21 Free Things to Do in Edinburgh

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Last Updated: by Craig Neil.

There’s something magical about Edinburgh. From the dark, brooding alleys that spur off The Royal Mile to the glittering lights of Princes Street, this is a city that rightly deserves its reputation as one of the world’s top tourist destinations.

To the north, you’ll find the New Town – a masterpiece of Georgian planning that’s home to many of the city’s top restaurants, pubs, and bars. To the south lies the Old Town – a wonderfully atmospheric district that’s chock-a-block full of Gothic churches and historic buildings.

In the heat of summer, the city buzzes with events like the Fringe Festival and the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo, while the chill of winter brings with it the wonderful Edinburgh’s Christmas and Hogmanay celebrations. However, the downside of being such a tourist hotspot is that many of these attractions and events come with eye-watering prices, and it’s quite easy for cash-strapped families to find themselves handing over upwards of £100 for a day out.

With that in mind, in this article you’ll discover the top free things to do in Edinburgh, ranging from public parks to national museums and galleries, each of which is guaranteed to keep all ages entertained for hours on end.

Calton Hill

Calton Hill
Address:Calton Hill,
Edinburgh,
EH1 3BJ
Opening Hours:24/7
Admission Price:Free to visit Calton Hill. Nelson Monument has paid entry.
Parking:No on-site car park. Paid car parks across Edinburgh.
Contact:N/A
Facilities:Restaurant, toilets, snack kiosk, luggage store, disabled access
Photos:Virtual Tour
YouTube Video

Out About Scotland Guide: Calton Hill

Calton Hill is located on the northern end of Princes Street just a short walk from the Balmoral Hotel where it offers breathtaking views of Edinburgh. Once at the top, visitors can see the entire city as well as the Pentland Hills and the Firth of Forth in the distance.

The hill is home to several monuments including the National Monument, the City Observatory, the Nelson Monument, and the Dugald Stewart Monument. The Nelson Monument has a museum dedicated to Admiral Nelson and a staircase to a higher viewpoint, but it’s not free.

The City Observatory is free and has an art gallery and an exhibition about the site. The restaurant behind the observatory, meanwhile, has panoramic windows and is a great spot to enjoy the scenery, especially at sunset. However, it’s a wee bit pricey so is perhaps best left for special occasions.


Dean Village

dean village
Address:Dean Path,
Edinburgh,
EH4 3AY
Opening Hours:Dean Village is accessible 24/7, 365 days a year.
Admission Price:There is no fee to visit Dean Village.
Parking:There is no parking available within Dean Village except for residents. Roadside parking in the surrounding area is predominantly for permit holders only.
Contact:NA
Facilities:There are no facilities within Dean Village. There are a multitude of visitor facilities including toilets, shops, and restaurants heading towards Princes Street from Lynedoch Place.
Photos:Virtual Tour
YouTube Video

Out About Scotland Guide: Dean Village

Dean Village is a historic area west of Edinburgh city centre that’s known for its charming red stone buildings which were originally built to house workers for the city’s long-since abandoned mills. It underwent a regeneration in the 2000s and is now a popular tourist destination that’s known for its beauty and peaceful atmosphere.

Visitors can walk around the exteriors of the historic buildings (which are now private homes) and explore the picturesque Water of Leith footpath which leads to the National Gallery of Modern Art.

Dean Village also features the 400-foot-wide Dean Bridge, and Dean Cemetery which has a collection of historic gravestones.

Holyrood Park

Holyrood Park
Address:Queen's Drive,
Edinburgh,
EH8 8HG
Opening Hours:Holyrood Park is accessible on foot 24/7, 365 days a year.
The park is closed to cars at the weekend.
Admission Price:There is no fee to visit Holyrood Park.
Parking:Parking is available at Broad Pavement, St Margaret's Loch, and Duddingston Loch car parks.
Broad Pavement parking is paid (approx £1 per hour) except for Historic Environment Scotland members. The other car parks are free.
Contact:NA
Facilities:There are no facilities within Holyrood Park. There are a multitude of visitor facilities available on the Royal Mile including shops and restaurants.
Toilets are available at the Holyrood Park education centre (1 Queen's Drive, Edinburgh, EH8 8HG).
Photos:Virtual Tour
YouTube Video

Out About Scotland Guide: Holyrood Park

Located just one mile from Edinburgh Castle, Holyrood Park is a 650-acre natural oasis within the heart of the city. Although it’s located just a 5-minute walk from the Royal Mile, Holyrood Palace, and the Scottish Parliament Building, Holyrood Park is a peaceful place thanks to its wild meadows, tranquil lochs, and soaring peaks.

