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FREE THINGS TO DO IN Edinburgh

TOP FREE ATTRACTIONS IN Edinburgh

Traveler's Guide to Top Attractions In Edinburgh For Free

Free Things To Do in Edinburgh - 2018

1. Calton Hill (Free)

5 Free Tourist Attraction

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Calton Hill contains a treasure trove of historical monuments and being 100 metres above sea level boasts a superb view of Edinburgh and across to Holyrood House Palace and Arthur’s Seat – It’s a popular spot for photographers and hopeless romantics at sunset!

See Nelson’s Monument, a commemorative tower that dates back to 1807 to commemorate Nelson’s victory over the Spanish and French fleets at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, and the 8 Corinthian columns that make up the circular temple of the Dugald Stewart Monument which was built in 1831 to commemorate the famous Scottish philosopher.

The National Monument, often described as Edinburgh’s incomplete Acropolis due to it being modeled on the Parthenon in Athens, was built as a national memorial to the Scottish soldiers and sailors who died fighting in the Napoleonic Wars but was never completed due to a lack of funding, only 12 columns stand but it’s still an iconic monument that is visible for miles.

Calton Hill also contains the Robert Burns Monument, the 19th century neoclassical old Royal High School (otherwise known as New Parliament House), the Calton Hill Observatory which resembles a Greek temple, and the 90 ft tall (27metres) obelisk that is the Political Martyrs Monument.

The climb to Calton Hill is steep but tarmac, it’s recommended for electric wheelchair users rather than manual wheelchair users. Vehicle access is available when pre-arranged.

Address: Calton Hill, Edinburgh

Directions: https://goo.gl/maps/KxC6qmBygRz

Opening Hours: Always Open

2. Arthur’s Seat, Holyrood Park (Free)

5 Free Tourist Attraction

Arthur’s Seat, Holyrood Park

Hike up the rocky crags within the 640 acre Royal Holyrood Park and admire the stunning views as you get a 360 degree look over Edinburgh from 251 metres above sea level. Arthur’s Seat is a dormant volcano that hasn’t erupted for the last 300 million years but no one is sure how it got its name though the romantics like to connect it with King Arthur and Camelot.

You don’t have to hike all the way to the top to admire the beauty of this place, there are 2 lakes where kids will enjoy feeding the ducks, the ruins of St Anthony’s Chapel to see, photograph, and rest at, and plenty of nature to take your breath away with the yellow gorse contrasting wonderfully with the green of the land and the blue of the sky on a fine Spring or Summer’s day.

The park has many trails to explore but the best way to reach Arthur’s Seat is by following the ‘Radical Road’, leaving your car at the car park opposite Holyrood House Palace. Sadly Arthur’s Seat is not accessible to wheelchair users due to the steep and uneven climb but the bottom gentler paths of Holyrood Park that lead to the lakes may be accessible with an electric powered wheelchair.

Address: Arthur’s Seat, Holyrood Park, Edinburgh EH8 8AL

Directions: https://goo.gl/maps/6U5dbteFc8x

Opening Hours: Always Open

3. The Royal Mile (Free)

5 Free Tourist Attraction

Edinburgh's ancient thoroughfare, the Royal Mile, stretches from Edinburgh Castle to Holyrood House Palace. A procession route for Scotland’s Kings and Queens for the last 500 years, it contains a lot of paid tourist attractions alongside pubs, shops, and cafes but it’s not necessary to open your wallet in order to witness and enjoy the historic heart of the city and walk the mile.

Starting at Lawnmarket, the oldest part of Edinburgh’s Old Town, and the place where Burke of the murderous Burke & Hare was hanged in 1829 before a crowd of 25,000 you can then move on to Gladstone’s Land to see the best surviving Old Town tenement from the 17th century. Take the time to veer off to discover the many closes, lanes, steps, and narrow passageways that give a true sense of the passing of time. Moving down the High Street you’ll pass St Giles Cathedral and then Flodden Wall which was raised after the battle of Flodden Field in 1513. Note the Canongate Tolbooth which dates back to 1591 and served as the court and prison for the Burgh of Canongate. Canongate Kirkyard aka Canongate Cemetery is the resting place of many important people from Edinburgh’s history. Finally reaching the bottom of the Royal Mile, passing many more historic building on the way, you’ll go past Holyrood House Palace and Holyrood Abbey and reach the Parliament Building with Holyrood Park and Arthur’s Seat towering above.

The Royal Mile is mostly cobblestone paths so wheelchair users should expect a bumpy ride.

