Edinburgh for Free

Written by  Kat Mackintosh

Edinburgh looks sedate and scenic in the light of day – beautiful, historic grey stone buildings amongst green hills, but by festival or Hogmanay night coloured lights and explosive flashes illuminate the castle and the Royal Mile and as Scottish poet Hugh MacDiarmid says it becomes 'a mad god's dream'. Make more of that dream by taking advantage of the bits of Edinburgh that are offered for free.

If you've come to Edinburgh for its history begin with a stroll up the Royal Mile, beginning at the very new Scottish Parliament building, which you're welcome to poke your nose around for free - if you're really interested you can even join the public gallery. Next stop, St. Giles Cathedral, the High Kirk - there's been a church on the spot for about 900 years - then keep walking towards the castle turning left before you get to it to and ducking down towards haunted and historicGreyfriars Cemetery, via The Writers' Museum. This museum celebrates Scottish wordsmiths Robbie Burns, Walter Scott and Robert Louis Stevenson and is in one of the oldest houses in the Old Town - and there's no admission charge.

Alternatively dip your toe into the length and breadth of Scottish history with a visit to the National Museum of Scotland for artefacts as varied as ancient Gaelic silver work to the stuffed remains of Dolly the cloned sheep – and see it all for free.

Edinburgh is pretty generous as far as its art goes, allowing people in to see the National Gallery of Scotland's famous Titans, Monets and Rembrants and Gauguin's much loved Jacob Wrestling with the Angel for nothing. If you know what you like when it comes to art and it's work by Picasso, Dali, Warhol, Hirst or Emin, then the equally free Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art will be more your scene.

If the green hills are a calling, going a-ramblin' is always free and Edinburgh has some classic walks – from grassy strolls or craggy scrambles up to Arthur's Seat for a comprehensive view of the city, to a wander along the Water of Leith Walkway. If you like nature but aren't so keen on the walking part the Royal Botanic Gardens has an impressive collection plants, they claim a seventh of the world's varieties, and they're all free.

A short way out of Edinburgh is Rosslyn Chapel, loved now by fans of the Da Vinci Code as well as people who appreciate beautifully carved stone work and ancient churches.

Alternatively plan your visit round St. Andrew's day and you'll get free access to over 60 of the city's top attractions or come during the Edinburgh Festival – you'll pay premiums for your accommodation but you'll be entertained for free.

With all the Scottish pounds you just saved you'll be able to feast on some serious haggis... Don't worry, they do it vegetarian for the visitors…

The Best of Edinburgh

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