Climb the 800-foot Arthur’s Seat for stunning views of the city or discover landmarks like St. Anthony’s Chapel, the park’s three lochs, and the famous rockface that geologist James Hutton studied in the 1700s. Visitors can explore the park on foot and car parking is possible mid-week, but not at the weekend as the roads are closed to traffic (you can walk them, though).

St. Giles Cathedral

St Giles Cathedral
Address:High Street,
Edinburgh,
EH1 1RE
Opening Hours:Monday – Friday 10:00am – 6:00pm
Saturday 9:00am- 5:00pm
Sunday 1:00pm-5.00pm
Admission Price:Free
Parking:None
Contact:0131 226 0677
Facilities:Shop, guided tours, audio tour
Photos:Virtual Tour
YouTube Video

Out About Scotland Guide: St. Giles Cathedral

St. Giles Cathedral, located on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh, has been a place of worship for over 900 years and boasts some of the city’s most intricate carvings and stonework. Tourists are welcome to explore the 14th-century building during the week, but bear in mind it’s an active place of worship and is the primary religious site of the Church of Scotland.

Inside, visitors will find a range of statues, memorials, tapestries, and a grand church organ, as well as the cathedral’s famous vaulted ceilings. The central chamber is especially striking, with sunlight filtering through stained-glass windows to create a colourful display.

Photography is allowed inside St. Giles with the exception of certain areas that restrict flash photography to protect the centuries-old furnishings, such as in the Thistle Chapel.

The Forth Road Bridge

Forth Bridge
Address:42 Inchcolm Terrace,
South Queensferry,
EH30 9NA
Opening Hours:The Forth Road Bridge is accessible on foot 24/7, 365 days a year (weather permitting).
The bridge is closed to cars.
Admission Price:There is no fee to visit the Forth Road Bridge.
Parking:Parking is available at the Forth Bridge Visitor Centre (42 Inchcolm Terrace, South Queensferry, EH30 9NA).
Alternatively, park in South Queensferry and walk to the bridge.
Contact:Email: enquiries@bearscotland.co.uk
Phone: 01738 448 600
Facilities:There are no facilities on the Forth Road Bridge.
Shops, toilets and restaurants are available in South Queensferry.

Out About Scotland Guide: The Forth Road Bridge

The Forth Road Bridge is a suspension bridge that spans 1.5 miles across the Firth of Forth, connecting North and South Queensferry. It was inaugurated by Queen Elizabeth II in 1964 and was the longest bridge in Europe and the fourth-longest in the world at the time.

Standing 46 meters above the river, the bridge offers breathtaking views of the Edinburgh and Fife coastlines.

In addition to the Forth Road Bridge, the Forth Rail Bridge and the Queensferry Crossing Bridge also cross the Forth. Visitors can walk along the pedestrianized section of the Forth Road Bridge to take in the views and appreciate the Forth Rail Bridge close-up.

The South Queensferry side of the bridge has a visitor station with information about its construction and history as well as a viewing platform and a public car park.

Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh

Edinburgh Royal Botanic Gardens
Address:20a Inverleith Row,
Edinburgh,
EH3 5LR
Opening Hours:The Garden is open daily except for 25 December and 1 January

March to September: 10 am - 6 pm (last entry 5.15 pm)

October and February: 10 am - 5 pm (last entry 4.15 pm)

November to January: 10 am - 4 pm (last entry 3.15 pm)
Admission Price:Free
Parking:On-site car park
Contact:0131 2482909
Facilities:Cafe, coffee bar, gift shop, toilets, wheelchair/pushchair access, guided tours

Out About Scotland visitor guide: The Edinburgh Royal Botanic Gardens

The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh (RBGE) is a stunning botanic garden founded in 1670 that features 70 acres of diverse plant life from around the world, from Peruvian mountain mosses to Brazilian jungle flowers. The main entrance is located on Arboretum Place two miles from the centre of Princes Street, where limited parking is available.

