Edinburgh is not as expensive as its English counterpart, but is still pretty expensive and it can cost a lot to visit. But travel doesn’t have to be as expensive as you think, and even some of the most expensive destinations in the world have some amazing free sites and activities to keep even the tightest of budgets happy. Check out these 5 free things to see and do in Edinburgh, Scotland.
Scotland’s capital city is simply drenched in history and culture, with a wide variety of amazing places to stay and things to do. With so much choice, keeping to a tight budget in this relatively expensive city is actually a lot easier than people think, especially when some of the best things to do are also free.
Go Museum Hopping.
The Royal Mile is the main thoroughfare in Edinburgh, starting at Edinburgh castle and ends at Holyrood, and has a number of interesting and unique little museums that are free to enter and well worth an hour or two of your time. The Edinburgh writers museum is quite popular, as it celebrates the lives of the famous authors and poets Robert Burns, Robert Luis Stevenson and Sir Walter Scott, and the museum of Edinburgh, which tells the story of this fascinating city. By far the most interesting is the National Museum of Scotland, which is an absolute must see.
See The Statue Of Gretfriar’s Bobby.
This statue of a terrier is actually one of Edinburgh’s most famous landmarks and honours one of the city’s most famous – and heartwrenching – folk tales, about a small terrier who spent 14 years guarding the grave of his owner after he died.
Get Some Culture.
As well as a number of great museums, Edinburgh also boasts some fantastic free art galleries, some of which are worth visiting just for their architecture alone! The National Gallery is particularly worth a visit if you are strapped for time and have to choose.
St. Giles Cathedral.
The High Kirk – or church – of Edinburgh dates back to the early 10th Century A.C.E, although it has had many alterations and additions up until the Reformation in the 16th Century, and is one of the many iconic landmarks on the golden mile. It is worth seeing for the stunning architecture alone, but is free to enter and has some beautifully decorated stained glass windows which are worth investigating.
Climb Arthur’s Seat And Explore Calton Hill.
If you are feeling energetic then these two free landmarks will get you some of the best views in the city. The famous Arthur’s seat is actually an extinct volcano, and the views are well worth the mild exertion and time it takes to get to the top. Calton Hill on the other hand is a much easier climb and can be coupled with a visit to the relaxing and picturesque Princes Street Gardens, either way you will be rewarded with stunning panoramic vistas of one of the UK’s most famous cities.
Free Entertainment At The Fringe Festival.
The summertime is a great time to visit Edinburgh, and not just for the chance of some blue skies and nice weather. If you happen to be in the city during the summer, then you are in luck, there are a whole range of festivals that take place during the summer here, including the world famous Edinburgh fringe festival, where you can catch some of the UKs most notable comedy acts amongst other things.
I hope you are enjoying this ‘free things to do in …’ series and find it useful, if you have any specific requests then please let me know in the comments section below. If I have been there then I’ll add it to the list!
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5 Free Things To Do In London.
5 Free Things To Do In Liverpool.
5 Free Things To Do In Venice.
Doesnt it all look amazing! Thoroughly recommend anyone to visit Edinburgh and agree that it does not have to be expensive. If you are travelling around Scotland and are a lover of historic places and castles then an ‘Historic Scotland’ membership will give you free entry to Edinburgh Castle and free entry to 70+ historic sites in Scotland. There are concessions for over 60’s and family memberships.
That’s a great tip Teresa, thanks! I appreciate the comment.
Visiting Edinburgh in August is seeing the city at its very best; as if it’s decorated with all the sparkly, fairy lights, special bells and whistles, and served with a side order of birthday cake. Walking down the Royal Mile, you’ll stop every 5 minutes for street performers from human statues to guys juggling battleaxes, and the most unlikely venues across the city open their doors for events from comedy shows to book signings and poetry slams. At the top of it all, the Royal Military Tattoo takes place at the castle, with a magnificent fireworks concert at the end of August. Find a place on Ferry Road, Leith, to watch it all for free.
