Last updated on April 19, 2023 by Wandering our World
Edmonton is the lively and scenic capital of the Alberta province in Canada. Given that it’s full of architectural masterpieces; surrounded by natural formations; steeped in history and featuring the majestic and sparkling North Saskatchewan River – there is no reason not to visit Alberta’s cultural hub!
While big cities are often associated with steep prices and costly days out, there are plenty of free and cheap things to do in Edmonton.
If you’re looking for a budget day out for the family or a cheap travel itinerary, Edmonton has lots of affordable activities and facilities to offer.
To help you out, below we have a bunch of fantastic cheap and free things to do in Edmonton, along with tips for travel and useful budget hacks for the city. Enjoy!
- Travel Tips
- Cheap Things To Do In Edmonton
- Free Things To Do In Edmonton
- Budget Tips
Cheap & Free Things to Do in Edmonton: Travel Tips
1. Bike Rentals
Travelling alone or as a small group? Arguably the best way to get around Edmonton is by bike, and they can be hired for as little as $25 a day.
It is the most flexible and unrestricted form of travel, as Edmonton has bicycle paths all over the city. It also allows you to sightsee Edmonton’s metropolitan architecture and beautiful parks in the fresh air.
Be sure to check out all the independent bike rental shops scattered all over the city.
2. E-Bike and E-Scooter Rentals
Edmonton council offers e-bikes and e-scooters to rent throughout the city, which are easier to ride and perfect for longer days out. To find them, download the vendors’ apps, which include Bird Canada and Lime. Details can be found here.
Just make sure to stick to the designated paths around the city, because riding on pedestrian sidewalks is not permitted. And when riding any bike or scooter, don’t forget a helmet!
3. Bus and Train
Catch any bus or train in Edmonton with a day pass for $10.25 if you’re a family, or get a one-way ticket on board for $3.50 if you are a youth or an adult.
There are also options for seniors on a low income. Ensure that you pay in cash if you’re paying on board, and any day passes can be bought here.
Cheap Things to Do in Edmonton: Places to Visit
Now it’s time to take your bike, scooter or transit pass and explore all the cheap and budget-friendly things to do in Edmonton.
1. See Plants From Around The World At Muttart Conservatory
Visiting the iconic botanical pyramids of Edmonton is a must when passing through the city.
It’s hard to believe this modern nature paradise is located so close to downtown and the North Saskatchewan River. With biomes of plants from Asia to Australia, Muttart Conservatory is as beautiful as it is incredible.
An adult ticket costs $14.95 and a child ticket is as little as $7.75. Seniors and youths can grab a ticket for just $12.95.
2. Relax At The University of Alberta Botanic Gardens
If you couldn’t get enough of the Muttart Conservatory, take a trip to these varied and delightful gardens, featuring the Kurimoto Japanese Garden and the Indigenous Garden. They are guaranteed to lift your spirits and refresh your mind.
Individual tickets are sold for adults at $19.75, seniors for $13.50, students and youths for $10, and children for $5.25. Children 2 or under are free. If you are a family, it will cost $44.75 for family admission.
3. Enjoy Planes At Alberta Aviation Museum
Experience the history of Alberta’s military aircrafts here – great if you or your family are more interested in the past than in plants!
There are all types and models of craft on display in this massive complex, which are guaranteed to interest both adults and children.
A family pass to Alberta Aviation Museum costs $37.50, but children under 5 get free admission. Military families can get entry for just $18.75 – just remember your military service card.
Individual general admission is better for smaller groups or lone travelers: adults cost $15.00, students and seniors cost $12.00, youths cost $10.50, and children cost $9.50. Military individuals cost $7.50.
4. Be Mesmerized At The Art Gallery of Alberta
The Art Gallery of Alberta is hard to miss. Its architectural design is striking and a work of art itself, with its wavy shapes and large glass panes that reflect the city of Edmonton. Inside, you will find all kinds of art, from sculptures to paintings.
Admission for adults is $14, and seniors and out-of-province students cost just $10. Alberta students and under 18s can enter for free. But if you time your trip well, you can get free admission on the last Thursday of every month!
5. Enjoy Cheap But Tasty Food At Albert’s Family Restaurant
Dinner here costs just $11.99, with a $6.99 menu for kids. And if you fancy something sweet, you can get a generous portion of waffles or pancakes to share for $9.99.
Salads can cost as little as $7.29. Breakfast and lunch are also served here for even cheaper prices.
6. Explore The Past At The Royal Alberta Museum
This is another vast and modern museum – the largest in western Canada – and a cheap thing to do in Edmonton: Royal Alberta Museum is host to exciting artifacts of human and natural history, like fossils and gems.
If you are Indigenous, you can get free admission, and any other adults cost $21.00. So, if you’re going with your family, it might not work out as cheap. But it is worth it if you have children, as this museum features many kids’ zones.
