things to do in edinburgh for free

Edinburgh, the capital city of Scotland, is a treasure trove of free activities and attractions waiting to be discovered. Whether you’re a budget-conscious traveler or simply looking for ways to make your visit more affordable, Edinburgh offers a plethora of options that won’t cost you a penny. From historic landmarks to breathtaking views, there’s something for everyone to enjoy without breaking the bank.

In this article, we’ll explore the top free activities and sites in Edinburgh, providing you with a comprehensive guide to make the most of your visit without spending a dime. So, if you’re ready to embark on a budget-friendly adventure in this vibrant city, keep reading!

Things to Do in Edinburgh for Free

Edinburgh is home to several free museums and galleries that showcase the city’s rich history and culture. Visitors have the opportunity to explore these cultural institutions without spending a penny. The following are just a few examples of the free museums and galleries in Edinburgh:

  1. The National Museum of Scotland: This renowned museum offers a fascinating journey through Scotland’s history, with collections that span various disciplines, from art and design to natural history and archaeology. Visitors can delve into the country’s rich past and discover unique artifacts, interactive exhibits, and engaging displays.
  2. The Scottish National Gallery: Art enthusiasts will be delighted by the Scottish National Gallery, which houses an impressive collection of European paintings and sculptures, including masterpieces by renowned artists such as Rembrandt, Van Gogh, and Turner. The gallery is a treasure trove of artistic excellence, providing visitors with a visual feast of creativity and expression.
  3. The Museum of Childhood: An ode to nostalgia, the Museum of Childhood takes visitors on a journey back in time, showcasing toys, games, and artifacts from generations past. This delightful museum offers a nostalgic trip down memory lane and provides visitors with a glimpse into the childhoods of people throughout the years.

These museums and galleries are just a sampling of the many free cultural attractions available in Edinburgh. Whether you’re interested in history, art, or childhood memorabilia, these institutions offer a wealth of knowledge and inspiration to visitors of all ages.

Free Museums and Galleries in Edinburgh

Visiting these free museums and galleries in Edinburgh is not only a fantastic way to explore the city’s heritage but also a budget-friendly option for travelers. Immerse yourself in art, culture, and history without spending a penny.

Outdoor Activities in Edinburgh for Free

When it comes to outdoor free activities in Edinburgh, the city offers an abundance of options for visitors of all ages. Whether you’re looking to explore the city centre or venture further afield, there’s something for everyone to enjoy without breaking the bank.

One of the most popular outdoor activities in Edinburgh is hiking up Arthur’s Seat. This ancient volcano provides breathtaking views of the city and its surroundings, making it a must-visit spot for nature enthusiasts and photographers. The hike is suitable for all fitness levels, and you can choose from different routes to reach the summit.

For a more peaceful outdoor experience, head to the Water of Leith Walkway. This picturesque trail follows the path of the Water of Leith river, offering a tranquil escape from the bustling city centre. Along the way, you’ll encounter beautiful scenery, historic landmarks, and charming villages.

If you’re visiting with your family, the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh is a fantastic destination. This stunning garden spans over 70 acres and features a diverse collection of plants from around the world. Kids will love exploring the winding paths, discovering hidden nooks, and playing in the interactive Children’s Garden.

For a day of relaxation and fun by the sea, head to Portobello Beach. This sandy stretch of coastline is just a short bus ride away from the city centre and offers a breath of fresh air. Take a leisurely walk along the promenade, build sandcastles with the kids, or simply enjoy the sound of the waves crashing against the shore.

These are just a few examples of the many free outdoor activities in Edinburgh. Whether you’re exploring the city centre, venturing into nature, or enjoying a day at the beach, there’s no shortage of options to keep you entertained without spending a penny.

Outdoor Free Activities in Edinburgh Summary:

Activity Description
Hiking up Arthur’s Seat Enjoy stunning views of the city from this ancient volcano.
Water of Leith Walkway Embark on a picturesque trail along the river, filled with natural beauty and historic landmarks.
Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh Explore 70 acres of stunning gardens, perfect for a family outing.
Portobello Beach Unwind by the sea and enjoy a day of relaxation and fun.

With these outdoor activities and more, you can make the most of your time in Edinburgh without spending a dime. Whether you’re a nature lover, a history enthusiast, or a beachcomber, there’s something for everyone to enjoy in this vibrant city.

Exploring Historic Sites for Free in Edinburgh

Edinburgh is renowned for its rich history and fascinating landmarks, many of which can be visited for free. Immerse yourself in the city’s past by exploring Edinburgh Old Town and traversing the historic Royal Mile. Marvel at the stunning architecture and soak in the vibrant atmosphere as you walk through the heart of the city’s historic district.

One of the must-visit free attractions in Edinburgh is the magnificent St Giles’ Cathedral. Admire the intricate Gothic architecture and step inside to witness the beautiful stained glass windows and ornate interior. It’s a treasure trove of history and art that shouldn’t be missed.

edinburgh landmarks free

Another significant historic site is the Greyfriars Kirk, famous for its connection to the story of Greyfriars Bobby, the loyal Skye Terrier. Take a stroll through the graveyard and discover the intriguing tales and tombstones of notable figures from Edinburgh’s past.

“Edinburgh is a city steeped in history, and exploring its free historic sites is like stepping back in time. You can’t help but be captivated by the stories and the rich heritage that this city has to offer.” – Local resident

Free Historic Sites in Edinburgh

Historic Sites Location Highlights
Edinburgh Old Town City Centre Medieval architecture, Royal Mile, Edinburgh Castle
St Giles’ Cathedral High Street Gothic architecture, stained glass windows
Greyfriars Kirk Greyfriars Place Graveyard, Greyfriars Bobby statue, notable tombstones

With its wealth of historic sites waiting to be discovered, Edinburgh offers a glimpse into its fascinating past. Explore these free attractions and uncover the stories that have shaped this remarkable city.