Although the gardens are free to enter there’s a fee to access the glasshouses which contain some of the oldest and largest plants in the collection as well as the remains of fossilized prehistoric trees. Other attractions at the RBGE include a woodland garden, arboretum, rhododendron collection, alpine houses, and a botanic cottage.

The visitor centre features exhibitions about plant life as well as a café, restaurant, gift shop, and an information centre.

The Scottish National Gallery

Scottish National Gallery
Address:The Mound,
Edinburgh,
EH2 2EL
Opening Hours:Open daily, 10am-5pm
Admission Price:Free
Parking:None on-site. Parking is available in Edinburgh
Contact:enquiries@nationalgalleries.org
Facilities:Wifi, wheelchair access, wheelchairs available, lockers (£1/£2), seating throughout, bike rack, accessible toilets for gallery visitors, baby change for gallery visitors, toilets for gallery visitors.

Out About Scotland Guide: The Scottish National Gallery

The Scottish National Gallery is a must-see destination for art lovers as it contains a world-class collection of paintings by artists such as Rembrandt, Vermeer, Constable, Turner, Monet, and Van Gogh, as well as a range of Scottish masterpieces by artists such as Ramsay, Raeburn, Wilkie, and McTaggart.

Entry is free to the main public galleries but there are occasional exhibitions that are paid entry only.

The underground area of the National Gallery is home to a restaurant, café, and gift shop, and both the restaurant and café have lovely terraced views of Princes Street Gardens which makes them ideal places to stop for a meal or a coffee after seeing the artworks.

Visitors can also explore the Royal Scottish Academy and the National Portrait Gallery which are within a ten-minute walk of each other, and there’s a free transport service to take visitors to the National Modern Art Gallery on Belford Road.

The Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art

National Gallery Modern Art
Address:75 Belford Road,
Edinburgh,
EH4 3DR
Opening Hours:Open daily, 10am-5pm
Admission Price:Admission free. Charges for some exhibitions.
Parking:Parking for visitors is available at both Modern One and Modern Two. A donation is requested of £3 for up to 4 hours and £6 for 4-8 hours.
Contact:enquiries@nationalgalleries.org
Facilities:Wheelchair access, baby changing, disabled parking, lockers, bike rack, toilets, shop, restaurant
Photos:Virtual Tour
YouTube Video

Out About Scotland Guide: The Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art

The National Galleries of Scotland oversees three galleries that feature Scottish art, all of which are located in Edinburgh. The Scottish National Gallery and the Scottish National Portrait Gallery are easily accessible from the city centre, while the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art is located a bit further west of Dean Village, making it slightly harder to find.

However, the journey to the gallery is worth it as it’s housed in two beautiful 19th-century buildings that have outdoor landscaped grounds filled with sculptures in addition to indoor collections of paintings.

The gallery’s primary focus is on showcasing Scotland’s national collection of contemporary art from the early 20th century to the present day, comprising a diverse array of media including sound and video, paintings, and sculptures. Note that some of the artworks in the National Moden Art Gallery have an adult theme and may therefore be unsuitable for children.

Facilities include a dedicated bus service to the city centre as well as cafés, souvenir shops, an art library, and a book archive.

Scottish National Portrait Gallery

National Portrait Gallery
Address:1 Queen Street, Edinburgh, EH2 1JD
Opening Hours:Gallery: Open daily 10am-5pm.
Café Portrait: Open daily 10am-5pm (last orders 4.30pm).
Admission Price:NA
Parking:No on-site car park. Nearest car park is located at St. James Quarter shopping centre (postcode EH1 3BP).
Contact:email: enquiries@nationalgalleries.org
Tel: +44 (0)131 624 6200
Facilities:Information desk, Wi-Fi, wheelchair access, accessible toilets, wheelchairs available, public toilets, lockers, baby changing facilities, buggy park, seating throughout, bike rack, café.
Photos:YouTube Video

Out About Scotland guide: Scottish National Portrait Gallery

The Scottish National Portrait Gallery is home to a stunning array of art, with over 3,000 paintings and sculptures, 25,000 prints and drawings, and a staggering 38,000 photographs. From renowned figures like Mary Queen of Scots and Bonnie Prince Charlie to lesser-known but equally significant individuals like Flora MacDonald and Charles Rennie Mackintosh, the collection offers a fascinating look at the history of Scotland’s people.