I remember it all well Vicky, you’re right August is a great time to visit! Another great tip too! Thanks for the comment.
It looks so pretty during the summer! 😀
It is! ;D
I’d love to go to Edinburgh! The story of that dog is so sweet (and sad), how lovely that he has a statue 🙂
I know, I’m a massive dog lover too so that story has never failed to pluck at my heartstrings a little. Thanks for the comment.
I’ve been to Greyfriars bobby!! So sad
Free art galleries are a great draw in a city. It’s no wonder Edinburgh is considered a cultural capital – everything there seems nicely preserved and welcoming to visitors.
You’re absolutely right Dave, ditto for the museums too. I think that is one thing that the UK cities in general do pretty well with.
We are heading to Edinburgh for the Tattoo this year, thanks for the tips. I have visited before but not done any of these 🙂
The Tattoo is absolutely amazing Michele! Have a great time!
Those are all great things to do. But of course you also have to spend a little bit of money and visit some of Edinburgh’s wonderful pubs!
Haha, I do not disagree Karen! That is why it is even more important to save money by knowing about the free attractions! ;D
I went for a weekend but need to go back after reading your post.
Thanks Brad, I’m glad it has inspired another visit!
Five great tips! Got to love some city freebies. Haven’t been to Scotland yet but will keep it in mind on my next Eurotrip!
Thanks William, Scotland is definitely worth adding to your list!
Oh, how I feel like so many people are posting about Scotland and/or Ireland these days! I MUST visit! I’m even half Scottish!! Thanks for sharing these tips of free things to do, although, I must drop a couple bucks here and there for a Scottish pub experience 😛
It is an amazing destination, especially once you get out into the highlands and lowlands. And you are right, the pubs are great, and there are many other attractions too, not least of which is the castle itself, but at least you can have the money to take advantage of them with all these free things to do! ;D
I’ve yet to visit Edinburgh, but I’m working on it (busy convincing friends)! It seems like there loads of free stuff to do 🙂 Maybe that will give them the final push ;)!
What’s to convince? The UK is a great place to visit and Scotland is just a part of it! If they fail to see it, come yourself and show them what they are missing! ;D
Great tips! Will keep them in mind for my trip to Edinburgh.
Thanks Christina, hope you find them useful. 🙂
I plan on visiting Scotland in the fall. It looks so gothic and romantic, I’m only left to wonder whether I should go alone, or in the company of someone.
Well if you’re offering a free trip Rashad I’m always game! Haha! I’d say there are definitely positives whichever choice you decide on. 🙂
A beautiful city and so much to offer. Very nice tips for what to do.
Thanks Bente, I appreciate the comment.
Great timing! I am in Edinburgh end of July so I am definitely up for some free stuff please! 😀
Have a great trip Bianca! Thanks for the comment. 🙂
If its free its for me! Thanks for highlighting that you don’t have to spend to have a great experience.
You’re welcome Brianna, glad you enjoyed it!
I’ve been to Edinburgh a couple times on assignment but saw precious little. I did however have the opportunity to hike up to Arthur’s Seat; it was early January and VERY windy, and kinda cold too. Nearly ten years on, I remember the wind more than the view. 🙂
Well that IS a Scottish winter for you Bob! Haha! Maybe next time stick to the summer months? ;D
Heading there soon and good to hear the museums are free! We loved that in New Zealand and will be sure to check a couple out while we are there.
It isn’t just Edinburgh either, the best museums are free across the UK, and that is an amazing thing I absolutely agree. Hope you have a great trip to Scotland!
My hometown ❤ I would like to add the Botanic Gardens to this list. One of my favourite places in Edinburgh
It’s always hard to figure out what to take out when you have so many great choices but so few places! ;D Consider it an honourary part of the list! Thanks for the suggestion.
Another great article! I am really enjoying reading your blog, it is really inspiring to read!
Thanks Marko, I’m glad you are enjoying it. 🙂