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Edinburgh castle - worth £17?

I've heard Edinburgh castle is one of the most recommended activities in the city, but I don't love the idea of paying such an expensive entrance fee. Is it a disappointment or a must-see?

Thanks,

Awdur

Posted by
3947 posts

I think it's worth it but everyone's different.

Posted by
906 posts

Hi, Awdur,

By itself, it's not worth 17 pounds. You can get combination tickets which will gain you admission to other activities in Edinburgh in addition to the castle, but they are almost as expensive as paying individually at the venues. The main advantage to the combo tickets is that you don't have to wait in line to purchase individual tickets. It then gives you a feeling of superiority being able to bypass everyone waiting at the ticket booth.

Best to walk around the exterior of the castle, and take photographs if you have a mind to. The best views are from Princes Street and Princes Street Gardens; and from the Grassmarket area, Castle Terrace, Johnston Terrace, and especially The Vennel. The castle looks quite spectacular floodlit at night, especially from Princes Street. You can also be standing on Princes Street or in the Gardens for the firing of the one o'clock gun, set your watch, and avoid the throng of tourists.

Save your money. Have a hike up Arthur's Seat (free), and Calton Hill (also free). Visit the many free and excellent museums which are on offer in Edinburgh.

Enjoy the city!

Mike (auchterless)

Posted by
1352 posts

I think it's totally worth it! We really enjoyed it. Isn't part of why we travel to see the sights?

Posted by
1239 posts

See if you can get Historic Scotland membership for the period. It costs a lot to get into Edinburgh Castle in part to get you to get membership, partly because as a historic site it costs a lot to run, and also it is paying for Historic Scotland's free to access sites elsewhere.

Posted by
2565 posts

If you are not very interested in castles, then skip it. Ditto if you dislike being in crowds, but in that case you'll probably want to avoid the Royal Mile altogether.

It costs monumental amounts of money to maintain ancient buildings, and with all the hordes of visitors to Edinburgh Castle that goes double. (Imagine having to keep your house clean day after day if you had, say, 200 people trooping through your living room every morning.)

Posted by
123 posts

I agree with Mike above. We prefer the Museum of Scotland. You can see a lot of the castle on TV shows like RS. Museum of Scotland was totally worth our time.

Posted by
10 posts

Thanks for the thoughts. I'm definitely interested in seeing castles, but I don't mind going to an obscure one that costs a fraction of the cost, rather than the more frequented spots. I'm also traveling with my sister who is an even bigger cheapskate than me, haha.

Posted by
2954 posts

I enjoyed Stirling Castle much more than Edinburgh Castle. Everyone's tastes are different.....

Posted by
552 posts

As someone else suggested, take a look at getting the Historic Scotland pass, it will get you into several other sites, and you won’t have to wait in line to get in. The pass will easily pay for itself if you are going to be hitting several of their locations. Edinburgh castle is well worth the visit. It’s a collection of buildings, and a long and important history. There are guides and walking tours on site, and even actors playing the role of period characters narrating historical stories. Check out this web site to help you decide....https://www.edinburghcastle.scot/visit/itineraries. I also enjoyed Stirling Castle, but the day I was there it was over-run with school children as they were doing a witches and warlocks weekend. So, Stirling actually seemed more hectic to me.

Posted by
2436 posts

it is not just a castle but a castle complex with a whole series of buildings and museums to explore,£17 is a bargain ,but as has been mentioned might be worth getting a historic Scotland pass for your trip.

Posted by
2681 posts

If you’re travelling around the country and plan on visiting a number of castles, look into the Scottish Heritage pass, historic Scotland pass, or National Trust pass. If you go to enough sights, they pay for themselves, then some. You’ll need to see which works best for you. While I hate paying high entrance fees, those places cost a lot to maintain. Also, after spending all the money for airfare and hotels, what’s another $20, and, you’d probably regret not visiting it if you didn’t. When we were there we had one one the passes, but I forget which. Since you’ll be in Edinburgh and are interested in castles ensure you visit Craigmiller castle. It’s easy to reach by bus and a short walk. It was included with the pass we had.