Address: Edinburgh Castle to Holyrood – https://goo.gl/maps/Vdj7G2kcmR72

Directions: https://goo.gl/maps/Vdj7G2kcmR72

Opening Hours: Always Open

4. Dean Village (Free)

5 Free Tourist Attraction

A quaint and picturesque Bucolic village in the heart of Edinburgh that has the feel of being hidden deep in the sleepy countryside. A charming stream runs through the small former-village with beautiful bridges and 19th century houses and a church. Once housing the mill workers and separated from Edinburgh city by a distance of 11 miles, the test of time means this oldey-world village now sits a stones throw away from the hustle and bustle of city life, located just a 10 minute walk from Prince’s Street. It’s a popular area with local dog walkers but also tourists and forms part of the Water of Leigh Walkway.

Enjoy a walk here as you lose yourself for a moment among the cobbled lanes and look out for plaques showing what life used to be like here as you come across millstones and carved stones depicting images of bread. Spend some time sketching or photographing and be sure to visit at night as the lights turn on and it takes on a fairytale feel but remember to be quiet as this is still a residential area.

Caution should be used for disabled visitors due to the steep incline and cobblestone paths, best navigated on a mobility scooter rather than a wheelchair.

Address: Dean Village, Dean Path, Edinburgh, EH4 3AY

Directions: https://goo.gl/maps/Kf8sDJYx3XH2

Opening Hours: Always Open

5. National Museum of Scotland (Free)

5 Free Tourist Attraction

Similar to The Natural History Museum in London, The National Museum of Scotland contains diverse collections ranging from dinosaur skeletons to vintage cars, even the stuffed body of Dolly the Sheep; the first successful clone of a mammal from an adult cell. The natural world, science, technology, discoveries, art, design, fashion, and world cultures are all topics that are covered here so there’s something to suit everyone and always something new to learn, the kids being kept entertained thanks to interactive displays – You’ll need more than a day to see it all!

Take a journey of discovery through pre-history into Medieval times, through the Industrial Revolution right the way through to modern times, with a look into what the future might hold too. You’ll learn all about the history of Scotland but also other places in the world thanks to collections covering the Pharaohs of Ancient Egypt, the Samurai of Japan, and so much more.

The National Museum of Scotland is fully accessible to disabled visitors with wheelchairs available on loan free of charge on a first-come-first-served basis. Mobility scooters are permitted as are guide dogs and there’s a hearing loop available at the front desk.

Address: National Museum, Chambers Street, Edinburgh, EH1 1JF

Directions: https://goo.gl/maps/goD5rexWSX12

Opening Hours: Open 10am-5pm Closed Christmas Day. Limited Hours 12 noon – 5pm on Boxing Day and New Years Day.

6. Royal Botanic Garden (Free)

5 Free Tourist Attraction

Plant, flower, garden, and nature lovers will adore the vast Royal Botanic Garden that contains 100,000 plants across 70 acres. Step inside to find acres of shrubs and blooming plants with a fantastic collection of Rhododendrons, a Chinese Garden and Chinese Hillside, Rock Garden with water, bridges, and sculptures, Woodland Garden, an arboretum, the Heath Garden which contains Scottish native plants and exhibitions and interactive activities to keep the kids amused in the main building along with a shop and cafe’s.

Originally set up as a learning centre for students, the 350 year old garden is now one of the leading botanical gardens in the world containing both rare and common plants and flowers from around the world – It’s a breathtaking slice of heaven for flower lovers as well as photographers, allow yourself at least half a day to explore it all. Access to the gardens is free of charge but there is paid entry to some exhibitions and the greenhouses that contain 3,000 exotic plants.

Most of the garden is wheelchair friendly with gravel paths clearly marked as being wheelchair accessible but some parts of the garden such as the trails around the rock garden might not be suitable. Wheelchairs and mobility scooters can be borrowed from the welcome desk on a first come first served basis and there are magnifying glasses, and a hearing aid loop available for those with vision and hearing disabilities.

Address: Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, Arboretum Pl, Edinburgh EH3 5NZ, UK

Directions: https://goo.gl/maps/K2S2rUb1oxm

Opening Hours: Open Daily excluding Christmas Day and New Years Day.

Open 10am-6pm March-September

Open 10am-5pm October & February

Open 10am-4pm November-January

7. Scottish Parliament (Free)

5 Free Tourist Attraction

Opening in 2004, the Scottish Parliament provides visitors with the choice of a self-guided tour or free guided tours to see where members of the Scottish Parliament (MSP’s) meet to debate Scottish issues.

On the 30 minute self-guided tour visitors can see the vaults of the Main Hall and have access to the Parliament For The People Exhibition along with gift shop and cafe plus a 10 minute introductory talk discussing the history of the Scottish Parliament, the architecture of the building, and the work of the MSP’s.

On the 1 hour guided tour visitors can enjoy a more in-depth tour through the Scottish Parliament building and learn more about its history, architecture, and greater detail into the workings of parliament. See the Debating Chamber from the Public Gallery, view the artworks on display in the public areas, and view the exhibition. Separate architecture tours, art tours, and photography tours are also available and you can also arrange to get a free ticket for a seat at a committee meeting or one of the debates in the Debating Chamber.

