What to do in Edinburgh including the best places to visit like Edinburgh Castle and Arthur’s Seat – and top tips for visiting the city on a budget
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Edinburgh offers up a city break packed with historic sites, beautiful views, delicious food and a brilliant nightlife.
It’s therefore no surprise that the Scottish capital has long been a firm favourite with tourists – and not just for some of its biggest events from the Fringe Festival to the Edinburgh Book Festival.
Then there are all of the iconic landmarks whether you’re looking to walk up Arthur’s Seat, explore Edinburgh Castle, or even go underground and discover the city’s infamous tunnels.
The best part is that you don’t need to break the bank to visit the city, with plenty of cheap hotels, train fares and even flights on offer if you’re sticking to a budget.
To give you a helping hand we’ve put together a guide to some of the best things to see and do in Edinburgh, as well as where to find bargains for your travel and accommodation.
Happy staycation planning!
Best things to see and do in Edinburgh
If you only visit one attraction while in the city, make it Edinburgh Castle . This magnificent castle steeped in history from its Royal Palace to the impressive Great Hall, with highlights including artefacts such as the Crown Jewels and the Stone of Destiny. Oh, and thanks to its hilltop position, the castle offers up some pretty incredible views over Edinburgh itself. Adult tickets start from £15.50, child tickets from £9.30.
Right by the castle also sits the Royal Mile , which runs through the heart of Edinburgh’s picture-perfect Old Town with its cobbled alleyways and quirky boutiques, offering a direct route between Edinburgh Castle and Holyrood Palace.
Along the Royal Mile is where you’ll find heaps of brilliant shops and restaurants, but if you are after more retail therapy you may also want to bookmark a trip to Princes Street which is packed with high street favourites.
Oh, and Harry Potter fans won’t want to miss out on Victoria Street which is said to have inspired Diagon Alley. You’ll find plenty of quirky shops selling everything from cheese to wizard-themed merchandise.
History fans may also want to check out the fascinating National Museum of Scotland where you’ll find everything from dinosaurs to typewriters.
There are also heaps of brilliant Edinburgh walking tours which can be a great way of sightseeing and soaking up heaps of knowledge from the guides. For something particularly memorable, you can take guided tours in the city’s underground vaults that were once home to Edinburgh’s criminal underworld. Mercat Tour’s Ghostly Underground tours offer a variety of different spooky walks.
Speaking of walks, if you’re after some scenic daytime views then you may want to take on the hike up extinct volcano Arthur’s Seat which ffers some seriously spectacular views of the city skyline. The walk takes about 45 minutes and can be quite steep, but there are plenty of hiking trails to choose from.
However, if you’re short on time or want to save some of your energy then it’s worth grabbing a taxi to Dunsapie Loch which takes you right to its doorstep where you can kick off the climb.
Edinburgh is a brilliant city to visit year-round, but it does host some pretty epic events and festivals throughout the year if you’re looking for some extra hustle and bustle.
One of the most famous events is the Edinburgh Fringe Festival with thousands of shows ranging from stand-up to theatre on offer, while the Edinburgh Book Festival never fails to be a hit with bookworms. Both usually take place throughout August.
Come the festive season, Edinburgh is famed for its brilliant Christmas markets not to mention its Hogmanay celebrations for New Year’s Eve. (Currently the city hasn’t confirmed if these events will go ahead for 2021).
How to visit Edinburgh on a budget
There are plenty of airlines that offer cheap flights to Edinburgh from other UK locations. For example, British Airways has Edinburgh flights from £35pp (as well as packages with a hotel stay from £131pp), and easyJet offers flights from London Gatwick from £24.99 each way.
Skyscanner can also be a handy source for comparing prices if you can be flexible with your dates or departure time.
There’s also a new service launching between London and Edinburgh with fares from £15 each way.
Looking for a bargain staycation? There are plenty of tempting deals on right now:
- Haven has family breaks from £479 for the summer holidays – book here.
- Travelodge has rooms from £29 a night – use this price finder tool here.
- Premier Inn has rooms from £29 a night for summer – book here.
- Hoseasons has ongoing discounte for the summer – book here.
- Shearings has last-minute tours and breaks from £164pp – book here.
- Park Holidays has autumn deals from £41pp – book here.
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You won’t struggle to find cheap hotels in Edinburgh – there are heaps of brilliant budget-friendly options in the heart of the city. We’ve listed some of the best places for finding deals below.
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