Edinburgh is a big and exciting city with something for everyone to enjoy. Even if you only ever go there once, it is definitely a ‘must-visit’ kind of place and nobody could fail to find something to see or do.
We managed to enjoy a long weekend there on a very small budget. Of course, there were hundreds of Edinburgh hotels to choose from but we opted for the cheapest. As it turned out, we made the best choice in terms of prices, facilities and service, by staying at the Budget Backpackers hostel.
This is truly an amazing place to stay. It is right in the middle of the city (very near to Grassmarket), with views of Edinburgh Castle from the front of the building. It is a very friendly place with exceptional staff that genuinely enjoyed joining in activities such as the free pub crawl and guests-only quiz.
Everywhere in the building is really clean and bright and there was every facility available to make our stay comfortable and enjoyable. There are well-equipped guest kitchens and a communal dining area, where we had many a laugh with other guests. On the day we arrived we decided to spend a few hours relaxing in the very comfortable lounge (with plasma TV and pool table) and had a few beers at the VW Transporter bar.
Rooms are available to sleep from 4 to 30 people, with separate ladies-only areas if required. We opted to share one of the bigger rooms and only paid £7 each per night and that even included free bedding and showers during our stay.
Surprisingly, Edinburgh has so many fun and interesting things to do which are either cheap or completely free, so we went out and enjoyed some of them without breaking the bank. These were our favorites:
Climbing ‘Arthur’s Seat’
This is something unique: an extinct volcano, over 800 feet high, right in the middle of a city. It goes without saying that once you have climbed it (we took the easy route on the east side), you must have your photo taken at the top. We were lucky to have fairly decent weather during our stay, but I’d imagine that this wouldn’t be quite as fun to climb in the wind or rain! Definitely one for lovers of the great outdoors though – the view from the top was pretty impressive.
We managed to fit in visits to the National Museum of Scotland and the Museum of Childhood (suitable for big kids too). Both of which were free to enter and had free activities or tours as well.
The Royal Botanic Gardens
We stopped off here to take a quick look at the Queen Mother’s Memorial Garden mainly, but were so thrilled that we stayed and explored. Our favorite bits were the Palm House, the Rock Garden, the Fossil Garden and the Chinese Sector.
There are tons of festivals held in Edinburgh throughout the year and on our final night we decided to try our luck with some free comedy that was on as part of the Fringe Festival. It was a mixed bag really – some hilarious comedians, some not so great, but a fun evening nonetheless. The Fringe runs throughout August but there are various different festivals right through the Summer and they’re definitely worth checking out.
There is nothing stopping anyone from enjoying a cheap break in this city. Forget the more expensive Edinburgh hotels and book into the Budget Backpackers hostel for a few nights, so you can go out and enjoy everything the city has to offer as we did.
Alex King is a Travel Writer and shares his travel stories from around the world.