Edinburgh On A Budget During The Fringe Festival

Visiting Edinburgh on a budget during the Fringe Festival is easier than some might think. With the right strategies and some planning, visiting Scotland’s most important city without spending too much money during Fringe will not look like an impossible mission anymore.

Edinburgh is the most visited city in Scotland and among the most popular holiday destinations in the UK. Scotland’s capital, Edinburgh, attracts tourists from all over the world. And one can easily understand why. From medieval castles and gothic churches to areas of natural beauty, Edinburgh compels everyone with its charm. 

The most popular time of the year to visit Edinburgh is during the August Bank Holiday when the city hosts the Fringe Festival. The Fringe Festival is the world’s biggest arts festival and takes place every year in August. The end of the festival usually coincides with the August Bank Holiday, the last UK summer holiday before Christmas. 

Visiting Edinburgh during the Fringe Festival is a wonderful occasion to enjoy unique art shows and visit some of the most emblematic places in the Scottish capital. 

We all know Edinburgh is flooded with tourists around this time of the year.  So which is the best way to visit Edinburgh on a budget during The Fringe Festival?

Luckily, there are ways to visit Edinburgh on a budget during The Fringe Festival, and this is what we will be looking into next!  

Booking cheap(er) accommodation will help you visit Edinburgh on a budget during The Fringe Festival

Accommodation costs make up most of our holiday costs. In a city like Edinburgh, where the accommodation costs can be expensive, you need to book wisely, if you want to save up money. More so, if you visit Edinburgh during the Fringe Festival, perhaps one of the most important events the city hosts yearly.  

The best way to cut the accommodation costs significantly is to book a place that’s further from the city centre. Anything that’s a 20 to 30 minutes walk from the city centre can save you some serious money. 

View from my room

Staying in a neighbourhood that is further away from the city centre is a better way to discover how a city is. I chose my guest house to be 30 minutes walk from the city centre and did not regret it at all. The guest house was in a lovely residential area with plenty of local restaurants, supermarkets and lovely-Victorian looking buildings. 

I enjoyed staying at Smiths Guest House. The owner was lovely, he even let me check in earlier. The house had an old vibe as it was located in a beautiful Victorian building, half an hour walk from the city centre. For someone on a tight budget, who still wants the privacy of a hotel room, I do recommend staying at Smiths Guest House. It was the best option I found at the time based on price and distance from the city centre.

By not staying in the city centre, I was able to get a feeling of how Edinburgh is. I was also happy to save money because everything was cheaper than in the city centre. Plus, the area was much quieter at night because it was far enough from the bar area, but not too far away if I wanted a night out. 

At first, not staying in the city centre, especially when you visit a new city, seems like a loss. In fact, it is not that bad. Not only do you save money, but you can also even upgrade to a private room because it’s cheaper. Staying away from the city centre will give you a sense of how a place really is, far away from all the buzz happening in the city centre. 

Walk everywhere! Will help you visit Edinburgh on a budget during The Fringe Festival!

This certainly is the most obvious advice of them all. But, seriously, you can save up significantly if you choose to walk everywhere. 

There are many benefits of exploring a city as much as you can on foot. First of all, it brings benefits to your health. It is usually when I’m on holiday that I walk the most. And I cannot complain about it. It’s my favourite way of staying active. Secondly, walking around new places is perfect for discovering hidden gems, getting to know those places etc. You will never be able to capture it all from the back of a taxi or by taking the bus. Thirdly, lately, I try to be as environmentally friendly as I possibly can. Therefore, walking is my way of cutting off the carbon footprint I produce. 

There are so many benefits of walking, and I cannot recommend it enough as the best way to discover a new city. 

Visit free places

Every city has free places everyone can visit without having to pay anything. And Edinburgh is not the exception to this rule. Next, we will look at the most beautiful places one can visit in the Scottish capital without having to pay anything. To make this list easier to follow, we will divide everything into 3 main categories: streets and neighbourhoods, buildings and monuments and parks. 

The beautiful architecture of the streets and neighbourhoods in Edinburgh has charmed many. Whether it is the dark gothic style, the redbrick Victorian style or the more modern glass buildings, Edinburgh is a mix of architectural styles. 

Some of the most famous streets and neighbourhoods are centuries old. The ones we will be looking at next should make everyone’s list of places to visit in Edinburgh. 

  • The Royal Mile is probably the most famous area in Edinburgh. The royal mile comprises several streets, like the High Street, Canongate, Lawnmarket and Castlehill. The Royal Mile connects the two castles in Edinburgh: the Palace of Holyroodhouse and Edinburgh Castle. 

The Royal Mile is packed with some of the best attractions in Edinburgh, such as Camera Obscura & World of Illusions, Gladstone’s Land, David Hume Statue, High Court of Justiciary, St. Giles Cathedral, Our World Heritage Exhibition, John Knox House, The People’s Story Museum, The Scottish Parliament, restaurants, souvenir shops and much more. 