Posted by
5461 posts

I think it's absolutely worth it. I visit it on every trip I've made to Edinburgh. I start there. I can see the city laid out before me. I get reminded of the history. I find some new exhibit. I revisit the room where Mary Queen of Scots gave birth to James VI and I. I visit the memorial and say a little prayer for my grandfather's comrades in arms. I catch a tour, or a Historic Scotland presentation.

Do visit the Historic Scotland site and do the math on the sites you plan to visit. They not only give you the possibility of cheaper access, you get in faster and dodge a lot of the lines.

Pam

Posted by
906 posts

However, you can take the Aberdonian approach, and see the city laid out before you from Arthur's Seat and/or Calton Hill. Best time is in the morning, just after sunrise, with the sun behind you and the early morning mist just starting to rise. :)

Mike (auchterless)

Posted by
7143 posts

Exactly what Pamela said. With all the history that took place there, it’s an incredible and fascinating castle for me. I will never forget being in the small room where Mary Queen of Scots gave birth, touching the stone wall she must have touched. Very powerful to me. I cannot imagine going to Edinburgh and not touring the castle. I’d go to Edinburgh just to go to the castle again.
17 pounds is a pittance for such an amazing place, imo.

Posted by
651 posts

Impossible question to answer for someone else. :) We loved it, but had the Historic Scotland pass and also visited Stirling Castle, and Urquhart Castle. I happen to love castles, though. I can't imagine anyone saying its a disappointment but it might not be everyone's favorite. Only you can tell. However, I will say Scotland may not be the best place to visit for a cheapskate. Lol. But entrances to whatever we wanted to see was a very small part of our trip budget.

Posted by
906 posts

Hi, Travelmom,

Cheapskate here! :) Twenty-three trips to Scotland thus far, and always on a budget. We may not spend a lot, but we always have fun! Otherwise, we wouldn't keep going back. But I guess a lot depends on your outlook. Only major expense over the years has been a trip to St. Kilda. But that was a once in a lifetime journey, and worth every penny (or pound).

So you can visit Scotland, have a wonderful time, and not spend a whole lot. Hiking/hillwalking costs nothing; many of the best museums have free entry; dolphin watching costs nothing, if you know where to look; the best bird preserves (Fowlsheugh and Balranald) are free. Castles can be appreciated for their exterior beauty just as much as they can for what's inside those stone walls.

You don't have to spend a lot of money on food, either. Picnics are fun, and you get to spend more time outdoors. (Unless it's raining, or the midges are biting, in which case you find a scenic overlook, and eat in the car.) Supermarkets provide great meal deals, and there are plenty of ethnic takeaways and fish and chip shops where one meal is more than enough for two people.

In addition, you can pick up books, maps, and CDs of Scots music at a fraction of the retail cost at the many charity shops which abound in even the smallest towns.

Don't ever consider not visiting Scotland because you think it's expensive. It's too darned beautiful to pass up!

Happy (and inexpensive) travels to all!

Mike (auchterless)

Posted by
651 posts

Oh, Mike, we would not pass up Scotland! It may be my husband's favorite trip yet. And we only got to see a small portion in our 10 days, so another trip ought to be in the future if mobility lasts. :) You are right that the best thing about Scotland is the scenery, which is free. :) And the people. And always there are ways to economize (I am fresh from reading all the comments on how to save for travel). But compared to some countries we have visited, we found some things more expensive than the same things elsewhere. But I would still say totally worth my money!

Maybe just for us, the places we paid to enter or the experiences we purchased were indeed a small percentage of budget that included airfare and lodging. If that €17 really does make a financial difference, the trip can still be great! But sometimes it might be simply a matter of getting it into perspective based on the whole trip, not on how much only one activity costs. I may not be saying that well. Probably "cheapskate" just evoked a different scenario for me. :)

I think whether something is worth it or not depends on what someone want to see or do and what they enjoy. And that is different for everyone. But to go to Edinburgh and being interested and not see it just because it feels like a lot of money is different than not being interested and deciding to not spend the money or than needing to economize and make choices.

