Top 10: Best Free Things to Do in Edinburgh

Like A Local Guide • 27 Sep, 2019

Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland probably doesn’t need advertising – famous for its hills and castles it attracts visitors from all over the world. However if you wish to get off the beaten track and save money doing so, keep reading. Here you can find out which free sights and activities our local Edinburgh editor Ildiko recommends.

1. Enjoy a 360 degree view of Edinburgh from Calton Hill

You don’t need to be fit to climb this hill – it takes just 5 minutes and the view you’ll be rewarded with is well worth it! It’s also listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The best time to visit is at sunrise or sunset. An interesting fact: the headquarters of the Scottish Government is located here. Read more…

cf3e6491d119f1e15aba937687c362c2Photo credit: Ildiko Rusvai

2. Walk to Cramond Island 

Located about 1 mile out to sea, Cramond Island is a tidal island that’s easily accessible by foot when the tide is low. It’s perfect for day trips if you wish to have a beach day. For the history buffs there’s barracks and buildings from World War II to be explored. Be sure to check tidal times otherwise you might end up stuck on the island for the night. Read more…

bf3e3eea076e3e3fc22e7b8e809b2639Photo credit: Ildiko Rusvai

3. Make a quick getaway to the Royal Botanic Garden

The Royal Botanic Garden is a great place to escape the city’s hustle without having to go far. There’s always something colourful blooming and the atmosphere is calming. In addition here you can get a nice panoramic view of the city skyline. Read more…

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4. Climb an extinct volcano at Holyrood Park

A volcano in the middle of Edinburgh?! Even though it hasn’t been active for millions of years it’s definitely something not to be missed. If you’re up for the exercise, climb the famous ‘Arthur’s Seat’ peak for scenic views. We recommend wearing climbing boots and avoiding the climb on windy days. Read more…


 5. Visit Dolly the cloned sheep at the National Museum of Scotland

This interactive and modern museum is entertaining for anyone and an especially good option for families on a rainy day. There’s everything from stuffed wild animals to Scottish history and Dolly the cloned sheep of course! Also visit the roof terrace for another 360 degree view of the city. All the permanent exhibitions are free of charge. Read more…


6. Get a different perspective of the city from Blackford Hill

Blackford Hill is probably not the most popular of Edinburgh’s many historical peak amongst tourists, though this actually makes it more attractive. It’s a fairly easy climb and offers a completely new perspective of the city. Additionally there are lots of well established paths making it a perfect place for long walks. Read more…


7. Take a riverside walk along the path by Water of Leith

Along the Water of Leith riverside walkway you can enjoy nature walks and picturesque surroundings. Cycling is also an option if you don’t like walking. The path starts at Balerno High School and runs almost 20 kilometres along the river passing many interesting places such as Union Canal, Dean Village and the Gallery of Modern Art. Read more…

rsz_9598358460_fc5393331c_k_1Photo credit: Patricia Foster

 8. Watch boats by the Union Canal

Another great place where you can walk, jog or cycle by the water. If you have a passion for boats Union Canal is the perfect place for boat-watching. The canal runs from Edinburgh to Falkirk and historically it was used to transport minerals, especially coal, to the capital. Read more…

dc449859fb8410fb9205a7e71fc374bbPhoto credit: Ildiko Rusvai

9. Be cultural at the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art 

Here you’ll find an amazing collection of contemporary art housed in two buildings – Modern One and Modern Two. The galleries are surrounded by a scenic garden filled with award-winnig sculptures. Besides free admission to permanent exhibitions they also offer a monthly free highlight tour and a free shuttle bus between the Modern Art Gallery and National Gallery on Princes Street. Come and enjoy the cultural experience! Read more…

national gallery

10. Find art in unexpected places at Fruitmarket Gallery

Located next to the Edinburgh Waverley train station lies a small independent gallery. Constantly changing contemporary exhibitions keep this small but cosy gallery fresh and interesting. Linked to the exhibitions there is a wide range of lectures and events for visitors. Besides art, there’s also a little café and a bookshop. Read more…

983b863a88dfc35f941a6db4a84d2351Photo credit: Ildiko Rusvai

Cover photo credit: Moyan Brenn
Like A Local Guide
Like A Local Guide is about stepping off the tourist trail and finding cool and cosy spots where locals like to spend their time. We built a website and mobile app to bring insider recommendations from around the world to your fingertips.


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    This is a lovely selection of Edinburgh attractions! Edinburgh is just one of those cities that there's plenty to do despite the season
    Alice • Jun 18, 2019 • Reply