Tip: The best free attractions to visit on The Royal Mile are: St. Giles Cathedral, David Hume Statue, and The People’s Story Museum. 

Inside St. Giles Cathedral

Usually, the house museums such as John Knox House are part of the Heritage Trust Network, and that requires an entrance ticket. However, if you are a member of the trust, most of the time, the tickets are free of charge or lower than the regular price. 

  • West Bow Street is not far away from the Royal Mile. Why would I encourage you to visit West Bow Street? Well, the area is packed with restaurants. The curved shape of the street and the lively coloured buildings make West Bow Street one of the prettiest streets in Edinburgh. For some really good pictures, I recommend you take the stairs and admire the street from above.   
  • Grassmarket Street hosts one of the most popular squares in Edinburgh. The area is packed with pubs and shops where people can enjoy a drink or spend time window shopping. Nearby are the Covenanters’ Memorial and the Vennel Viewpoint Edinburgh Castle. The Covenanters’ Memorial reminds us of cruel Medieval practices. This is where people used to be hanged back in the day for their religious beliefs. The Vennel Viewpoint is probably the most famous place in Edinburgh you can photograph the castle. Many pictures of Edinburgh were taken from the Vennel Viewpoint, and you don’t want to miss it for anything in the world!
West Bow Street

Moving away from the historical Edinburgh, you can find the newest parts of the city on George Street and Princess Street. Both George Street and Princess Street are popular among shopping fans. Here you may find the most famous store brands, exquisite restaurants and hotels. 

  • On George Street, you may want to check out Melville Monument, Albert Memorial and William Pit the Younger Statue. 
  • Princess Street is near George Street. It is the main shopping boulevard in Edinburgh and one of the busiest areas in the city. Nearby, you may find the Princess Street Gardens, the Scottish National Gallery and the Scott Monument. At the end of the boulevard is Calton Hill and Nelson Monument, one of the most photographed places in Edinburgh. 

I would advise visiting the Princess Street Gardens on a fine day, ideally while enjoying some ice cream. The gardens look beautiful in summer when everything is green. The Scott Monument is found at the end of the park and is one of the most iconic landmarks in Edinburgh. 

For beautiful panoramic views of Edinburgh, a visit to Calton Hill and Nelson Monument is a must. Walk up to enjoy Edinburgh from different angles and take beautiful panorama pictures of the Scottish city. 

To visit the National Gallery, make sure you have a few good hours to spare. Similar to any big museum, visiting the National Gallery can only be done in a few hours. Since there is no fee for entrance, I am sure you would want to include it in your itinerary. 

View from Calton Hill
  • Circus Lane is yet another pretty street further away from George Street. What I particularly liked about this area of Edinburgh is that it feels like a hidden gem because not many tourists visit it. The architecture is lovely, and a simple walk gives you the chance to discover all the marvellous houses. If you are looking for some lovely walks in Edinburgh, away from the usual tourist crowds, I would definitely recommend giving Circus Lane a try. 
  • Dean Village and the Dean Bridge is yet another lovely spot in Edinburgh. Originally an industrial neighbourhood, nowadays Dean Village has such a romantic vibe few can resist. You can learn more about the history of Dean Village thanks to a free walking tour. Everything you need is a mobile phone and access to the internet. You will have QR codes throughout the village, which you will need to scan to listen to the story. 

The main points of interest in the Deal Village are Water of Leith Walkaway and the Well Court. 

From Dean Village, you can continue a lovely walk towards Stockbridge Market. You will pass under the massive Dean Bridge and through the Dean Gardens. The Stock Market is open on the weekend. It’s worth checking it out if you are around as it is one of the most famous local markets in Edinburgh.  

Remarkable buildings & Monuments

Most of the museums and almost all monuments in Edinburgh are free of charge. This is wonderful for someone travelling on a tight budget. Therefore, make sure you make the most of it and visit as many museums and other remarkable monuments as possible. Except for the ones already mentioned above, make sure you also check out: 

The National Library is a lovely building situated not far away from West Bow Street. The day I visited, the National Library was holding an exhibition on mountain expeditions completed by women. The architecture of the building is beautiful and definitely worth a visit. 

The National Museum is the most important in Edinburgh. With a variety of exhibitions, this is something you don’t want to miss out on when in Edinburgh. Allocate some good hours to make sure you have time to visit most of it. 

Not too far at all from the National Museum is Greyfriars Kirkyard. For those of you enjoying scary stories, Greyfriars Kirkyard is indeed one of the spookiest places in Edinburgh. Greyfriars Kirkyard has a dark history of being a place where innocent people were tortured and killed. With such a dark history, Greyfriars Kirkyard can give you cold chills. However, there is also a less scary story linked to this Greyfriars Kirkyard. And that is Greyfriars Bobby’s story. 