I hope we get at least one more trip there!

Posted by
2436 posts

https://www.google.co.uk/search?q=craigmillar+castle+image&rlz=1T4GGHP_enGB575GB575&tbm=isch&source=iu&ictx=1&fir=zFCOsu6bUan80M%253A%252CFWN3NkMzklGyNM%252C_&usg=__TWL5G4v21SuyauHbif3a1Y2PgiM%3D&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwjrxMiV1dnaAhVbGsAKHQe0ALoQ9QEINTAF#imgrc=zFCOsu6bUan80M:
Craigmillar castle has been mentioned, I actually walk past this to and from my work every day (Unless it is raining and I take the bus)not the worst walk to work in the world.

Posted by
3 posts

I can't imagine why you would spend money getting to Edinburgh and then worry about a little extra for the Castle, etc. That seems like flying to America and going to Las Vegas, but not bothering to have a quick bet. But each to their own and there is more to see in the city to use your £17 on.

Posted by
3947 posts

That seems like flying to America and going to Las Vegas, but not bothering to have a quick bet.

That reminds me of my trip to Vegas many years ago. Decided to try my hand at the bkackjack table, $20 dollars down and I lost at the first turn, a quick retreat to the 50c machines followed! I don't really do gambling.

Posted by
5461 posts

That's quite a hike up Arthur's Seat! If you really want to dodge the fee and only do the view, then Calton Hill is a good bet. But, to me, it's the combination of the castle's history with the view. And, I do like the memorial. I've paged through the books look for the Taits that were from Orkney. While it's not as sweet as it was last summer when the pound was around 1.25, 1.38 is better than my last trip to Scotland.

In addition to the people and the scenery, I would add the music, the whisky, and the seafood as three more great reasons to visit Scotland.

Pam

Posted by
1878 posts

In my opinion it is most definitely worth it. I think we spent three or four hours there, maybe even more. It's a big complex.

By comparison Tower of London (one of the great sight in Europe IMO) is well north of twenty pounds. Even Westminster Abbey is 20 pounds prebooked. For certain blockbuster sites in the U.K. you are going to pay, but usually it's still good value in proportion to the magnitude of the sight. Edinburgh Castle is a winner, I advise you to go for it.

Posted by
10 posts

Thanks, everyone. Sounds like it's a necessary expense. Just trying to avoid the things that are expensive purely because they're touristy, but we don't want to miss out on something we'd regret because of a few extra pounds.

Posted by
906 posts

Arthur's Seat is quite a hike if you go up via the Crags. However, if you drive up Queen's Drive to the little car park at Dunsapie Loch, it's only a short hike to the top. Sometimes, if you're hiking in to a stiff wind (often the case on Arthur's Seat!), it's two steps forward, one step back. Or is it the other way around?

Mike (auchterless)

Posted by
2681 posts

JG,
In Feb 2008 the exchange rate was $2.00 for every £1. That was when the pound was a mother. It’s reasonable now.

Posted by
906 posts

Hi, jamieelsablo,

In 1973, my first time over, the pound traded at $2.50. In 1979, when I went for the fourth time, the pound was $1.03. $1.40 sounds pretty good to me!

Posted by
449 posts

The problem with Edinburgh castle for me is this. We are a family of FOUR! Might just take a gander outside and around, up the hill. Have to choose the places to visit inside based on interests and must see. Only have one full day in Edinburgh and one jet lag day.

Posted by
5461 posts

Ginger, look into what other sites you are visiting. Check out the various family plans. Sometimes memberships are surprising. Here's the Historic Scotland membership pricing. If your children are 15 or younger this might be a plan. Check the places here that are covered. Note, some are free, but many are not. For example, Stirling castle is 15 GBP for an adult and 9 GBP for a child. That's 49GBP. If you add on Edinburgh Castle, you are close to the family membership price. And if you buy the membership with cash it looks like it is really cheaper. And, you get a discount on any purchases. :) Watch out, though. Not all sites are Historic Scotland.