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Edinburgh offers history and haggis on the cheap

 FILE - In this Sept. 7, 2004 file photo, Scottish lawmakers settle into their stylish, ergonomic seats at the new Scottish Parliament building, in Ed...
 FILE - In this Feb. 6, 2007 file photo, an unidentified woman touches the toe of the bronze statue of Scottish philosopher David Hume in Edinburgh, S...
 In this 2009 photo, Bobby's Bar is seen in Edinburgh, Scotland. (AP Photo/Emily Fredrix)
 In this 2009 photo, the Palace of Holyroodhouse is seen in Edinburgh, Scotland.  (AP Photo/Emily Fredrix)
 FILE - In this June 2006 file photo, visitors, some with audio guide headsets, learn all about Edinburgh Castle in Scotland.  (AP Photo/Jeannette Gol...

Travel Trip Edinburgh on a Budget

FILE - In this Sept. 7, 2004 file photo, Scottish lawmakers settle into their stylish, ergonomic seats at the new Scottish Parliament building, in Ed...

Travel Trip Edinburgh on a Budget

FILE - In this Feb. 6, 2007 file photo, an unidentified woman touches the toe of the bronze statue of Scottish philosopher David Hume in Edinburgh, S...

Travel Trip Edinburgh on a Budget

In this 2009 photo, Bobby's Bar is seen in Edinburgh, Scotland. (AP Photo/Emily Fredrix)

Travel Trip Edinburgh on a Budget

In this 2009 photo, the Palace of Holyroodhouse is seen in Edinburgh, Scotland. (AP Photo/Emily Fredrix)

Travel Trip Edinburgh on a Budget

FILE - In this June 2006 file photo, visitors, some with audio guide headsets, learn all about Edinburgh Castle in Scotland. (AP Photo/Jeannette Gol...

Genteel Edinburgh would never want to boast _ but its tea, scones and palatial history is every bit as enthralling as London's _ and can be had for a fraction of the price and at a much more leisurely pace.
As a bonus, this Georgian gem is small and endlessly walkable with history along every cobblestone street.
GETTING AROUND: Walking is the best way to see Edinburgh. With streets like the Royal Mile, which stretches from the Palace of Holyroodhouse to Edinburgh Castle, tourists can amble from site to site and soak up the history along the way. The castle, perched high, is a good landmark for finding your way, viewable from many points within the city.
The terrain is hilly. After all, the 100-square-mile (259-square-kilometer) city is built on volcanic crags. It's easy to get lost among the winding streets and alleyways, but that's all part of Edinburgh's charm.
http://lothianbuses.com/
If you want to learn some history on your travels, check out Edinburgh Bus tours. They have four bus lines, each featuring a different colored bus, that hit all the major tourist stops, either with recorded or live guides. Day passes can be bought outside Waverly Rail Station starting at $25 (15 pounds) for all four lines, or two days plus a boat cruise along the Firth of Forth for $40 (24 pounds).
You can even get a two-day pass with entry to the Palace of Holyroodhouse, the Castle and the Queen's yacht, Britannia, for $64.25 (38.50 pounds). The price is steep but if you visit all three sites (which cost $55 or 33 pounds alone), you end up saving enough money to treat yourself to afternoon tea.
http://www.edinburghtour.com/
HISTORIC SITES AND MUSEUMS: Edinburgh's central area is so rich in history that it's a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The organization cited the architecture and juxtaposition of the Old Town, which dates to medieval times, with winding streets and alleys, and the New Town, steeped in stately Georgian architecture.
http://www.edinburghcastle.gov.uk/
Entry to the castle starts at $21.70 (13 pounds). Audio guides, which most major sites have, can be purchased for just under $6 (3.5 pounds). Play around with the old cannons, look into Medieval churches, see exhibits on Scotland's royal history and the crown jewels, and soak up views of the city from on high. Don't miss the 1 p.m. cannon blast.
http://bit.ly/135yq0
Just outside the Palace is Scotland's Parliament, which meets in one of the most strikingly modern buildings in the city. The building, which opened in 2004, is a flamboyant mix of curvaceous metal and wood and was criticized early on for how different it looks from the rest of the city.
http://www.scottish.parliament.uk/
http://www.nms.ac.uk/
http://www.royalyachtbritannia.co.uk/
Aboard the yacht, visitors can see the queen's sleeping chambers _ separate from her husband's _ and the room where Prince Charles and Princess Diana slept on their honeymoon, along with the dining room where the queen hosted state dinners.
Sample the free fudge made on board (try the whiskey flavor) and indulge in the toasty scones and tea in the cafe on the enclosed top deck, where you can pretend you're a queen traveling around the world. You also get excellent views of the Forth Railway Bridge, a feat of Victorian engineering that is considered the world's first major steel bridge.
http://www.edinburgh-pubs.co.uk/
A monument sits outside the pub to its namesake, a Skye terrier named Greyfriars Bobby who belonged to police constable John Gray. Gray died in 1858; the dog kept watch over the grave for 14 years until his own death. Disney made a movie about the loyal dog in the 1960s.
For a midday pick-me-up try Cafe Lucano downtown. The bright, Italian cafe just off the Royal Mile has half-priced baked goods most afternoons. Espresso and a scone runs about $5 (3 pounds).
Local supermarkets offer prepared meals, from egg salad sandwiches to ethnic food _ curry chicken, or even sushi, for a fraction of the price of restaurants.
ENTERTAINMENT: Live music can be found in many pubs. Sandy Bell's, near the University of Scotland, has traditional Scottish musicians performing most nights of the week, with no cover charge. Tiny and lively, if it's crowded you can't even see the fiddlers, but that doesn't matter. You can certainly hear them. Try a half-pint of beer, about $3.30 (2 pounds).
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Edinburgh is also known for its festivals, from books to film, throughout the year. Chances are, when you're going, something will be on. The Scottish International Storytelling Festival is scheduled for Oct. 23-Nov. 1, a fiddle festival is planned for November and Edinburgh's winter wonderland sets up in the Princes Street Gardens with a market and ice rink in the weeks before Christmas.
http://www.edfringe.com/
http://www.edinburghfestivals.co.uk/
LODGING: Decent accommodations can be had without spending a fortune. I stayed at the Grassmarket hotel near the Royal Mile in peak summer and after hunting online for a deal, got it for $79 a night (48 pounds), with private bath.
http://www.edinburgh.org/guide/