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The Best Things to Do in Edinburgh With Children

Edinburgh is a great city to visit with kids since it has so many fun things to do, from touring ancient castles to getting hands-on at interactive museums. In this article, you’ll discover some of the top things to do in Edinburgh with kids, including major attractions as well as a few that are off the standard tourist trails.

Camera Obscura & World of Illusions

Camera Obscura and World of Illusions
Royal Mile,
Opening Hours:Mon to Thur - 9.00am – 8.00pm
Fri & Sun - 9.00am – 9.00pm
Sat - 9.00am – 10.00pm
Admission Price:Adult - £18.95
Student (with ID) - £16.95
Senior (65+) - £16.95
Child (5–15 years) - £14.95
Under 5s - Free
Contact:0131 226 3709
Facilities:Gift shop, toilets, baby changing facilities, hearing loop
Photos:Virtual Tour

Out About Scotland Guide: Camera Obscura & World of Illusions

One of Edinburgh’s most-visited attractions is also among the city’s oldest. Camera Obscura and World of Illusions are located on The Royal Mile, roughly opposite the Scotch Whisky Experience and Edinburgh Castle. The attraction showcases a variety of interactive displays that employ light and colour to create optical illusions that are designed to be as mind-boggling as possible.

There are a total of six floors housing the collection; one is devoted to holograms, another has a mirror labyrinth, and a third has a winding vortex tunnel. From low-tech mirrors and light displays to high-tech thermal imaging cameras and laser-etched holograms, every kind of optical illusion is on display at the Camera Obscura.

Although the attraction’s target audience is families, people of any age will find plenty to enjoy there. This is due to the fact that the displays cover a wide variety of media and not just flashy light shows and computer graphics.

For instance, there are remote-controlled cameras on the third level that offer a real-time panorama of the city, and the top floor is home to the titular Camera Obscura, which uses a series of mirrors to project an image of the city onto a screen.

Clip ‘n Climb at the Eica

Edinburgh Clip 'n Climb
Address:South Platt Hill,
EH28 8AA
Opening Hours:Clip 'n Climb is open from Friday – Sunday:
Friday: 14.00 – 18.30
Saturday: 9.00 – 17.00
Sunday: 9.00 – 17.00

The EICA is open:
Monday: 09:00 - 21:00
Tuesday: 09:00 - 22:00
Wednesday: 09:00 - 21:00
Thursday: 09:00 - 22:00
Friday: 09:00 - 21:00
Saturday: 09:00 - 18:00
Sunday: 09:00 - 18:00
Admission Price:Adults - £18.00
Juniors - £14.00
Parking:Free on-site car park.
Contact:Telephone: 0131 4582100
Facilities:Soft play area, gym, coaching and classes, cafe, toilets, disabled parking, showers, toilets, lifts, wheelchair access.

Out About Scotland Guide: Clip ‘n Climb Edinburgh

Scotland’s premier climbing facility and Europe’s biggest indoor climbing centre, the Edinburgh International Climbing Arena, has one of the world’s highest indoor climbing walls in addition to excellent amenities including a gym, café, and a soft play area.

One family-oriented climbing activity at the EICA is Clip ‘n Climb where children (and adults) of all ages can enjoy the thrill of climbing without having to worry about wearing bulky equipment or sitting through lengthy health and safety lessons.

Simply put, Clip ‘n Climb involves donning a harness, attaching the harness to a safety tether, and then climbing to your heart’s content. The auto-belay gently coils itself in as you ascend, and when you reach the top, you push back to descend. Simple!

Clip ‘n Climb has a number of unique courses, each with its own theme and unique set of handholds positioned at different angles. Freestanding obstacles include twisted lego-style blocks and large plastic balls, while the climbing walls include a circuit board, ice walls, and a Tetris-themed wall.

