Are you planning to visit Scotland soon and looking for free things to do in Edinburgh? If so, this article is for you.
Edinburgh is not only the capital of Scotland, but it is also the second most visited city in all of the United Kingdom (London comes in at number 1). Once you visit Edinburgh, you can see why that is. This city is full of stunning architecture and has one of the world’s most famous and recognizable skylines, complete with a castle cresting the hill above the city.
Despite what you may expect, Edinburgh is a great city to visit for travelers on a budget because there are some wonderful, free things to do! These free things to do in Edinburgh could be anything from museums to galleries to attractions!Some of the best free things to do in Edinburgh, Scotland. A list of family friendly activities that will keep you entertained and happy.Click To Tweet
THINGS TO DO IN EDINBURGH FOR FREE
Take a Walking Tour
As we mentioned already, Edinburgh is home to very unique architecture and a skyline like no other. The city itself is very walkable, which is great for those who don’t want to spend a lot of money. There are countless tours available to pay for, but you can keep this experience free by doing a self-guided walking tour. This is easy to do!
Start your self guided walking tour at the famous Royal Mile, which is a mile-long cobblestone street that connects Edinburgh Castle to the Palace of Holyrood. This journey will give you the best views of Edinburgh’s historic and striking architecture.
Visit The Royal Botanic Garden
The Royal Botanic Garden is just one mile from the city center and is 72 beautiful acres of landscaped gardens that date back all the way to the 17th century. The gardens feature a great view of the Edinburgh castle and are completely free to visit.
The Royal Botanic Garden features plants from around the world throughout the various gardens such as the Rock Garden, Alpine Houses, the Chinese Hillside as well as the Scottish Native Plants Collection.
St. Giles Cathedral
St. Giles Cathedral is a stunning focal point of the Royal Mile in Edinburgh and is one of the oldest buildings in the city (although the building wasn’t quite the same as it is present day). While St. Giles is still a functioning church, you are able to enter and tour it for free.
If you feel comfortable budgeting for it, for just £6 ($6.52 USD), you can visit the cathedral rooftop, which offers unbelievable views of the Royal Mile.
Visit the Scottish National Gallery
Are you an art lover? If you said yes to this, you are definitely going to want to visit the Scottish National Gallery. This gallery is home to a fine art collection that dates back to the early renaissance.
Here you will find collections from Van Gogh, Monet, Wilkie and more. While you are there, be sure to visit their award-winning restaurant and check out the gift shop too!
Take a Stroll Down Victoria Street
You simply cannot visit Edinburgh without taking a stroll down Victoria Street. Victoria Street is a colorful, curved cobblestone street located just off the Royal Mile.
Along the street, you will find fun shops, magic themes, and centuries-old history at every stop (highlighted by a Harry Potter Merchandise Shop). As a matter of fact, Victoria Street is said to be the inspiration for Harry Potter’s Diagon Alley.
While on your stroll down Victoria Street will lead you to Grassmarket. Once the site of medieval executions, Grassmarket is now a medieval-style marketplace and historical neighborhood.
Visit Carlton Hill
Did you know that one of Edinburgh’s nicknames is “The Athens of the North”? It’s true, and once you take a trip to Carlton Hill, you’ll know why. The National Monument of Scotland, officially known as “Edinburgh Acropolis” was built to commemorate the soldiers who lost their lives fighting in the Napoleonic Wars.
Carlton Hill is also home to other attractions such as Nelson’s Monument, Dugald Stewart Monument, and the City Observatory. Also, be sure you don’t forget to enjoy the stunning views of the city below while you are there. You won’t regret it.
Free Museums Edinburgh
One of the best free things to do in Edinburgh is a museum visit! There are many museums in the city, such as the National Museum of Scotland, The Museum of Childhood, the Writer’s Museum, and Makars Court, and more offer free entry.
This is a great way to experience the history of Scotland as well as a great way to stay inside on rainy, cold days.
This is only a small list of the many free things to do in Edinburgh. It’s great to know that there is no reason to spend a fortune when you have so many experiences that you can have on a budget!
Nova S says
wow, beautiful. I’d love to go here someday
Nerdy Dad RP says
I’m so jealous of my son! Edinburgh Scotland is one of the places he’s going on his senior trip.
I love this list of free things to do in Edinburgh! As someone who has visited the city multiple times, I can attest to the fact that it’s a great destination for budget-conscious travelers. The Royal Mile and Victoria Street are must-sees for their architecture and history, and the Royal Botanic Garden is a beautiful spot to relax and take in the city’s natural beauty. I also appreciate the inclusion of St. Giles Cathedral and the Scottish National Gallery for culture and art lovers. One additional free activity that I would recommend is visiting Arthur’s Seat, an ancient volcano that offers panoramic views of the city. Great suggestions and a helpful guide for anyone planning a trip to Edinburgh!
Nerdy Dad RP says
Oh, wow. The volcano in Edinburgh Scotland sounds amazing!! Thanks for the suggestion
Shannon Victoria Holmes says
Thanks for sharing these places to go. It looks like a fun time.
Brittany Gilley says
These are wonderful! I hope to visit Scotland in the next few years
Nerdy Dad RP says
My son gets to go to Edinburgh next year. I’m so jealous!