Edinburgh is undoubtedly a city of sheer beauty. Scattered with fascinating history, folklore and tradition, it’s hard to resist exploring the cobbled streets of the medieval Old Town. The locals are friendly, the scenery stunning and pubs and restaurants first-class. But it does have a downside. Edinburgh isn’t always the most budget-friendly place to visit. However, you’ll soon discover that many museums and historic sites offer free entry. Furthermore, the city has many inexpensive restaurants and outdoor activities for all the family. Here are just a few examples of how you can enjoy your time in Edinburgh without breaking your budget.
Enjoy beautiful artwork for free
For visiting art lovers, enjoy the works of many great artists at the National Galleries of Scotland. You can also head to Dean Gallery and Gallery of Modern art in the North West of the City. And on Queen Street there’s the National Portrait Gallery on Queen Street.
Explore the world and its history
Edinburgh’s visitors are fortunate with the number of museums and exciting exhibits that offer free entry.
- The National Museum of Scotland in Chamber Street boasts an impressive 36 galleries. Relish the spectacular Victorian Grand Gallery and discover the Natural World with its Tyrannosaurus Rex.
- You’ll find the Writers Museum at Makars Court near the top of the Royal Mile. Admire portraits and works of some of Scotland’s greatest writers, just like Robert Burns and Robert Louis Stevenson.
- Ever seen a million pounds in cash? Well you can at The Museum on the Mound. Here you’ll discover Scotland’s oldest bank notes and discover the role of currency in technology, trade, art, crime and security.
- Meander down the Royal Mile and call into the Museum of Childhood. Take a wistful look around toys and games from years gone by.
- The Museum of Edinburgh is a treasure trove full of items from hundred-years-ago to today.
Discover Edinburgh outdoors
There’s plenty to see and do outside in Edinburgh if you are on a budget. Step outside and take advantage of some of the city’s parks, gardens and waterside walks.
- Take yourself for a stroll around Princes Street Gardens at the bottom of Edinburgh Castle, where you can appreciate the floral exhibitions, historical statues and view stunning monuments. During the summer, it becomes a popular spot for picnics, or enjoying an ice-cream or coffee at an outdoor cafe.
- If you feel energetic then head up Arthur’s Seat. A dominating landmark on the Edinburgh horizon, it rewards visitors with spectacular views across the city.
- Across from the Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh, is Inverleith Park, a beautiful place to take a stroll and enjoy the city. There’s a small entrance fee, but The Garden’s stunning Glasshouse offers a rare glimpse of some amazing varieties of plants.
- Also to the North is the Water of Leith. It flows from the Pentland Hills and travels through the pretty Deans Village. It finally joins the sea at the Firth of Forth in Leith. Visitors can enjoy a walk along the riverside and explore the interactive exhibits at the Water of Leith Visitor Centre.
- Peppered with restaurants, coffee shops, gift shops and galleries, the shores of Leith are well worth a visit. Nearby you’ll find Ocean Terminal. Here you can shop or enjoy a bite to eat. All while admiring the striking sights over the Royal Yacht Britannia and Leith Harbour.
Inexpensive tours that will open your eyes
- You can discover the dark side of Edinburgh’s history on an Underground Vault Tour. This series of tunnels hidden beneath Old Town once housed serial killers and malevolent spirits, witches and infamous criminals.
- Whisky may be the obvious drink of choice in Edinburgh, but The Edinburgh Gin Distillery offers a Gin Discovery Tour. Here you can find out about the history behind Edinburgh Gin, tour the distillery, and even enjoy a sample.
- The Free Walking Tour covers the main sights in Edinburgh’s winding Old Town. It delves into the city’s fascinating history, with plenty of tales, legends, and ghost stories thrown in for good measure. It’s free, but you do need to pay a tip.