Edinburgh on a budget: the top five things to do

Jenai Laignel / 09 November 2015

They say the best things in life are free, but those of us with a passion for travel might have to concede that this isn't always the case.

However, the savvy traveller might find that even in a destination such as the charming Scottish city of Edinburgh, where the cost of living is considered to be fairly high, there are still an abundance of sights and activities on offer to suit even the tightest shoestring budget.

Take a peek at our pick of things to do in Edinburgh that won't break the bank:

1. Explore The Royal Mile

Take a wander along this famous thoroughfare and explore Edinburgh's picturesque Old Town. This area is the historical heart of the city, a protected World Heritage site thanks to its listed buildings and medieval architecture.

Discover the eerie secrets of Mary King's Close; admire the Victorian stained glass at St. Giles' Cathedral; or simply get lost in the romantic, labyrinthine streets, lined with shops, restaurants and tucked away drinking holes.

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2. Climb Arthur's Seat

One for the ramblers, Arthur's Seat is a dormant volcano, its rocky summit perched in an oasis of parkland, right in the heart of the city. Start your ascent from Holyrood Palace and make the five-mile trek to the top where you can enjoy panoramic views of the city.

3. Visit Portobello Bay

Head the short distance to the coast for a breath of salty sea air at Portobello Bay. This award-winning beach boasts a two-mile streak of golden sand with a smattering of cafes and bars on the attractive promenade.

Portobello's high street is filled with independent shops and restaurants to explore and there is a craft and produce market held in Brighton Park on the first Saturday of every month.

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4. Admire Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle dominates the skyline, presiding over the city from its vantage point atop Castle Rock. Climb the hill to admire its impressive stone walls and sweeping, postcard-worthy views of the city below. Admission isn't too steep either, particularly with the concessionary discounts for ages 60+.

The ticket includes access to all the highlights including the serene St. Margaret's Chapel, sombre Prisons of War, luxurious Royal Palace and awe-inspiring Great Hall.

5. Get your fill of culture

Culture vultures can satisfy their souls with a visit to a number of free attractions.

The National Galleries of Scotland houses an exquisite and extensive collection of fine art, from the Renaissance up to the beginning of the 20th century; the National Museum of Scotland boasts collections covering a diversity of topics, from antiquities and history to science, technology and natural history; and the National Library of Scotland offers literary treasures and exhibitions that will delight avid bookworms.

Of course, a trip to Edinburgh would not be complete without booking a comfortable place to rest your head. Consider a cosy cottage from the diverse collection at cottages.com where all Saga customers receive at 10% discount. Alternatively, treat yourself to a stay with award-winning Classic British Hotels.

The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.