Hotel Indigo Edinburgh, 51 - 59 York Place, EH1 3JD

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10 Best Free Things To Do In Edinburgh

Edinburgh is a city that’s jam-packed with things to do. With so much to see, the costs of filling up your city break can stack up but don’t worry! There’s still plenty to see and do in Edinburgh if you’re trying to save a few pennies. Whether you’re here to explore the city or want to visit some top attractions, you don’t have to spend a lot to have a fantastic city break experience!

Take a look at our top ten recommendations for free things to do in Edinburgh.

Walk up Calton Hill

Calton Hill provides some spectacular views of the Edinburgh skyline, as well as being home to some historic monuments like the National Monument and the Nelson Monument. It’s a great place for you to unwind and escape the hustle and bustle of the city, while still staying central and enjoying the beauty of Edinburgh.

image showing view from calton hill

Visit the Royal Botanical Garden

Soak up some floral beauty in the Edinburgh Royal Botanical Garden. Explore the wide range of plants from all across the world, with their collection that dates back over 350 years! 

There’s plenty to explore in the gardens, like the Alpine Houses, Scottish Native Plants Collection, the Woodland Garden and more. It’s a full day of laid-back fun that is sure to be a highlight of your trip.

Plan your visit here: 

Explore Princes Street Gardens

Just off the busy shopping street of Princes Street lies a tranquil garden that you can enjoy a relaxing wander through. 

The garden separates the Old Town and the New Town and is said to be one of the most important urban parks around. Its picturesque surroundings make it the perfect location for an afternoon walk!

View of St Princes Gardens

Soak Up Culture at the Scottish National Gallery

Art lovers will feel right at home in Edinburgh, with many galleries housing some great pieces to explore. 

The Scottish National Gallery displays some of the greatest art in the world, as well as covering the history of Scottish painting, all with free gallery entry!

Plan your trip here: 

Admire St Giles Cathedral 

If you enjoy stunning architecture and buildings rich in history, you can’t miss a visit to St Giles Cathedral.

Discover secrets and stories about the cathedral as you venture inside, you can even download an audio tour for an extra cost, however taking in the beauty of the cathedral surroundings will leave you in awe as it is!

Discover more about the cathedral here: 

St Giles Cathedral - colourful flags and stained glass window with light coming through

Wander down the Royal Mile

You can’t visit Edinburgh without taking a walk down the Royal Mile. As one of the most iconic places to see in Edinburgh, the street is full of history and stories to discover.

You can find many shops and restaurants along the street as well, if you fancy having a browse or a bite to eat.

Explore the outside of Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle is a must for anybody visiting Edinburgh. While we do recommend purchasing a ticket to enter Edinburgh Castle and explore the history in all its glory, you can walk up to the gates and take in the fantastic exterior views for free!

It’s the perfect opportunity for some great pictures outside the castle, as well as looking over Edinburgh from the top of the hill.

Find out more about the castle here: 

Edinburgh Castle - large building resembling a castle with turrets and towers

Hike up Arthur’s Seat

For a different kind of day out in Edinburgh, take a hike up Arthur’s Seat. Arthur’s Seat can be seen from Calton Hill and is a great trip for walking enthusiasts out there. 

The hill is actually an extinct volcano, and ‘Arthur’s Seat’ is its highest point of it. It’s a hike that is suitable for all, with different routes you can take depending on your hiking ability. 

Learn more about the different routes to Arthur’s Seat here: 

Explore the Harry Potter Spots in Edinburgh

Did you know that Edinburgh is the birthplace of Harry Potter? Edinburgh is the place where J K Rowling wrote the books and also found inspiration for characters and the story itself. 

Therefore there arere plenty of places to explore for Potterheads out there! Visit the Elephant Cafe where J K Rowling spent most of her time writing, or pick up some Harry Potter merch from various specialist shops in the city.

