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Scotland trip Budget

Hello! I just booked airfare to Edinburgh in November :) This was a great opportunity for my friend and me, so I couldn't pass it up! However, my family just took a "trip of a lifetime" to Europe in July. That's 100% paid for, but we had 8-9 months to prepare. This time around, I only have 3 months, so I want to be as budget conscious as possible without sacrificing the fun.

How much should I expect to budget for meals? We have a flat, so I plan on getting groceries for breakfasts and maybe lunch. I'm not a big foodie but I do enjoy the "experience" of a great food- however, I don't need that every day. I can get by with very basic foods as well :) Is 30-50 pounds a day reasonable for mostly budget food with a nice meal once a day (and possibly really nice meal once or twice the whole trip)?

Also, what should I budget for transportation? We are planning on a trip to Glasgow one day, but the rest of the time will be in Edinburgh. If we venture out more, that will be by using a tour company, which is a different budget category.

Thanks!

Posted by
116 posts

We'll be in Edinburgh for 8 nights- fly out super early, so really 7 1/2 nights :)

We don't have much of an itinerary at this point. My friend's daughter goes to school there, and my daughter will meet us there (she's currently in Spain), so it's mostly about spending time with them. So far, we have a day trip to Glasgow and a day trip to St. Andrews. Other than that, we'll probably stick around Edinburgh. I'm thinking about a day trip to the Highlands, but that seems like a long day. If we were going in July, I would consider, but with the potentially cold weather and short days, I'm not convinced it would be that worthwhile.

Posted by
5355 posts

£50 a day will be adequate although returning to your flat to eat lunch is going to interrupt your sightseeing. Lunch can be had quite cheaply and a fast food lunch can be had for under a tenner. A decent splurge meal will cost more than £50 however.

Posted by
116 posts

JC- I was thinking more of packing a lunch, but that may not work well either. Thanks for your input. I may have to re-consider the "or twice" part of a really nice meal. haha

Posted by
4421 posts

If you decide to go to the Highlands for a day, we really enjoyed the one we took from Glascow(which is closer to Loch Lomond than Edinburgh is) with Rabbies.

Posted by
1826 posts

If Rosslyn Chapel interests you, you can get there by city bus - no tour needed.

Posted by
5355 posts

I'm not one for recommending restaurants as the whole subject is entirely subjective but one gem I discovered and one which offers very good food for reasonable prices is The Outsider

http://www.theoutsiderrestaurant.com/

Even the wine is comparatively well priced. I don't know what you consider a splurge meal but I found it very good cooking for a reasonable price, not stuffy and quite innovative.

Posted by
1376 posts

Hi, athorste,

Is your estimate of 30 to 50 pounds a day per person? If not, how many people do you expect to feed for that amount? My wife and I were in Scotland for 30 days from late June to late July, and we only once spent more than 20 pounds in a day for the two of us. So you can eat well on a budget.

Most of the supermarkets have what they call a "Meal Deal." It consists of a good sized sandwich, a drink (juice, cola, Sprite, etc.), and either crisps or a dessert for somewhere between 3 pounds and 3 pounds 50. That makes a great lunch (or even dinner), which you can take to a park or cemetery and enjoy while sitting on a bench.

Look for sandwich boards outside of pubs and restaurants advertising lunch or dinner specials. Some restaurants, especially those owned by Belhaven Brewers, have dinner deals at 2 for 10 pounds 99. You'll find better prices south of Princes Street than north of it. Most Scottish restaurants post a menu in a window or front door, so you have an idea of how much you'll end up paying before you enter.

Tesco and Sainsbury are your best supermarkets for food choices. They have a selection of ready to eat meals that would put most American supermarkets to shame.

Hope that helps for a start!

