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Five Free Things to do in Edinburgh!

There is always something fun to do in Edinburgh, but if your budget is holding you back the options seem to shrink rapidly. Here are some ways to make the most of this wonderful city without spending a penny.

  1. Pack a Picnic and Head Outside

When the library starts to feel suffocating, Edinburgh’s natural landscape provides the perfect escape. Few cities sit on an extinct volcano and Edinburgh’s towering, breath-taking backdrop is worth exploring. Everyone knows about Arthur’s Seat, but have you thought about taking some tinned cocktails and a packet of crisps at sunset for your budget rooftop bar experience? Or, if you’re not feeling quite so athletic, try Calton Hill – equally awe-inspiring city views, but slightly easier on the legs.

2. Old Town Tourism

If you’re tired of being a student, try being a tourist. Rushing between lectures and tutorials and weekly shops, you might feel the Old Town is best left to the visitors. The tightly packed buildings, the Castle in the midst, the sound of bagpipes in the breeze… few cities boast the charm and character of Edinburgh’s Old Town, but it’s easily dismissed as a tourist spot. Take a walk up the Royal Mile, meander down Victoria Street or explore Grassmarket, and soak in the mystical beauty of the city that inspired Harry Potter.

3. A Day at the Beach

We could all do with a beach holiday by October, but if the student budget won’t stretch to the Costa del Sol, give Portobello a try.  Admittedly, the thought of coastal wind and crashing waves isn’t the most appealing when it’s drizzling outside, but the beach shouldn’t be reserved for summer. Hop on the bus (free for students with a Young Scot card) and pop out to the shore for a picturesque walk on a cold, crisp day. Or, if you’re really brave, try a bracing dip in the ocean.

4. (Window) Shopping Spree

There’s nothing like a shopping spree to lift your spirits, but who can afford that on a student budget? Luckily, you can have (almost) as much fun window shopping. Check out the Clerk Street charity shop scene, organise your own bookshop-browsing crawl, or amble between the city’s record stores for some listening recommendations.

5. Find Your New Favourite Spot

You’ll never see everything Edinburgh has to offer. So, go and explore! Grab a friend or pop in your earphones, and walk or take the bus to somewhere new. Stroll to the post-card picturesqueness of Dean Village, where the rushing stream and turreted buildings make for a lovely afternoon’s wandering (and great Instagram story!). Head on out to Leith, under an hour’s trek from campus. Walk along the canal and check out the boats at the harbour; they also have a great food market if you feel like grabbing a bite. Maybe even take a book and bask in the beautiful Botanic Gardens with their lush lawns and leafy walks. With a city as large, varied and beautiful as Edinburgh, you’ll never run out of places to explore and things to do – even on a budget. Edinburgh truly is a city you can never get bored of.

Edinburgh – Grassmarket & the castle” by M McBey is licensed under CC BY 2.0.