Castle ruins in Scotland. Is Scotland Expensive?

Is Scotland Expensive? This is how much we spent in one week

Published: 07 December 2019 Modified: 21 December 2019

It’s always scary visiting a new country. If you’re traveling to the country the first time, you must wonder how expensive Scotland is, so you know how big a dent your trip will make in your wallet. We were expecting it to be relatively expensive. That’s probably also because our only visit to the United Kingdom was to London, which obviously isn’t a very cheap destination to visit. Read on of you want to know to answer to the question: “Is Scotland expensive?”

ATM’s and paying in Scotland

Like in the rest of the UK, Scotland also has a pound. The emphasis is on ‘a’, since they have their own Scottish pound. The exchange rate is the same as the Pound Sterling. ATM’s in almost every corner of the country. Only in the far off townships it might be harder to find a place to get money. Cards are accepted everywhere in Scotland, so you probably don’t need a lot of cash.

Kirsten on a hill in Scotland

How expensive is Scotland

To answer “Is Scotland expensive?” we’ve written down how much we spent during our trip to Scotland of one week. Spendings are categorized in five sections: Accommodation, Food & Drinks, Transportation, Excursions and Other expenses.

Hotel prices in Scotland

Like everywhere, the prices for accommodations in Scotland vary depending on where you’re staying and in what type of accommodation. A bunk bed in a dorm is about £20, while a double room with its own bathroom is between £40 and £100. At some places breakfast is included in the price. Edinburgh generally is cheaper than places in the countryside. We got a great deal on Booking.com, so it might be a good idea to keep an eye out for good deals. Here are a few:

Booking.com

If you’re planning on going to Isle of Skye – which we highly recommend – getting a cheap room is not as easy. Fewer accommodations in a popular place mean higher prices. Stupid capitalism. Here’s a list with places we’ve stayed:

Breakfast at Air Leth B&B
Breakfast at Air Leth B&B with a stunning view

Cost of food and drinks

There are lots of ways to limit your spending on meals. A cheaper option instead of a restaurant is hitting the pub, since they often have a variety of ‘pub food’ available. The food you can get here often consists of burgers and fries, but some bars offer an elaborate menu with salads, appetizers, pastas and even desserts. Although eating at a pub will save you money on food, it most definitely does not on drinks as you tend to stay a drink or two longer than you would have in a restaurant. Getting takeout is definitely the cheapest way to go, but also the dullest:)

  • Two ‘Pub Food’ dishes: Between £16 and £30
  • A cocktail and a beer: Between £7 and £13
  • On diner we spent: Between £27.50 and £38

Some, but not all days we also had lunch in a pub. Sometimes we would simply get a sandwich for lunch. For breakfast we’d get something easy, like orange juice and a croissant. On Isle of Skye breakfast was included. Besides the three meals, we would occasionally stop at a pub for a few drinks. Good times!

On average we spent £55 (for two) a day on food and drinks. As said, this can be a lot cheaper if you refrain from alcohol.

Pub Food in Edinburgh
Scottish Whiskey
Arthur's Seat. Is Scotland Expensive?

Cost of transportation in Scotland

Distances in Scotland are pretty short which can be easily traveled by bus and train. We chose to rent a car to have the freedom of venturing wherever we want. We’re here to explore after all, right? We rented a car with Alamo for £100 for four days. We chose Alamo because we had a good experience with the company on our road trip in Mexico. In addition to the rental we also spent £100 on fuel. This was from Edinburgh to Isle of Skye, around Loch Ness, back to Edinburgh.

The city center of Edinburgh is small enough to explore on foot, so when we were in Scotland’s capital we didn’t use any transportation but our shoes. To travel between the airport and the city center we took the tram which costs £6 per person, one way. If you want to book your transportation to Edinburgh center in advance you can reserve tickets for the Airlink bus for £4.50.

Our rental car in Scotland. Is Scotland Expensive to rent a car?
Our rental car in Scotland parked besides de road

How expensive are tours and excursions in Scotland?

Because we had the luxury of our own car, we didn’t need to book a tour to see surrounding highlights. In Edinburgh, however, there are plenty things to do, like:

  • A Brewery Tour. Besides Whisky, Scotland is also famous for its craft beer. The tour takes you through the Edinburgh Beer Factory.
  • Edinburgh Castle. Edinburgh’s landmark right in the center of the city. This ticket gives you access to everything inside the castle. You also get to skip the queue!
  • Or search all tours in Edinburgh

We did the ‘free’ Ghost Tour, on which you are led by a guide that takes you to a few specific spots. Like the name suggests, the places you visit are spots where all kinds of gruesome things have taken place. We had a blast! The tour starts at 5pm on High Street and takes about two hours. Even though name suggests the tour is free, you are expected to give a tip between £10 and £20. We gave £15.

Arthur's Seat, Edinburgh

Other expenses in Scotland

How often do you come home from a destination without souvenirs? Right, that’s why we spent another £45 on souvenirs. We bought some craft beers, a refrigerator magnet and a bottle of Scotch gin. I just realized our ‘others’ consists of booze and a magnet:)

Highland Cow
Glenfinnanviaduct, Scotland. Railway bridge featured in Harry Potter

Conclusion: Is Scotland expensive?

As you can see, Scotland is a relatively expensive destination. Even though we thought it would be more expensive, it still is not a place you would want to spend a month if you’re on a budget. In one week we spent nearly £1000.

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Does this throw your plans to go to Scotland in the water? Or are you fine with spending a grand on a one-week trip? Let everyone know in the comments!

Erick - When your girlfriend (Kirsten) has the travel virus, it doesn't take long before you are infected as well. Traveling has become a big part of my life, just as Travelaar has. Web developer and translator for Travelaar.com and it's Dutch counterpart Travelaar.nl. Photo and video editing are also my tasks. My motto: Don't take life too seriously