Do you love riding trains? Local shops? Cafes with delicious coffee and homemade baked goods? Long walks by the river? A quiet, peaceful, emotionally centring Saturday? The Edinburgh to Dunkeld day trip is PERFECT for you!…
It is my fourth August spent living in Edinburgh. The first, I worked as a tour guide on the Royal Mile and, I cannot stress this enough, despised the Fringe. Talk about sensory overload. The second, was emerging from lockdown. I didn’t spend much time outside of Gorgie. The third, I enjoyed a pseudo-Fringe festival, attending only one show. Logs. Apparently, no follow up show this year. Finally, this, the fourth: and the first time I will both enjoy the last dregs of an Edinburgh summer and the festival. This year, I’ve already booked in for an Edinburgh International Festival show and a Fringe show. And, I’ve got more than one fun thing planned to make the most of the end of summer near the sea!
Here’s what I’ll be up to.…
Edinburgh is a stunning city, so stunning in fact that you don’t really need to spend money to enjoy it! Whether you’re a tourist or a local just tryin’ to have a penny pinching weekend (preach), here are some free things to do in Edinburgh:
Museum Hopping in Old Town
ALL the museums in Edinburgh are free to enter, and that makes museum hopping one of the best free things to do in Edinburgh on a rainy day. This is especially useful for the tourists here! If you’re curious about Scottish history, the National Museum of Scotland and the Edinburgh City Museum are both fab places to visit. If you’re into old architecture, the Writer’s Museum is one of the oldest buildings in Edinburgh and it’s winding stairs and small nooks and crannies are so fun to explore! The Museum of Childhood and it’s room of creepy dolls are just the icing on the cake. All of these museums are within walking distance of each other in Old Town.
Don’t Forget About Art Galleries!
If museums aren’t the one for you, try an art gallery. Despite my history degree, I’m not a fan of walking through museums. Art galleries, on the other hand, I just love. I don’t even spend a lot of time looking at the art, I just like the feeling of walking around them. The National Portrait Gallery is a stunning building and has a great exhibit for those interested in the history of the Scottish monarchy. The National Gallery of Scotland’s permanent (free to visit) collection takes you through the Art history canon with pieces from ‘great masters’ of the renaissance right up until impressionism.
Both have touring exhibits that are sometimes free, sometimes not. Check before you visit, you don’t want to miss out!
Dean Village and the Water of Leith
Dean Village has been on so many ‘hidden gems of Edinburgh’ videos and blogs that it is no longer a hidden gem if you ask me. However, if you make the trek there and you want to find a hidden gem – cross the bridge to the far side of the water and walk left towards Corstorphine. The walk along the Water of Leith on that section is so pastoral – it’s like something out of an impressionist painting! Bonus point – it’s very near the Modern Art gallery – but right now you need to book ahead to visit and buy a ticket.
Arthur’s Seat, Calton Hill and Edinburgh’s Other Peaks
One of the most popular free things to do in Edinburgh is go up Arthur’s Seat – and for good reason! It’s an amazing thing that the city has this mountainous hill right in the middle of it, and it’s quite an experience to climb up. Other than Arthur’s Seat, there are six other hills – Calton, Corstorphine and the Braid Hills are probably best for tourists or those new to the city. That said, I’ve been up all of Edinburgh’s hills but I never regret a day I spend out on one! Top tip: Calton Hill is a great spot for a sunset picnic – as long as your dressed for the weather!
Edinburgh Royal Botanic Gardens
The Botanic Gardens are free to visit outdoors only – maybe not the best option for a rainy day. For a small fee you can also visit the glasshouses, but check ahead of time! They close in high winds.
Watch Seasons Pass in the Meadows
The Meadows are a giant park just beyond the University of Edinburgh in Old Town. They border Marchmont, Bruntsfield and Morningside isn’t too far either! They’re pretty central. In the summer, the Meadows are usually packed on sunny days with barbeque-ers and picnic-ers alike. In Autumn, the trees turn into a kaleidoscope of orange hues, a walk up to Bruntsfield Links then has a beautiful view looking back on all the Autumn colours against the backdrop of Old Town’s grey skyline. Their pink blossoming trees are a sight to behold in Spring. In Winter… it’s mostly just rainy, but still a nice place to walk through! Particularly on a (dry) frosty morning.
What about free walking tours?
It’s a bit complicated, there are plenty of free walking tours in Edinburgh, but I feel bad putting them on a “free things to do in Edinburgh” list. If you genuinely do not want to spend any money, please just do a self-guided tour. If you’re just on a tight budget, go ahead! Just know that each tour guide has to pay the company whether or not you pay them, so they’re not really free – money will be exchanged on your behalf even if you don’t pay. If you go and don’t pay, it means that guide paid for you.
*As a former free walking tour guide: it’s totally fine if I lost one or two people to weather, but I definitely had days where I paid to work. Usually it was really quiet day to begin with and no one paid enough to cover their own charge. Or because it suddenly started torrentially down-pouring. Can’t win em all!
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In honour of Valentine’s Day, I asked my dear sweet boyfriend, fiance, life partner, to make a list of the most romantic things to do in Edinburgh. These are dates we’ve been on, some of our favourite places to visit, things we do on an average Sunday, and things we do on special occaisions. It takes you from otter spotting to hill climbing. From museum hopping, to the pizza wars of Dalry Rd, to vintage cinemas: these are the most romantic things to do in Edinburgh……
There’s no shortage of views in Edinburgh, and so, it seems there’s no shortage of go-to spots to shoot Instagram shots. If you live in the city, you might get a little tired of seeing Circus Lane and Dean Village back to back to back. But if you’re visiting, and you want to see behind the scenes of the city so often Instagrammed, it can be hard to find a guide on these special spots! So here the most Instagrammed spots in Edinburgh. A back to basics, no funny business, best of the best, classic list.…
Scottish Day Trips From Edinburgh
There are so many options for day trips from Edinburgh that it’s hard to know what to pick. Coming from middle-of-nowhere-Canada, pretty much everything seems close to Edinburgh. I mean a flight to Sweden is less than two hours! I’m not so fond of flying that I’d go there for the day, though. Plus, most people are looking to get more of a taste of Scotland when they’re planning their day trips from Edinburgh. These are some cities, towns, and villages in Scotland that you can easily get to and from in a day!…
This NEVER Happens: What To Do On A Sunny Day In Edinburgh
Is it randomly really sunny on your trip to Edinburgh and you want to make the most of the weather? Fear not! I’m a tour guide on the Royal Mile and I spend a lot of time in Old Town in between shifts. Plus, I’m from one of the only places on planet earth where it’s usually colder than Edinburgh. AKA, I love a sunny day, and I always want to do the most on sunny days. So I know the ins and outs of how to make the most of sunny weather here in Edinburgh! Here are my top tips on what to do on a sunny day in Edinburgh:…