When my sisters visited last summer, they had 10 days to experience as much of the UK as possible, with the goal of not spending a small fortune. Not easy when you want to spend time in both London and Edinburgh, especially when it’s Edinburgh during the Fringe.
To save on transport costs and time, they flew into London Heathrow, and out of Edinburgh. Open jaw tickets are one of my favourite ways to avoid backtracking, and they often don’t cost more than getting return flights from the same airport.
I’d spent the night in London prior to their arrival, so I caught the tube to Heathrow to meet them, then we headed straight to the hostel to check in. I would wholeheartedly recommend the YHA London Oxford Street Hostel. You don’t need to be a YHA member to stay, though you get a discount if you are. It was clean and really close to major sights. It was a bit toasty in mid August as there is no a/c, but the rest of the year is probably fine. There are people of all ages and families staying there, so definitely not a party hostel.
They spent a few days visiting us in the Lake District (no hotel costs!), where I pre ordered dinner ingredients from Gousto. (Which I highly recommend and use all the time, mostly because I hate grocery shopping).
In Edinburgh, we booked an AirBnB far in advance, because things go quickly during the Fringe, especially on a weekend. It was right off the Royal Mile, and convenient for seeing lots of shows and even a late night fried Mars Bar.
We prioritised sights before we visited, and decided to take in a free walking tour in both Edinburgh and London, which I hadn’t done before.
Our sightseeing splurge in London was the Tower of London, which is well worth the money. You could (and I have) spent all day there seeing the various exhibits. Many of the best museums in London are free, we also visited the British Museum and spent time strolling along the Thames and Shoreditch, where I ate what is likely the best donut of my life. Seriously.
In Edinburgh, my sister’s visited the castle and we walked the Royal Mile, and watched quite a few free fringe shows. (they aren’t really free, but they are pay what you wish, so if you are on a budget it won’t break the bank).
The best sights in the Lake District are free, and we made the trek up Helvellyn mostly in the rain, but it did clear up at the top and we had some awesome views of the surrounding fells.
Eating and Drinking:
This is never cheap in a city, but we did shop around for happy hour deals and bought breakfast supplies from the M&S near our hostel in London. We didn’t bother cooking in our Airbnb in Scotland as we’d cooked most meals at home, but there were lots of deals to be found during the Fringe, especially on weeknights.