11 of the best cheap things to do in Edinburgh

You don't have to spend a fortune to see some of the best parts of Scotland's capital city.

Wednesday, 31st January 2018, 2:00 pm
Updated Wednesday, 31st January 2018, 2:06 pm

If you’re looking for something to do in Edinburgh on a budget, there are plenty of free or affordable activities to keep you entertained, writes Gillian McDonald.

Street food at Stockbridge Market

Head to the weekly Stockbridge Market (held on Saunders Street every Sunday) to enjoy a bargain lunch of tasty street food.

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Edinburgh's Botanic Gardens are completely free to visit, but you can pay to gain entry to their glasshouse exhibitions

You’ll find everything from paella to Japanese dumplings served here, with most meals costing £5 or less.

Plus, there are lots of craft and fresh produce stalls to browse.

Visit: 1 Saunders Street, EH3 6TQ - stockbridgemarket.com

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The top 5 things to do in Edinburgh
Edinburgh's Botanic Gardens are completely free to visit, but you can pay to gain entry to their glasshouse exhibitions

Tour the Scottish Parliament

Get an insight into the world of Scottish politics with a guided tour around the Scottish Parliament building at Holyrood.

The tours are free, although they must be booked in advanced, and are themed around topics such as architecture, literature and political history.

Visit: Canongate, EH99 1SP - parliament.scot

Play golf on the Bruntsfield Links

The course on Bruntsfield Links is the oldest short hole golf course in the world, and you can play there for free if you bring your own golf clubs.

Alternatively, clubs and golf balls can be hired from the nearby Golf Tavern for less than £4, and you can take advantage of the pub's Pitch and a Pint offer for refreshments afterwards.

Visit: Bruntsfield Links, EH10 4HR - golftavern.co.uk

Visit the glasshouses at the Royal Botanic Garden

Entry to Edinburgh’s Royal Botanic Garden is free, and visitors are welcome to explore over 70 acres of beautifully landscaped grounds.

The glasshouses (which include the beautiful Tropical Palm House dating back to 1834) have an entry fee of £6.50, and are full of impressive and unusual tropical plants.

Visit: Arboretum Place, EH3 5NZ - rbge.org.uk

Enjoy fish and chips at Portobello Beach

A trip to the seaside is always a great idea for a cheap day out, especially when the sun is shining.

After a stroll along the sand at Portobello (or a dip in the sea if you’re feeling brave), head to St Andrews Takeaway for some traditional fish and chips, best enjoyed al fresco on the beach.

Visit: 280-284 Portobello High Street, EH15 2AT - standrewstakeaway.co.uk

See a matinee movie at the Filmhouse

Going to the cinema can be pricey, but the Filmhouse have a budget option on weekday afternoons.

Matinee shows (Monday to Thursday) cost £8, and the Friday show is even cheaper at £6 for a full price ticket.

Members can also get a special discount on shows, and the Filmhouse offers two-for-one tickets on Tuesday and Wednesday evenings as part of the Meerkat Movies scheme.

Visit: 88 Lothian Road, EH3 9BZ - filmhousecinema.com

Climb Calton Hill

Make the most of Edinburgh’s great outdoors and climb to the top of Calton Hill for a stunning panoramic view of the city.

It’s completely free to explore the area, although some of the monuments do charge a small entry fee.

Visit the Nelson Monument, which houses a free museum, and pay £5 to climb the tower there.

Visit: Calton Hill, EH7 5AA - edinburghmuseums.org.uk

Discover Dr Neil’s secret garden

Head to a secluded spot on the edge of Duddingston Loch and you’ll find Dr Neil’s Garden, a secret outdoor space full of picturesque corners and unusual plants.

Entry is free (though donations are welcome) and the garden is open every day from 10am until dusk.

Don't forget to check out the Physic Garden, which highlights the medicinal use of plants.

Visit: Old Church Lane, Duddingston, EH15 3PX - drneilsgarden.co.uk

Have tea and cake at Lovecrumbs

For an enjoyable afternoon out that won’t cost the earth, head to Lovecrumbs for tea and cake.

Their signature cakes - which come in a range of ever-changing flavours - are around £3.50 per slice, and you can add in a flask of tea, cup of coffee or mug of hot chocolate for an extra couple of pounds.

Visit: 155 West Port, EH3 9DP - lovecrumbs.co.uk

Visit the museums and galleries of Edinburgh

Edinburgh Council run a varied collection of 13 different museums across the city, most of which are free to enter.

Find out about the city’s history at the Museum of Edinburgh, discover contemporary art at the City Art Centre, learn about famous literary figures at the Writers’ Museum, or go back in time at Lauriston Castle.

Visit: various venues - edinburghmuseums.org.uk

Explore Greyfriars Kirkyard

Greyfriars Kirkyard is probably the most famous cemetery in Edinburgh, largely thanks to the tale of dog Greyfriars Bobby, who is commemorated with a statue just outside the entrance.

As well as being a great place for a stroll, the graveyard supposedly provided the inspiration for several Harry Potter characters, so it’s a must-visit for fans looking to catch a glimpse of the real Voldemort’s grave.

Free to explore, Greyfriars Kirkyard has also been named one of the most haunted graveyards in the world thanks to the legend of the MacKenzie Poltergiest.

Visit: Candlemaker Row, EH1 2QQ