Set within a beautifully decorated building from the 1800s, the gallery spans three floors and showcases 850 works at any given time. In addition to the art, visitors can also take advantage of the education centre, shop, and café, while those with impaired mobility will be able to enjoy the artworks thanks to extensive disabled access.

Whether you’re a seasoned art enthusiast or simply looking to learn more about Scotland’s past, the Scottish National Portrait Gallery is a must-see attraction.

The Scottish Parliament Visitor Centre

Scottish Parliament Building
Address:The Scottish Parliament
Edinburgh
EH99 1SP
Opening Hours:Monday and Friday and public holidays (including Spring bank holiday) –10am to 5pm (last entry 4.30pm).
Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday – 9am to 6.30pm (last entry 6pm).
Closed on weekends.
Admission Price:Free
Parking:None on-site. Parking is available in Edinburgh.
Contact:0131 348 5000
info@parliament.scot
Facilities:Shop, exhibition, cafe, creche, guided tours.

Out About Scotland Guide: The Scottish Parliament Visitor Centre

The Scottish Parliament Building in Edinburgh, home to the Scottish government, is a stunning example of modern architecture. Located at the base of The Royal Mile and spanning 4 acres, the building is surrounded by iconic landmarks such as Holyrood Palace and Holyrood Park, which both inspired its controversial design.

Its unique story began in 1997 when a public referendum approved the reinstatement of the Scottish Parliament leading to the eventual creation of the building we see today.

Visitors can join free guided tours to learn about the building’s architecture, art, and history, including the impressive main debating chamber which spans 100 feet without a single supporting column. On non-sitting days, visitors can view the main hall, public galleries, and main committee rooms by themselves, or take guided tours of the floor of the main hall, the garden lobby, and the committee rooms.

The Water of Leith

Address:24 Lanark Road,
Edinburgh,
EH14 1TQ
Opening Hours:Visitor Centre and Cafe open every day 10.00 am – 4.00 pm
Admission Price:Free
Parking:None
Contact:0131 455 7367
admin@waterofleith.org.uk
Facilities:Toilets, disabled/pushchair access, cafe, gift shop, education centre

Out About Scotland Guide: The Water of Leith

The Water of Leith is a natural waterway that starts at the Colzium Spring in the Pentland Hills and finishes at Leith on the eastern edge of Edinburgh.

There are a multitude of routes to enjoy along the river but one of the most popular is the scenic walk from the visitor centre on Lanark Road to the disused Colinton train station. Along the way, you’ll see historic landmarks such as Hailes Halt railway station and Colinton parish church, as well as abundant wildlife including bats, foxes, and deer.

The river is best known for its birdlife though, with bird species ranging from kingfishers and woodpeckers to dippers and wagtails. If you’re lucky, you might even spot a heron standing perfectly still at the water’s edge on the hunt for minnow and stickleback.

Alternative starting points at Dean Village and Bonnington offer glimpses into Edinburgh’s industrial past, but if you’re not sure of the best route to take, I recommend picking up a route map from any of the visitor information centres in Edinburgh.

The National Museum of Scotland

National Museum Scotland

Website: The National Museum of Scotland

The National Museum of Scotland, situated on Chambers Street in the Old Town, is Scotland’s foremost exhibition space for antiquities collected from across the globe.

The museum has undergone several renovations and expansions over the years, including a complete restoration of the beautiful Victorian iron and glass central hall that is as impressive today as it was when it first opened in 1866.

During a visit, you’ll discover fascinating objects that will help you to have a deeper understanding of the topics of natural history, world cultures, science, technology, design, art and fashion, archaeology and Scottish history, all of which are presented across 6 themed floors.

Entry to the National Museum of Scotland is completely free and the collection is large enough that visitors can spend most of the day inside.

The People’s Story Museum

Peoples Story Museum, free things to do in Edinburgh

Website: The Peoples Story Museum

This museum is unique in Edinburgh as it’s dedicated to the history of the people who lived in Scotland’s capital city. You’ll find it on the Royal Mile in the Canongate Tolbooth which is a historic former government building built in 1591 that at one time served as a tax office and a prison.

