Everybody loves free things, and in Edinburgh, there is no shortage of free things to do and places to go! Let’s explore 5 free places that we love going to in Edinburgh!
1. National Museum of Scotland
There are a wide variety of museums and galleries in Edinburgh, all of which are free to enter. Donations are accepted and of course welcomed but you are also not obliged to donate.
We chose the National Museum of Scotland because it has something for everyone. The newer section is dedicated to the history of Scotland, and the remaining areas have collections about science, technology, natural history, and more.
If you want to explore more, there are other museums and galleries including the Scottish National Gallery, National Gallery of Modern Art, Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Museum of Edinburgh, and Museum on the Mound. There are definitely a multitude of options depending on your interests!
2. Calton Hill
Calton Hill is always a favourite. It’s a great place right in the city centre for gorgeous views, and it’s easier to get up to than Arthur’s Seat (more on that below). Many different monuments sit atop Calton Hill, including the Nelson and Dugald Stewart Monuments.
There is also an unfinished acropolis, which was supposed to be a replica of the Parthenon in Athens and meant to be a memorial to those who died in the Napoleonic Wars. Unfortunately, they ran out of money halfway through building so the monument was never completed.
3. Royal Botanic Garden
Just to the north of the city centre is the Royal Botanic Garden. It is 70 acres big and has 100,000 plants.
It’s a great place to go for a family day out, especially when the weather cooperates!
4. Royal Mile
No one comes to Edinburgh without visiting the Royal Mile! It is just over 1 mile long, hence the name, and stretches from Edinburgh Castle at the top to Palace of Holyroodhouse at the bottom.
You might also hear the Royal Mile being referred to by different names. This is because it’s split up into sections: Castle Esplanade and Castlehill at the top, then Lawnmarket, High Street, and finally Canongate at the bottom.
Make sure to also peek behind the numerous closes and wynds on the sides of the Royal Mile. They’re basically alleyways but some lead to magnificent and surprising places! We’ll offer 2 additional free places behind some closes.
Behind Lady Stair’s Close on Lawnmarket is The Writers’ Museum, dedicated to famous Scottish writers like Robert Burns and Sir Walter Scott.
Down in Canongate, in Dunbar’s Close, there is Dunbar’s Close Garden, a 17th-century garden and true hidden gem in the middle of the city.
5. Holyrood Park
Holyrood Park is where Arthur’s Seat, an extinct volcano, is located. At the bottom of the Royal Mile, where Palace of Holyroodhouse is, is the start of the 750-acre park. You can hike up to the top of Arthur’s Seat as well as the cliff faces nearby, which are called Salisbury Crags.
There is also St Anthony’s Chapel in the park, a medieval chapel from the 15th century.
It’s a great expansive area to bring the family, have a picnic, and just spend a lovely day out in nature!
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Have you been to any of these free places in Edinburgh before? Which one is your favourite? Let us know in the comments!