Edinburgh is a city that it is impossible to be bored in. There are so many galleries, shops and historical landmarks to see that your visit is bound to be jam-packed full of sightseeing. However, if you want to explore the city on a budget, then Edinburgh is home to a wide range of activities and tourist attractions that are completely free!
1. Bike Ride
One of the easiest and cheapest ways to explore the city is by bike. Just grab your bike and pedal around the city, taking in all the sites as you go. If you do not fancy cycling in the busy Edinburgh streets, then you could make your way over to Portobello beach and enjoy a cycle with sea-views there! Travelling by bike also lets you explore the city without having to compete with other tourists and professionals for space on the pavement, making your journey through Edinburgh a much more enjoyable one.
2. Climb up Arthur’s Seat
Whilst the 251-metre climb is steep; it will most certainly be worth it once you reach the top. With incredible views of the city from its peak, the skyline is especially beautiful if you complete your climb at sunset. The peaceful atmosphere at the top of Arthur’s seat is not to be missed and makes for a great picnic spot! All you need is some decent walking boots and a jacket (it will be cold at the summit), and you’re all set to go!
3. A picnic in the park
Take your lunch and picnic blanket down to Princes Street Gardens and watch the world go by. Enjoy the last of the summer sun with some lemonade and soak up the sun.
4. Visit the Scottish Parliament
Whilst the Scottish Parliament is closed during the summer months when the parliament is in recess, but during the remaining months of the year, you can go on a free guided tour of the parliament. On these tours, you can even sit and watch the MSP’s debate and if you are really lucky, maybe even first ministers’ questions.
5. Walk down the Royal Mile
The Royal Mile is one of Edinburgh’s most iconic streets, and there is plenty to see. With Edinburgh castle at one end and Holyrood Park at the other along with numerous pubs, churches and historic buildings, the Royal Mile makes for an enjoyable walk.
6. Visit Greyfriars Kirkyard
The old kirkyard dates back to the 16th century and is where many of Edinburgh’s famous residents are buried. Including the well-known Greyfriars Bobby, whose statue you can also visit on the way to the kirkyard where the beloved dog is buried. Rumour also has it that J.K. Rowling got the inspiration for character names in Harry Potter from wandering around and looking at the names on the gravestones.
7. Climb Calton Hill
If you do not fancy a hike up Arthur’s seat, then a stroll just a short way up from Princes Street you will find Calton Hill, which is filled with monuments dedicated to famous Scots and Scottish residents. Just a few of these include the Burns Monument and the Dugald Stewart Monument. The site is even included in UNESCO’S designated world heritage site of the city.
8. Walking Tours
There are many walking tours across the city, and many of them are free to attend. They tend to start from up on the Royal Mile and are a great way to get an introduction to the city and learn some cool and lesser-known facts that you might not have heard if you had only gone about exploring the city by yourself.
9. Visit Dean Village
This village was purposely built for mill workers in the 19th century and is situated at the end of Princes Street. This village is one of Edinburgh’s most picturesque village in the city. It is incredibly small and quaint, and the cobbled streets make for some lovely Insta pics.
10. Visit St Giles Cathedral
St Giles Cathedral is one of the most well-known in the city and is known as the ‘High Kirk of Edinburgh’. The Cathedral is free to visit and has some beautiful stained glass windows which you can admire, before heading back out into the streets of Edinburgh to look around the building.
11. The Gardens of Lauriston Castle
This picturesque garden is filled with an abundance of flowers and overlooks the sea. Whilst you do have to pay to visit the castle itself, but you can enter the gardens for free and explore the Japanese and Italian gardens, as well as chill out and examine the wide range of plants and flowers on show.
12. Visit Stockbridge
Stockbridge seems like an entirely different world when compared to the Royal Mile with its Georgian architecture. A wander through this pretty neighbourhood makes for a great photo opportunity and is like stepping back in time.
13. Visit Leith
It is in Leith that you will find HMY Britannia and whilst you will have to pay to step foot on the yacht itself it is nice to just admire from the outside. Whilst you’re in Leith, you should also check out the Water of Leith Walkway and the Trinity House Maritime Museum.