Inside, a range of exhibits tells the stories of the men and women from Edinburgh’s past between the 18th and 20th centuries, with recreations of a wartime kitchen, a bookbinder’s workshop, a tea room and even a jail cell. Unlike many museums in the city, this one doesn’t feature objects from the higher classes of society and is, instead, solely concerned with working-class people, from their religious beliefs to their cultures and political opinions.

The People’s Story Museum is known for its interactive exhibits and hands-on activities that allow visitors to learn about the history of Edinburgh in a fun and engaging way. The museum is open to the public every day except for some bank holidays.

Leith

Leith in Edinburgh
Address:Shore,
Leith,
Edinburgh
EH6 6QN
Opening Hours:Leith is accessible 24/7, 365 days a year.
Admission Price:There is no fee to visit Leith.
Parking:Roadside parking is possible in some backstreets (note: permit parking is in effect on some streets).
There is a large free multi-storey car park at Ocean Terminal (address: 74 Ocean Drive, Leith, Edinburgh EH6 6JJ).
Contact:NA
Facilities:Leith and Ocean Terminal have bus and tram stops, car parking, toilets, restaurants, bars and pubs, cafes, and shops.
Photos:YouTube Video

Out About Scotland Guide: Leith

Edinburgh’s location near the North Sea and the bustling port of Leith helped establish the city as an industrial powerhouse and important trading partner with Europe.

After years of deprivation, Leith has now transitioned into an iconic area of Edinburgh that’s known for its attractive Victorian tenements and 18th-century warehouses, as well as popular attractions like the Ocean Terminal shopping centre and the Royal Yacht Britannia.

The Water of Leith, which runs through the district from the Pentland Hills to Leith Harbour, offers visitors picturesque riverside walks, while the Shore’s kerbside cafes are a great place to sit back and enjoy the relaxed atmosphere. Leith also hosts events such as the Leith Farmers Market, the annual Leith Late Multi-arts Festival, and the Edinburgh Blues and Jazz Festival.

Dining options include Michelin-starred restaurants like The Kitchin and Wishart, and the Scotch Malt Whisky Society’s main venue, The Vaults.

The Writers Museum

The Writers Museum

Website: The Writers Museum

Dive into the world of three iconic Scottish writers at the Writers’ Museum in Edinburgh. Located in the historic Lady Stair’s House in the heart of the Old Town, this museum showcases the lives and works of Robert Louis Stevenson, Sir Walter Scott, and Robert Burns through a series of exhibits featuring original manuscripts, letters, and personal items.

Inside, visitors will find portraits and rare works from the three literary giants including the printing press on which Scott’s Waverley Novels were first produced, Robert Burns’ writing desk, and clothes worn by Stevenson that were made by the infamous Deacon Brodie. In addition to these exhibits, the museum also boasts a research library filled with books and documents related to the writers as well as a gift shop for visitors to purchase souvenirs and other literary treasures.

The Royal Mile

Edinburgh Royal Mile
Address:The Royal Mile,
Edinburgh,
EH1 1SG
Opening Hours:The Royal Mile is accessible 24/7, 365 days a year.
Admission Price:There is no fee to visit The Royal Mile.
Parking:Roadside parking is possible in some backstreets (note: permit parking is in effect on some streets).
Paid parking spaces are located at Calton Road, Nicolson Square, Edinburgh Waverley Station, Quartermile, and Holyrood Road. There is a large multi-storey car park in the St James Quarter shopping centre (postcode EH1 3AD).
Contact:NA
Facilities:The Royal Mile has bus stops, an information centre, restaurants, bars and pubs, cafes, and shops.

Out About Scotland Guide: The Royal Mile

The Royal Mile in Edinburgh is a medieval street that attracts tourists from around the world. Stretching from Edinburgh Castle to Holyrood Palace, the Royal Mile’s cobbled and paved road allows tourists to soak up the atmosphere of the Old Town through a mix of historic architecture and attractions on a one-mile walk.

Along the street, you’ll find St. Giles Cathedral, Mary King’s Close, Gladstones Land, and John Knox House, as well as hidden alleys and wynds that offer a glimpse into Edinburgh’s past. The Royal Mile is also home to a variety of shops, pubs, and restaurants that sell authentic Scottish merchandise and food.

