Visit Edinburgh on a Budget: Free Things to Do

Free Things to Do in Edinburgh

Scottish National Monument

Edinburgh is one of the greatest cities in the world, and it is rich in history, culture and Scottish traditions. But you don’t need to spend a lot of money to have a fantastic time in Edinburgh. Our centrally located hotel places you close to many free things to do in Edinburgh. 

Spectacular Views

View from Calton Hill in Edinburgh at sunset

To help you make short work of free attractions in Edinburgh, take advantage of Edinburgh’s spectacular views. From the top of Calton Hill (a short 5-minute walk from Parliament House Hotel), you can enjoy panoramic views of Edinburgh’s breath-taking skyline. There are also a number of famous monuments you can explore while taking in the sights of this World Heritage Site.

From atop Calton Hill, you will see the most magnificent view of Arthur’s Seat – a beacon of Edinburgh’s legendary past. Believed to be one of the possible locations for Camelot, thousands of Edinburgh explorers ascend the hill every year in search of King Arthur’s official seat of power. And while there is much debate about the facts of the matter, one thing is for sure … the views from Arthur’s Seat are legendary.

Free Museums, Galleries and Attractions

View of Royal Mile in Edinburgh

Edinburgh has a number of fabulously free attractions across the city. Every year, the National Museum of Scotland, the National Galleries of Scotland, the Writers’ Museum, the Royal Botanic Garden, St Giles’ Cathedral and the Scottish Parliament Visitor Centre welcomes thousands of visitors through their doors free of charge. Many of these attractions even hold regular guided tours absolutely free. Which means you can discover more of Edinburgh’s rich, cultural past for less every time you visit one of these free Edinburgh attractions.

Central City Gardens

Princes Street Gardens in Edinburgh

Edinburgh is home to stunning parks and gardens where you can enjoy a tranquil escape from the city’s hustle and bustle. These green spaces are perfect for cheap days out in Edinburgh. Take a short stroll from our central hotel and explore the tucked away Dunbar’s Close garden with 17th-century style landscapes. You’ll find this secret treat just off the Royal Mile, where you can read a book and soak up the tranquillity. And entry is free to this magical place. Or, visit the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh with 70 acres of stunning landscapes and 10 Glasshouses, each housing different climates. Here, you’ll find more than 3,000 exotic plants, and entry to the garden is free.

Portobello Beach

Portobello Beach in Edinburgh at sunset

If you’re looking for free things to do in Edinburgh, the region’s beaches provide the perfect day out. Start your day by heading to Portobello Beach, just a few miles away from the city centre. Here, you’ll find two miles of flat, sandy stretch and a great spot for walks, swimming and sunbathing. Take an oceanfront walk along the long promenade, before stopping at one of its cafes, bars and restaurants. Then, browse independent shops and markets in Portobello’s high street. Also, at the beach, you’ll find many free events including beach volleyball competitions and the Big Beach Busk. Then, after working up and appetite in the fresh sea air, head back up towards Parliament House Hote and enjoy a delicious meal en route.

Historical Monuments and Landmarks

Greyfriars Bobby skye terrier dog statue in Edinburgh

For budget accommodation in Edinburgh, Parliament House is close to the city centre where you’ll find lots of free things to do. When visiting Edinburgh’s monuments, landmarks and architectural delights, you’ll delve into the city’s history. Our hotel is a short stroll from Calton Hill where you can soak up panoramic city views. While wondering around Edinburgh’s streets, you’ll see statues honouring the likes of Sherlock Holmes and Greyfriars’ Bobby.

Festivals and Fairs

Performer playing guitar at Edinburgh Festivals

When it comes to choosing what to see in Edinburgh, the city’s annual festivals should be top of your list. Every year, the city comes alive with music, arts, comedy, film, food, drink and entertainment. And many of these festivals offer a programme of free events, so you can enjoy Edinburgh on a budget. At Edinburgh Fringe, you’ll find free street performances and entertainment in cafes, pubs and parks. Then, at Edinburgh Jazz Festival, live music can be heard across the city, from bars to open-air concerts in gardens. Finally, what better way to end the year, than celebrating with loved ones at Edinburgh Hogmanay? Here, there are free street parties with DJs, dancers and food and drink stalls, helping you ring in the New Year.

Bewitchingly Free Tours

A street in Old Town

And finally, one of our favourite free things to do in Edinburgh is tour the city. With its cobbled streets and haunted closes, Edinburgh is simply spellbinding. So join the Sandemans Tour of Edinburgh’s Old Town. Held daily, from 11 am to 2 pm at the Starbucks on the Royal Mile, all it costs is a few hours of your time. Or grab a wand and join a robed guide on a tour designed specifically for Potter fans. The Potter Trail will take you to all the magical locations behind our favourite boy wizard, as well as offer a closer look at the witches and wizards of medieval Edinburgh. From muggles to masterpieces, hop on board the Gallery Bus and spend a day enjoying the fabulous (not to mention free) collections on display at the National Gallery, the Gallery of Modern Art and the Portrait Gallery.

Enjoy Edinburgh on a Budget

With our wide range of hotel rooms to suit all budgets, we have the perfect central accommodation for your visit. Book your affordable holiday in Scotland’s beautiful, historic capital today and enjoy these great free things to do in Edinburgh.