edinburgh local guide
Europe,  scotland

A local’s list of things to do in Edinburgh

Edinburgh is the ULTIMATE tourist spot! There’s so much to do that I pulled together a list of 100 free things to do in Edinburgh! Living in the capital city, I often have friends come through and stay a few days. I let them go do the usual Edinburgh attractions by themselves; Edinburgh Castle, Arthur’s Seat, Whiskey Experience, etc. Everyone’s heard of them and they’re easy to find alone. Once that’s all out of the way, I always enjoy taking them to the places that most don’t know about. The places that don’t fall into the ‘Edinburgh top 10 sights’ list. I don’t ever get bored of these little gems, and they’d have most likely have been missed otherwise. Here’s a list of my favourite things to do in Edinburgh …

The Secret Herb Garden Edinburgh

About 20 minutes from the city centre, 7.5 acres of luscious green herb gardens to explore and relax in. Take some time out to nosy around their large conservatory. It’s the perfect place to chill out and enjoy some of their vegan cake and a fresh herbal tea, whilst watching little old ladies paint their favourite spots on large canvases.

The Secret Herb Garden runs ‘Fairy hunts’ for kids, and has lots of little tucked away spots for you to cosy up in whilst making your way around. One of my favourite parts is the mint garden. Did you know you can buy mint that tastes like mint choc chip!? Perfect for Mojitos!

secret herb garden

choc mint

Rosslyn Castle

Whilst you’re out at the Secret herb garden, take yourself a mile or so down the road to the Castle. Right next to the famous Rosslyn Chapel, I always feel that the castle is overlooked in favour of the more visited Edinburgh tourist spot. I’m a little cheeky and never pay to go into the Chapel, choosing instead to walk around it’s outside (to get a good glimpse of the outstanding views featured in ‘The DaVinci Code’ movie), before moving down past the grave yards to the castle. Get exploring, follow the little trodden down paths for loads of little hideaways around the grounds. My favourite is the huge old tree at the back with its little, nature made, courtyard.

rosslyn tree


Wild West Village in Edinburgh!

The Wild West village is  quick little quirky place that even most of the city folk couldn’t point you in the direction of. If you’re in the Morningside area, duck behind the library to find this worn down little street, set up to look just like the backdrop for a Wild West movie. Now, mostly abandoned worn down, it was originally built as part of the ambience of the sales area for a furniture business. It’s one of the best secret sights that even a lot of the Edinburgh tour guides couldn’t show you to. Grab your boot-cut jeans and swing on down for premium Insta shots.

wild west

Edinburgh Botanic gardens

I’m ashamed to admit that I didn’t visit the Edinburgh Botanic Gardens until after 7 years of living in this city. An easy walk from the city centre, they’re best visited on a sunny day. Free entry, panoramic views of the city, and free daily walking tours from April – October, means that you can easily flutter away a day here. Try not to miss the blue poppy garden. They are utterly beautiful and it’s one of the most tranquil places in Edinburgh city centre.

edinburgh botanics

Hendersons Edinburgh

No city stop is complete without good grub. Hendersons (smack bang in the middle of the new town) has an upstairs bistro or a downstairs restaurant. Choose the bistro; it’s full vegan menu will delight even the fussiest of meat eaters and the atmosphere is generally a little warmer than its downstairs counterpart. A lot more relaxed and casual than some of the main Edinburgh vegan/vegetarian spots; all of the tofu dishes are unreal! Feeling hungry in Edinburgh?Try most post for vegan and vegetarian food in Edinburgh.

The Innocent Railway Tunnel of Edinburgh

Another one so tucked away, that most of the locals don’t even know about it. Good for a little walk (and a bit of history), this tunnel starts in a housing estate hidden away right next to Arthur’s seat and heads up to Brunstane in the east of the city. The tunnel gets it’s name due to it’s safety record: it carried 300 to 400 thousand passengers a year without fatalities (a mean feat for the 1800’s, where steam engines had a reputation for being dangerous). If you’re looking for things to do in Edinbrugh outdoors, but also looking to get some shelter from Scotland’s unpredictable weather, this is a top pick!

secret railway

Are you travelling elsewhere in Scotland? Check out my post – Travel photos to give you Scotland wanderlust.

Travel writer, marketing adviser and blogger based in Edinburgh, with a focus on budget and vegan travel. 39 countries to date, with extensive knowledge of travel within Asia, particularly within Thailand.


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