Sunday 17 August 2014 by

I recently visited Edinburgh for the first time and had a few days to myself to fill. It’s not often I have the freedom to do what I like without having to worry about entertaining the kids or how far they can walk in a day etc. etc., so I really wanted to make the most of it.

The only downside was that I also needed to do it on a budget – something which turned out not to be much of an issue – I probably spent more on food than anything else and that could have been fixed by a bit of organisation and packed lunches.

Edinburgh, Edinburgh castle

A quick mooch on the internet on my phone turned up a multitude of places to visit for free – so I looked at Google maps to make sure I was walking in the right direction and headed into town.

The first place I visited was probably my favourite – The National Museum of Scotland. This was free to enter although there was an exhibition you had to pay for inside which was on loan from another collection.

Inside the museum there is a bit of everything for everyone – from Natural History, Space, the Egyptians, Science and Technology, Music, Costume – more than I can remember!

It is all presented well with interesting, clear information about the displays and lots of interactive boards and activities throughout to help you really engage with what you are looking at. These buttons and boards are not just for the kids, I was not the only grown up playing with them and they really added another dimension to the whole experience.

Edinburgh, Scotland, National Museum, Dinosaurs, Typewriters, Plane, Egypt

After this it was just a short walk (or run in my case as it was pouring down!) to the National Library of Scotland which had two free exhibitions to explore, a lovely café, a gift shop and, of course, a myriad of books. I’m a bit of a book nerd so I happily whiled away the time in there just revelling in the smell and sight of so many books all in one place.

The statue commemorating Greyfriars Bobby wasn’t too far to walk to either and I went over to say hello once the rain had stopped as his story was one of my all time childhood favourites. I also wandered up to have a look at the castle although I didn’t pay to go in and look around on this occasion.

Ediburgh, Scotland, Greyfriars Bobby, Statue, Edinburgh castle, Dog

The next day I paid a visit to the National Gallery of Scotland, again completely free, to try and be a bit cultured. I will confess to mostly not being impressed but that is purely because I am not an art sort of person, it’s all a bit lost on me. There were many other people in there who looked utterly awed so it is worth the visit if art is your thing. They had a second gallery open with a paid exhibition in too, though as that was ‘The Art of Golf’ I chose to give it a miss. I appreciate golf about as much as I appreciate art – I fear it would not have been my place.

I had planned to spend the afternoon visiting two more free-to-enter museums – The Museum of Childhood and The Writers’ Museum but the sunshine came out and it was such a stunning day I spent the afternoon relaxing and reading on the grass in Princes Street Gardens instead. A beautiful park and gardens (free and open to the public) set at the foot of the Castle it was the perfect escape from the bustle of the streets.

On my last day I went to Edinburgh Zoo because it has been on my list of places to visit since forever and as I hadn’t paid for anything else I had done over the last few days, the £15 entrance fee was more than reasonable.

The zoo is massive and there is a huge variety of animals there including, of course, the only Giant Pandas and Koalas in a UK zoo. The Pandas were hiding inside whenever I went to look at them, though I did get a glimpse of sleepy bear tummy by sitting on the floor and peering into their sleeping quarters!

Edinburgh, Scotland, Edinburgh zoo, Leopard, Animals, Dogs, Birds

They had some fascinating talks on and the Penguin Parade was adorable. The play areas were brilliant too – I was a little sad that I didn’t have the kids with me as an excuse to go play for a change! I spent the whole day there and could easily have stayed a little longer as there was so much to do – I will definitely be back (probably with the Smalls).

I really enjoyed my trip to Edinburgh and I look forward to visiting again – it is a fantastic place with lots to do, even if you are pushed for cash. Next time I visit though, I am definitely going shopping as one of my things to do!

You can follow Carole on Twitter: @caroleheidi

1 Comment

  1. I’m off for a kid-free Edinburgh break tomorrow so this post was much appreciated x

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