Is Edinburgh Expensive? A Guide to Prices in Edinburgh

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by Maggie Turansky

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Is Edinburgh expensive? What are the average prices in Edinburgh? These are some questions that most potential visitors to the Scottish capital will ask themselves before booking a trip. With a reputation for being a bit of a costly city and as one of the most visited cities in the United Kingdom, figuring out how much a trip to Edinburgh will cost is paramount to planning a visit.

The beautiful capital of Scotland has a lot to offer visitors. From its historic castle to its spooky graveyards to its world-famous fringe festival, planning an Edinburgh itinerary is one of the best things you could do on your trip to Scotland.

And while Edinburgh is certainly one of the most expensive cities to visit in the UK, there are ways that you can save money and it doesn’t really have to be all that expensive. On average you can expect to spend around £65-205 ($82-260 USD) per person per day but this can vary dramatically based on your spending habits.

So if you’re trying to figure out an Edinburgh budget or are just curious about what kind of prices to expect in the Scottish capital, then you’ve come to the right place. Here we have broken down the cost of everything from accommodation, transport, food and activities in Edinburgh so nothing comes as a surprise on your trip.

Edinburgh Price Guide

This guide to prices in Edinburgh will focus on accommodation, transport, food, attractions and entertainment cost.

Accommodation Prices

The first and arguably most pressing factor that needs to be considered on your Edinburgh trip budget is the cost of accommodation. This is one of the most constant costs on any trip and can also work out to be the most expensive cost while you are in the city. But how much is a bed in Edinburgh? Well, of course, it depends on where you are looking.

View from Calton Hill
View from Calton Hill

Generally speaking, Edinburgh is not a cheap city when it comes to accommodation, even if you’re sticking the usual budget-traveller mainstays like hostels. However, that doesn’t mean that you really need to break the bank.

If you are travelling on a tight budget while in Edinburgh, you will be happy to know that there are countless hostel options scattered throughout the city with the cost of a dorm bed starting at around £20-30 per night.

If you’re looking for a bit more privacy, most hostels also tend to offer private rooms (with or without an ensuite bathroom) and you can expect these to start at around £50-60 per night.

If you’re after privacy and don’t care too much about forgoing the social atmosphere of a hostel, a far more affordable option is to go for a private room through Airbnb.

Staying in a local’s home will allow you to get a more holistic view of the Scottish capital and can be preferable to staying in a hostel — expect prices to start at around £50-80.

Conversely, if you’re looking for an entire private flat to let, then expect that to start at around £80 per night for a one-bedroom or studio. Staying in your own residence can have the added benefit of giving you access to a kitchen to prepare some meals, saving you money even further — but we’ll get to the cost of food in Edinburgh later!

If you’d rather stay in a budget hotel or B&B, expect those prices to start at around £80 per night for the most basic of rooms. Mid-range hotels will cost closer to £100 per night and up. If you’re looking to sleep in the lap of luxury in Edinburgh, you shouldn’t expect to pay fewer than three figures per night with most high-end hotels start at about £200 for the nightly rate.

All in all, accommodation prices in Edinburgh can vary depending on the kind of lodging you are after. However, if you’re travelling on a low to mid-range budget, then you can plan to spend about £20-100 per person per night on accommodation in the Scottish capital.

St Giles Cathedral
St Giles Cathedral on the Royal Mile

Transportation Prices

Another major factor that needs to be considered in any travel budget is the cost of transportation, and Edinburgh is no different. How you plan to get around the city and how much it will cost is largely dependent on your itinerary and your mobility level.

All in all, however, it doesn’t have to be too expensive and the cost of transport can actually end up being incredibly minimal.

Central Edinburgh is actually fairly compact and most of the top sites and attractions for tourists in the city all lie within relatively easy walking distance of each other.