Non-Indigenous 7–17-year-old youths cost only $10.00; seniors get an entry for $14.00, and children 6 or under are free.
7. Enjoy Edmonton’s Best At The Iconic Commodore Restaurant
After travelling around and experiencing all the cheap things to do in Edmonton, you will need a bite to eat. And Commodore Restaurant is the ideal and very affordable place for this.
Mains at this iconic Edmonton institution cost as little as $8.50, and you can get ice cream for just $1.75. From burgers to egg dishes and soups, there is something for everyone. Breakfast is served here too.
8. Explore The Biggest Mall In North America
The biggest mall in North America: West Edmonton Mall has so much to see and do, with events taking place throughout the year.
You can also save money by getting a free My Club Rewards Card which allows you to unlock various deals for shops and restaurants. The latest deals can be found here.
Free Things to Do in Edmonton
If you are unable to stretch your budget to any of the cheap things to do in Edmonton, don’t worry – there are so many free things to do in Edmonton too!
1. Go To The End Of The World
Keillor Point, also known as ‘The End of the World,’ this peculiar site is at the top of the Saskatchewan riverbank and allows you to enjoy a view of Edmonton’s river valley.
The view of the shimmering river surrounded by lush swathes of trees is absolutely stunning and worth a trip – but it probably won’t fill a whole day out, so fit it in a space in your schedule.
2. Become A Naturalist At Larch Sanctuary
This nature reserve is beautiful every day of the year – whether the trees are frosted with pure-white snow or basked in sunshine. From weasels to deer, there is no shortage of things to see while taking a peaceful walk along these trails.
If you’re visiting with kids, or simply a nature enthusiast, you can print out some free identification guides and challenge yourself to spot as many moth, butterfly or bat species as you can! You can also help the Edmonton and Area Land Trust by reporting any sightings of species at risk.
3. Hike The Gorgeous River Loop Trail
Explore Edmonton’s iconic Saskatchewan River with this 3.2-mile trail – accessible for both children and adults.
It can be a little busy in the summer, so it might be worth going during off-peak times of the day or even sometime outside of the summer season.
4. Find Peace At Mill Creek Ravine
Edmonton’s serene nature trails just keep coming with Mill Creek Ravine’s wild pathways and interesting bridges. Trails include the Peace Mile, and at certain hill spots, you can even see the city skyline.
There are also picnic tables and washrooms available for a comfortable day out.
Why not experience all of Edmonton’s walking spots on bike too? Most of the trails allow you to ride with ease.
5. Stroll Around Beaumaris Lake
The still waters of Beaumaris Lake are remarkable, along with its rocky shores and abundant wildlife.
This is another amazing spot to take a relaxing stroll or bike ride and take in the best of Edmonton’s natural formations.
6. John Walter Museum
Free museums are hard to come by, but the John Walter Museum, at the heart of the Kinsmen Park river valley, offers a view into the history and life of businessman John Walter and the Strathcona community of Walterdale.
The park itself features trails for walkers and bikers – as well as picnic sites, a playground, an outdoor pool, and a recreation center.
So, with something for everyone from history buffs to small children, the John Walter Museum and its surrounding park is perfect for families looking for free things to do in Edmonton.
7. Enjoy Street Art
During your visit to Edmonton, you might want to stop by this alley of art, located on 104 Street.
Hidden amongst the city’s downtown, this wall is covered with beautiful canvas and street art. You could spend anything from 10 minutes to 2 hours just staring at these masterpieces – it’s practically a free mini art gallery right in the heart of Edmonton.
8. Visit The Unique Neon Sign Museum
Another hidden outdoor gem: the Neon Sign Museum tells a visual story of Edmonton’s past.
Also located on 104 Street, 20 neon signs have been installed on the east wall of the TELUS building and the south wall of the Mercer Warehouse. It’s best to go in the evening so you can see them all lit up, so add it on to the end of your day out.
9. See Some Of Canada’s Best Art At Gallery@501
Located in the vibrant Sherwood Park community (quite a distance from downtown Edmonton) and featuring artworks from local and national artists that rotate on a six-week basis, this exhibit shows off the best of Canada’s creators.
If you’re passing through Sherwood Park, it’s worth checking out.
10. Have Fun At Broadmoor Lake Park
Also located in Sherwood Park, here you can find a dazzling lake and spray park, a playground, picnic benches, volleyball courts, sports fields, edible gardens, trails – and in winter, you can skate on the lake’s surface.
It is also host to many seasonal events like farmers’ markets and day celebrations, like New Year’s Eve.
11. Go Back In Time At Edmonton’s Paleontology Museum
This is Edmonton’s historical hidden gem! With only 2 rooms, it definitely isn’t a day out but it’s worth a drop in with its fascinating array of fossils.