Mike (Auchterless)

Posted by
116 posts

JC- thanks for that restaurant recommendation! I'll check it out!

aucterless-- it's good to know there are cheaper food options. I just threw out 30-50 pounds, but I hope I don't spend that much. I really don't know how much to expect to pay for food. I would like to spend around 10-15 pounds per meal (while making my own breakfasts, so that would be less). A nice meal would be 20 to 30 pounds, including drinks and everything. I'm not that fancy with food- I just like good quality and fun environment.

Posted by
1376 posts

Hi again, athorste,

With that sort of budget, you can eat really well in Edinburgh. I can make a couple of recommendations that will fit in to your budget, and still be fun.

First is the Canny Man, on Morningside Road. It's a quirky little restaurant, with many tables in alcoves. Second is the Merlin, also on Morningside Road. It's a bit like an American sports bar, but Edinburgh style. Best to avoid if there is football on the telly. Third is Henderson's Salad Table, on Hanover Street. Great food, mainly vegetarian.

There are also several branches of the well known Scottish restaurant (McDonald's), if you fancy going downscale; and also a carry out fish supper wouldn't be amiss. Cafe Piccante on Broughton Street comes highly recommended, but just about any chippie will more than suffice.

BTW, train fare to Glasgow Queen Street is about 13 pounds off peak, and 25 pounds during peak times. That's return. There are all sorts of convoluted discounts, but those are the basic prices. Many of the sights in Glasgow (Cathedral, Necropolis, Glasgow Green, People's Palace, Tenement House, etc.) are within a good walk of the train station.

As you're traveling in November, daylight hours will be getting shorter. You may have as little as eight hours of daylight, depending on when you travel. But that means that the nightlife will be all that much more fun!

Best wishes for your travels!

Mike (Auchterless)

Posted by
1188 posts

Hi there
Mike has given some really great advice and I would second everything he says. The supermarket meal deals are excellent value - just make sure you look at what choices are included in the deal and stick to them (they cunningly put the deal items next to non deal items in the hope that you might get tempted or pick something that is not included!).

Most supermarkets have sections for reduced price stock too (look for a jumble of different fruits and vegetables all piled together or a section of the cold aisle where there is real odd mix of stuff). They put reduced price stickers on products that will go out of date on that day (but which are still fine to eat). You can often pick up some good bargains by hunting through the stickered products. This can include the 'ready meals' that Mike mentioned, so something like a ready made lasagne priced at 3.99 could be reduced to one pound for example. Bread is another thing that gets reduced towards the end of the day. Don't be shy - just ask the staff where the reduced stuff is!

You can also get a good cooked breakfast in some of the department stores - like John Lewis or House of Fraser. For something like 5 or 6 pounds this could set you up for the day.

Another pub chain that does cheap food is Wetherspoons, there are several in Edinburgh and they also do breakfast.

Posted by
6 posts

Some thoughts on food:

Order tap water, if you are a water drinker. The water in Scotland is excellent. It is also free. You can save a few pounds at meal time. Sure, you can splurge on a different beverage of your choice from time to time, but don't be afraid of the tap water.

Takeaway is usually less expensive than dine-in service - and you get the opportunity of dining outside. I enjoyed a lovely meal on a bench in Oban. I watched the ships, stared at the ocean, and listened to seagulls. How many times will you have that experience in your life??

Don't shy away from non-traditional places. I had a wonderful sandwich at a cafe in a home/garden shop near Stirling.

Food prices in Scottish restaurants seemed much more affordable than they are in the States. For example, I found a cafe in Edinburgh where I could get a latte and a pain du chocolat for 3.15 pounds. You cannot get a latte in America for 3.15 or whatever it would be with the current exchange rate in dollars! And, both were freakin' awesome. (This was the takeaway price, BTW.) It was nice to stroll through EDI with my cheap breakfast and enjoy the city before all the tourists got out of bed. ;-)

I found a wide array of choices (including vegetarian options) at all price points. As other have posted, supermarket chains also offer great values on takeaway meals. You should be pleasantly surprised.

Posted by
11294 posts

Kim: thanks for that link - I'm headed to Edinburgh soon, and those places look good!