Everyone knows the story of Akita, the Japanese, loyal dog. Well, Edinburgh also has its version of the Akita dog. It is said that Greyfriars Bobby was a loyal dog who kept visiting this owner’s tomb at Greyfriars Kirkyard for 14 years until the day he died. In his memory, the city erected a statue, and his collar is exhibited in the museum of Edinburgh. Like you needed another reason to visit the museum? 

If Greyfriars Bobby’s story does not melt your heart, then I do not know what will? 

In the same area, you will find the Elephant House cafe where JK Rowling wrote some of her Harry Potter Books. If you are a Harry Potter fan, you definitely don’t want to miss this out. 

An alternative to the National Gallery is The Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art. The Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art is located close to the Dean Village. The Gallery is renowned for its interesting collections of modern and contemporary art. Before visiting them, make sure you check their website and choose the free exhibitions you want to visit. 


Edinburgh is a green city. The Scottish city is home to some of the best parks in the country. Most of the people who visit Edinburgh are attracted to Holyrood Park. And we all know why! Holyrood Park is famous for its connection to Arthur’s legend. Hiking to the top of the hill, also known as Arthur’s seat is the main attraction. 

However,  you can explore Holyrood Park in many other ways than by just hiking to Arthur’s seat. Depending on where you come from, you can take the Salisbury Crags trail and head towards St. Margaret’s Well. 

Before reaching Arthur’s Seat, you may also want to stop at Crow Hill. 

The park has a few lakes (loch in Scottish) like Duddingston Loch, Dunsapie Loch or St. Margaret Loch. 

Make sure you stop at St. Anthony’s Chapel ruins before heading back to Edinburgh. You will enjoy a beautiful view of St. Margaret Loch before heading back to Edinburgh. 

At Arthur’s Seat

Located on the opposite side of Edinburgh, the Botanic Garden is an alternative to Holyrood Park. If you want to enjoy the plants and flowers in full blossom, make sure you visit the garden during the warm seasons. Nothing can lift your spirit better than a walk through plants and flowers.  

Not to mention that the garden is free to visit. 

* All of the places suggested in this section are free of charge. However, make sure you always double-check the information before your visit in case rules change. 

Take advantage of open days to avoid paying for the tickets

Although most museums and attractions in Scotland are free, some do request to pay for the entrance. However, throughout the year, there is the so-called Doors Open Day, when tourist attractions are free to visit. 

This way, for example, you can skip paying an entrance fee to visit Edinburgh Castle. Or any other tourist attraction you would usually pay a ticket for. 

Make sure you always check ahead of these dates, as you might need to book your spot etc. Open days are perfect if you are looking to save up money when in Edinburgh. The Open Days initiative is common throughout Europe, and it promotes people’s access to tourist attractions they wouldn’t normally afford to visit. So, you can use this tip everywhere in Europe. 

Sign up for free walking tours

Free walking tours are very popular among those travelling on a tight budget. The principle is that you can attend free city tours. There are many companies in Edinburgh offering free walking tours. A simple search on google and you can find a few companies to choose from. In Edinburgh, you can choose between walking tours of the Old Town, of the new Town, a dedicated Harry Potter tour and even a Ghost Tour. 

While these tours are commonly known as free tours, in reality, the tour guide always receives donations at the end. It will be down to you if you prefer to compensate your tour guide or not. No matter what you choose, a free walking tour is always a great opportunity to find out insight stories, myths and interesting facts about the city you’re visiting.  

If group tours are not your thing, then you might want to look into self-guided walking tours. They can be an excellent opportunity for those who want to explore the city at their own pace. While most of them are in fact blog posts, the ones provided by GPS MY CITY seem to cover pretty much everything that’s of interest in Edinburgh. An audio self-guided tour to discover the royal mile is this one. This last one is perfect because you can listen to it while walking around. 

Attend Free Street Events

This year, the famous Fringe Festival took the streets in Edinburgh. Instead of having all the shows in one place, the organisers decided to organise small shows throughout the city. 

Small shows took place on the high street, next to the cathedral, and everyone was delighted with the representations. Free Street events are wonderful for anyone looking to do something different while in Edinburgh but does not have a big budget to spend on cultural events. 

Edinburgh is an amazing city to explore, and with the right planning, everyone, even those on a tight budget can enjoy it. More so, if they decide to visit it on a Bank Holiday during the Fringe Festival. Visiting Edinburgh on a Bank Holiday during the Fringe Festival should not break your bank if you use some of my suggestions above. 

Have you been to Edinburgh during the Fringe Festival? What other tricks have you used to cut down your travel costs?  

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