If you do plan to rely on your own two feet for the entirety of your time in the city, it can be worth ensuring that your itinerary doesn’t involve too much uphill walking. the Scottish capital can be a hilly city so you don’t want to unnecessarily tire yourself out wandering around Edinburgh!

Even if you do plan to walk the majority of your time in Edinburgh, you do need to factor in a few transport costs. Namely, how much is it going to cost you to get from the airport or train station to your accommodation? If you’re arriving to the Scottish capital by air, it doesn’t have to be expensive in the slightest.

The cheapest and easiest way to get from Edinburgh airport to the city is by taking the airline bus number 100. A ticket for this bus costs £4.50 for a single journey and £7.50 for a return journey.

The bus drops you off at Waverly Train Station in the centre of the city. You can pay for the bus using a contactless credit or debit card or with exact change to the driver.

If you need to take the regular city bus while in Edinburgh, the system is fairly easy to navigate and relatively affordable, as well. A single bus fare is £2 and, if you use a contactless card to pay, you will be capped at £5 each day.

Other than that, most of Edinburgh is fairly easy to get around on foot and you needn’t plan to spend more than an average of £5 per person per day in the city.

Train station in Edinburgh
Waverley Station in Edinburgh

Food Prices

Now onto another incredibly important aspect of any Edinburgh travel budget (and arguably, one of the best places your money can go…), food. The price of food in Edinburgh, like much everything else, can vary depending on your habits, however, you don’t really have to break the bank if you’re smart about where you eat.

You can obviously save money by going the typical budget traveller route of staying in accommodation with self-catering facilities and cooking a good portion of your own meals, but Edinburgh does have an excellent restaurant scene and it would be a shame to miss out on that completely!

One great way to save money on your food costs in Edinburgh is to have breakfast at your accommodation (whether it is included at your hotel/hostel or you make it yourself) and have the rest of your meals out and about.

Lunch options can be quite affordable depending on where you may go. For instance, you can get a meal deal of a sandwich, drink and snack at any supermarket for around £5.

If you’re more interested in heading to a pub or affordable restaurant, then expect a main dish to cost closer to around £10 per person. For mid-range to higher-end restaurants, then expect most main dishes to start at around £15.

All in all, food prices in Edinburgh don’t really have to set you back too much if you’re smart enough about where you spend your money and you cut costs where it works. In general, plan to spend about £15-30 per person per day on food in the Scottish capital depending on how often and where you eat out.

National Gallery of Scotland
National Gallery of Scotland

Activity Prices

Now that we’ve covered some of the most essential items to your total Edinburgh trip cost, we need to talk about how much it’s going to cost to actually do things in the Scottish capital. And the refreshing part about this (and, to be fair, this applies to the entirety of the UK), is that a lot of the best things to do in Edinburgh are absolutely free!

Want to spend time wandering through a museum when you visit Edinburgh? Chances are, it’s free. Want to take in the iconic view from the top of Arthur’s Seat or Calton Hill? Also free. Curious to see where JK Rowling drew some inspiration for her iconic Harry Potter characters? Wandering through Greyfriars Kirkyard is also free!

Not everything in Edinburgh is free of charge, however, and some of the most popular activities will set you back a little bit of cash.

For instance, most visits to the Scottish capital aren’t complete without heading to the imposing Edinburgh Castle. Though you can enjoy views of this iconic part of the city’s skyline without spending a thing, you do have to pay an entry fee to actually tour the castle and its grounds. Entry into the castle is £19.50 with some concessions available for children and seniors.

It’s also popular to go on ghost tours in Edinburgh, which can take you around the city’s more spooky sites after the sun has gone down. This can also set you back around £20 per person.

As you can see, some activities in Edinburgh can be fairly pricey, however, if you plan to do just one paid activity per day and fill the rest of your time with the free ones, you don’t have to let sightseeing eat too much into your total cost of a trip to Edinburgh.

There are so many free things to do in the Scottish capital that you don’t even need to splash out the cash for a paid activity to still get a great experience of the city.

