9 free things to do in Edinburgh

Known for its castles, festivals, and haunted tales, Edinburgh is one of the most welcoming cities in the world. If you are a traveller on a budget thankfully, there are lots of free things to do in Edinburgh.

1. Climb Arthur’s Seat

Holyrood Park is a short walk from the Royal Mile in the heart of the Old Town. The parks highest point is Arthurs Seat, a dormant volcano, and sits 251m above sea level giving a stunning view of Edinburgh. Depending on your fitness levels, the walk to the top takes approximately one hour.

2. Go for a free walking tour

Yes, you read right – a free walking tour. Sandeman’s Tour is totally free. The tours last around 3 hours and depart from the Starbucks on the Royal Mile at 11am and 1pm. They take in sights such as St Giles Cathedral, Greyfriars Kirkyard, the original ‘Hogwarts’ and more. Once the tour is finished you simply tip what you feel is deserved.

Greyfriars Kirkyard, Edinburgh

Greyfriars Kirkyard, Edinburgh

3. Visit The Writers’ Museum

Edinburgh certainly has a rich literary history. The Writers Museum celebrates the lives of three of Scotland’s most famous writers – Robert Burns (writer of New Year’s Eve poem/song Auld Lang Syne), Sir Walter Scott (author of Rob Roy) and Robert Luis Stevenson (author of Treasure Island and Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde).

4. Stroll along the Royal Mile

It begins Castlehill at Edinburgh Castle which is a small section of the mile. After this is Lawnmarket the most touristic part, and continues to High Street, the heart and soul of The Royal Mile.

5. Explore the Old Town

Edinburgh is one of the most intriguing cities when it comes to exploring on foot, particularly in the Old Town. You can easily spend hours walking through lanes and alleys, exploring neighbourhoods like Cowgate and Grassmarket and imagining what this city was like centuries ago.

George Heriot's Scool, inspiration for Hogwarts

Edinburgh roofs and George Heriot’s Scool in the background, inspiration for Hogwarts

6. Visit the National Museum of Scotland

Found on Chalmers Street, this enormous museum has everything from fossils showing evidence of earliest forms of life to rich artefact collections representing diverse cultures across the globe. One of the highlights includes the first cloned living being ‘Dolly the sheep’.

7. Walk along the river

The Water of Leith walkaway is a public footpath and cycleway that runs alongside the small river of the same name. The beautiful path passes through the attractive Dean Village and ends in the docks at Leith.

The Dean Village was the centre of the milling of water mills and the remnants of the industry can still be seen today. The most striking building is the picturesque Well Court built in the 1880s as housing for local workers.

Follow the walkway along the Water of Leith and you will come to the impressive Dean Bridge and the classical temple of St Bernard’s Well.

Dean Village Edimburgh

Well Court view in Dean Village

8. Visit the modern art galleries

A small wooden bridge across the Water Of Leith leads to a staircase up to the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art. The Gallery houses the national collection of modern and contemporary art dating from about 1900 to the present day. It comprises two impressive neoclassical buildings which face each other.

Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art garden

Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art garden

9. Climb Calton Hill

Few parks in the world boast the views that Edinburgh’s Princes Street Gardens do. Chill out on the greens here and on one side you’ll have Edinburgh Castle looming over you, while on the other is the skyline of the city’s Old Town. Pure bliss on a sunny afternoon.

Here, the 9 free things to do in Edinburgh you should bear in mind in order to squeeze one of the most exciting cities in the UK. Subscribe to our newsletter today and keep updated.

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