Free Attractions In Edinburgh

Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland, is a city that boasts a rich cultural heritage and stunning natural landscapes. It is a city that has something for everyone, from history buffs to nature lovers. One of the best things about Edinburgh is that many of its top attractions can be enjoyed without spending a penny.

In this article, we will explore some of the free attractions in Edinburgh that you should not miss. As you wander through Edinburgh’s cobbled streets, you will be struck by the sheer beauty and grandeur of its architecture and landscapes. From the imposing castle perched on top of an extinct volcano to the serene gardens nestled in the heart of the city, there are countless places to explore.

Whether you are interested in art, history or simply want to soak up the atmosphere of this vibrant city, there are plenty of free attractions to keep you entertained. So grab your walking shoes and join us as we take a journey through some of Edinburgh’s most fascinating sights.

Key Takeaways

– Edinburgh offers a wide range of free attractions, including museums, galleries, gardens, and outdoor landmarks.
– Visitors can explore Scotland’s rich cultural heritage through exhibits and artifacts at the National Museum of Scotland, Scottish National Gallery, and Scottish National Portrait Gallery.
– Outdoor attractions such as Calton Hill, Arthur’s Seat, and Princes Street Gardens offer stunning views of Edinburgh’s skyline and host seasonal events throughout the year.
– Visitors can also experience Edinburgh’s vibrant cultural scene through free outdoor performances and concerts, as well as summer festivals like the Fringe Festival.

Royal Botanic Garden

The Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh presents a diverse collection of plant species, including several rare and endangered varieties, making it an important site for botanical research and conservation efforts. The garden spans over 70 acres and houses a variety of themed gardens, such as the Chinese Hillside, Queen Mother Memorial Garden, and Scottish Heath Garden.

Visitors can explore the glasshouses that showcase different climates from around the world. Photography enthusiasts will find plenty of opportunities to capture stunning images at the Royal Botanic Garden. With its picturesque landscapes and unique plant arrangements, the garden offers an ideal backdrop for photography sessions.

Additionally, the garden hosts various events throughout the year that cater to visitors’ interests. From guided tours to workshops on gardening techniques or photography skills, there is always something exciting happening at the Royal Botanic Garden.

As one explores this magnificent attraction in Edinburgh, they can’t help but appreciate its contribution to scientific research and environmental conservation efforts. The Royal Botanic Garden’s mission is to promote understanding and appreciation of plants worldwide while also preserving endangered species for future generations.

The next section explores another free attraction in Edinburgh that celebrates creativity- The Scottish National Gallery.

Scottish National Gallery

The Scottish National Gallery is a must-visit destination for art enthusiasts and those interested in learning about Scottish art and culture.

The gallery boasts an impressive collection of artwork ranging from the Renaissance to Impressionism, with works by renowned artists such as Botticelli, Raphael, Rembrandt, and Monet.

Visitors can attend free exhibitions and events that showcase the diversity of Scotland’s artistic heritage while offering insights into its rich cultural history.

View Incredible Art Collections

Visitors to Edinburgh can explore an array of exceptional art collections, showcasing both traditional and contemporary works that are sure to captivate all who appreciate fine art. The city is renowned for its vibrant and dynamic art scene, offering a diverse range of museums, galleries, and exhibitions.

Some of the must-see art exhibitions in Edinburgh include the Scottish National Gallery, which houses a vast collection of European masterpieces from the Renaissance era to the 19th century; the Scottish National Portrait Gallery, which displays portraits of prominent figures throughout Scotland’s history; and the Fruitmarket Gallery, which features contemporary artwork from artists around the world.

In addition to these renowned institutions, there are also numerous smaller galleries scattered throughout the city that showcase emerging artists and cutting-edge contemporary works. Visitors can spend hours exploring these hidden gems and discovering new talents in various mediums such as painting, sculpture, photography and video installations. For those looking for a more immersive experience, many galleries offer free guided tours or artist talks that provide insight into their creative processes.

