Top 9 Entry-Free Museums In Edinburgh, Scotland

free museums in edinburgh
Shifa
Shifa 
Published

Edinburgh is situated in the northern part of the United Kingdom. It is also the capital of Scotland. This bustling and vibrant city is home to two UNESCO heritage sites, the medieval Old Town and Georgian-period New Town. Steeped in rich history and culture, Edinburgh is also no stranger to museums. Peppered around this gorgeous city are museums that pay homage to the great literary giants or your childhood. Exploring Edinburgh will surprise you in every hook and cranny. Sip on a whiskey, admire Scotland’s crown jewels or even attend one of Edinburgh’s world-famous festivals on your next visit. Above all else, don’t miss out on spending a few hours at these top entry-free museums in Edinburgh, the UK.

1. The Writers’ Museum

Scottish Writers' Museum
Source: Photo by user Stefan Schäfer, Lich used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Located just off Lawnmarket at the top of Edinburgh’s historic Royal Mile lies The Writer’s Museum. This museum pays homage to Scotland’s great literary giants: Robert Burns, Sir Walter Scott, and Robert Louis Stevenson. Delve deep into these writers’ works and learn about them through their artefacts housed inside The Writers’ Museum. From a rich collection of manuscripts and first editions of their books, you’ll be stepping into a world where words came to life and where adventures began. There’s certainly something for everyone at The Writers’ Museum.

The Writer’s Museum

Address: Lawnmarket, Lady Stair’s Cl, Edinburgh EH1 2PA, United Kingdom

Website: The Writer’s Museum

Opening hours: 10am - 5pm (daily)

Price: Free entry, donations are welcome

2. Museum of Childhood


This whimsical Museum of Childhood is the world’s first museum dedicated to the history of childhood. Since 1955, this shrine to the wonders of childhood and the in-betweens features a stellar selection of toys and games that remain close to our hearts. Relive your childhood days with retro favourites like the Buzz Lightyear action figure from 2000 or the 1979 Fisher-Price Chatter Telephone. Educate your children on the types of games you grew up with and join them in having a go at these games you once loved! From construction kits to elaborate train sets, a trip to Museum of Childhood will be such a thrill for both adults and children.

Museum of Childhood

Address: 42 High St, Edinburgh EH1 1TG, United Kingdom

Website: Museum of Childhood

Opening hours: 10am - 5pm (daily)

Price: Free entry, donations are welcome

3. National Museum of Scotland

Museum of Scotland
Source: Photo by user Maccoinnich~commo... used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Discover Scotland’s rich and turbulent history with six levels dedicated to the different periods of the country’s history. The museum houses over 20,000 artefacts that will take you on a fascinating journey through time. Learn how Scotland became the country it is today by delving into the kingdom it used to be, its journey with industrialisation, and the modern period today — all under one roof.

National Museum of Scotland

Address: Chambers Street, Edinburgh, EH1 1JF

Website: National Museum of Scotland

Opening hours: 10am - 5pm (daily)

Price: Free entry, donations are welcome

4. Museum of Edinburgh

Museum of Edinburgh
Source: Photo by user Stefan Schäfer, Lich used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Discover the history of Scotland’s capital with a trip to Museum of Edinburgh. Housed in a majestic 16th-century mansion called Huntly House, Museum of Edinburgh is a treasure trove of historic rooms filled with pieces of history unique to Edinburgh alone, such as a miniature of Old Town from the time of Mary, Queen of Scots. The Museum of Edinburgh also pays homage to a dog who was renowned for watching over his owner’s grave for 14 years, Greyfriars Bobby.

Museum of Edinburgh

Address: 142-146 Canongate, Edinburgh EH8 8DD, United Kingdom

Website: Museum of Edinburgh

Opening hours: 10am - 5pm (daily)

Price: Free entry, donations are welcome

5. Museum on the Mound


Housed in the historic Bank of Scotland Head Office, Museum on the Mound is all about money. Money bleeds through the walls of this building that used to be a fully functioning bank and continues to be the headquarters for the Lloyds Banking Group. This magnificent building is akin to Edinburgh Castle with its classical architecture that never ceases to take your breath away. Learn the functions of money and its role in Scotland’s economy. Have a try at safe-cracking when you’re there. It’s not every day you get to feast your eyes on one million pounds in cash and the first Scottish banknote from 1716. Leave your wallets at home and head over to Museum on the Mound today!

