Edinburgh, Scotland

Edinburgh is the birth place of the Harry Potter series!  The most beloved author wrote the series at a cafe in this city.  Edinburgh is the home of cobble stone street, dark beer, great whisky, and haggis!  The locals are out going and always wanting to have a beer or whisky with you while sharing some stories.  The city is filled with activities, beautiful walks, outstanding buildings, and so much history!  Edinburgh is a popular for pub crawls and bachelor(ette) parties.  You will never have a boring night here.  There is something for everyone in Edinburgh.

Must Go To Places

Activities – There are no shortage of fun activities to do in Edinburgh. All the public museums are free.  Some exhibits will cost around 6-15 GBP.  Free walking tours are available through hostels or on the Royal Miler.  Hike up to Arthur’s Seat and admire the view.  Walk through historical museums.  Visit the most historic Scottish Highlands.  Sit at a local pub and share a drink and listen to stories from the locals (if you understand drunk Scottish).  You will be enriched with cultural and history no matter where you go.

Transportation – Edinburgh is a walking city. Take the bus for 1.60GBP per trip or a day ticket for unlimited usage on certain days for 4GBP. The bus system is very cheap in Scotland.  Take the backpacker bus around the country because you can hop on and off as you please.  Rent a bike for 12-17 per day.

  • Hike to Arthur's Seat – Can be a steep hike, but the view of the entire city of Edinburgh is defiantly worth the hike.
  • The Royal Mile – The most famous street in Edinburgh.  This road is filled with restaurants, bars, and shops.  It takes you from the royal castle to the royal palace.  While touristy and extremely busy, there are many historical places to check out.
  • Edinburgh Castle - Costs around 17GBP. It is an important landmark.  Beautiful views can be seen from the castle.  Guided tours and audio tours are available and provide more information about the castle for an extra fee.
  • Rosslyn Chapel – If you're a Da Vinci code fan, this chapel helped guard the holy grail.
  • Ghost Tours – Edinburgh is the worlds most haunted city.  There are spooky stories behind every corner due to Edinburgh's horrific history.  There are many tours to choose from and super easy to find.
  • The Scott Monument– Built in 1846 to commemorate the life of Sir Walter Scott, the man who helped put Scotland back on the map, the Gothic spire monument allows you to climb 200 ft above the city center to enjoy fantastic views. Admission is 5GBP.

Accommodations

Hostels range from 10-20GBP with 10+ beds in the room.  This option will be your cheapest route.  Smaller rooms can range from 15-30GBP. Many hostels offer free WiFi and a portion provide a complimentary breakfast.

  • Kickass Hostel – Voted Scotland's best hostel.  They are located in the heart of the city in the Grassmarket area.  Bars, restaurants, and history are just a step outside of their building.  Beds can sometimes run as low as 7GBP.
  • Castle Rock – Lively hostel set in a 19th-century house offering free WiFi , kitchen, and an ornate lounge.
  • The Hostel   It's a row-house and garden that offers extremely affordable rates.  It's decorated, lounge areas, kitchen, and free WiFi.
  • High Street Hostel –  Tudor styled hostel with budget room and dorms, plus walking tours, pub crawls, and free WiFi.
  • St. Christopher's Inn Edinburgh Hostel - Bright rooms and dorms with free breakfast and WiFi in a relaxed hostel with a bar/restaurant.
  • Royal Mile Backpackers   Lively hostel offering budget dorms, kitchen, free walking tours, pub crawls, and free WiFi.

Bars & Restaurants

Eating can be fairly cheap if you stick to local pubs, but those places can be difficult to find gluten free meals.  Talk with the bartender or chef and they will help you out and tell you what you can eat.  A typical meal will cost around 6-10€.  A sit down restaurant will cost around 20+€.