With so much to see and discover within Edinburgh’s thriving art scene, it’s no wonder why it continues to attract visitors from around the globe.

As visitors explore Edinburgh’s incredible art collections they should not miss out on attending free exhibitions and events happening across various locations in the city. These events offer an opportunity for visitors to engage with local artists while experiencing unique perspectives on different themes through various mediums such as photography or painting.

Attend Free Exhibitions and Events

Attending the various exhibitions and events in Edinburgh is an excellent way to gain a deeper understanding of the city’s artistic culture. The best part is that many of these opportunities are free, making it accessible to everyone.

By attending these events, you can broaden your knowledge of art and discover new perspectives on creativity. The benefits of attending free exhibitions are endless. Not only do they provide a unique cultural experience, but they also offer an opportunity to network with like-minded individuals who share your interests.

To maximize your experience, it is essential to plan ahead and research the different exhibitions and events available during your stay. This will help you make informed choices about which ones to attend based on your personal preferences and schedule.

By immersing yourself in the vibrant art scene of Edinburgh through attending free exhibitions and events, you can gain a deeper appreciation for Scottish art and culture. In the subsequent section, we will explore how learning about Scottish art can be an enriching experience for visitors seeking a deeper connection with Scotland’s history and heritage.

Learn About Scottish Art and Culture

Exploring the history and heritage of Scotland through its art can provide a unique perspective on the country’s cultural identity, even for those who may not have a strong interest in visual arts. Edinburgh is home to several free art galleries and museums that offer visitors an opportunity to explore Scottish traditions and discover local artisans. The National Gallery of Scotland, located in central Edinburgh, houses one of the finest collections of Scottish art in the world. Visitors can view works by renowned Scottish artists such as Sir Henry Raeburn, Allan Ramsay, and Samuel John Peploe.

In addition to the National Gallery, visitors can also explore contemporary Scottish art at the Fruitmarket Gallery or visit The Writers’ Museum to learn about Scotland’s literary heritage. By immersing oneself in these free attractions, visitors can gain a deeper understanding of Scotland’s culture and artistic legacy. Next up, we’ll take a look at another popular free attraction in Edinburgh: The National Museum of Scotland.

National Museum of Scotland

The National Museum of Scotland is a must-visit attraction for those seeking to discover the history and culture of Scotland.

This museum houses fascinating exhibits and artifacts that showcase the country’s rich heritage, from prehistoric times to the present day.

Visitors can also attend free talks and workshops that offer insights into various aspects of Scottish life, making for an engaging and informative experience.

Discover Scottish History and Culture

To fully appreciate the rich history and culture of Scotland, visitors to Edinburgh can delve into various museums and galleries that showcase the country’s past and present.

For those interested in Scottish traditions, folklore and legends, the Scottish Storytelling Centre is a must-visit attraction. The center aims to promote oral storytelling as an art form while also providing an insight into Scotland’s cultural heritage through live performances. Visitors can listen to stories about mythical creatures such as kelpies, selkies, and fairies or learn about famous Scottish authors and poets such as Robert Burns and Sir Walter Scott.

Another museum that offers a glimpse into Scotland’s fascinating past is the Museum of Edinburgh. Located in a 16th-century building on the Royal Mile, this museum features exhibits on Edinburgh’s social history from its earliest inhabitants to modern-day life. Visitors can see fascinating exhibits and artifacts such as medieval weapons, Jacobite memorabilia, and Victorian costumes. The museum also has a section dedicated to famous Scots who made an impact on the world stage including Mary Queen of Scots, economist Adam Smith, scientist James Clerk Maxwell, among others.

With no admission fee charged at both centers; visitors can experience firsthand how rich Scottish culture truly is without breaking their bank accounts!

See Fascinating Exhibits and Artifacts

Visitors can gain valuable insights into Scotland’s history by observing the diverse range of exhibits and artifacts on display. At the National Museum of Scotland, for example, visitors can explore interactive exhibits that showcase everything from ancient Pictish stones to modern Scottish inventions. The museum also features displays on Scottish fashion, music, and sport, giving visitors a chance to discover hidden treasures they may have never known existed.