Museum on the Mound

Museum on the Mound
Address:The Mound,
Opening Hours:Saturday 1–5 pm
Sunday Closed
Monday Closed
Tuesday 10 am–5 pm
Wednesday 10 am–5 pm
Thursday 10 am–5 pm
Friday 10 am–5 pm
Admission Price:Free
Contact:0131 243 5464
Facilities:Shop, toilets
Photos:YouTube Video

Out About Scotland Guide: Museum on the Mound

Located between Edinburgh’s historic Royal Mile and East Princes Street Gardens, the Museum on the Mound is a must-see for families. The museum is situated in the former Bank of Scotland head office, which dates back to the 19th century and is one of the most impressive examples of Victorian architecture in the city.

At the Museum on the Mound, children and adults can learn about the Bank of Scotland’s history and the evolution of banking and currency from the earliest coins to modern-day plastic cards.

There are 4,000-year-old artefacts that illustrate the evolution of money, from beads and feathers to the latest chip and pin cards, interactive maps that demonstrate how Edinburgh has changed over 400 years, and a display of one million pounds in real banknotes.

In addition, there are activity books, an interactive safe that kids can try to break into, and afternoon sessions where they can learn about the history of money by striking their own coins.

Royal Botanic Gardens

Edinburgh Royal Botanic Gardens
Address:20a Inverleith Row,
Opening Hours:The Garden is open daily except for 25 December and 1 January

March to September: 10 am - 6 pm (last entry 5.15 pm)

October and February: 10 am - 5 pm (last entry 4.15 pm)

November to January: 10 am - 4 pm (last entry 3.15 pm)
Admission Price:Free
Parking:On-site car park
Contact:0131 2482909
Facilities:Cafe, coffee bar, gift shop, toilets, wheelchair/pushchair access, guided tours

Out About Scotland Guide: Royal Botanic Gardens Edinburgh

The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh is a stunning oasis of greenery that covers over 70 acres of landscaped grounds, roughly one mile north of Princes Street. The garden is one of the city’s most-visited attractions for families thanks to an incredible collection of plants collected from around the globe, including many rare and exotic species that can only be seen at the RBGE.

Two of the most popular areas are the Rock Garden, a man-made hillside filled with a variety of plants and water features, and the Victorian Palm House, a stunning glasshouse filled with tropical plants and flowers. The Palm House is a fantastic place to visit even in the depths of winter, as it recreates the environment of a tropical rainforest, complete with giant ferns and palm trees.

In addition to the various gardens and glasshouses, the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh also has a range of educational and research programs where children can learn about the history of the garden and the various plants that call it home, as well as participate in events and workshops.

After a busy few hours running around with the kids and exploring the different plant habitats, families can round off a visit by heading to the restaurant in the middle of the park to refill hungry bellies or stop at the visitor centre at the main entrance, which has a cafe, plant exhibitions, and a shop.

Edinburgh Zoo

Edinburgh Zoo
Address:134 Corstorphine Road,
EH12 6TS
Opening Hours:April – September: 10 am to 6 pm
October and March: 10 am to 5 pm
November – February: 10 am to 4 pm
Closed Christmas Day and Boxing Day
Admission Price:Adult: £21.95
Child: £13.95
Concession: £18.10
Parking:Paid on-site parking £3 per vehicle
Contact:0131 334 9171
Facilities:Gift shops, cafes, snack kiosks, restaurants, toilets, disabled access, picnic area, wheelchair hire
Photos:Virtual Tour
YouTube Video
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Out About Scotland Guide: Edinburgh Zoo

If you’re planning a trip to Edinburgh with kids, one of the first places you should get tickets for is Edinburgh Zoo. With over 2,500 animals from around the world and a park that covers 82 acres, it’s the perfect destination for family members of all ages.

Because it’s so big, you can head off in a hundred different directions, but I personally recommend making a beeline for Penguin Rock to catch the penguin parade. This daily event allows visitors to get up close and personal with the zoo’s 100 resident penguins as they waddle through the park before heading back to their outdoor swimming pool, which is, in fact, the largest penguin pool in Europe.

You might like to move on from the penguins to the Budongo Trail, where you can see the zoo’s family of 15 chimpanzees, then stop by the Koala Territory to meet the cute koalas there. There are also bird enclosures, insect habitats, big cat enclosures, and many more animals to see, as well as daily keeper talks, a restaurant, shops, and a children’s play park.

