Best Free Things to Do in Edinburgh: Save Money, Have Fun

Just taking a walk through the Edinburgh streets can be a lot of fun for visitors seeking a glimpse into the past. The entire Old Town and New Town areas are World Heritage sites and the architecture is stunning, from the wide classical avenues of the New Town, to the cobbled streets, wynds and closes of the Old Town. There are also lots of free Edinburgh attractions worth stopping off at along the way.

Head south and seek out the National Museum of Scotland for a treat that will engage the whole family. There are lots of activities for kids covering science, nature, and, of course, history. You’ll also find a detailed look into Scotland’s past, and exhibits from around the world, as far flung as Ancient Egypt and China.

For a spectacular panorama of the city climb Arthur’s Seat. On the way to the summit you can take in a picturesque ruin and a lovely duck pond. If your idea of a good view is a beautiful painting or sculpture then you won’t be disappointed either. Edinburgh has three world class galleries and all are free to peruse and enjoy.

During the Edinburgh Festival you will also find a selection of free shows and a host of street performances, as well as an infectious and lively atmosphere to brighten even the dullest day. A fun day out in Scotland’s capital doesn’t have to cost you a thing.



This hill at the east end of Princes Street provides the ideal perch for viewing Edinburgh's loveliest sights, including the Castle, New Town, Holyrood and Arthur's Seat. At 100 feet, you'll be surprised at how extensive the view is from the...  Read More



You'll find the National Gallery of Modern Art housed in a stunning neo-classical building in the west of the New Town. It was originally a school, built in the 19th century. The sizable grounds are a perfect home for an interesting mixture of...  Read More



Burials have been taking place here since the 16th century and there are a number of notable inhabitants including William McGonagall, James Craig and George Buchanan. The National Covenant which sparked the Covenanter's movement against King...  Read More



The Water of Leith Walkway is an idyllic and tranquil path and cycle track which snakes its way through the heart of Edinburgh. The walkway passes numerous beauty spots and places of interest including Saughton Winter Gardens, Colinton Village...  Read More

St. Giles' Cathedral
Photo courtesy of Colin Smith


There has been a church on the site of this cathedral since the 9th century. St. Giles' Cathedral was built in 1120, and it has served an important role in Scottish religion as the Mother Church of Presbyterianism. John Knox led the Scottish...  Read More



The Scottish Parliament at Holyrood officially opened in 2004. This is where Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) meet to debate Scottish issues. It is open to the public and there are free guided tours available, generally on Mondays,...  Read More



If you're feeling adventurous then why not scale the rocky crags on the edge of town to get a closer look at Arthur's Seat? It is a dormant volcano that last erupted more than 300 million years ago. Though interesting by itself, the views from...  Read More



The Scottish National Gallery is one of the most popular attractions in Scotland and it is situated right in the heart of Edinburgh. This gallery boasts broad offerings of sculpture, paintings and furniture that range from the Italian...  Read More

Royal Botanic Gardens
Photo courtesy of Calum McRoberts


Any plant or flower, rare and common, can be seen and enjoyed at the Royal Botanic Gardens. It was originally developed as a learning conservatory for students, but it has grown to become an example to the world. The rock garden, arboretum, and...  Read More

National Museum of Scotland
Photo courtesy of Simon Hill


The diverse collection at the National Museum of Scotland encompasses the history of Scotland along with exhibitions of international interest. You can learn all about Scotland's past from the age of chivalry through to the industrial revolution...  Read More


Meet Simon Hill

Simon has lived in various corners of Edinburgh over the last 18 years. He fell in love with the city as a small child after visiting the castle and returned to study Scottish History.

After...  More About Simon