What to do in Edinburgh if you’ve got limited time and a limited budget? Luckily, there are plenty of attractions in Scotland’s capital city that don’t cost a penny.
We asked the locals for their favourite things to do for free in Edinburgh, so pack your sandwiches, jump on board our sleeper service, and get ready for 24 hours in Auld Reekie.
Climb King Arthur’s Seat
It’s a rite of passage to climb the dormant volcano, just a short walk from the city centre. Plus, you’ll be burning calories, rather than a hole in your wallet. Make sure you visit the ruined St Anthony’s Chapel on your way up to the (251m high!) summit, and enjoy the breathtaking views from the top.
Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh
Don’t worry if you’re more Alan Partridge than Alan Titchmarsh, the Royal Botanic Garden has something for everyone. Enjoy one of the guided garden tours, marvel at the tropical plants in the Victorian Palm Houses, or spread out with a picnic in the 70 acres of parkland.
Water of Leith Walkway
Keep your walking shoes on for the Water of Leith Walkway, a beautiful wildlife-protected footpath that follows the river through Edinburgh from Balerno to Leith. Download the audio guides to learn about the plants, trees, fish – even otters – along the route.
National Museum of Scotland
No visit to Edinburgh is complete without popping in to the National Museum of Scotland, although you could spend a whole day browsing through the 20,000 artefacts. Discover the history of Scotland, natural history – including dinosaurs if you’ve got any fans in your family – and treasures from around the world.
Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art
It’s not just the art inside the Modern Art gallery that’s impressive; the sculpted grounds are just as stunning, including works by Anthony Gormley and Henry Moore. The extensive collections range from early modern art, such as Picasso, to pieces by controversial contemporary artists like Tracey Emin. Inspiring stuff.
City getting too crowded? Jump on a bus and head for Portobello Beach, then find a spot on the golden sands to relax or brave the chilly sea for a swim. You can also visit the original Victorian swimming pool on the promenade and treat yourself to a Turkish bath.
If there’s any time left, try to squeeze in a walk down the Royal Mile to the Scottish Parliament – the modern building divides opinion as much as Scottish politics!
At the end of your trip, simply join our overnight service to London and you’ll save on expensive hotel bills too. With a comfy bunk and a complimentary breakfast, getting the most out of Edinburgh has never been easier.