Finally, for an extra special treat you might consider giving your kids a keeper experience where they’ll have a once-in-a-lifetime chance to follow a keeper around and help them feed and look after animals including rhinos, armadillos, sloths, meerkats and giraffes.

Overall, a visit to Edinburgh Zoo is a must for any family on a day trip to the city. With so much to see and do, your kids are sure to have a wild time!

Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle Flodden Wall
Address:The Esplanade,
Opening Hours:1 April to 30 September: 9.30 am to 6 pm (last entry 5 pm)
1 October to 31 March: 9.30 am to 5 pm (last entry 4 pm)
Admission Price:Adult (16-64yrs): £21.00
Concession (65yrs+ and unemployed): £17.00
Child (5-15yrs): £12.50
Family (1 adult, 2 children): £41.50
Family (2 adults, 2 children): £60.50
Family (2 adults, 3 children): £72.00
Parking:No on-site car park. Paid car parks across Edinburgh.
Contact:+44 (0)131 225 9846
Facilities:Cafes, gift shops, toilets, disabled access, audio guides, guided tours
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Out About Scotland Guide: Edinburgh Castle

When it comes to family-friendly attractions in Edinburgh, few places can top the iconic 900-year-old Edinburgh Castle. Perched on Castle Rock in the heart of the city, the castle is a must-visit attraction for anyone travelling with children.

One of the best things about visiting Edinburgh Castle is the stunning views of the city that you get from the Half Moon battery where you can see the entire city and beyond. It’s also the location of the famous One o’Clock gun which fires every day at 1 pm.

Inside the castle there are lots of areas to explore which are equally interesting for kids as well as mums and dads, including the 15th-century Great Hall and the Crown Room which houses the Scottish Crown Jewels. Other notable attractions are the Royal Palace, which is the former home of Mary Queen of Scots, and the National War Museum of Scotland, which offers a fascinating look at Scotland’s military history.

One thing for parents to be aware of is that Edinburgh Castle is Scotland’s most-visited attraction and sees upwards of 2 million visitors each year, so it gets incredibly busy. To make life easier, it’s a good idea to book your tickets online in advance to skip the horrendously long queues that form at the castle entrance.

Holyrood Park

Holyrood Park
Address:Queen's Drive,
Opening Hours:Holyrood Park is accessible on foot 24/7, 365 days a year.
The park is closed to cars at the weekend.
Admission Price:There is no fee to visit Holyrood Park.
Parking:Parking is available at Broad Pavement, St Margaret's Loch, and Duddingston Loch car parks.
Broad Pavement parking is paid (approx £1 per hour) except for Historic Environment Scotland members. The other car parks are free.
Facilities:There are no facilities within Holyrood Park. There are a multitude of visitor facilities available on the Royal Mile including shops and restaurants.
Toilets are available at the Holyrood Park education centre (1 Queen's Drive, Edinburgh, EH8 8HG).
Photos:Virtual Tour
YouTube Video

Out About Scotland Guide: Holyrood Park

Holyrood Park is a 650-acre wilderness in the heart of Edinburgh that boasts stunning views of the city and surrounding countryside from its many rocky peaks. One of the highlights of the park is Arthur’s Seat, an extinct volcano that’s the highest point in Edinburgh and is a must-do for anyone visiting the city.

Arthur’s Seat offers incredible views from the top and even though it’s a wee bit of a challenge, hiking up it should be possible even for the littlest legs.

In addition to Arthur’s Seat, Holyrood Park is home to the Salisbury Crags, a long cliff that overlooks the Radical Road walking trail, and St. Margarets Loch, which Prince Albert created in 1856 and is now home to a large number of swans.

The location of Holyrood Park at the foot of the Royal Mile means it’s a good destination for anyone looking for a break from the city centre and it’s perfect for kids needing to burn off energy as there are lots of hills to climb and rocky outcrops to explore.

After a visit to the park, visitors have the option of either heading back to the Royal Mile or taking a tour around nearby attractions such as Holyrood Palace and the Scottish Parliament Building.

