scotland

FREE Things To Do In Edinburgh

A girl looks over a fence at the side of a terraced street, looking at the street below. In the middleground are buildings of grey stone, orange and white plaster. In the background is George Heriots School, a large stone building in the 1600s.

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!


You might also like…

Follow me on Instagram!

Scottish Gift Guide

With Extinction Rebellion and Greta Thunberg as household names, I think it’s safe to say everyone’s thinking twice about the things they buy this Christmas. No foiling on cards or wrapping paper, so it can be recycled. No sparkles, or glitter, or gift buying just for the sake of gift buying. Even if you don’t like to think about it too much, it still creeps into your head. I still love gift giving, and I’m determined to give the people I love something special this year. I’ve decided that buying local, and buying long-term is the ideal way to shop. So here is my ‘shop local’ Scottish Gift Guide! A list of shops local to Scotland that sell sustainable and/or long-lasting gift worthy products.

Read the Post

Most Instagrammed Spots in Edinburgh

Edinburgh Castle in the background of The Vennel pathway

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.

Read the Post

A Weekend In Callander

I live in Edinburgh, but I was born and raised in the middle of nowhere, Canada. So I like to get away from the city for the weekend when I can. Sometimes it’s just for a day in the Pentland Hills, other times it’s a weekend away on the Isle of Skye (it’s doable!). This time, it was a weekend in Callander. I picked Callander while on my way back from Skye, actually. Annoyed and jaded by all the tourists I saw on Skye, I wanted somewhere quiet, often skipped over by tourists. Just outside the tourist hub of Fort William* and still incredibly cute and cosy, Callander was the perfect fit.

*By normal standards Callander and Fort William aren’t too far apart. This is not the case by Scottish standards… where Glasgow and Edinburgh are on other sides of the planet

Read the Post

A Weekend Away In Skye

A woman sitting in a grassy field at Brothers Point, Isle of Skye

The Isle of Skye is a hotspot tourist destination, I knew that before I went. Loads of tourists on my tours had headed up there, and each and every one said that it was the highlight of their holiday. When I finally went with my family over the summer, I was so excited to see what it was all about! There are a million and one Isle of Skye destination guides: this is one for the weekend traveller. Here’s my advice for a weekend in Skye.

Read the Post

A Weekend In St Andrews

I know that St Andrews was on my list of Day Trips From Edinburgh, and I maintain that it’s a lovely place for a day trip! That said, I love St Andrews a lot. There’s a ton of cute walks, cafes, restaurants, and loads of things to see and do! So, I think if you have the time it’s well worth a whole weekend in St Andrews. The added bonus is that it’s not too far from Edinburgh so you really cut down on the travel time! Pretty much the opposite of a weekend away in Shetland. If you’re visiting Scotland from abroad, it’s definitely a weekend trip to consider because it’s so easy to get to and there’s still a lot of sightseeing opportunities!

Read the Post

A Weekend In Shetland

Lerwick Harbour ring buoy

Most people would think it is insane to spend only a weekend in Shetland as it’s so remote. But, if you’re based in a major city in Scotland and you’ve always wanted to go, it’s completely reasonable to spend a weekend in Shetland! That being said, Shetland often seems like the sort of place people only go if they really want to, but it’s a lovely and unique place to visit even if you haven’t heard of it before. Shetland is where Nordic and Celtic traditions really come to a head. It’s the northernmost point in Scotland, and an incredibly beautiful, relaxing, and cozy place to be!

Read the Post

Copyright © 2020 ArcticSabrina · Theme by 17th Avenue

Copyright © 2020 · Peony on Genesis Framework · WordPress · Log in