom pie for only £1.80. It’ll at least keep you going, and for those with a lighter appetite, these will do for a meal.
My favourite: coffee. If I’m with someone who also enjoys some black gold, I’ll chug a good seven cold brews before calling it a day. While Starbucks on Princes Street is the most Instagram-friendly, with a gorgeous upstairs café looking out over the Princes Street gardens and facing Edinburgh castle, it’s not the kindest to your wallet. The view, however, is worth treating yourself to a seasonal beverage once (or maybe twice) during your stay, but if you make it a regular occurrence you’ll find it does take a chunk out of your budget. For a more affordable alternative, Costa has a café in Waverly Mall at the end of Princes Street, and you’ll find the brand scattered through grocery shops and elsewhere.
As for beer, I’d recommend TriBeCa Bar&Grill. Half a pint of Scottish beer goes for £2, and the red wine is excellent (though I don’t know the price so I can’t promise that it falls under the category of “budget-friendly”).
The Scott Monument is located on Princes Street, and at only £5 I’d say it’s worth the price. It’s quite a climb, as the sculpture contains over 200 narrow steps, but from what I’ve heard the view is quite remarkable. No, I have not been up myself, but that’s only because I’m a shameful excuse for an Edinburghian who only learned that you could climb it about four days ago when I saw someone at the top. Oops.
The National Scottish Museum is large, extensive, and excellent for those with an interest in history. Access to the museum is free, with the exception of the temporary exibits. If one catches your fancy, it might be worth the entrance cost, but I’ll leave that decision up to you.
If you can, visit Edinburgh in August for a magical experience. The festival is on during the late summer month, and you’ll see countless street performances during the day and brilliant fireworks every evening for literally nothing. If you want to, you could attend a show or two, but if not there’s plenty on offer for free.