Museum on the Mound

Address: The Mound, Edinburgh EH1 1YZ, United Kingdom

Website: Museum on the Mound

Opening hours: Tue - Fri: 10am - 5pm; Sat - Sun, holiday Mondays: 1pm - 5pm (closed on normal Mondays)

Price: Free entry

6. The People’s Story Museum


The People’s Story Museum, as its name suggests, features the everyday lives of Edinburgh’s citizens — from their jobs to what they do for leisure. Opened in 1989, the museum is housed in a former prison that was operational since 1591. The museum sheds light on how the people of Edinburgh are governed and how they navigate through the inevitable changes that life brings them. It’s no secret that The People’s Story Museum is the most visually attractive museums in Edinburgh.

The People’s Story Museum

Address: The Royal Mile, 163 Canongate, Edinburgh EH8 8BN, United Kingdom

Website: The People’s Story Museum

Opening hours: 10am - 5pm (daily)

Price: Free entry

7. Scottish National Gallery

Wfm national gallery scotland
Source: Photo by user Finlay McWalter used under CC BY-SA 3.0

All visitors in Edinburgh should visit Scottish National Gallery. Housed in a neo-classical building designed by William Henry Playfair, this centrally located museum should be a pitstop on your list of attractions to visit in Edinburgh. The museum showcases works of art from Europe’s most famous artists such as Monet and Van Gogh. Be mesmerised by Scotland’s best-known painting — “The Skating Minister” by Henry Raeburn — when you get the chance.

Scottish National Gallery

Address: The Mound, Edinburgh EH2 2EL, United Kingdom

Website: Scottish National Gallery

Opening hours: 10am - 5pm (daily)

Price: Free entry. Additional charges for some exhibitions.

8. Scottish National Portrait Gallery


Scottish National Portrait Gallery hosts an impressive art collection that is worth a visit. This is a museum that reflects Scotland’s history through various portraits of famous Scottish people. Every aspect of the Scots is represented in Scottish National Portrait Gallery — from the royal family to actors and poets.

Scottish National Portrait Gallery

Address: 1 Queen St, Edinburgh EH2 1JD, United Kingdom

Website: Scottish National Portrait Gallery

Opening hours: 10am - 5pm (daily)

Price: Free entry. Additional charge for some exhibitions.

9. Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art

free museums in edinburgh | scottish national gallery of modern art

Another sought-after museum in Edinburgh is Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art. This magnificent and expansive museum consists of two buildings: Modern One and Modern Two. Surrounded by lush green gardens, Modern One and Modern Two are beautiful sights to behold. Modern One houses special exhibitions and paintings by world-renowned painters such as Matisse, Picasso and Andy Warhol. Modern Two, on the other hand, features works by Miro and Dali. Be sure to pay Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art a visit on your next trip to Edinburgh.

Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art

Address: 75 Belford Rd, Edinburgh EH4 3DR, United Kingdom

Website: Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art

Opening hours: 10am - 5pm (daily)

Price: Free entry. Additional charges for some exhibitions.

Appreciate art while in Edinburgh

Ballantyne display in Writers Museum in Edinburgh 002
Source: Photo by user Sgerbic used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Edinburgh, UK, is the capital of Scotland and the second most visited city in the country after London. This historically and culturally rich city is filled with entry-free museums that are worth the visit. As you plan your next trip to Edinburgh, be sure to keep this list of top entry-free museums in mind.

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

Get Trip101 in your inbox

Unsubscribe in one click. See our privacy policy for more information on how we use your data

Shifa is a writer and avid traveller based in Singapore. She has a knack for getting herself into trouble during her travels but never fails to have an adventure regardless of the destination. Her...Read more

 Want to contribute as a Local Expert?
Explore Edinburgh
Good things are meant to be shared!