Beyond the National Museum of Scotland, other free attractions in Edinburgh offer unique perspectives on Scottish culture and heritage. At the Writers’ Museum in Lady Stair’s Close, visitors can view rare manuscripts and personal belongings of famous Scottish writers like Robert Burns and Sir Walter Scott. Meanwhile, at Surgeons’ Hall Museums, guests can delve into the fascinating history of medicine through exhibits on surgical techniques and anatomical specimens.

By visiting these free attractions in Edinburgh, visitors can broaden their understanding of Scotland’s rich cultural past.

As you learn about Scotland’s cultural heritage through its artifacts and exhibits, why not take your exploration even further? Visitors interested in delving deeper into particular topics should also attend free talks and workshops offered at many museums throughout Edinburgh. These events provide an opportunity to engage with experts who share their knowledge in more detail than what is presented through traditional exhibits alone.

Attend Free Talks and Workshops

Attending talks and workshops hosted by museums in Edinburgh provides an opportunity to deepen one’s knowledge and engage with experts on a variety of cultural topics. Interactive workshops allow visitors to engage with exhibits in a more hands-on way, while engaging lectures offer insights into the history and significance of various artifacts. These events are often led by knowledgeable professionals who are passionate about their subject matter.

Visitors can learn about everything from Scottish history to contemporary art trends. In addition, many of these talks and workshops are free, making them accessible to everyone regardless of their financial situation. This allows for a diverse audience to participate and learn from each other’s perspectives.

Whether you’re interested in ancient civilizations or modern technology, there is likely an event that will pique your interest at one of Edinburgh’s museums. By attending these events, visitors can gain valuable insights into the culture and history of Scotland while engaging with like-minded individuals.

Visitors looking for even more historical insight can explore St Giles Cathedral, which has played a prominent role in Edinburgh’s religious history since the 14th century.

St Giles Cathedral

Like a towering sentinel of Scottish history, St Giles Cathedral stands proud and majestic in the heart of Edinburgh’s Old Town. This iconic building is not only a place of worship, but also a testament to the city’s rich architectural heritage. Visitors can explore the intricate details of its Gothic façade, which features stunning stone carvings and beautiful stained-glass windows.

One of the highlights of any visit to St Giles Cathedral is attending a free organ recital. The cathedral boasts one of Scotland’s largest organs, with over 4,000 pipes and an impressive sound that fills the space with music. These concerts are held regularly throughout the year and offer visitors a chance to experience both the incredible acoustics of the cathedral and some truly exceptional musical performances.

St Giles Cathedral is undoubtedly one of Edinburgh’s must-see attractions for anyone interested in history, architecture or religion. With its striking appearance and fascinating interior, it offers visitors an unforgettable glimpse into Scotland’s past. After exploring this magnificent building, visitors can take a short walk over to Greyfriars Kirkyard – another free attraction that combines history, architecture and even a bit of spooky folklore – making it an ideal addition to any itinerary for those looking to explore Edinburgh on a budget.

Greyfriars Kirkyard

Greyfriars Kirkyard is a historic cemetery located adjacent to St Giles Cathedral, featuring stunning gravestones and monuments that date back hundreds of years. As one of the most popular free attractions in Edinburgh, this cemetery offers visitors a unique chance to step into Scotland’s past.

Here are some things you can expect to see when visiting Greyfriars Kirkyard:

– The Covenanters’ Prison: This prison was built in the 17th century and was used to hold prisoners who were opposed to the Church of Scotland. Many died here due to harsh conditions, making it a site of great historical significance.

– The grave of Greyfriars Bobby: A statue of this loyal Skye Terrier stands guard over his owner’s grave. According to legend, Bobby spent 14 years guarding his master’s grave until he passed away himself.