Discover more Harry Potter spots to visit here: 

Walk down Victoria Street

The colourful buildings of Victoria Street are sure to brighten anyone's trip. This iconic street in Edinburgh is filled with quirky shops, and delicious restaurants, and also makes a great location for those all-important Instagram pictures!

It’s a beautiful street to walk down during the day or night, so make sure you visit during your stay.


Quaint street showing colourful houses and a cobbled road


We hope this blog helps you add some more free activities to your Edinburgh staycation list! Looking for more attractions to visit while you’re here?

Take a look at our 25 Edinburgh Attractions You Need To Visit.

Book your next Edinburgh city break with us here.




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We loved our stay. The hotel staff was great, very helpful with directions and suggestions. The location was an easy walk to the train station and everything we wanted to see in Edinburgh.

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Hotel Indigo Edinburgh Reviews



This hotel is such a great find. Its location cannot be beat and the rooms are incredibly nice. Great amenities (including complimentary mini bar) and great service. Would definitely stay here again!


Newcastle upon Tyne

I stayed here overnight to see Justin Timberlake on his Man of The Woods Tour. We were greeted with the warmest welcome by the receptionist...genuinely helpful and friendly. We stayed in the Suite, which has everything I could possibly need. A FREE (well stocked) mini bar! Robes, Aveda toiletries, slippers, free calls, a very appreciated cafetiere with ground coffee and a lovely selection of teas. 30mins in and a welcome plate arrived with 5 good size desserts...gorgeous.

Room service was excellent and the breakfast was utterly delicious and brought to the room at no extra charge. The room was very large and spacious with a huge double bed, blissfully comfortable. When needed in the evening the staff pressed a button at reception and a taxi arrived within 2 minutes...Outstanding service!

I had such a fantastic stay here that I shall return in November and I'll be re-booking this Suite.


Kingston upon Hull

Less than 10 mins walk from Waverley. Staff were very polite, helpful and friendly throughout our stay. Room was a good size with a great bathroom. Large shower, robes and Aveda products included. Fridge with free cold drinks. Good breakfast with plenty of choice. Both couples enjoyed and would stay again.



Really nice friendly boutique hotel. We didn't arrive until late but the hotel was more than happy to let us check in late. After checking in we also asked for some area recommendations, which again the staff were more than happy to give us. Our room was really nice and very clean, bed was comfortable and gave us a good night sleep. We stayed for two night and did not hear any noise from the hotel or any of the other guest. In a good location with only a short walk to the shops and restaurant/cinema ! If staying on Edinburgh I would highly recommend this hotel!



Stayed for one night, but very impressed. Receptionist was fantastic, very professional, helpful, good looking and immaculately presented. The room was excellent, very clean, bed comfortable and the shower was fantastic, hot and powerful.

Breakfast well worth the money, with attention to detail and served hot. The location is excellent with just a 10 minutes walk from the station and to Princess Street. I will definitely stay here again.

Great boutique hotel and great value for money. Wish I was staying for longer.



Had a one night stay here. The location is great, right beside a Tram Stop, 2 minute walk to St Andrews Square bus station, 15 min from Waverley Train station and short walk to main shopping and restaurants. Hotel was very clean & comfortable. Good Breakfast. Very friendly staff.



Really nice hotel in a fantastic location for train station, shopping and nightlife. Lovely rooms, with complimentary snacks and lovely Aveda toiletries in the room. Bed was really comfortable, breakfast was also excellent and the staff very friendly. Would definitely recommend this hotel to family and friends visiting Edinburgh.



Visited the hotel and stayed 2 nights having stayed at the Indigo in London. We thoroughly enjoyed our stay. Lovely rooms, great service, very good location opposite the tram stop and bus routes.
Lovely bar and restaurant is on site if you prefer to stay close for dinner!



I stayed at Hotel Indigo for first time last week, the service from the reception, bar and restaurant staff was faultless. The room was very comfortable and the bed was the comfiest i have ever slept in. The Hotel is situated close to the Playhouse and only 5 minute walk from waverley station, there are several good bars and restaurants in the vicinity. A great Hotel in a good area.

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