National Museum of Scotland

National Museum Scotland

Website: National Museum of Scotland

Among Edinburgh’s many family-friendly attractions, the National Museum of Scotland stands out as a must-visit destination for locals and tourists alike.

The museum features a series of different themed galleries that cover a range of topics from art to space and world culture to dinosaurs, but it’s the enormous first gallery that’s the most impressive, in my opinion. The stunning iron and glass Grand Gallery, which greets visitors at the main entrance, sets the stage for an immersive journey through the largest museum installation in Britain.

There are over 800 objects in the Grand Gallery which includes everything from girders from the original Tay Bridge to the incredible Millenium Clock Tower.

Moving up through each level takes visitors on a whirlwind tour of science and art, especially in the Scottish History and Archaeology galleries which provide a fascinating tour of Scotland from the Palaeolithic era to the present day,

The National Museum of Scotland isn’t just about history, though, as there are hands-on exhibits and interactive displays that make it the perfect place for children to learn and have fun.

The Imagine gallery, designed specifically for children aged 5 and under, encourages creativity and play through activities like dressing up and playing music, and it’s without a doubt one of the best things to do in Edinburgh with toddlers. Adventure Planet, meanwhile, offers a chance to explore the world by digging for fossils and discovering the wonders of the deep sea in a mini-submersible.

Dynamic Earth

Dynamic Earth Edinburgh

Website: Dynamic Earth

Dynamic Earth is a family-oriented science centre and visitor attraction positioned between the Scottish Parliament Building and Holyrood Park near the bottom of the Royal Mile. The centre focuses on explaining the story of our planet, its history, and the challenges that face the world’s oceans, forests, and deserts, as well as closer to home in Scotland.

The interactive exhibits at Dynamic Earth take visitors on a journey through time, from the Big Bang to the present day, and during a visit children can get involved with a number of interactive experiences that cover the formation of the earth, the different ecosystems that exist on our planet today, and the impact of climate change.

The attraction also features Edinburgh’s only planetarium which showcases immersive and captivating films about the night sky as well as presenter-led shows that take a deep dive into the inky black depths of the world’s oceans.

Unusually for a city centre attraction, Dynamic Earth has its own underground car park, which is ultra-handy but a wee bit expensive, so thankfully it’s one of the stops for the city’s open-top tour buses, and it’s easily walked from Edinburgh Castle in just 20 minutes.

Facilities include an on-site restaurant and gift shop and tickets can either be purchased on the day or as an annual pass. For more information on tickets, opening hours, and upcoming events, visit the official website.

Commonwealth Pool

Commonwealth Pool Edinburgh

Website: Royal Commonwealth Pool

The Royal Commonwealth Pool, also known as the “Commie Pool,” is a large public swimming and leisure facility in Edinburgh. It’s located in the south of the city on Dalkeith Road, around 1/3 mile from the junction of Holyrood Park Road, and is easily accessible by bus (2, 14, 30, 33, and 51) and by car (there’s a free on-site car park).

The pool was originally built for the 1970 Commonwealth Games and has since been used for several major sporting events including the 1986 and 2014 Commonwealth Games. Today, it’s one of the city’s top venues for keeping fit thanks to one of the best (and most keenly priced) gyms in the city, as well as the city’s only 50-meter pool and a submersible lift that allows disabled visitors to enjoy getting into the water.

Children and adults can get active at AquaDash – an aquatic inflatable assault course – as well as hone their techniques during instructor-led daily classes. There’s also a 25-meter diving pool and a smaller teaching pool, which can be used for swimming lessons, recreational swimming, and fitness classes.

The Commonwealth Pool hosts a holiday club for children during the school holidays, where they can take part in swimming as well as arts and crafts and even drama lessons.

Tubing at Midlothian Snowsports Centre

Midlothian Snowsports Tubing
Address:Biggar Road,
EH10 7DU
Opening Hours:Monday - Friday 9:30 - 21:00
Saturday - Sunday 9:30 - 19:00
Admission Price:See the official website for details.
Parking:Free on-site car park
Contact:0131 445 4433
Facilities:Toilets, cafe, tuition
Photos:YouTube Video

Out About Scotland Guide: Tubing at Midlothian Snowsports Centre

Even if it’s the middle of summer and there’s no snow, the Midlothian Snowsports Centre is a great place to take the kids for a day of outdoor fun. The outdoor area is divided into zones, with one reserved for the beginner-friendly nursery slopes and another for the more advanced downhill runs, as well as a separate area for family-friendly tubing.