  • The Elephant House– The cafe where JK Rowling wrote Harry Potter.
  • Arcade Bar – A relaxed bar devoted to whiskey and haggis.  The only place in Edinburgh to get gluten free haggis!
  • Graze – located in Grassmarket. This extremely affordable restaurant offers so many gluten free options. Their best meal deal is a breakfast roll for 3.50GBP and a free hot drink. This offer only lasts until 11am.
  • Timberyard - Creative menu of locally-sourced artisanal produce in hip, industrial-chic former warehouse space.  Majority of their menu items are gluten free!
  • Panda & Sons – A bar where all ages are welcomed! They have creative cocktails and an extensive wine menu.  They're a hidden bar fusing the classic Prohibition style Speakeasy and a nod to the Vintage style Barbershop; if you find a Barbershop with some foreign currency you have made it to the Libation Destination!
  • Edinburgh Farmers Market – A weekly outdoor farmers market where locals provide fresh produce, meats & cheeses, plus baked goods & beer.  Head over here and you may be able to score a free lunch with all the free samples!
  • The Herringbone– In North Berwick, it's a great little town.  It's a perfect place for tea and gluten free cake.
  • Printworks Coffee – Serves good quality teas, coffee,s, soups, lunches.  They even have gluten free sandwiches.  Their menu also notes all items gluten free.
  • Grounds of Stockbridge – A tiny little shop up some stairs that you can almost miss, but don't because it is a must go to place.  Daily soup specials are GF, bread and cake options.
  • Hula Juice Bar - The Grassmarket is a great location for gluten free places.  A terrific little spot and caters well for allergies.  They serve some of the best gluten free breakfasts in Edinburgh.  Opens 8 am!
  • The Cumberland Bar– Finding pubs that serve GF foods is not easy to find.  Options include: salads, soups, burgers, and coleslaw.
  • Bramble Bar & Lounge – This hidden away bar makes you feel like you're a VIP local.  Live music, incredible drinks, and a friendly bar staff.
  • The Devil’s Advocate – This bar holds a wonderful collection of Scottish whiskies.  Has multiple award winning bartenders that serve seasonal cocktails. On the more expensive side but offers gf meals.
  • The Cafe Royal– The authentic circle bar in Edinburgh with fantastic drinks and the freshest Scottish fayre.
  • Port O’Leith – A small local bar that lacks a dance floor but makes up for it by dancing on the bar!
  • The Royal Oak – Great pub with FREE live music every night!
  • Peartree House – A beer garden that's perfect to visit on a nice sunny day.  It's right across Edinburgh University so it's a perfect place to meet college students.  During the summer, the backyard also hold BBQs and live music from local bands.
  • The Last Drop – Traditional pub with a regular scene.  It's dark, dim, with wooden beams and brick exposed walls. Supposedly, this would be the last stop for many people before they were exacted.
  • Regent Bar– Not easy to come across.  It's a gay friendly real ale pub that has been voted pub of the year.
  • The Sheep Heid Inn – A short ride over to Duddingston, established in 1360 – the oldest pub in Scotland.  Mary Queen of Scots was said to be a regular here.  There's a beer garden, a conservatory area and, most exciting of all, a 19th-century skittle alley, which can be hired for the evening.
  • Joseph Pearce– Between Leith's shore and the top of Leith Walk in the city center are 4 bars: Sofi's, Boda Bar, Victoria, & Joseph Pearce.
  • The Blue Blazer– A 2 room pub that attracts locals, art students, and everyone in-between.
  • The King's Wark – Low ceiling and rough stone walls tells the buildings 15th-century history.
  • St. Andrew's Restaurant – Located in Portobello beach area. They have the amazing gluten free fish and chips. Go early and you'll get special "high tea" happy hour) prices. They also offer gluten free pasta and pizza.

Money Saving Tips

  • Walk everywhere.  Walking is ALWAYS free.
  • Eat at restaurants away from the city center.  Those places will be cheaper that the ones directly in the city.
  • Spend time at parks, gardens, and museums.
  • Take free walking tours.  You get a history guide and get to see more things.  Tours typically last between 1.5-3 hours.
  • Cooking your own meals will save you money.  Eating out is expensive and will drain your wallet fast.  Most hostels have kitchens you can use.
  • Stay with a local.  The couchsurfing app allows you to stay with locals for free.  You can crash on their couch, or if you're lucky, you can get your own room.

Check out my adventure here!

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