If you’re interested in learning more about the history of the Old Town I recommend signing up for a tour with one of the guides usually found next to the Mercat Cross behind St. Giles Cathedral.

Greyfriars Kirk

Greyfriars Kirk
Address:1 Greyfriars,
Edinburgh,
EH1 2QQ
Opening Hours:Opening hours of the kirk vary throughout the year. Visit https://greyfriarskirk.com/ for details.

The kirkyard is open 24 hours.
Admission Price:Free entry
Parking:No on-site parking. Paid car parking spaces in Chambers Street.
Contact:0131 2251900
contact@greyfriarskirk.com
Facilities:Disabled access and toilets, shop, museum, guided tours
Photos:Virtual Tour
YouTube Video

Out About Scotland Guide: Greyfriars Kirk

Greyfriars is a historic site in Edinburgh that features hundreds of gravestones and a traditional, ochre-coloured kirk.

The interior of the kirk, which dates back to the 1600s, has original decor and a small museum that explains the history of Greyfriars from Franciscan times to the present day. Highlights include one of only a handful of original copies of the National Covenant (signed in the Kirk in 1638) and an oil painting of Greyfriars Bobby by John MacLeod.

In addition to the kirk, Greyfriars is famous for its graveyard which is haunted by the ghost of Sir George Mackenzie, and it’s the location of one of the few remaining sections of the Flodden Wall. Guided tours are available most days to provide more information on the history of the kirk as well as the site’s association with Harry Potter and the faithful Scots terrier, Bobby.

Museum on the Mound

Museum on the Mound
Address:The Mound,
Edinburgh,
EH1 1YZ
Opening Hours:Saturday 1–5 pm
Sunday Closed
Monday Closed
Tuesday 10 am–5 pm
Wednesday 10 am–5 pm
Thursday 10 am–5 pm
Friday 10 am–5 pm
Admission Price:Free
Parking:None
Contact:0131 243 5464
Facilities:Shop, toilets
Photos:YouTube Video

Out About Scotland Guide: Museum on the Mound

Visit the Museum on the Mound in Edinburgh to learn about money in all its forms, from the latest bank cards to the earliest minted coins. Located at the Bank of Scotland building between The Royal Mile and Waverley train station, the Museum on the Mound sits on an artificial hill made from earth collected during the construction of the New Town in the late 1700s.

The museum, which is free to visit, offers interesting displays for both children and adults alike. These displays explain the history of money and its impact on Scotland and how banking helped to transform Edinburgh from the dilapidated ‘Auld Reekie’ into the modern city it is today.

Children can participate in interactive afternoon sessions where they can strike their own coins while learning about the history of money, and the museum also features hands-on activities like cracking open a safe and a Lego-style model of the building.

Princes Street Gardens

Princes Street Gardens
Address:Princes Street,
Edinburgh,
EH2 2HG
Opening Hours:Mon to Sun - 7am - 9.35pm
Admission Price:Free
Parking:None
Contact:0131 529 7921
Facilities:Toilets, cafes
Photos:Virtual Tour
YouTube Video

Out About Scotland Guide: Princes Street Gardens

Located in the centre of Edinburgh, Princes Street Gardens is a popular public park known for its attractive location and notable attractions that include the Scott Monument and the Scottish National Gallery.

The origins of the park began in the 1820s when Edinburgh embarked on a mission to transform itself from a city of polluted slums into a thriving metropolis. Part of this effort involved draining the Nor Loch, a body of water below Edinburgh Castle, and the newly created land was turned into the current garden park.

The park is divided into two sections on either side of the Scottish National Gallery, with the western side being roughly twice the size of the eastern side. The east garden is home to Edinburgh’s Christmas festival in winter, while the west garden features a number of monuments including the Ross Fountain, the Ross Bandstand and a war memorial, as well as the historic Parish Church of St. Cuthbert.

Here’s a tip for you – one often-missed part of Princes Street Gardens is located across the bridge behind the Ross Band Stand. This area is much quieter than the rest of the gardens and is perfect for taking a break from the hubbub of the city centre.

The Union Canal

Union Canal Edinburgh

Out About Scotland Guide: The Union Canal

The Union Canal, a 31-mile waterway that stretches from the Falkirk Wheel to Lochrin Basin in Edinburgh, offers a scenic and easily accessible walking and cycling path through the heart of the city. The 4.5-mile section in Edinburgh boasts wide, tarmacked footpaths that are suitable for wheelchairs and strollers which makes it a great alternative to the rougher, muddy paths of the Water of Leith.

