The best things to do for free in Edinburgh

July 25, 2022

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Who says that a city break has to be expensive? Edinburgh is a visitor-friendly city that offers numerous free attractions for travellers on a tight budget. 

Whether you’re a backpacker on a budget or a local looking for a cheap day out, Edinburgh has lots to offer! Explore its beautiful Georgian townhouses, prestigious museums, and outdoor opportunities without breaking the bank.

We’ve created a guide with the best free attractions to help you get the best out of Scotland’s capital. Continue reading to see our top six things to do in Edinburgh for free. 

Take a walk along Victoria Street

Victoria Street is undoubtedly one of the most photographed locations in Edinburgh. The eclectic mix of colourful buildings, independent shops, and Harry Potter vibes means locals, tourists and filmmakers love this location!

Wear a comfortable pair of shoes and enjoy this relatively steep but charming street — and don’t forget to take pictures!

PS, you’ll capture the most scenic pictures from the Victoria Terrace area that runs across the top of the road. And when you get tired, plenty of eateries offer both budget and fine dining options. 

Find your zen in the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh is a natural oasis of calm just a few kilometres from the city centre. 

The Royal Botanic Garden is considered one of the best botanical gardens in the world. The 72 acres of land are home to over 10,000 plant species — one of the richest and largest plant collections on Earth. 

Visit the Chinese Hillside, explore the world-famous Rock Garden, stroll amongst the magnificent Giant Redwood trees in the Woodland Garden, enjoy the awe-inspiring landscapes, and more — all free of charge!

Watch the best sunsets at Calton Hill

Marked as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Calton Hill, with its panoramic views, is something you can’t miss. Look at the major landmarks from a bird’s eye view: Arthur’s Seat, the Scottish Parliament Building, Leith and the Firth of Forth, Princes Street, and the Royal Mile.

In addition to perfect sunsets, sunrises, and panoramic views, Calton Hill is famous for its collection of monuments — the most iconic one being the National Monument.  

Calton Hill also hosts various summer festivals, so check what’s happening there this year! 

Take a walk through Holyrood Park towards Arthur’s Seat

Holyrood Park is within a short walk from Edinburgh’s Royal Mile in the heart of the city. And Arthur’s Seat is Holyrood Park’s highest peak that towers up from the remains of a 350-million-year-old volcano. It reaches a height of 250 metres and provides excellent panoramic views of the city and beyond.

There are several hiking and biking trails that are relatively easy for both adults and kids of a reasonable level of fitness. These offer a great way to explore the wilderness without needing to leave the city!

Sunny days are perfect for visiting Portobello beach

Portobello beach has two miles of award-winning sandy beaches that draw large crowds in sunny weather. And when you need refreshments, there are plenty of beach-side cafes and bars to choose from.

Look out for the famous Victorian swimming pool, featuring original aerotone and Turkish baths. 

And if the Art Deco lido hadn’t been demolished, you could have seen where Sir Sean Connery worked as a lifeguard in the 1950s!

Wrap up your busy day of exploring at Paradise Palms

Paradise Palms is a funky and bright bar close to Edinburgh’s old town. 

It offers award-winning vegetarian food, quality mixed drinks, a wide selection of local and international beers, and good music. It’s the perfect spot to start your night! 

Bonus idea: visit Scottish whisky distilleries

There are over 130 Scottish whisky distilleries spread across Scotland. If you’re a true whisky fan willing to spend, definitely visit a distillery while in Scotland. 

Check out The Scotch Whisky Experience or Holyrood Distillery or look for other options — there are plenty! 

You’ll learn about the history and methods of Scottish whisky production, the difference between different whiskies around the world, and much more! 

Ready to explore?

It seems like you have lots of places to explore in Edinburgh! To move around more efficiently, order a Bolt ride and get from one location to the next in comfort. 

Bolt is available in more than 15 cities around the UK. Download the app today and start exploring! 

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