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The Out About Scotland Guide to the best FREE things to do in Scotland
If you want to go straight to the list of the best free attractions in Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Glasgow and the Highlands scroll down to the bottom of this page and click the links for pages 2 to 5.
I don’t know about you, but when I’ve got a day off work I just love getting outside and exploring Scotland, especially if it’s a sunny day and there’s a visitor attraction I’ve been itching to check out for a while.
It doesn’t matter where it is, just as long as I get to go outside and actually do something, after all, who wants to be stuck indoors when the sun’s shining and there’s barely a cloud in the sky?
But what really winds me up is getting to said attraction and finding out a family ticket is going to cost the best part of fifty quid, and that’s before you’ve added on transport costs and the obligatory food and drinks.
I don’t know what it is about British tourist attractions but far too many of them seem to think it’s acceptable to charge an arm and a leg for what’s basically no more than a couple of hours of entertainment, and a lot of them aren’t even worth the money.
You can call me tight if you like (which is fine – my other half does!), but I’d much rather spend my time enjoying Scotland at an attraction that offers value for money and has an entrance fee that doesn’t make my wallet cry.
But even better than cheap attractions are free ones, and what’s great about Scotland is there are loads of free attractions to be found throughout the country. In fact, I’d say the majority of the best Scottish attractions cost absolutely nothing to visit. Nada, zilch, zip, nowt – now those are the words I want to hear when I’m on a family day out.
Take Edinburgh and Glasgow for example. These two cities have some of the best tourist attractions in the country and yet the majority of them don’t cost anything to enter.
In Edinburgh you can hike up an extinct volcano in Holyrood Park (in how many other cities can you do that?), wander around one of the oldest Botanic Gardens in Britain, see the best artworks in the National Gallery, marvel at the huge number of exhibits in the National Museum and be awe-struck by the architecture of St. Giles Cathedral, all for the price of, um, exactly nothing.
Glasgow fares just as well on the free-attractions front (and some might say even better), with the beautiful Glasgow Cathedral, the fascinating Riverside Museum of Transport, the amazing Tall Ship on the River Clyde, the fantastic Kelvingrove Art Gallery and Museum, the wonderful Glasgow Gallery of Modern Art……and too many others to mention in this article.
Suffice to say, if you visit either of these two cities it’s possible to have a really good time without spending a single penny.
‘But what about free attractions in the countryside?’ I hear you ask (…or is that just the voices in my head again?), well fret not because there are just as many free things to do outside of Scotland’s cities than there are inside our urban areas.
How about going up Ben Nevis – the highest mountain in the United Kingdom, or exploring Scotland’s most beautiful (in my humble opinion) landscape at Glen Coe?
If you fancy getting amongst some of the country’s most picturesque loch and woodland areas you can head to Loch Lomond National Nature Reserve and Lochaber Geopark, or explore the gorgeous Loch Ness near Inverness (but don’t forget your camera for impromptu monster sightings).
And I haven’t even started on all the walks you can do in Scotland that are guaranteed to bring a smile to your face, with routes like The Southern Upland Way, The West Highland Way, and The John Muir Way taking hikers across some of the best parts of the country with trails that really showcase our majestic landscapes (apologies for the number of superlatives but Scotland’s outdoor attractions kind of demand it).
So with all these thoughts in mind I think it’s about time I show you my personal recommendations for the best free things to do in Scotland that are guaranteed to offer you a brilliant fun-filled experience.
I’ve broken them down into the country’s main tourist areas so hopefully you’ll find something that’ll interest you no matter where you end up going.
Now fill your flask with tea, pack your picnic bag, get your shoes on and enjoy these awesome Scottish tourist attractions that are totally, completely, and utterly free!
A map of the free tourist attractions listed in this article
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Planning a trip to Scotland?
- Find hotels in Scotland and book your rental car.
- Explore the country with Rabbies small group coach tours and get cheap advance tickets for attractions.
- Learn about Scotland with a range of Amazon books and prepare for hikes with
Ordnance Survey maps.
- Before you explore the great outdoors get your rain gear in place and don’t forget to buy Smidge anti-midge repellent!