Far From Grim Up North: Tips For A Bargain Northern Staycation

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The north is full of incredible scenery and buzzing cities that make for cheap and cheerful weekend breaks when you’re feeling the pinch! Here are a few dealchecker tips that will ensure you don’t blow your budget.

Travel with friends or family

The more people, the more ways you can split the travel costs for transport, accommodation and food – plus, you may be able to snag group booking deals. Sharing a flat, a hostel, or a group room between four will likely be cheaper than a solo journey!

A couple walking through Edinburgh

Hunt out free activities

Even just exploring on foot can be exciting in places you’ve never visited before. Some of our favourite free spots in Edinburgh include the Scottish National Gallery, the National Museum of Scotland and the Royal Botanic Garden – plus, a saunter down the Royal Mile is a must. There’s plenty to discover in Manchester too, from the John Rylands Library (which famously features in the Harry Potter movies) and the Science and Industry Museum, to the street art that contrasts with the historic architecture in the Northern Quarter.

Edinburgh Museum

Head for the hills

It’s not all about the hustle and bustle. Take some time to breathe the air, absorb the views and get some exercise – all without spending a penny. The UK has some of the prettiest countryside in the world – Scotland is sprinkled with secret lochs, epic mountains and deserted islands to explore, and is practically on your doorstep – what are you waiting for?

Sheep next to loch and mountain range at dawn

Travel by car

While flying may be quickest on paper, travelling by car works out considerably cheaper. It also means you can stop anywhere you want – we recommend taking in the great views of the Lake District as well as the rugged east coast. You can also stock up on supplies and take as much baggage as you can fit! Plus, gain eco karma by sharing a car – it will emit less carbon than a flight from London to Edinburgh.

Edinburgh Street


If you’re able to make meals and hot drinks for yourself, then you can save a fortune by not forking out for food and drinks in cafes and tourist attractions. For those with expensive culinary tastes, your savings from the odd coffee and sandwich could contribute towards a meal at a top-notch restaurant.

Book in the Goldilocks zone…

In other words: a little way from the centre, but not too far – just right. In Edinburgh, stay a little way from the Royal Mile but near enough to be able to walk into the heart of the action without much effort. The cost per night will be much less than being slap bang in the centre, and also means you can park for free. In Manchester, you could stay at a location about half an hour away that is serviced by a regular bus – you might also get the bonus of seeing less well-known parts of the city on the way in.


Consider the time of year

Check when the cheapest time to visit your chosen destination falls. Both Manchester and Edinburgh are much more pricey when it comes to festival seasons and events – such as the Edinburgh Fringe.