National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh

5 things to do on an afternoon in Edinburgh

Have an afternoon off and not sure what to do? Here are a few places to visit in Edinburgh for free!

1. National Portrait Gallery

First up, the National Portrait Gallery along Princes Street where you can see some phenomenal and emotive artwork.

portrait gallery, Edinburgh

2. New College, University of Edinburgh

If you like taking photos, then pop in to New College on the Mound to enjoy some spectacular shots of the University’s beautiful buildings.


3. Harry Potter Tour

For any Harry Potter fans, I recommend a free guided walking tour that starts at 3pm at Greyfriars Bobby.  When I did the tour, our guide was in character with a cape and his enthusiasm was contagious!Harry Potter Tour, Edinburgh

We were each given a wand of a house colour and when he asked questions, we could answer to win points for our houses. It was delightfully interactive and so informative! We stopped in Greyfriars Graveyard to see the grave of Lord Voldemort (Tom Riddel actually existed!) and some other notable Harry Potter names like McGonagall! We also got to see the school that inspired Hogwarts – George Herriot School.

From there we stopped to look at the Black Medicine Coffee Shop where JK Rowling wrote parts of Harry Potter, and is owned by her brother-in-law. We also walked to see the Balmoral Hotel where she finished the series and the room was renamed the JK Rowling Suite! We finished the tour on Victoria Street where you can pop into the Harry Potter store and buy anything from a wand to a cape or a crystal ball.

P.S Ravenclaw won!

4. Playfair Library

An absolute must is to visit the University’s Playfair Library in the Old College Quadrangle. The interior is stunning. Along the passages there are photos of famous sportspeople, politicians and humanitarians who have graduated from the University or who have received honorary doctorates.

Playfair library, University of Edinburgh


5. National Museum of Scotland

Another option is to visit the National Museum of Scotland which is massive and full of interesting and interactive exhibits. It is worth going up to the 7th floor and onto the rooftop for a wonderful view of the castle and the city at night.

National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh

Dolly the Sheep is located in the science section, along with some fun and interactive games, including a reaction time game that is rather addictive!

dolly the Sheep, National Museums of Scotlan
Dolly the Sheep, National Museum of Scotland




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Natasha Ashley

Natasha Lynne Ashley

Natasha is South African and a recipient of the prestigious Skye Scholarship. She is a current MSc International Business and Emerging Markets student at UEBS and a member of the University of Edinburgh Hare and Hounds Running Club. She loves exercise, food and travelling.