Five Free things to do in Edinburgh

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While there may be areas of  Scotland that are known for their wallet-friendly prices, Edinburgh is not one of them! Edinburgh is one of the slightly more expensive Scottish cities, so why not keep costs low during your visit by partaking in some of the free activities that it has to offer?

1. National Museum of Scotland

We don’t know about you, but paying a visit to the local museums is one of our favourite things to do when travelling to a new city, and Edinburgh does not disappoint. While there’s a vast selection of museums in Edinburgh, the National Museum of Scotland is entirely free and well suited to couples and families alike. You’ll find a number of interesting rooms that wind around this impressive building, many of which feature interactive elements that are great for kids.

Inside the national museum of scotland

2. The Elephant House

Calling all Potterheads! If you’re a fan of the Harry Potter franchise, then you’re probably aware that J.K. Rowling wrote the first of the Harry Potter books in Edinburgh and that much of the novel is inspired by the city. The Elephant House is often nicknamed ‘the birthplace of Harry Potter’ because Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was published while the author was writing the next book in the series in the cafe’s backroom, overlooking the magnificent castle.

Victoria Street, Edinburgh

3. Greyfriars Bobby

This adorable yet slightly heartbreaking story involves a very loyal Skye Terrier named Bobby who visited the grave of his owner daily following his death. The little dog sat in front of his late owner’s grave all day and every day for 14 years, until he too passed away. Bobby was then buried near to his owner’s grave and a statue of him sits just outside of the entrance to Greyfriars Kirkyard to this day. If you choose to pay a visit to Bobby during your time in Edinburgh, make sure to stroke his nose for good luck! 

Statue of Greyfriar's Bobby

4. Calton Hill and Arthur’s Seat

As seen in One Day, Arthur’s Seat is one of Scotland’s most famous viewpoints and offers a truly incredible view of Edinburgh. It takes about an hour and a half to hike up to Arthur’s Seat and it’s a relatively easy route, depending on the time of year. If you’re visiting Edinburgh during the winter season, we recommend checking the weather forecast before attempting to climb to Arthur’s Seat, as the walk is slightly steep and is likely to be far more challenging in the rain. Alternatively, Calton Hill is another fantastic lookout with sweeping views of Edinburgh. Calton Hill is an UNESCO World Heritage Site and is very easy to access. You’ll find a collection of attractions on this volcanic hill, including the National Monument, the City Observatory, the Dugald Stewart Monument and the Nelson Monument, which was built in 1816. 

view from Calton Hill

5. Edinburgh Walking Tour

Much like any other city, you’ll find a selection of walking tours available in Edinburgh including historical walking tours and Harry Potter walking tours, many of which are entirely free and worth doing if you’re visiting this city for the first time. The city is famously hilly and is home to a plethora of winding streets and hidden closes which makes it a little bit difficult to navigate upon arrival, but partaking in a walking tour will help you to gather your bearings quickly and allow you to explore the city without having to constantly check Google Maps!

To see some of the free walking tours that Edinburgh has to offer, click here.

Couple walking through Edinburgh