Life in Edinburgh

Free Things to Do in Edinburgh

Since I haven’t been working, I’ve decided to explore all the FREE things Edinburgh has to offer. Not only is Edinburgh a beautiful, friendly city, but it’s very cultural as well. Nearly all the local museums are free and based off donations only. I’m going to be honest. I’m not typically a museum person. I like to see what they have to offer, but I’m typically in and out in about 30 minutes. Despite that, some of the museums here really surprised me. Here are my findings…

National Museum of Scotland

This was one of the coolest museums I’ve ever been to! It has everything from life size replicas of animals to full size small airplanes! The whole museum is very interactive and fun for both kids and adults! The only downside is how crowded it is. I was there on a Tuesday in April, and it felt like full on tourist season. The museum is definitely still worth a visit, but it’s good to know it will be crowded no matter when you go.

National Gallery

This museum is full of historical paintings and portrait art, which isn’t really my thing. I did find one picture portraying Edinburgh in the 1800s, and that was super fun to imagine. Next to the the National Gallery is the Royal Scottish Academy. Though there is a fee for these exhibits, it is much more up my alley. It contains more contemporary art and some truly neat pieces.

Museum of Childhood

I, personally, did not like this museum. It was neat to see old toys that were played with in the 1800s,, but there wasn’t much substance beyond that. I will say it is a fun museum for a kid. There are toys throughout the exhibits, which make for a much better family experience.

Museum of Edinburgh

Though it is smaller than I would’ve liked, I really enjoyed this museum. As with much of Europe, Edinburgh does a great job of preserving its history. Many of the things I was reading about in the museum are things I see on a daily basis, so it was neat to know the story behind them. I only wish it had more! It was really interesting, and I suppose to the visitor it would’ve been enough info, but I wanted to know more as a resident.

Museum on the Mound

This museum was definitely my least favorite. If you’re really into money production and banking, you may find it interesting, but I am not. The building was the first bank in Edinburgh, and the museum has a million pounds in it, but that was the extent of the coolness in my opinion.

Calton Hill

At the end of Prince’s Street is Calton Hill. Just a short walk provides some of the best panoramic views of the city. As far as I know, it’s always open, so if you are jetlagged, this could be a good place to start.


Edinburgh is such a beautiful city, you can spend the whole day aimlessly wandering the streets and still feel like it was a day well spent. Even just walking up to the castle, without going in, offers spectacular views. Each section of town has its own architecture and beauty, from Dean Village to the tenements of Bruntsfield to High Street of Stockbridge to the Watersedge in Leith. Sometimes, it’s fun just getting lost. You never know what you will find!

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