– Ghost stories and Harry Potter connections: Greyfriars Kirkyard has been rumored to be haunted by ghosts for centuries. Additionally, author J.K. Rowling used many names from headstones in the cemetery as inspiration for characters in her Harry Potter series.

Visiting Greyfriars Kirkyard is an excellent opportunity for history buffs and those interested in Scotland’s cultural heritage. Additionally, its ghost stories and Harry Potter connections make it an exciting destination for those seeking adventure or wanting an unforgettable experience during their stay in Edinburgh.

After exploring the fascinating history at Greyfriars Kirkyard, take a stroll up Calton Hill where you will find panoramic views across Edinburgh cityscape and beyond.

Calton Hill

Perched high above the city, Calton Hill is a symbolic landmark that offers panoramic views of Edinburgh’s stunning skyline.

The hill is located in the heart of Edinburgh and can be reached through a series of hiking trails or by driving up the winding road that leads to its summit. For those who prefer to take it easy, there are also plenty of benches dotted around where one can sit and enjoy the view.

Atop Calton Hill, visitors can take in some of the most breathtaking views in all of Scotland. From here, one can see everything from Arthur’s Seat to Edinburgh Castle and beyond. The view is particularly spectacular at sunset when the sky turns shades of orange and pink.

In addition to its stunning viewpoint, Calton Hill is also home to several iconic monuments including the National Monument, Nelson Monument, and Dugald Stewart Monument.

For those looking for an outdoor adventure without breaking their budget, Calton Hill should definitely be on their list! With its beautiful hiking trails and panoramic view of Edinburgh’s skyline, it’s no wonder why this historic site has become a must-see attraction for tourists visiting Scotland’s capital city.

After taking in all that Calton Hill has to offer, visitors will undoubtedly want to venture further into Edinburgh’s rich history by exploring other free attractions such as Edinburgh Castle Esplanade which lies just a stone’s throw away from this magnificent hilltop location.

Edinburgh Castle Esplanade

The Edinburgh Castle Esplanade offers visitors a stunning view of the historic castle from afar. This is a great option for those who do not wish to pay the admission fee or are short on time.

In addition, visitors can attend free military parades and ceremonies that take place at the esplanade, as well as watch free outdoor performances and concerts throughout the year.

Admire the Historic Castle from Afar

Visitors to Edinburgh can appreciate the grandeur of the historic castle from a distance, marveling at its striking architecture and rich history. While castle tours provide an up-close look at the fascinating past of this iconic landmark, there is something magical about admiring it from afar.

The Edinburgh skyline is dominated by the imposing silhouette of the castle perched atop its rocky outcrop, making it one of the most recognizable landmarks in Scotland.

Here are some ways visitors can admire Edinburgh Castle from a distance:

– Take a stroll through Princes Street Gardens and enjoy panoramic views of the castle.

– Climb Calton Hill for stunning views over Edinburgh’s Old Town and New Town skylines, with Edinburgh Castle as a magnificent centerpiece.

– Walk along George IV Bridge for breathtaking views of the castle’s turrets and walls rising high above you.

– Visit Arthur’s Seat for an unforgettable view of Edinburgh Castle in all its glory.

– Head to Blackford Hill or Corstorphine Hill for another vantage point where you can take in sweeping vistas of the cityscape.

Visitors who attend free military parades and ceremonies in Edinburgh will have an opportunity to witness firsthand some aspects of Scottish culture that have evolved over centuries.

Attend Free Military Parades and Ceremonies

Attending military parades and ceremonies in Edinburgh allows spectators to witness the rich traditions and cultural heritage of Scotland firsthand. These events are usually free to attend, which makes them an excellent opportunity for tourists who want to learn more about Scottish history.

Military parades typically take place throughout the year, with some of the most popular ones being held during special occasions such as Remembrance Day or Armed Forces Day. The history behind military parades is fascinating, dating back centuries when they were used to showcase military might and intimidation.

