Edinburgh has a lot of famous attractions you can pay for, such as the Royal Yacht Britannia and Edinburgh Castle. The city also hosts many places which are rich in culture and history which cost nothing. Below is a small selection of the cornucopia of delights available to those who choose to explore Edinburgh for free...
Become a reader at the National Library of Scotland. The national reference library has unique collections about Scotland and her people. Apply for a library card and get access to reading rooms where you can explore Scotland’s history to your heart’s content. You can also gain access to some of the library’s collections online.
Build a sandcastle on Portobello Beach whilst admiring the distant view of a power station along the coast...
Climb Arthur’s Seat in Holyrood Park. Your reward - magnificent views of Edinburgh.
Explore Dean Village. Once a community thriving with water mills the area is now largely residential. A friend describes it as “like medieval Germany ”, with unusual buildings which may have been influenced by Scotland’s trade with countries on the far side of the North Sea.
Feast your eyes in the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art. If you have time explore the grounds – they are rich in sculptures by well-known artists including Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth.
Smell the flowers in the Royal Botanic Garden. The Garden’s extensive grounds host plants from around the world.
Spend time not money getting lost in Ikea - suggested by a friend who has maybe spent too long in Ikea, and who also mentioned the free coffee refills you can get there...
Tour the Scottish Parliament. Tours need to be booked in advance, but I managed to book on a June Friday for a tour the next day. You can also apply to see Parliament in session.
Visit one – or all – of the plethora of museums in Edinburgh, from The Museum of Childhood to The Writers’ Museum.
Walk the Royal Mile from Holyrood Palace (closed when members of the Royal Family are in residence) to Edinburgh Castle which sits majestically on Castle Rock.
Window shop on Princes Street – unusual for having shops on one side of the street only. If window shopping does not appeal you may still enjoy exploring Princes Street Gardens, from which you can get good views of Edinburgh Castle.
Whether Edinburgh is a place you know well or a city you are visiting for the first time, look for the unexpected jewels in the city’s crown, remembering that the best things in life are free!