Travel Guide: Best Things To Do In Edinburgh For Free!

We have all been there. Finally getting to your travel destination and realising how expensive all the attractions are! But do not less this put you off. Edinburgh is one of the most beautiful and architecturally diverse cities in the United Kingdom. There are new sights to see around every corner and you can guarantee that you will never be short of things to do. As with all cities, some activities come at a cost but many of the activities in Edinburgh are completely free of charge! This comprehensive guide will take you through the best free things to do in Edinburgh. So, whether you’re a student, resident, or just visiting, there is sure to be something to suit everyone.

Royal Botanical Gardens 

The Royal Botanical Gardens are an absolute staple of any Edinburgh visit, and entry is completely free! Each section of the gardens is themed to a different area of the world, and you can expect to see Asian flowers, Nepalese planting, and vast water fountains. It was established in 1670 and features over 13,000 plant species and spans over 70 acres. There is also a huge botanical greenhouse, which houses a huge array of tropical plants that make you feel as though you have been transported to the Amazon rainforest. The gardens are so relaxing to walk round or have a picnic in, and an afternoon can easily be spent here.

The gardens are a short walk from the scenic village of Stockbridge, which is also a fantastic place to have afternoon tea or a walk around the local shops. Stockbridge has the river Leith flowing through it and it makes for a lovely way to walk to the gardens.

Seasonal produce is grown and there are many events taking place throughout the year, one such being at Christmas. Festive lights are placed around the gardens and decorations are hung from the trees. If you love gardens and nature, then the gardens are not one to miss and always provide a calming and tranquil experience.

Botanical Gardens
Botanical Gardens Via Instagram: @visitscotland

LOVE Gorgie Farm

A charity run farm if you are a fan of animals, this is one to visit. Open since 1992, the farm operates as a working farm, selling meat products as well as produce to help fund costs. The farm features animals to pet and feed such as alpacas, goats, calves, and even a snake! Great for families and solo trips, the farm is a fantastic way to feel reconnected to farming, nature and animals, whilst still being in the city! It is completely free and one of the best experiences to do in Edinburgh, although donations are appreciated.

Pigs at Gorgie Farm
Gorgie Farm Via Instagram: @lovegorgiefarm

National Museum of Scotland

This museum really is one of the best, and even better, it’s free! Spanning over three floors, the museum covers space travel, Egyptology, and even has an extensive interactive display. It would be easy to spend hours in the interactive area alone, with activities to do that everyone of all ages will enjoy. If you want the most out of the visit the museum also offers free tours at 11am, 1pm and 3pm daily. The museum itself is stunning inside and perfect for a rainy day! It also includes a tearoom and gift shop if you want to spend the money you saved on entry. If you are bringing younger children, there is a fantastic play area for them, that is both educational and enjoyable.

National Museum
National Museum Via Instagram: @unlimitededinburgh

Arthurs Seat

If you are more fitness inclines, or just appreciate a good sunset view, then this extinct volcano is well worth the climb! Boasting stunning views of Edinburgh and the Pentland Hills beyond, there is no other spot in the city that gives such panoramic views. This hill is situated in Holyrood Park and can easily be reached from the city centre. As it is a public space, it is completely free! If the weather is nice it is easy to spend an afternoon here.

Arthurs Seat
Arthurs Seat Via Instagram: @lensereflection

Calton Hill

Another elevated monument, Calton Hill is an eccentric collection of architectural buildings. Access to the hill is amazingly easy, with a series of steps leading to the top of the hill. An unfinished monument can be found at the top, inspired by the Athenian Parthenon. Other buildings that can be found at the top include a statue commemorating Napoleon, an observatory and even a restaurant, The Lookout, for those who have worked up an appetite. Another wonderful way to view the city, you can look out to the sea and even up to Arthur’s Seat.

Calton Hill
Calton Hill Via Instagram: @blogsbylilly

Portobello Beach

Depending on what season you visit Edinburgh, going to the beach might not be top of your to-do list but whatever the weather is, Portobello is a relaxing location to visit. Very easily accessed by bus or car, the beach boasts over two miles of sand and is perfect for swimming or sunbathing. The beach is also home to kayaking and sailing clubs, so if you want to fulfill your nautical aspiration, this is your chance to do it! When the sun shines on the blue sea and white sands, you would be forgiven for mistaking you were in the Greek isles.

Portobello Beach Sunset
Portobello Beach Sunset Via Instagram: @crooksycat

Scottish National Gallery

For those with an interest in culture and art, there is no better place to visit than the National Gallery. The building first opened in 1859 and features art from the start of the Renaissance to the end of the 20th century. It is located in the centre of Edinburgh, a minutes’ walk from the tram stop. The Gallery is a tranquil building and there is such a varied range of artwork to view that everyone will find something of interest to them.

Greyfriars Kirkyard 

For those with an interest in the paranormal or Harry Potter, this graveyard is worth a visit. The famous Bobby, a Skye terrier, can be found buried in this graveyard. His statue can also be found just outside the graveyard. And it has been rubbed so much that his nose has turned to a shiny bronze! For Harry Potter fans, discover the tombstone of Tom Riddle! There are frequent tours available around the graveyard as well. Entry into the graveyard is completely free and a lot of the tours are also free of charge.

Greyfriars Kirkyard
Greyfriars Kirkyard Via Instagram: @sheebsg

Christmas Market

If you are visiting Edinburgh at Christmas, then the Market is an absolute must. Whilst rides, gifts and beverages are going to cost you, admission into the market is completely free! There is a huge array of handmade gifts for the whole family and an abundance of Christmas spirit. The market lasts 6 weeks and is open from 10am – 10pm, so there is plenty of time to look around! There is a section designed for younger children, with reindeer and even an opportunity to meet Santa himself!

Edinburgh Christmas Market
Edinburgh Christmas Market Via Instagram: @jessiestoystory

Edinburgh is a great city, filled with culture and beautiful architecture and views. You can enjoy the city on a budget and transport links make it easy to travel and explore! If you enjoy London but sometimes find it overwhelming then Edinburgh is the perfect city for you! It has the all the benefits of a big city whilst still feeling compact. Hopefully some of these free things to do in Edinburgh will inspire you on your next visit!

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