Nowadays, these events serve a different purpose, honoring those who have served their country and celebrating the local traditions that are still very much alive in Scotland today. During ceremonies, you can witness bagpipe performances, see soldiers in traditional Scottish attire such as kilts and tartans, and learn about the significance of various symbols used by Scottish regiments.

Attending one of these parades or ceremonies is an immersive experience that will leave you with a deeper appreciation for Scottish culture. Witnessing military parades and ceremonies is just one of many free attractions available in Edinburgh.

Another exciting option is watching free outdoor performances and concerts – a perfect way to spend a summer evening in this beautiful city.

Watch Free Outdoor Performances and Concerts

Enjoying free outdoor performances and concerts is an ideal way to immerse oneself in the vibrant cultural scene of Edinburgh while also experiencing the city’s beautiful natural surroundings. Outdoor venues such as The Meadows, Inverleith Park, and Princes Street Gardens provide a picturesque backdrop for local performers who showcase their talents during the summer months.

From jazz bands to classical orchestras, visitors can enjoy a diverse range of music genres that cater to every taste. In addition to regular street entertainment, Edinburgh hosts several summer festivals that offer free outdoor performances and concerts. The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is one of the largest arts festivals in the world and features thousands of performers from around the globe who take over almost every available performance space in the city.

The Royal Botanic Garden also hosts an annual event called ‘Concerts in the Park,’ which features live music with scenic views of the garden. With so many opportunities to experience free outdoor performances and concerts, visitors are sure to find something that piques their interest during their stay in Edinburgh.

As we move on from discussing free outdoor performances and concerts, it’s important to note that another great destination to check out is Princes Street Gardens.

Princes Street Gardens

Located in the heart of Edinburgh, Princes Street Gardens is a charming public park that offers visitors a peaceful retreat from the hustle and bustle of the city.

The park is situated between the Old Town and New Town areas of Edinburgh, providing an ideal location for tourists to take a break from exploring the city’s attractions.

Visitors can enjoy picnics on the lush green lawns while admiring stunning views of Edinburgh Castle and Scott Monument.

Princes Street Gardens hosts seasonal events throughout the year, making it a popular destination for locals and tourists alike.

During Christmas time, visitors can explore the festive markets and ice-skating rinks set up within the park.

In summer, various outdoor concerts are held in Princes Street Gardens featuring local artists as well as international performers.

Additionally, during August each year, Princes Street Gardens serves as one of many venues for Edinburgh’s famous Fringe Festival.

Visitors can also take a stroll through beautifully maintained flower gardens or relax by one of several fountains or ponds located within Princes Street Gardens.

After spending time in this serene public space, tourists may want to venture out to climb Arthur’s Seat – an extinct volcano located just outside of the park – for sweeping panoramic views of Edinburgh and beyond.

Arthur’s Seat

The ascent to the summit of Arthur’s Seat is a challenging climb, akin to scaling a steep mountain. However, the reward for this physical exertion is worth it, as the panoramic views from atop are breathtaking. Situated in Holyrood Park, Arthur’s Seat is an extinct volcano that stands at 251 meters high and offers hikers various options for reaching its peak.

Hiking options include traversing through the Salisbury Crags or following the path from Dunsapie Loch. The former option involves a steeper climb but also allows for closer views of Edinburgh’s skyline. The latter option takes hikers around the loch before ascending to Arthur’s Seat and provides beautiful scenery along the way. Additionally, there are alternative routes to explore within Holyrood Park such as Calton Hill and Nelson Monument which offer great views as well.

When reaching Arthur’s Seat, one can take advantage of many viewpoints that provide different perspectives of Edinburgh. A popular spot is located at the top near St Anthony’s Chapel ruins where visitors can see all over Edinburgh including landmarks such as Edinburgh Castle and Forth Bridge in Queensferry on clear days. Another viewpoint includes looking out towards East Lothian while taking in sea views on one side and rugged hills on another side.

