Free Sightseeing In Edinburgh

Edinburgh is one of my favourite cities, due to its amazing architecture and historical intrigue. While there are plenty of ways to be a big spender in Scotland’s bustling capital city, there are also many opportunities to enjoy some free sightseeing.

In fact, a lot of my Edinburgh highlights did not cost a penny.

So, if you are on a tight budget, here are my recommendations for places to visit and things to do for absolutely nothing…

Calton Hill

Panoramic views over Edinburgh can be enjoyed for free atop Calton Hill – an area that is part of the city’s UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The City Observatory – a 19th century building for astronomical research that was modelled on a Greek temple – and a number of famous monuments can be found up here, in proximity to eachother.

This includes Nelson’s Monument, which was erected in the early 19th century to commemorate the victory over the Spanish and French at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, during which Admiral Horatio Nelson perished.

Another one, pictured below, is dedicated to Scottish Enlightenment philosopher Dugald Stewart.

Greyfriars Kirkyard

To discover Edinburgh’s spooky side without forking out money for a ghost tour, head straight to Greyfriars Kirkyard.

Walking through this eerie place, even during daylight, is enough to send shivers down your spine.

This 16th century cemetery is often referred to as the most haunted location in Edinburgh and it is difficult to imagine a more chilling setting.

Do not miss the Greyfriars Bobby memorial statue, located near the graveyard’s entrance…

Bobby was the loyal Skye Terrier of a Victorian policeman. When his owner died, the compassionate canine famously stayed besides his owner’s grave until his own death 14 years later.

The Royal Mile

Without a doubt, the Royal Mile is Edinburgh’s most well-known street. I enjoyed walking the mile from Edinburgh Castle to the Queen’s residence in Scotland, Holyrood House, many times during my four-night stay.

The architecture itself is enough eye candy to keep you occupied.

Writers’ Museum

To read about the lives and works of three of Scotland’s most celebrated wordsmiths – Robert Burns, Sir Walter Scott and Robert Louis Stevenson –  go down Lady Stairs Close off the Royal Mile and visit the charming Writers’ Museum.

As well as including interesting facts and anecdotes about the authors, there are also portraits and photographs.

The museum can be found in a 17th century merchant’s house and is brimming with character and quirky decor.

Arthur’s Seat

If you are looking to experience the outdoors and are not put off by a wee bit of wind, then there is the option of hiking up Edinburgh’s highest hill, Arthur’s Seat.

This peak is located within the beautiful Holyrood Park and is a relatively easy climb of around 45 minutes at a steady pace.

Stunning views will await you at the top.

Tartan Weaving Mill

A free insight into the inner workings of a tartan weaving mill can be had by visiting the Tartan Weaving Mill and Exhibition, located next to Edinburgh Castle.

You can see the machines hard at work, weaving the next batch of tartan to produce the traditional Scottish kilt. You can wander around the shop floor and browse the different tartan patterns to see which ones are associated with certain Scottish family names.