From fringe festival events to cultural institutions and glorious gardens, Edinburgh offers lots of activities for travelers on a shoestring.
So don’t let your lack of funds keep you from the vacation you dream about! Here are our picks of the best free things to do around the city.
- Discover Scotland’s national museum and galleries
Trace Scotland’s story, from prehistoric times to the present, at the National Museum of Scotland. The museum has just undergone a £46.4 million redevelopment, and is set to add another ten galleries for 2016. Art lovers can also spend many budget-friendly days in the Scottish National Gallery, the Scottish National Portrait Gallery and the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art.
- Visit the Writers Museum
See the writing desk of Robert Burns, the beloved Scottish bard who made ‘Auld Lang Syne’ a song of drunken new year greeting around the world. The museum also celebrates the lives of Sir Walter Scott, who penned Ivanhoe, Rob Roy and The Lady of the Lake, and Robert Louis Stevenson, author of the classics Treasure Island and Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. Imagine the lives of these literary geniuses through their personal artifacts, including a dining table and rocking horse owned by Scott and an engraved ring given to Stevenson by a Samoan chief.
3. Hit the free Fringe Festival
A limited cash flow wont stop you from enjoying the cultural whirlwind of the Edinburgh Fringe, with hundreds of ‘Free Fringe’ events on offer throughout August. Immerse yourself in free comedy, spoken word, theatre, cabaret and live music, courtesy of Peter Buckley Hill’s Free Fringe Comedy, the Laughing Horse, and La Favorita Freestival. So save some pounds for artist donation and drink. The events are held in pubs and bars around the city.
- Stroll the gardens
Edinburgh is full of gorgeous, admission-free green spaces. Wind along the paths in the Royal Botanic Gardens, home to 70 acres of landscaped gardens and plant species from around the world. Just next door is the award-winning Inverleith Park, which offers lovely city views and scenery fit for 19th century aristocrat, with a boating pond, rose garden and petanque court. Also popular is Bruntsfield Links, with its oversized outdoor chess board, and Princes Street Gardens, home to the lavish Ross Fountain and a monument to Sir Walter Scott.
- Hike to Arthur’s Seat
Head to historic Holyrood Park, just past Edinburgh’s centre, where you can hike up to the extinct volcano of Arthur’s Seat. You’ll spend a fair amount of energy, but will be rewarded with panoramic views across Edinburgh, the Lothians and Fife, from the 823-foot high peak.