If you’re wondering what tubing is, it’s an outdoor activity where you grab a rigid inflatable tube, carry it on a travelator to the top of the runs (similar to bobsleigh courses but made with fibre matting instead of snow), get in, and let gravity do the rest.

Before you know it you’ll be bombing downhill at a rate of knots either on straight runs that let you get up to warp speed or twisty turny runs that’ll have you hanging on for dear life.

You’ll find both adults and children zooming down the tube runs in all weathers but this is one of the few activities where it’s actually better if it has been raining because the water makes the tubes more slippery and hence go a lot faster.

Tubing sessions are currently only available on weekends and run for 45 minutes, with tickets sold on a first-come, first-served basis. Prices range from around £10 per person, but you can purchase family tickets (2 adults and 3 children) for around £40.

Museum of Childhood

Museum of Childhood
Address:42 High Street,
Opening Hours:Monday to Sunday, 10 am to 5 pm
Admission Price:Free
Parking:No on-site car parking. Nearest car park is NCP Holyrood Road EH8 9UL.
Contact:Tel: 0131 5294142
Facilities:Gift shop, Wi-Fi. Pubs, restaurants, shops on the Royal Mile. Nearest public toilets are in Waverley train station EH1 3EG.

Out About Scotland Guide: The Museum of Childhood

The Museum of Childhood is a magical place that transports visitors back to the enchanting world of their youth. Nestled in the heart of the historic Royal Mile, this unique museum boasts a varied collection of toys, games, and other childhood memorabilia.

Established in 1955 by city councillor Patrick Murray, it was the first museum in the world to focus exclusively on the experiences and toys of childhood. Today, the Museum of Childhood houses a fascinating assortment of over 60,000 objects that span the 18th to the 21st centuries and reflect the social history of children’s lives in Scotland.

When you enter the museum, you’ll see a variety of exhibits with vintage toys on display, including dolls, teddy bears, and model trains. There are also board games, jigsaw puzzles, and even children’s clothing from different eras.

Throughout the museum you’ll find several hands-on stations where children can take part in activities such as playing with old-fashioned toys or trying on vintage clothes, as well as a photographic archive that shows Edinburgh life in the early 1900s.

The museum also hosts a variety of engaging events and workshops throughout the year that give visitors the opportunity to learn new skills and immerse themselves even further in the world of childhood.

Cramond Island

Cramond Island
Opening Hours:Open 24/7
Access depends on tide times
Admission Price:Free
Parking:Free parking is available at Cramond car park (postcode EH4 6NU)
Facilities:No facilities on Cramond Island
Toilets and cafe in Cramond village

Out About Scotland Guide: Cramond Island

If you take the number 41, 32 or 36 buses you’ll be able to escape the maddeningly busy city centre and visit the picturesque Firth of Forth at Cramond Island, a tidal island located a few miles outside of Edinburgh. It can be found at the end of a 3/4-mile walkway that leads away from the village of Cramond to almost the middle of the estuary.

Although it gets a bit busy with locals at the weekend you’ll hardly ever find visiting tourists walking around it mid-week – especially in the off-peak season – so it makes a great place to escape to.

There’s a lot of history on the island and it’s known to have been occupied as far back as Roman times although the only signs of human use you’ll see nowadays are the occasional WWII bunker and the massive anti-tank blockade that forms the walkway that’s used to get onto it.

There are a couple of small beaches that are perfect for a picnic spot as well as lots of grassy hollows to hide in and on a summer day it’s all too easy to completely forget you’re close to Scotland’s capital city. The only downside is that, as it’s tidal, you could find yourself stranded if you stay there too long, so check the tide times at the causeway entrance before walking across.

