14 Absolutely free to do things in Edinburgh, Scotland!

When in Edinburgh, there're a dozen attractions you can spend your money on, but there're equal number of free to visit attractions that typical tourism sites don't promote much- mainly because they can't make money out of it. If you're visiting on budget or have limited time and wish to explore only free to visit attractions of Scottish capital, this is the perfect post for you.
If you have strong legs, you can walk all day long and explore these places for absolutely free. It will be about 10 miles or 16 kms from city centre to visit all of them in right sequence. Alternatively you can buy a day pass for about 4.5 GBP that gives you unlimited ride in city bus all day and reach these destinations quicker.

1. Arthur's Seat Hill Summit- Open all day
You can begin your day from here, if you're an early starter. Because Arthur's seat is open all day while most museums and other attractions open only by 10 AM. Assuming you start your day at around 8 AM, hike to top of Arthur's seat for an amazing view of Belfast city. Arthur's seat summit is about 2 miles from city centre so is easily walkable. Hike needs some effort, but reasonably well maintained trail is available, even senior people can climb with some time and effort. Depending on how you plan to reach there, how good you're in hiking and how much time you may wish to spend on top, factor 2-3 hours for Arthur's seat. There're multiple walking trails to walk around or come down.

2. Scottish National Parliament
Scottish National Parliament is open to public for free and opens at 10 AM- perfect timing as you can plan to get down from Albert Hill summit by this time. Crowd will be less early hours so you can get some good view of the chamber. Restrooms are available

Opposite to Parliament is queen's official residence- Palace of Hollyroodhouse. Entry is ticketed but if you're not keen to go inside, you can get a glimpse of the magnificent building from outside.

3. Calton Hill
Another mile from Parliament building is Calton Hill. Free to visit, except for a watch tower which is ticketed at GBP 6. Enjoy more scenic views of the Edinburgh city, get some pictures of the photogenic monuments on top. Calton Hill is much easier to climb than Arthur's seat- so if you're not fit for the longer hike, you can visit Calton hill instead and enjoy similar views. Rest rooms here are accessible only if you buy ticket for the tower. I am told there's another free to use restroom behind a tiny joint that sells crisps and baked stuff.

5. Scottish National Gallery
This one in city centre has 7-8 rooms with lots of paintings and art work. Depending on how deeply you're interested in exhibitions, you can plan 30-60 minutes for the national gallery. You will be required to remove your bags and carry it in hand (not put it on your back or shoulder- strange but seems this rule is as a mark of respect.

6. Museum of the Mound
Learn about history of UK's banking system, currency notes etc. See about two million pounds in cash, free entry, approx 30-45 mins if explored in leisure, 15-20 mins if you are quick. Lots of instruments related to minting money, plates and other historic information is exhibited. Free to enter, open till 5 PM, closed on Mondays.

7. Dean Village
Dean Village is a quiet neighborhood with a small river passing through it. There is a nice walking trail along the river-Water of Leith walk. Very scenic. You can walk along the river to Botanical Gardens.

8. Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art
Lots of art works on display. Free to enter. There're two campuses, 1 and 2. Some exhibitions may be ticketed. Worth a visit only if you're interested in art.

9. Royal Botanical Gardens
Spacious garden with hundreds of variety of flowers. Garden entry is free. A glass house is ticketed (7 GBP)- Opens at 10 AM and closes by about 5 PM, good for a nice walk and some photography before calling it a day.

10. Royal Mile
Royal Mile is kind of a high street in Edinburgh. Most of the prominent shops and attractions are around this. Do walk down the road on your way back to hotel/hostel, grab some food, stop at churches and other attractions to admire.

More free things to do in Edinburgh
11. Free walking tours: There're several free walking tours in Edinburgh conducted each day- each of them last for about 1.5-2 hours and start at pre-defined time and location. Your hostel/hotel will have leaflets detailing your options. Usually a tip is expected at the end of the tour.

12. Edinburgh Castle outside view: While entering the castle needs a 19 GBP ticket, you can walk till the entrance and get good photo of the majestic Edinburgh castle. Castle is also viewable from various points across the city as it is on a hill.

13. Parks and monuments: Dozens of parks and monuments across the city offer a good photo opportunity or a place to rest for a while. Just keep your eyes open or refer maps.

The one near Waverley bridge across Princess street has a flower clock (which wasn't working) and other attractions.

14. Free to enter live music restaurants: Many restaurants advertise free entry to their live music events. I haven't gone inside but you can decide if you'd like to try. I guess they will make it up with slightly expensive drinks

If you're an early starter and quick to walk (or use transport), all 14 of above can be visited in a day. If you prefer not to rush, you can split across two days. Map below [link]
Happy touring. Coming soon- similar guide for Belfast, London and Dublin.

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