lifehack (noun): A strategy or technique adopted in order to manage one’s time and daily activities in a more efficient way.
These 15 Edinburgh lifehacks might not change your life, but we hope they might make your day just that little bit easier.
1. Drink all the coffee you can
Free coffee refills aren’t just for diners in American movies – you can find them right here in Edinburgh if you look hard enough. City Cafe – which is in fact a diner – will fill you up with all the filter coffee you can manage for the price of one cup, and the breakfasts are great too.
2. Wee for free
Not to be crude, but when nature calls in Edinburgh there aren’t too many places to relieve yourself these days after the closure of several public toilets. If you get caught short you can always pop into the National Museum of Scotland on Chambers Street or the Scottish National Gallery on The Mound to use the free facilities – you might even want to stick around to look at some of the wonderful exhibits. Large Princes Street shops like Marks & Spencer or Primark also tend to have customer loos that you can use with no issue.
3. Embrace your dietary requirements
Do you avoid eating out in Edinburgh because of your vegan diet or gluten allergy? We don’t think you should have to miss out on fantastic food because of a dietary requirement, which is why we’ve put together several guides on the best local restaurants for celiacs, veggies and even vegans. Take a quick scan – you might find something new.
- 5 of the best places for vegetarian food in Edinburgh
- 5 of the best gluten free cafés in Edinburgh
- 5 of the best gluten free restaurants in Edinburgh
- 5 of the best places for vegan food in Edinburgh
4. Buy bus tickets on your phone
If you always end up spending a fortune on crisps and chewing gum trying to get exactly £1.50 in change for the bus you’re not alone. Save your money by buying mobile tickets (or m-tickets) in bulk on your phone through the Lothian Buses app and simply show your phone to the driver as you board. You have to spend a minimum of £10 a time on the app, but the tickets last for 180 days and can be shared with friends or family – totally worth it for regular commuters.
5. Get down to business in the library
If you’re a student, freelancer or just work from home you’ll know how easy it is to get distracted when attempting to get stuff done in your own house. You’ll also know how much all that heating and electricity adds up when it’s coming straight from your own pocket. Sign up (for free) as a library member and bask in the warmth, light and free wifi at one of Edinburgh’s many stunning libraries – from Central Library on George IV Bridge to Stockbridge Library. You’ll be able to concentrate much better too, trust us.
6. Learn the modern way to call a cab
You might think that the only way to get a taxi in Edinburgh is to wander along the street in the rain until one passes with its light on, but there is a much, much easier way. Download the free City Cabs app and you can book a local taxi for now or later without even having to make a phone call. If you don’t know the area you’re in too well the app can use GPS to tell you so you can be picked up without even knowing the address or postcode.
7. Enjoy a bottomless cup of tea
Lovecrumbs in the West Port is famous for its tasty cake, but they also do a mean cup of breakfast tea, served with a re-usable teabag and a thermos flask of boiling water. It’s not quite bottomless, but you’ll get four or five cups for the price of one as you chat with friends, get some work done or work your way through the impressive cake selection.
8. Have your dinner at 5pm
Figuratively speaking, at least. Websites like 5pm.co.uk can get you some great meal deals at local restaurants that might otherwise be out of your price range.
9. Figure out Freecycle
Anyone I know in Edinburgh want a Dreamcast? Gonna freecycle it otherwise…
— steve (@rubzo) April 22, 2014
Want to have a clear out but don’t have a car to transport your stuff to the charity shop or dump? Become a member of Edinburgh’s Freecycle network and let someone who actually needs that old desk or sofa come round and collect it. You get to feel good about passing your belongings on for free and you can claim back tons of previously wasted space at home – it’s a win win situation. (You can also fill all that free space up again with irresistible bargains you find on Freecycle. Excellent.)
10. Take a cheap(er) trip to the airport
We know a lot of Edinburgers have got beef with the trams, and if you begrudge paying the extra £3.50 to travel out to Edinburgh Airport we have a sneaky solution. As long as you aren’t weighed down by too much luggage you can simply pay a normal £1.50 single fare, alight at Ingliston Park & Ride and walk the 15 minutes it will take you to reach the airport terminal. We might not recommend doing this in the dark, but in the safety of daylight it’ll save you a pretty penny.
For more patient travellers there’s also the reliable number 35 Lothian bus, that winds its way around most of West Edinburgh.
11. Become an official Edinburgh coffee lover
Hello app owners. If you see a circular arrow in the top right of your screen – tap it to get the latest update 😀❤️☕️ pic.twitter.com/ergyrpzB3j
— Edinburgh Coffee (@edinburghcoffee) September 16, 2015
If you’re a coffee addict you’ve probably stumbled across the Edinburgh Coffee Lovers blog before, but did you know they now have a handy app? For just 79 pence you can see which best independent coffee shops are near your current location and access all of the review on Edinburgh Coffee Lovers, even when you don’t have internet access. And if you begrudge paying for this genius app, just think how much money you’ll save in the long run when you don’t have to pay for an awful coffee ever again.
12. Get to a (free) gig
While you might think there are only free performances to be had around these parts during August’s Fringe there are actually a whole host of free gigs going on in Edinburgh at any one time. Pubs like the Black Rose Tavern on Rose Street, Finnegans Wake on Victoria Street and Rat Pack Piano Bar on Shandwick Place tend to host local musical talent of all genres on a regular basis and you can watch them for absolutely no cost.
13. Test your loyalty
— Sirin Bryson (@sirinbryson) March 20, 2015
Plenty of Edinburgh businesses value their dedicated customers and will often reward them with a loyalty card or perks for purchasing a membership. All three of the city’s smaller cinemas (The Dominion, Filmhouse and The Cameo) offer annual memberships with special discounts and more for those who sign up. If all you want is a decent cuppa, a fair few independent coffee shops like The Counter in Morningside and The Caffeine Drip in the West End will stamp your loyalty card each time you visit until you rack up enough points for a freebie.
14. Peruse Parkopedia
Whether you always end up forking out an arm and a leg for on street parking or spend hours circling the same streets in the vain hope of finding an empty space for free we can all universally agree that leaving your car in Edinburgh is no picnic. In moments of need you can always turn to Edinburgh’s Parkopedia – a comprehensive online guide to all of the car parking facilities in the city, ranked by cost. Simply tell the website where you are and in return it will let you know where you can park up and for how much.
15. Quaff some cheap cocktails
Let’s face it, the main reason you decided to read this article was to see if there would be any free alcohol involved. Sadly nothing in life is free – especially when it comes to booze – but there are a few (dare we say it?) reasonably priced cocktails to be found in this famously expensive city. While a cosmo could cost you up to £14 at Harvey Nichols or The Balmoral Bar, smaller joints like Candy Bar on George Street, Slighhouse on George IV Bridge and Blackbird in Bruntsfield can serve the same – and sometimes better – for half the cost.
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Main image: Giuseppe Milo / Flickr / CC