With everyone feeling the pinch following the increase to the cost of living, we thought we’d put together a list of some of our favourite cheap and/or free activities in Edinburgh.
We are lucky enough to be surrounded by an abundance of natural beauty in Edinburgh. And much like its Mediterranean counterpart, Edinburgh too is surrounded by seven hills! When was the last time you took a walk up Arthur’s Seat? Or climbed up to the Parthenon inspired National Monument on Calton Hill? Maybe it’s time to revisit these beautiful Edinburgh landmarks which we so often take for granted...
If hill walking isn’t your vibe, but you want to enjoy some fresh air, how about a walk out to Cramond Island? Just a short bus ride from the city centre sits the village of Cramond and, depending on the tide, a pathway out to an island out in the Firth of Forth. The island was used in both WWI and WWII, with some buildings left till this day which you are able to explore. If you’re planning a visit, make sure to check out tide times on the RNLI website so that you don’t get stuck out there!
Did you know that The Royal Botanical Gardens are free to enter? With a collection which has been growing (both in quantity and size) for over 350 years and gardens which offer panoramic views of the city’s skyline, this is a must on your to-do list. There are several food and drink venues across the site, which create their menu around produce grown directly on the grounds. Why not fuel up on their locally sourced menu during your visit?
Events run year round and, although you can enjoy the gardens for free at your own leisure, there are both regular and (infrequent) BSL guided tours available to visitors at a small additional fee. Most recently we visited for Christmas at the Botanics, a light trail set up at the gardens over the festive period - it was truly a sight to behold.
Free Museums and Galleries:
The Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art has to be one of the best places in the city to spend a rainy day. Set over two buildings, the collection displays work from the early 1900s all the way through to the present day. The artwork is composed of the likes of Matisse and Picasso, whilst the sculptural front lawn (created by Charles Jencks) won the Gulbenkian Prize in 2004.
Speaking of beautiful architecture, another incredible free museum is The National Museum of Scotland. Inside you can travel back through Scottish history and see the likes of the Lewis Chess Pieces (featured in the first Harry Potter film), or explore the complexities of the animal world within interactive exhibitions - if you've ever wondered how you would size up next to a giraffe, now is your chance to find out! Other exhibits include the Dolly the sheep and a model of the Grand Gallery in Lego form.
The Museum has a café on site, along with a dining area dedicated to visitors who have brought their own food. This means that if you’re watching your spending, you can always bring a packed lunch from home. On top of that, the museum also has a roof terrace on the 7th floor with stunning views across the city centre.
As we all know, Edinburgh is an incredibly beautiful and distinct city. Apparently our reputation precedes us in this sense, and film producers in LA are starting to catch on… As a result, if you’re a movie buff, you can check out some filming locations from your favourite blockbusters.
With scenes from Avengers Infinity War taking place in Old town and Waverly station, shots from One Day (based on the novel by David Nicholls) featuring the Crags and Arthur’s Seat, and the vast majority of Sunshine on Leith being filmed in and around the Shore, Leith, and the city centre, there’s plenty of spots to keep you busy if you know where to look!
@steppingthroughfilm She was just protecting her world 💔 #wandavision #wanda #elizabetholsen #fyp #edinburgh #vision #avengers #explore ♬ original sound - user47730255614
Although none of the movies were filmed in Edinburgh, it is a well known fact that our beloved city heavily inspired the creation of the Harry Potter series. For example, although currently under repair, the Elephant House has historically been a big draw for Harry Potter fans, with the author supposedly writing the first book there.
Just next to this venue lies Greyfriars Kirkyard. According to the franchise's ever growing fandom, several characters from the series were inspired by real tombstones located in the graveyard. One such grave is that of Thomas Riddell. If you want to learn even more about Harry Potter and the city that inspired it, there are also daily walking tours which depart from Old Town. Although these tours are free, there is an expectation that you pay what you think the tour is worth at the end.
So there you have it, our non-conclusive list of free fun to be had in and around Edinburgh! If you do plan on heading up Arthur’s seat for a wee walk and picnic, don’t forget to pick up some of our juice over on our product page.