Free things to do in your city: Edinburgh


National Museum of Scotland. photo via Artfund

This week I’m taking a look at our bonny capital, home to a whole host of great activities that won’t cost you a penny!

  1. National Museum of Scotland

The National Museum of Scotland one of my favourite places in Edinburgh with its sweeping white staircases and grand open plan layout. See creatures great and small as animals and dinosaurs are brought to life before your eyes and learn about the history of culture and technology in this vast treasure trove of wonders.

  1. Royal Botanic Garden

Without plants, there would be no life on earth. Edinburgh’s Royal Botanic Gardens showcase the diversity of plant species on the planet with one of the world’s largest plant collections. Just a short walk from the Old Town, they are world renowned for plant science and education. Enjoy beautiful glass houses with alpine and arid plant life come rain or shine and explore 70 acres of landscaped grounds including a Chinese hillside and rock garden.

  1. The Scottish Parliament

Whether you’re interested in politics or not, the Scottish Parliament building is worth a visit simply to see its impressive and unusual architecture. Designed by Enric Miralles and constructed from a mixture of oak, steel and granite the building is said to be “growing out of the land”. Explore the building yourself or book a free guided tour which will give a greater insight into the workings of the parliament.

  1. National Galleries of Scotland

Edinburgh’s collection of national galleries is housed in an impressive neoclassical building surrounded by grand pillars on the Mound. This is the perfect free activity for an art and culture lover. If you’re feeling well arty, check out the Gallery of Modern Art and Portrait Gallery too  –there’s something for everyone’s artistic taste in Edinburgh! Be blown away by classic and modern masterpieces as you take a visually enthralling journey through time.

  1. St Giles Cathedral

Known for its beautiful stained glass windows and intricate spire which can be seen from all over the city, St Giles Cathedral is rich in Scottish history and contains the Chapel of the Order of the Thistle (a company of Scottish knights founded by King James VII.) Volunteer guides give daily tours if you want more in-depth information about the history of this impressive building.


photo via Wikipedia

  1. Princes Street Gardens

Located just off Princes Street, the gardens are a great place to take a break and escape the busy city centre. They are always beautifully landscaped and you can stroll along various winding paths whilst taking in the spectacular view of the castle perched on its volcanic pedestal.

  1. Museum on the Mound

The Museum on the Mound takes visitors on an educational journey which covers art and design, technology, crime, trade and security via the story of money and its influence in the world. Having only been open since 2006, the museum takes a fresh look at these areas of Scottish history.

  1. Edinburgh Farmers’ market

Held every Saturday from 9am-2pm in the shadow of Edinburgh castle and the Old Town, the farmers’ market is the perfect place to take a lazy weekend stroll and check out fantastic local produce. You can find interesting organic goods such as boar and venison, freshly baked breads and sweet treats as well as seasonal fruit and vegetables, fresh fruit juice, organic beer and leather products.

  1. Arthur’s seat

Overlooking Edinburgh, Arthur’s seat is a hill which makes up most of Holyrood Park and is known for its flat seat-like top giving it its name. Climbing to the top makes for a great daytime activity – simply follow the gently sloping path which opens out onto a hilltop with breathtaking views of the city all the way down to the docks at Leith.

  1. Cramond beach

Last but not least on my list is Cramond beach. Close to the city, it is easily accessible and a great day out if the weather is dry. This old fishing village is one of the longest-known locations of human settlement and you get a sense of times gone by looking at its quaint whitewashed houses. Take in stunning views of the Firth of Forth and walk over the causeway to an island if the tides are low. After you’ve braved the elements grab a cosy bite or a coffee in the village’s eateries.


View to Arthur’s seat from the Old Town. photo by David Dixon


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *