royal botanic gardens and free things to do in edinburgh

5 Free Things To Do In Edinburgh

Free Things To Do In Edinburgh

With the costs involved in a weekend getaway or family holiday increasing each year, we’ve taken a look at some of the best free things to do in Edinburgh. Some of them are indoors, so a great option to catch a break from the Scottish weather this autumn and winter.

1. national_museums_scotland free things to do in edinburghNational Museum of Scotland

With the incredible Wildlife Photographer of the Year gallery opening next Friday (16th September) this is the perfect opportunity to visit the National Museum on Chambers Street. There are interactive galleries for children, incredible exhibits from throughout history and, of course, the world famous Dolly the Sheep can be found here too. Open every day from 10am-5pm, you can while away an entire day here and still feel like you haven’t seen it all! National Museum of Scotland, Chambers Street, EH1 1JF, Open daily from 10am-5pm, free entry.


2. Get Outdoors

When you’re talking about free things to do in Edinburgh, nothing comes cheaper than fresh air! For a city, Edinburgh is not short of great walks. Get lost exploring the cobbled streets or head along the Union Canal for a bit of tranquility. Holyrood Park is an excellent choice, walk round the many lochs or brave the 251m landmark that is Arthur’s Seat. There are marked routes to follow, which we recommend doing, but the views when you reach the top on a clear day are fantastic. You can see all the way across Edinburgh, the Firth of Forth and across to the Kingdom of Fife.


3. Scottish Parliament

Whilst not to everyone’s taste, the Scottish Parliament building is certainly unique. You can wander round inside, book tickets to a debate or enjoy scottish_parliament_kh2 free things to do in edinburghshortbread in the coffee shop. Access can be slightly restricted if Parliament are sitting so it’s best to check their website before you head down. Though if you do go and can’t get in, there is plenty else to do in the nearby area such as Arthur’s Seat, Palace of Holyroodhouse or Dynamic Earth – although those last two aren’t free things to do in Edinburgh, sadly. Well worth a visit too though. Scottish Parliament, EH99 1SP. Open Monday-Saturday, 10am-5pm. Free entry.


4. Royal Botanic Garden

A stunning glimpse into the varied world of horticulture, found in the centre of an historic city.  As well as being a top tourist attraction, they are a scientific centre studying  plants, their evolution, conservation and biology. The gardens have a fascinating history, dating back to 1670 which is well worth a read. It’s free entry to the gardens, though there are charges to go inside the Glasshouses. Opening hours vary slightly throughout the year, so make sure to check the website before you go. Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, 20A Inverleith Row, EH3 5LR. Open daily except 25th Dec and 1st Jan. Opening hours vary. Free entry, donations welcome.




5. St Giles Cathedral

saint-giles-cathedral free things to do in edinburghYou can’t miss this beautiful Cathedral when you’re walking up or down the Royal Mile. Founded in 1120 it has beautiful stained glass windows, an impressive Organ and is home to the Knights of the Order of the Thistle. There are short daily services at 12pm Monday-Saturday as well as weekly Sunday services throughout the day. St Giles Cathedral, High Street, EH1 1RE. Opening hours vary so check their website. Free entry.




For more ideas and inspiration for what to do with your time in Edinburgh, go to the Visit Scotland website. You can also chat to any member of our team who would be delighted to give you recommendations and directions to anywhere in the city.


If you haven’t booked your next trip to Edinburgh just yet, take a look at our special offers or email your dates to for our best rates.