Free Walking Tours of Edinburgh

Edinburgh Walking Tours for the traveller on a budget

When it comes to discovering all that Edinburgh has to offer, cash poor does not need to mean culture poor. With free museums, wonderful monuments and architecture, not to mention free walking tours of Edinburgh daily, discovering Edinburgh on a budget has never been easier. So for the traveller on a budget, we thought we would share these great walking tours. (Please note, although these tours are free, the live guided tours will usually ask for a donation, which helps them to keep running. So you are able to pay what you can afford and what you feel the tour was worth.)

Rooftops of the buildings in Edinburgh's Old Town

Self-Guided Royal Mile Walking Tour: History, Heritage and Horror

Contrary to popular belief, the Royal Mile is not a mile long. In fact, it is not even one street. It is actually a succession of streets in the heart of Edinburgh’s Old Town that connects Edinburgh Castle at the top of the “mile” with the Palace of Holyroodhouse at the bottom. Full of shops, monuments, museums, restaurants and pubs, the Royal Mile is one of the most popular (not to mention busiest) streets in Edinburgh.

At its peak, behold Edinburgh’s famous medieval castle. Enjoy a wee tipple at the Scotch Whisky Experience. Marvel at the splendour of St Giles’ Cathedral, or the High Kirk of Edinburgh, as it is also known. Take heart at the Heart of Midlothian. Visit the Real Mary King’s Close – known as one of the most haunted places in Edinburgh. Visit the Museum of Childhood and meander down the cobbled streets to Holyrood Park and the Queen’s official residence in Scotland.

Taking the tour: This is a DIY tour. Simply download the free GPSmyCity: Walks in 1K+ Cities app and lose yourself in Edinburgh without getting lost.

The Royal Mile with shoppers on it in Edinburgh

Sandemans Edinburgh Free Tour: Expert Local Guided Tours

If you prefer a real life guide to show you the way, the Sandemans Edinburgh Free Tour is a great choice. These walking tours are 2.5 hours long and take you to many of Edinburgh’s major sites in the Old Town. Such as the Royal Mile, St Giles’ Cathedral, the Writer’s Museum and the Grassmarket. The entertaining tour guides will lead you through the city’s ancient streets and regale you with historic tales of the likes of Deacon Brodie, William Wallace and Greyfriars Bobby.

Taking the tour: The Sandemans Edinburgh Free Tour runs daily. Tours leave from 130 High Street on the Royal Mile. Book online in advance.

Row of pubs and shops on Edinburgh Grassmarket

Free Ghost Tour: Spook-tacular Walking Tours of Edinburgh

With a bloody history of murders, witchcraft and plague, Edinburgh is said to be one of the most haunted cities in the world. And for good reason. A city of equal parts beauty and horror, its wynds and closes have witnessed the darkest side of our beautiful city. Today, tourists and locals alike visit these cobbled streets in search of signs of the unexplained. Fortunately for the traveller on a budget, City Explorers offer free ghost tours of Edinburgh’s dark past. For 1.5 hours, explore the paranormal underbelly of Edinburgh’s body snatching, public executions, gruesome jails and bone-breaking tortures.

Taking the tour: There is a daily Free Ghost Tour at 7 pm every evening. Tours leave from 154 High Street on the Royal Mile. Book online in advance.

A couple walking through a narrow close in Edinburgh

The Potter Trail: Bewitching Edinburgh. Muggles Welcome!

Grab your wand and embark on a bewitching adventure in a spellbinding tour through the city that inspired one of the greatest literary adventures of all time, Harry Potter. The Potter Trail is simply magic. Discover all the magical locations that inspired some of your favourite Potter characters and scenes. Visit the café where J.K. Rowling wrote the first Potter book. Learn all about the real-life witches and wizards of medieval Edinburgh. And visit the grave where Lord Voldemort is buried.

Taking the tour: The Potter Trail leaves just about every day from the statue of Greyfriars Bobby and finishes at nearby Victoria Terrace. Book in advance on the Potter Trail website.

Gates to Greyfriars Churchyard in Edinburgh

If you like the sound of these free walking tours of Edinburgh, be sure to check out our hotel special offers and save on your Edinburgh accommodation too!