Taking in Stunning Views of Edinburgh

Edinburgh offers breathtaking views of the city and its surroundings, and there are several free spots where visitors can take in these stunning vistas. One popular location is Calton Hill, which provides panoramic views of the city. From this vantage point, visitors can admire the iconic landmarks of Edinburgh, such as the Edinburgh Castle and the Scott Monument. The view from Calton Hill is particularly spectacular at sunrise and sunset, as the changing light creates a magical atmosphere.

Another spot that offers exceptional views is the Forth Road Bridge. This bridge not only serves as an important transportation link, but it also provides a unique perspective of Edinburgh and the beautiful Firth of Forth. From here, visitors can marvel at the magnificent skyline of the city and the vast expanse of water that stretches out before them.

Whether you choose to explore the heights of Calton Hill or cross the Forth Road Bridge, these free activities in Edinburgh offer unforgettable experiences and opportunities to capture stunning photographs. Don’t miss the chance to take in the beauty of Edinburgh from these breathtaking viewpoints.

edinburgh sightseeing free

Cultural Gems in Edinburgh for Free

Edinburgh, the vibrant capital of Scotland, is renowned for its rich cultural heritage. Fortunately, you don’t need to break the bank to experience the city’s cultural gems. There are plenty of free attractions and activities that allow you to immerse yourself in Edinburgh’s fascinating history and vibrant cultural scene. Whether you’re an art enthusiast, a history buff, or simply looking for fun and memorable experiences, Edinburgh has something to offer for everyone, completely free of charge.

Visiting the National Galleries of Scotland

If you have an appreciation for art, the National Galleries of Scotland is a must-visit destination. Comprising several galleries, including the Scottish National Gallery, the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, and the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, this impressive institution houses a diverse collection of masterpieces spanning centuries. From iconic works by renowned artists such as Botticelli and Van Gogh to contemporary art exhibitions, the National Galleries of Scotland offer a truly immersive art experience, completely free of charge.

Exploring the Scottish Parliament

Located in the heart of Edinburgh, the Scottish Parliament is not only a hub of political activity but also a fascinating architectural marvel. Take a free guided tour to discover the inner workings of this democratic institution and learn about Scotland’s unique devolved government. Explore the intriguing architecture of the building, designed by Enric Miralles, and gain insight into the political landscape of Scotland. The Scottish Parliament is a must-visit destination for those interested in politics, history, and contemporary Scottish culture.

Immerse Yourself in the Vibrant Atmosphere of the Captains Bar

For a taste of Edinburgh’s vibrant cultural scene, head to the Captains Bar. This traditional Scottish pub is renowned for its warm and welcoming atmosphere, live folk music sessions, and authentic Scottish whiskey selection. Join in the lively jam sessions where musicians from all walks of life come together to celebrate the rich musical heritage of Scotland. The Captains Bar offers a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in Edinburgh’s folk music culture and interact with locals in an intimate and friendly setting.

Discover the Splendor of St. Mary’s Cathedral

St. Mary’s Cathedral, located in the West End of Edinburgh, is a stunning architectural masterpiece. The grandeur of this Gothic-style cathedral, with its intricate stained glass windows, towering spires, and peaceful interior, is a sight to behold. Take a leisurely stroll through the cathedral grounds, admire the breathtaking architecture, and soak in the serene atmosphere of this magnificent place of worship.

Edinburgh offers a wealth of cultural gems that can be enjoyed without spending a penny. From exploring world-class art galleries and experiencing the vibrant folk music scene to discovering architectural marvels and immersing yourself in the history of the Scottish Parliament, there’s no shortage of free cultural attractions and experiences to enjoy in this captivating city.


Exploring Edinburgh on a budget is easier than you might think. With a plethora of free activities and attractions, you can make the most of your visit without spending a dime. Whether you’re interested in history, culture, outdoor adventures, or simply enjoying stunning views, Edinburgh offers something for everyone to enjoy without breaking the bank. So next time you find yourself in this beautiful city, don’t miss the opportunity to experience the best of Edinburgh for free.

From the impressive museums and galleries to the historic sites and cultural gems, there is no shortage of things to do in Edinburgh without spending a penny. Immerse yourself in the rich history and heritage of the city, explore its natural beauty, or simply take in the breathtaking views – all without opening your wallet. Remember, some of the most memorable experiences in Edinburgh can be enjoyed for free.

So, whether you’re a budget-conscious traveler or a local looking for new adventures, delve into the cheap Edinburgh activities and explore the wealth of free things to do in Edinburgh, Scotland. Discover the hidden treasures the city has to offer, and make unforgettable memories without spending a single penny. Edinburgh truly is a city that caters to all, giving you the opportunity to enjoy its vibrant culture and captivating attractions without stretching your budget. Embrace the magic of Edinburgh without the cost – your wallet will thank you!


What are some of the top free museums and galleries in Edinburgh?

Some of the top free museums and galleries in Edinburgh include the National Museum of Scotland, the Scottish National Gallery, and the Museum of Childhood.

Where can I enjoy stunning views of Edinburgh for free?

Some free spots where visitors can enjoy breathtaking views of Edinburgh include Calton Hill and the Forth Road Bridge.

What are some cultural gems in Edinburgh that can be experienced for free?

Cultural attractions such as the National Galleries of Scotland, the Scottish Parliament, the Captains Bar, and St. Mary’s Cathedral can be enjoyed without spending a penny.

Are there budget-friendly options for exploring Edinburgh?

Absolutely! Visitors can explore all that Edinburgh has to offer without spending a dime by taking advantage of the wide range of free activities and attractions across the city.