If you’re travelling through downtown alone, check these small but incredible rooms out, which are part of the University of Alberta’s science faculty.
12. See Fire Eaters At Edmonton International Street Performers Festival
During July you can check out this lively festival which highlights the best of Edmonton’s artists and performers.
From jugglers and fire eaters to bands and dancers, there’s lots to look at and enjoy during this colorful event.
13. Be Amazed At The Works Art and Design Festival
Taking place on the same dates as the Edmonton International Street Performers Festival every year, this festival is less about music and dance, and more about profound art pieces which are exhibited in the City Hall and other areas around Edmonton.
They are often full of meaning, history, and reflection; telling stories about why Canada is what it is today.
You can find the latest exhibits here.
14. Experience The World At Edmonton Heritage Festival
Experience the amazing multiculturalism of Canada with this festival full of food, crafts, dance, and song, taking place throughout the charming Hawrelak Park. There are around 70 pavilions of nations from Chile to Ukraine selling and showcasing amazing elements of their culture.
In Hawrelak Park itself, there are picnic sites, the Heritage Amphitheatre, the William Hawrelak Park Pavilion, the Hawrelak Park Pond Ice, and the pristine Saskatchewan River running right next to it. So, if you don’t make the festival dates, the park still has plenty to offer.
15. Find Birds, Bison & Elk At Elk Island National Park
Quite the distance from bustling Edmonton downtown, the Elk Island National Park is the perfect wild refuge.
With its thick forests, trails, picnic spots and campsites, it’s a great place to check out the nearby wildlife such as over 250 species of birds, bison, and of course, Elk!
At night, the sights are even better – without the city lights, the starry sky is truly breathtaking. So why not plan a camping trip, or hike along the park’s trails through to the evening so you don’t miss the stunning nighttime views?
16. Discover History At Strathcona County Museum and Archives
Back in the community of Sherwood Park, this museum has some intriguing exhibits that encapsulate the culture and history of the Strathcona County community.
From photos to oral histories, this one is for enthusiasts of the past – and it is another completely free museum.
17. Be Thrilled At McKenzie and MacKinnon Ravine
This trail is for all the thrill-seeking hikers visiting Edmonton as it features a long wooden bridge crossing over the Mackenzie Ravine.
At certain spots, you can see the city skyline and there is also a large lake surrounded by evergreen forests to explore. It is a fantastic place to visit at any time of the year.
18. Ice Skate In Victoria Park
Another park which is, surprisingly, better to visit in the winter. Victoria Park features the Victoria Park IceWay, which is an enchanting skating trail. At night, the ice is lit up by colorful projected shapes and patterns, turning the park into a winter wonderland.
If you can’t visit in winter, Victoria Park is still another one of Edmonton’s many parks that are great to visit in the summer – and nearby is the Victoria Promenade, which offers stunning views of the city. There are also picnic sites, a playground, trails, washrooms, and sports facilities.
Cheap & Free Things to Do in Edmonton: Budget Tips
Many of the cheap things to do in Edmonton that have been mentioned can still be quite pricey, especially for families.
There are also lots of attractions like the Edmonton Valley Zoo and the TELUS World of Science that are incredible but expensive. Luckily though there are ways to save, especially if you visit Edmonton often.
1. Memberships and Passes
If you’re planning multiple visits to Edmonton per year, you might want to consider the memberships and passes on offer, which pay for themselves after about three visits.
The Muttart Conservatory, the University of Alberta Botanic Gardens, the Alberta Aviation Museum, the Art Gallery of Alberta, and the Royal Alberta Museum all offer annual passes for individuals and families, and they contain free admission for a year along with other benefits and discounts.
Rates can be as little as $40 for individuals and around $100 for families.
Visit the Edmonton website for the specific membership prices of attractions.
2. Edmonton Valley Zoo
Some of the more special passes also include free admission to other attractions – for example, the Edmonton Valley Zoo sells the Wild Edmonton Pass for families, which includes free entry to the Janzen Nature Centre. And if you already have Muttart Conservatory membership, you can get 15% off this pass and vice versa.
3. The TELUS World of Science Centre
The TELUS World of Science Centre can cost you over $20 for individual admission, which is not very cheap.
But if you or your family adore science, you can plan multiple visits a year and save with an annual membership which costs $199.95 for larger families and as little as $49.95 for individuals. And remember, passes include other perks and discounts too!
4. Discounts and Deals
From the Edmonton Downtown Dining Pass to the Explore Edmonton Brewery Pass, there are so many ways to save in Edmonton when grabbing a bite to eat. These free passes can be found here.
And don’t forget your My Club Rewards Card to unlock those brilliant deals at the West Edmonton Mall.
Alberta’s capital is both an urban and natural oasis – and if you search around, you can visit Edmonton on a small budget.