Originally built in 1822 as a transport link for minerals between Falkirk and Edinburgh, the canal was renovated in the early 2000s as part of the £78m Millennium Link project, and it’s now a popular destination for tourists and locals.

Start your journey along the Union Canal walkway at Lochrin Basin in Fountainbridge for the best experience. This location serves as the current endpoint of the canal but there are many other entry points such as Hermiston the western outskirts of Edinburgh.

Cramond Island

Cramond Island
Address:Cramond,
Edinburgh,
EH4 6HY
Opening Hours:Open 24/7
Access depends on tide times
Admission Price:Free
Parking:Free parking is available at Cramond car park (postcode EH4 6NU)
Contact:N/A
Facilities:No facilities on Cramond Island
Toilets and cafe in Cramond village

Out About Scotland Guide: Cramond Island

Cramond Island is situated five miles northwest of Edinburgh city centre and is accessible via the 41 bus from George Street or Queensferry Road. The island, which is only a third of a mile across, is a popular destination for families seeking a quick escape from the city.

Once on the island, you can explore shingle beaches, rock pools, and a WWII lookout post, all of which offer stunning views of the Firth of Forth. Children will enjoy searching for crabs and small fish in the rock pools left behind by the departing tide and there’s a large sand beach – Silverknowes Beach – within a 5-minute walk.

Cramond Island is easily accessible via a causeway, but when visiting make sure you check the tide times as the causeway becomes completely submerged when the tide returns. There are no facilities on Cramond Island but the village has a café, pub, public toilets, and a car park. There are also many walks leading out of Cramond along the River Almond.

Essential Edinburgh Information
The Best Places to Visit in Edinburgh
Tips & Advice For Visiting Edinburgh
The Best Things to do in Edinburgh on a Rainy Day
Interesting Facts About Edinburgh
360° Virtual Tours of Attractions in Edinburgh
Outlander Filming Locations in Edinburgh
The History of Tourist Attractions in Edinburgh
The History of Edinburgh. A Thousand-Year Story

Frequently Asked Questions

What is there to do in Edinburgh with no money?

Discover Edinburgh for free with these ideas:

1: Stroll through the city’s parks and gardens, including The Meadows, Princes Street Gardens, and the Royal Botanic Garden.
2: Visit free museums and galleries like the National Museum of Scotland and the Scottish National Gallery.
3: Go on a self-guided walking tour of the city’s landmarks and neighbourhoods such as Princes Street, the Royal Mile, and the Old and New Towns.
4: Enjoy the city’s street performers and buskers, or join a free tour to learn more about the city’s history and culture.
5: Attend free events and festivals like the Edinburgh Festival Fringe which is the largest arts festival in the world.

Can you walk around Edinburgh Castle for free?

Edinburgh Castle is not free. It is a very popular tourist attraction and there is a fee for admission, but you can save money on your visit with these tips:

1: Buy tickets online in advance to save up to 10%.
2: Look for discounts such as on the City Sightseeing bus ticket.
3: Visit during the off-season (Nov-Mar) and take advantage of free days for Edinburgh residents.

Are museums in Edinburgh free?

Edinburgh has many free museums to visit including the National Museum of Scotland, The People’s Story, The Museum of Childhood, The Royal Observatory Visitor Centre, and the Scottish National Gallery.

Some may have additional fees for special exhibitions or events. These museums cover a range of subjects including Scottish history, everyday life in Edinburgh, childhood, astronomy, and Scottish art.

What to do when you’re bored in Edinburgh?

There are plenty of exciting things to do in Edinburgh when you’re feeling bored!

Some options include visiting Edinburgh Castle, exploring the Old Town, visiting the Royal Botanic Garden, going on a ghost tour, shopping, checking out the Scottish National Gallery, attending the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, or going for a hike in the nearby Pentland Hills.

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Craig Neil

Craig Neil is the author, photographer, admin, and pretty much everything else behind Out About Scotland. He lives near Edinburgh and spends his free time exploring Scotland and writing about his experiences. Follow him on Pinterest, Facebook, and YouTube.