However, if you want to splurge a little bit while still sticking to a budget, plan to spend about £20-40 per person per day on activities in Edinburgh.

Edinburgh Castle
Edinburgh Castle on a beautiful clear, crisp fall day.

Entertainment Prices

Finally, we get to the most discretionary cost that needs to be discussed when figuring out the total cost of your Edinburgh trip: entertainment.

This, really like everything else, can vary greatly depending on your habits and there are actually plenty of people who won’t spend a thing on entertainment and plenty more who will spend quite a bit.

Going out in Edinburgh can be expensive, especially when you factor in how much the cost of booze can be in the Scottish capital (and in the UK in general). However, there are very few trips to Edinburgh that are complete without spending an evening in a convivial pub, perhaps listening to some live music, and sipping on a pint or a dram of single malt whisky. Unfortunately, this isn’t a free experience.

All in all, the average cost of a pint in Edinburgh is about £5, and if you have more than one this can end up adding up very quickly. If you’re more interested in sipping on that fine dram of a single malt scotch, then expect that to start at around £4-5.

Cocktails tend to be more expensive, with a more basic one like and gin and tonic starting at about £8 and something more complicated clocking in closer to £10-15.

If you want to learn more about Scotland’s deep whisky tradition, then it can also be worth going to the Scotch Whisky Experience. Though it is quite touristy, you can learn quite a bit about the history of this world-renowned spirit and get to sample a number of different styles with packages starting at £23 per person (concession pricing is available).

Edinburgh is also very well-known for its stand-up comedy scene and it’s worth seeing a show with local comics while you’re there. There are lots of venues that sometimes even offer free shows, or else some shows can be as little as £5-10 for entry, depending on the comedian or venue.

All in all, how much you spend on entertainment per person per day in Edinburgh really comes down to your habits and interests, but it would be safe to plan to budget about £10-30 per person per day on entertainment, and more if you plan to go out and do more.

Many whiskies on display at The Scotch Whisky Experience
Many whiskies on display at The Scotch Whisky Experience

Is Edinburgh Expensive? Average Edinburgh Prices

So is it expensive to visit Edinburgh? Well, it really depends on your habits. While Edinburgh certainly isn’t the most affordable destination in the world (not by a longshot), it doesn’t have to be prohibitively expensive, either.

If you’re wondering about what an average cost of a trip to Edinburgh would be per person per day, if you’re sticking to a tight budget but don’t want to sacrifice spending on activities or entertainment, then have a look at the cost breakdown below.

Accommodation: £20-100 / night

Transportation: £5 / day

Food: £10-30 / day

Activities: £20-40 / day

Entertainment: £10-30 / day

All in all, if you’re planning on sticking to a tight budget, then expect your average daily cost of a trip to Edinburgh to be around £65-205 per person per day. Of course, if you really pinch pennies that can be less and it is also definitely possible to spend a whole lot more.

Keep in mind that this doesn’t include any pre-trip expenses such as flights (search on Skyscanner for deals!) or travel insurance. SafetyWing is good option if you’re travelling in Edinburgh on a budget. They offer affordable and flexible travel medical insurance policies. 

This is just a decent starting point if you want to have a good experience of the Scottish capital without having to part with too much of your hard-earned cash.

Edinburgh Skyline
The beautiful city of Edinburgh

Prices in the Scottish capital can be high, but they don’t have to be so expensive that they prevent you from visiting! Knowing what the prices are in Edinburgh will help you plan the best trip possible within your budget and help you to enjoy your time to its fullest!

Are you wondering about the cost of travelling to Edinburgh? Have you visited the city before? Let us know in the comments!

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Maggie is a co-founder and writer for The World Was Here First. Originally from the US, she has lived in five different countries and has travelled to dozens more, both solo and with her partner, Michael. She particularly loves exploring Spain and spending time in the Caucasus and the Baltics. Read more about Maggie

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