Overall, visiting Arthur’s Seat is highly recommended for anyone seeking stunning natural landscapes and scenic hiking trails in Edinburgh without spending any money. It offers an opportunity to escape city life whilst still remaining close enough to enjoy all its offerings with an added bonus of getting some exercise done too! Next up, we will be exploring Grassmarket – another free attraction located just south of Edinburgh Castle and easily accessible by foot or public transport.


Nestled in the heart of Edinburgh’s Old Town, Grassmarket exudes a charming atmosphere that transports visitors back to the city’s historic past. This area was once known as a bustling marketplace that traded goods such as cattle, fruit, and vegetables. Today, it is a vibrant hub offering an eclectic mix of restaurants and shops. Here, you can indulge in traditional Scottish cuisine or shop for souvenirs to take home.

Grassmarket is not only famous for its culinary offerings but also for hosting several free festivals and events throughout the year. The most popular event is the annual Grassmarket Festival which takes place during the summer months. The festival showcases local talent in music, comedy, dance and theater. Visitors can also attend other events such as book fairs or art exhibitions held at various venues within this district.

While strolling around Grassmarket, visitors can admire its stunning architecture dating back to the 15th century including St Giles’ Cathedral and The Hub – Scotland’s iconic landmark building for arts and culture. If you’re lucky enough to be traveling during Hogmanay (New Year’s Eve), then head over to Grassmarket where you can witness one of Europe’s largest street parties.

Overall, Grassmarket offers something for everyone – whether it’s exploring restaurants and shops or attending free festivals and events- making it an essential stop on any Edinburgh itinerary!

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the history behind the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh?

The Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh has a rich history dating back to its establishment in 1670. It is one of the world’s leading botanic gardens, showcasing a diverse range of plant species and contributing to research and conservation efforts. Its extensive grounds offer visitors an immersive experience with Edinburgh’s greenery.

Are there any special exhibitions currently on display at the Scottish National Gallery?

What special exhibitions are currently on display at the Scottish National Gallery? Discover a range of current art exhibitions, with varying ticket prices and online reservation options. Guided tours available, with accessibility and photography policies in place. Visitor reviews praise conservation efforts, art education programs, and interactive exhibits featuring famous Scottish artists and the national art collection.

Can you tell me about any unique artifacts housed at the National Museum of Scotland?

The National Museum highlights Scottish artifacts, including unique exhibits that showcase Edinburgh’s history. Notable items include the Lewis Chessmen, a Pictish stone carving, and Dolly the Sheep, the world’s first cloned mammal.

What is the significance of St Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh’s history?

St Giles Cathedral in Edinburgh’s history is significant for its role in the Scottish Reformation and as a symbol of religious authority. Its stunning architecture, artifacts, and association with historical figures provide insight into Scotland’s past. Legends and ghost stories add to its intrigue, as does its proximity to Greyfriars Kirkyard.

Are there any ghost stories or legends associated with Greyfriars Kirkyard?

Greyfriars Kirkyard is a historic cemetery that has gained notoriety for its ghost tours and tales of paranormal activity. The graves of notable figures, such as Greyfriars Bobby, contribute to its fame and attract visitors seeking spooky experiences.


Edinburgh is a city of rich history and culture, offering an array of free attractions for visitors to explore. From the stunning Royal Botanic Garden to the impressive Scottish National Gallery, there are countless opportunities to immerse oneself in Edinburgh’s beauty and heritage.

One cannot miss the iconic Edinburgh Castle Esplanade, which offers breathtaking views of the city and serves as a gateway to exploring its storied past. Additionally, Arthur’s Seat provides a spectacular vantage point from which to take in the natural beauty of Edinburgh and its surrounding areas. These free attractions offer an opportunity for visitors to experience Edinburgh’s unique blend of history and nature.

In conclusion, Edinburgh has an abundance of free attractions that showcase its intricate tapestry of culture and heritage. Through allusions to historical events or literary works associated with each attraction, one can gain a deeper understanding of the city’s story.

Visitors should take advantage of these incredible offerings during their time in Edinburgh, as they provide both entertainment and education in equal measure.