Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland since the 15th century, is one of the most handsome cities in the United Kingdom. It is set against the backdrop of ‘Arthur’s Seat’, a wild and craggy hill that rises dramatically above the city to a height of over 250 metres - in winter it’s often dusted with snow.
Edinburgh itself is divided into two distinct areas: the ‘Old Town’, dominated by a medieval fortress including a castle; and the neoclassical ‘New Town’ - with handsome Georgian buildings and terraces - whose development from the 18th century onwards has had a far-reaching influence on urban planning throughout the rest of Europe.
Today Edinburgh hosts a world famous arts festival season, is home to several important art galleries, a leading university and enjoys a reputation as an exciting place to enjoy innovative theatre and music. Add to that its proximity to the Lothian countryside and beautiful coastal walks, including part of the famous ‘John Muir Way’, and it’s easy to see why it is a popular choice for those seeking to work abroad.
What is the Cost of One Month of Housing in Edinburgh?
Between £750 a month for a shared dorm in a hostel to £1000 for a self-contained apartment.
Rents in Edinburgh aren’t the cheapest but, with a large student population, there are landlords targeting the lower end of the market. A good tip is to avoid the ‘festival’ period – rents rocket at that time of the year (August), with many residents vacating the city to let their homes for big bucks.
The city is well supplied with good quality hostels including: Code Hostel, 50 Rose Street North Lane, which offers a ‘pod’ with USB in dorm rooms from £24 a night. Included in the price is access to a lounge with kitchen as well as a roof terrace. For a hotel room expect to pay anything from £40 a night at Tune Hotel, 7 Clifton Terrace to £72 at Apex City Hotel, 61 Grassmarket.
AirBnB offers self-contained rooms in private homes from £20 a night in a central location. For a studio apartment expect to pay in excess of £250 a week.
University Rooms Edinburgh has student accommodation on its books throughout the year, although there is much more availability during vacations. Single rooms are available from £40 a night. This is a good option for friends travelling to the city to intern abroad.
What is the Cost of Transportation for One Month in Edinburgh?
About £120 if you are just travelling within the city
Trains: Edinburgh shares in the UK’s extensive – if rather expensive – train services linking it with many regions throughout Scotland, England and Wales, including regular trains to Glasgow and London. Its main station Waverley is a few minutes walk from the city’s ‘West End’. Travel after 0930 and before 1600 to get the best value fares.
Trams: Recently completed the tram network includes a link with the airport. Single and return fares are the same as for buses (see below) with the exception of the journey to and from the airport – that incurs a higher cost of £5 for a single trip. Always pre-purchase a ticket as buying one from the onboard conductor will prove expensive, as he/she will automatically charge the ‘standard’ fare of £10.
Buses: Buses remain the most extensive and popular forms of transport around the city. Two companies provide services: ‘First’ or ‘Lothian’. Single journeys usually cost £1.50, unless you are travelling a long distance, making a ‘day ticket’ good value at £3.50. Lothian day tickets can also be used on trams but ‘’First’ tickets cannot, something that often catches visitors out.
What is the Cost of Food for One Month in Edinburgh?
Budget £200 for meals mostly cooked at home with the odd lunch and drinks out
Buying food in supermarkets expect to pay just under £1 for a litre of milk, about £2.50 for 12 eggs, £6-8 for a bottle of wine and £2.30 for a kilo of apples. Drinking out, expect to pay £3-£4 for a pint of beer and £2.50-£3 for a small glass of wine.
There are some excellent markets offering seasonal produce including Stockbridge Farmers’ Market, (Corner of Saunders Street and Kerr Street, Stockbridge) every Sunday from 10am-5pm.
Edinburgh has helped Scotland shake off its reputation as the ‘heart attack’ capital of the UK. Although you can still get the ‘traditional’ calorific fare of steak pies, fish and chips and deep fried ‘Mars’ bars there is a now a flourishing ‘foodie’ scene.
Restaurants: Bia Bistrot, 19 Colinton Road is just such a place offering seasonal food including venison carpaccio and glazed pork belly. The daily set menu is great value at £9.50 for two courses, although this is only available at lunchtime Tues-Sat. At dinnertime a main course will cost you about £12. The Scottish National Portrait Gallery, 1 Queen Street has an excellent café with a legendary ‘cream tea’ with beverages for £15.
What is the Cost of Entertainment for One Month in Edinburgh?
If you’re happy to brave the elements (Edinburgh can be windy and rainy in winter, so be prepared) there are lots of things to do within walking distance of the ‘Royal Mile’, the city’s main shopping area - and many of them are free.
Galleries and Museums: check out the Museum of Edinburgh (142 Canon gate, Royal Mile) for a meandering look at objects from Scotland’s past and Edinburgh Writers Museum (Lady Stair's Close, off Royal Mile) which celebrates the lives of three of Scotland's most famous writers - Robert Burns (poet - writer of New Year's Eve poem/song ‘Auld Lang Syne’), Sir Walter Scott (author of ‘Rob Roy’) and Robert Luis Stevenson (author of ‘Treasure Island’).
Music: At the junction of High Street (Royal Mile) and The Bridges, Whistlebinkies is a great place to catch live music by up and coming bands. From Sunday to Thursday it's free in for the entire night, whilst on Fridays and Saturdays it's free before midnight.
Parliament: At the bottom of the Royal Mile is the award winning (and controversial) building housing the Scottish Royal Parliament. It offers free tours which you need to book in advance via the Scottish Parliament website.
Edinburgh International Festival: this celebration of music, drama, dance, theatre and comedy takes place over three weeks in August every year. The most famous part of the season is the ‘Fringe’ festival of alternative arts and comedy. Although rents rocket at this time of the year it is a good opportunity to see some great performances - many of them at very low-ticket prices - and enjoy the crazy party atmosphere that seizes the city at this time of the year. Check out the Edinburgh International Festival website for detailed information about events.
Comedy: if you don’t want to pay Festival prices ‘The Stand’ at No. 5 York Place offers a free improvisation show called "Whose Lunch Is It Anyway?" every Sunday afternoon.
Want to Volunteer For One Month in Edinburgh?
There are numerous opportunities to volunteer abroad in Edinburgh. ‘Volunteer Scotland’ is a good place to start looking for vacancies. In the past young people have found positions volunteering at ‘TED’ talks, local youth music and arts projects, recycling initiatives and at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival (keep on eye on that site for vacancies there).