The Water of Leith

The Water of Leith
Address:24 Lanark Road,
EH14 1TQ
Opening Hours:Visitor Centre and Cafe open every day 10.00 am – 4.00 pm
Admission Price:Free
Contact:0131 455 7367
Facilities:Toilets, disabled/pushchair access, cafe, gift shop, education centre

Out About Scotland Guide: Water of Leith

The Water of Leith is a river that runs for 22 miles from the Pentland Hills to Leith, and it’s certainly worth visiting with your kids if you want to escape from Edinburgh’s crowds.

Quiet tree-lined paths follow the river for the majority of its journey and because there are so many entrance points you won’t have to walk far to get onto them. Most of these paths are quite muddy though, so if you’re visiting with wee ones it’s probably best to make sure they’re wearing wellies.

In years gone by, the river was an integral part of Edinburgh’s cotton industries when it powered mills along its entire length, but as the mills moved away from using water power, the Water of Leith reverted to its natural state as a peaceful river setting.

Popular entry points are Dean Village where you can see some of the remains of those long-forgotten mills, and Stockbridge, which is a great district to visit if you like cosy bistros and boutique shopping. You can follow 12 miles of the river along paths that are wide enough in most places to accommodate both cyclists and walkers, but I personally think it’s best enjoyed on foot as quite a few sections require climbing steep flights of steps.

To get an idea of exactly where the river winds its way through the city you should check out the Water of Leith Visitor Centre on Lanark Road, but if you just want to enjoy a nice walk I recommend starting in Stockbridge and heading north to Leith which will take around an hour on foot.

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Edinburgh suitable for kids?

Yes, Edinburgh is a great destination for families with kids. The city boasts a wide range of fun and educational activities for children such as visiting Edinburgh Castle, exploring Edinburgh Zoo, and taking a ghost tour through the city’s historic streets.

In regard to outdoor activities, you can take a hike up Arthur’s Seat or enjoy a day trip to nearby beaches like Portobello. If you’re looking for more places to visit with kids, the National Museum of Scotland and Camera Obscura and World of Illusions are great options.

Where can I take my baby in Edinburgh?

If you’re looking for places to take your baby in Edinburgh, here are some suggestions:

1: The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh: This is a beautiful outdoor space where you can take a stroll with your baby and enjoy the scenery.

2: The Museum of Childhood: This is a museum that showcases toys and games from different eras.

3: The Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art: This art gallery has a large outdoor sculpture park which can be a fun place to explore with your baby.

4: The Water of Leith Walkway: This is a scenic path that runs through Edinburgh and is (mostly) pushchair-friendly, making it a great place to take your baby for a walk.

Is Edinburgh good for a family holiday?

Yes, Edinburgh is a great destination for a family holiday. There are many activities and attractions that cater to families, including historic sites like Edinburgh Castle and the Palace of Holyroodhouse, as well as family-friendly museums and galleries like the National Museum of Scotland and the Scottish National Art Gallery.

Additionally, there are plenty of outdoor spaces to explore, such as Holyrood Park, The Meadows, and the Royal Botanic Gardens.

What can kids do on a rainy day in Edinburgh?

If you’re looking for things to do with kids on a rainy day in Edinburgh, here are some suggestions:

1: Dynamic Earth: This interactive museum takes visitors on a journey through the history of the planet from earthquakes to volcanoes and the ice age.

2: Camera Obscura and World of Illusions: This attraction features five floors of optical illusions, interactive exhibits, and a rooftop camera obscura with panoramic views of the city.

3: National Museum of Scotland: This museum has a wide variety of exhibits including natural history, science and technology, and world cultures. There are also interactive exhibits designed specifically for kids.

4: Edinburgh Dungeon: This attraction takes visitors on a journey through Scotland’s darker history, featuring live actors, special effects, and scary (but not too scary) stories.

5: Gorgie City Farm: This farm is home to a variety of farm animals including pigs, goats, and chickens. There are also indoor play areas for younger children.

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Craig Neil

Craig Neil is the author, photographer, admin, and pretty much everything else behind Out About Scotland. He lives near Edinburgh and spends his free time exploring Scotland and writing about his experiences. Follow him on Pinterest, Facebook, and YouTube.