The Scottish Parliament is wheelchair accessible and there are resources to help those with limited mobility, visual impairment, deafness and hard of hearing, as well as autism.

Address: Scottish Parliament Building, Edinburgh, EH99 1SP

Directions: https://goo.gl/maps/CoDU5taYhLF2

Opening Hours: Open Monday-Saturday 10am-5pm with selected seasonal closures – See website for closure dates: http://www.parliament.scot/visitandlearn/16435.aspx

8. National Gallery of Scotland (Free)

5 Free Tourist Attraction

Located on The Mound, this is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Edinburgh. The National Gallery houses vast collections of Scottish and international paintings, sculpture, and furniture covering the Italian Renaissance period through to French Impressionism at the start of the 20th century. You can see artworks by Raphael, Titian, Turner, Constable, Monet, van Gogh, Renoir, Gauguin, Cezanne, Rembrandt, Reubens, and other masters along with an impressive collection of historic Scottish paintings from Ramsay, Raeburn, Wilkie and McTaggart.

Comprising the National Gallery Building and the Royal Scottish Academy Building, the buildings being connected via an underground garden level, the National Gallery of Scotland is a true treasure trove to explore for those who love art and history and you could easily spend a whole day seeing everything. Access to the permanent collections is free of charge but some temporary exhibitions have a charge. The National Gallery of Scotland is wheelchair accessible, though occasionally wheelchair access is not possible in some rooms – The website lists details where access may be temporarily disrupted. Wheelchairs are available to borrow on a first come first served basis and there’s a hearing loop for visitors who are hard of hearing and use a hearing aid.

Address: The Mound, Edinburgh, EH2 2EL

Directions: https://goo.gl/maps/RPaTwTtfJ522

Opening Hours: Open daily from 10am-5pm with late opening until 7pm on Thursdays.

9. Water of Leigh Walkway (Free)

5 Free Tourist Attraction

Stretching 12 miles in total, the Water of Leigh Walkway is a delightful public footpath and cycle path that winds through the hidden heart of Edinburgh following the river. It’s a great way to spend some time outdoors enjoying nature away from the hustle and bustle of city life whether you spend just an hour or two on a portion of the walkway or decide to tackle the entire length in a day.

Starting in the waterside village of Leith and ending in Balerno, the most popular part of the route for casual walkers in Edinburgh is from the Scottish Gallery of Modern Art, through the picturesque and quaint Dean Village, past the riverside town of Stockwell, past the historical St Bernard’s Well and out into the Leigh Docks area. No matter where you start or end you’ll be forgiven for thinking you’re deep in the countryside with just the sound of the running water and birds around you – Modern bustling Edinburgh seems like a million miles away.

The route is well signposted and audio commentary is available to download free of charge from http://www.waterofleith.org.uk/audio-trail so that you can learn more about the areas you’re passing. The walk is accessible for wheelchair users with a mix of gravel, dirt, and tarmac surfaces though it can get bumpy in places. Staff at The Water of Leith Visitor Centre are helpful and can give disabled visitors more information.

Address: Visitor Information Centre at 24 Lanark Rd, Edinburgh EH14 1TQ

Directions: https://goo.gl/maps/cJ3HDqNdoj32

Location: Map Link – http://www.gps-routes.co.uk/routes/home.nsf/openmap?route=water-of-leith-walking-and-cycle-route

https://www.ldwa.org.uk/ldp/members/show_path.php?path_name=Water+of+Leith+Walkway

10. National Gallery of Modern Art (Free)

5 Free Tourist Attraction

Located in 2 beautiful neo-classical buildings (Modern 1 and Modern 2) the Edinburgh National Gallery of Modern Art contains an eclectic mix of approximately 6,000 modern and contemporary paintings, sculptures, prints, and installations located in bright and airy modern interiors. The gallery contains artworks by Picasso, Matisse, Dada, Miro, Dali, Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Damien Hirst and many other artists covering Cubism, Abstract, Impressionism, Surrealism, Pop Art and more from the 1900’s through the 1950’s and 1960’s right up until modern times.

A walk in the extensive grounds should not be overlooked, the large parkland contains many modern sculptures and the impressive ‘Landform’, a landscaped lawn containing water at the front, a beautiful place for a picnic before or after indulging in your fill of modern art. Entry to the permanent collection is free of charge but if you want to visit one of the international changing exhibitions there is usually a charge.

Both buildings of the museum are wheelchair accessible and there are wheelchairs to borrow on a first come first served basis. A hearing loop is available for those with hearing difficulties and there is seating throughout for those with limited mobility as well as disabled parking.

Address: 75 Belford Road, Edinburgh, EH4 3DR

Directions: https://goo.gl/maps/hEWLTUNkWXE2

Opening Hours: Open Daily 10am-5pm



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