The Best Free Things To Do In Edinburgh

National Museum of Scotland

In recent years Scotland’s National Museum on Chambers Street has been extended and then completely refurbished. The resulting attraction is undoubtedly one of the best museum experiences in the UK. Don’t expect to rush round this in an hour or two. Put aside plenty of time to fully explore it. There is a good cafe, restaurant and gift shop too. Admission is free but donations are welcome.

Gallery of Modern Art

The Gallery of Modern Art is situated just beyond Dean Village in the West End. There is a relaxed parkland feel to the manicured grounds around the museum. There are plenty of recognisable and travelling exhibits that change regularly. The cafe is bright and airy.

Scottish Parliament

The Scottish Parliament building was a controversial subject from commissioning through to opening and there are plenty of views about the architecture and overall cost of the project. It is, however a memorable building, and the seat of government in Scotland. There are paid tours available but there is no cost to look around and you can even join the public gallery and view the debate when parliament is in session.

National Gallery

If classic art is your thing rather than modern, then pay a visit to the National Gallery on the Mound. This classical building houses a wonderful collection of home grown Scottish art and pieces from further afield. Artists featured include Rembrandt, Gainsborough and Constable amongst others. There are always a number of exhibitions in addition to the main collection.

Writers Museum

Find out a little more about Robert Louis Stevenson, Rabbie Burns and Sir Walter Scott at the Writers museum. It contains a number of original pieces and artefacts from these renowned writers. The museum is hidden in a close between the Royal Mile and the Mound.

Royal Botanic Gardens

Located in leafy Stockbridge, Edinburgh’s Botanic Gardens is a wonderful place to while away a few hours walking amongst the collection or drinking coffee in the cafe. There is an entrance fee for the glasshouses but it is free to enjoy the gardens.

Arthur’s Seat

It’s not every city that is built around a mountain. Edinburgh is built around a long dormant volcano, otherwise known as Arthur’s Seat. It’s not the Eiger though, and reasonably active people should be able to get up and down in an hour or two. There are many ways to the top and one of the favourites is to start beside the Parliament and Holyrood Palace, walking up between Salisbury Crags and Arthur’s seat where a path leads to the top. Once you’re at the top you’ll enjoy the best view in Edinburgh.


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