Be sure to visit Greyfriar's Bobby (MHJohnson)

10 things to do for free in Edinburgh

11th August 2011

Heading to Edinburgh for the Festival Fringe? Here are a few tips on seeing the city without spending a penny

1. Edinburgh's World Heritage Site: the green way

Use this free download-able map to discover Edinburgh's historic sites on foot.

There's obviously no entry fee, you won't have to pay to rent a bike or park your car, and with all the Spring sunshine what better way is there to explore?

2. Climb Arthur's Seat

For a 360 degree view of the city trek to the top of Arthur's Seat. Offering what locals say are the best views of the city, it's a sight not to be missed.

Time it right: Walking trails can be busy mid-day, so time your trek for the morning or late afternoon to appreciate those top-knotch views. Arthur's Seat is also featured in the soon to be released romantic drama One Day.

3. Check out Portobello Beach

Just three miles from the city centre is Edinburgh's local beach resort, Portobello. It's clean, close to the city and free to visit.

Popular with kite-flyers, kids with buckets and spades and couples canoodling in the sunset there's something for everyone.

4. Discover the National Museum's roof garden

Located on Chambers Street, the National Museum houses a world of treasures. None so juxtaposed against its surroundings as the little-known roof garden. Nestled snuggly in Edinburgh's cityscape is a rooftop wonder.

There are many places around Edinburgh to get a great view of the skyline, but this is one of the more unusual ones and often missed by visitors to the museum.

Entry to both the museum and the blooming roof garden are free.

5. Explore the Greyfriars kirkyard

Greyfriars is one of Edinburgh's most famous kirkyards (cemeteries).

Many stories are linked to Greyfriars but the one best-known is that of Greyfriars Bobby, the dog who was so loyal to his master he barely left his graveside until the day he also passed away.

Showing visitors what true loyalty and faith is, a statue has been erected in his memory. More unusual memorials are dotted around the kirkyards, take the afternoon to explore them and their stories.

6. Pay a visit to Gorgie City Farm

Gorgie City Farm is a working small-holding in the city. With a range of farm animals and pets, as well as a variety of gardens, it's a fun place to visit.

The Pet Lodge offers visitors a chance to handle the farm animals, including piglets and guinea pigs, check out the website for times and specific dates.

7. Take a step back in time

At the Museum of Childhood young people and adults will enjoy finding out (and reminiscing) about growing up through the ages, from toys and games to health and school days.

8. Potter around Dr Neil's Garden

Dr Neil's Garden has been hailed as one of the most remarkable gardens in Scotland. Lying next to the twelfth-century Duddingston Kirk, where the lower slopes of Arthur's Seat meet Duddingston Loch, this secluded garden is the result of the imagination, dedication and sheer hard work of Drs Andrew and Nancy Neil. Many people find it more than a mere plot of land and it has previously been called Edinburgh's Secret Garden.

9. Experience the great outdoors

The Pentland Hills Regional Park is a living, working landscape, which offers great opportunities to experience and enjoy the outdoors. Sculpted by glaciers and water, then shaped by people's interactions over thousands of years, the Pentland Hills are a special place for everyone.

10. Refresh your senses

The Royal Botanic Gardens are a perfect opportunity to refresh your senses and explore the riches of the green kingdom. Journey through warmer climes in the Glasshouses or discover contemporary art at Inverleith House.

And one to break the bank...

Spend a night in a castle

Found just outside of Edinburgh is Dalhousie Castle a luxury, 13th Century epic fort of Royal proportions.

Surrounded by fairy-tale thick forests and alongside the river Esk, this is a setting to sweep you off your feet.

Treat yourself to a night in a character themed suite and it'll set you back between £360-£485.

More like this

5 of the best credit-crunch castle stays | Inspire me...More

A breathtaking weekend on Scotland's Knoydart peninsula | Destinations...More

7 things to do for free: Great Britain | Inspire me...More

'I slept on 162 Scottish islands' | Destinations...More

A top secret weekend in Edinburgh | Destinations...More

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Login or get more from Wanderlust - register today!

 Your Comments (2)

  • 11th August by Fiona Trowbridge

    Don't forget there are loads of free shows at the Edinburgh Fringe -  I was able to get a free ticket to The Extraordinary Revelations Of Orca The Goldfish.  Excellent show, very well written, humorous and extremely well acted by Matt Martin (Hollyoaks) and Kate Shlugman.  There are also hundreds of street performances every day throughout August.

    Report as inappropriate
  • 12th August by Daisy Cropper

    Hey Fiona,

    Thanks for the extra tips!

    Report as inappropriate



Key Facts

  • United Kingdom

    United Kingdom travel guide, United Kingdom tourism and travel information including facts, maps, culture, transport, weather in United Kingdom, and popular pla

  • More Experiences


  • What to do on a short break in Bath, UK

    Bath’s Royal Crescent celebrates its 250th anniversary this summer. The city has plenty of historic sites to explore, from crescents and curves to baths and Roman ruins, not to mention foodie pleasures...

  • 10 essential books to read this summer

    From humorous solo traveller tales to a novel set in a Parisian apartment block, Jude Brosnan from Stanford Books reviews 10 life-affirming books you should read this summer

  • Short break in Bratislava, Slovakia

    Whether palace-hopping, crypt-gazing or tasting the city at June’s Food Festival, there’s more to the Slovakian capital than its much-visited historic centre, says Sarah Reid

  • More Destinations


Departure date:
Open the calendar popup.
Return date:
Open the calendar popup.
Date flexibility:
Spin UpSpin Down

Need some travel planning inspiration?

Simply select the destination you’re interested in or the activities you’re looking for and we’ll send your request to a select panel of tour operators.

Each operator will respond to your request individually. Your details remain private and are not disclosed to any partners unless you decide to proceed with a booking. Enjoy!


Wanderlust in your inbox

Wanderlust sends out regular email newsletters – be the first to know about web exclusives, competitions, hot offers and travel jobs. Register today!

I have read and agree to the Terms & Conditions