Planning your Scottish vacation and looking for ideas of ways to keep the kids happy in Scotland’s capital city? There are no shortage of things to do and many are great fun for the adults too! Here is my ultimate guide of things to do in Edinburgh with kids.
This is one of my favourite attractions in Edinburgh and it’s brilliant for the kids (and adults too). Situated in what was once an old tenement block it started life as an outlook tower in the 1890’s. Each floor has a different theme including magic, optical illusions and 3D holograms. The Camera Obscura is in the Victorian rooftop chamber and the show is very likely to have the kids in stitches! Furthermore you get stunning 360-degree views from the roof top so the kids can play interactive games to their heart's content while learning at the same time and also getting pretty photos for Instagram. Perfect.
Prices £15.50 Adults, £11.50 Children, under 5 Free
The Royal Mile,
Can you escape?
These live escape games have really taken off. Can you escape? was recently voted as Scotland’s top family day out so this one is a must. It’ll get the kids to really think and tire those little brains out as they race against the clock to escape the room (Don’t worry, they don’t actually lock you in, you can get out at any time). This is a great way of getting the whole family working together.
Prices start at £40.00 for 2 people
5 Holyrood Road,
Where else can you feel the heat of a volcano, the chill of polar ice, fly and experience a rainforest all in one place? Take a journey through the life of planet earth with interactive activities, a 4d experience and see the state of the art technology bring the planet to life.
Prices £15.00, Children £9.50, cheaper online when bought in advance
Scottish storytelling centre
This centre is a welcoming and calm little space near the bottom of the Royal Mile, attached to the John Knox House. The storytelling centre offers a huge array of events throughout the year including music, theatre, workshops and of course storytelling.
Prices - Free, Entrance to adjoining John Knox House £5.00 Adults, £1.00 Children (7-15), under 7 Free
43-45 High street,
Scotland’s most popular castle dominates Edinburgh’s skyline and sits on top of what is actually an extinct volcano at the top of the Royal Mile. Endless amounts of fun can be had here exploring each area of the castle and learning about the history of Scotland. Print off their family-friendly itinerary from the website so the kids can track down clues on a fact-finding mission- they can even win a prize.
Prices £17.00 Adults, £10.20 Children (5-15), under 5 free
National museum of Scotland
With special galleries and activities just for kids this is a very family friendly museum and one of my favourites. You could spend hours in this huge building. You can find out about Scottish history, other cultures and countries, the evolution of animals (the kids love this, seen Night at the Museum?). There is also a great little cafe and spaces to relax with a packed lunch. Best to allocate a few hours to this fantastic attraction.
Prices - Free
Royal Yacht Britannia
All kids love exploring a ship right? Or rather a yacht. They don’t come much better than this either. The Royal family’s home on water for over 40 years, it has sailed over 1 million miles around the world. Now retired, she is berthed next to Edinburgh’s Ocean Terminal so now everyone can see what life as a Royal is really like. There is a children’s version of the audio tour and even free samples of fudge from the NAAFI sweet shop!
Prices £16.00 Adults, £8.50 Children (5-15), under 5 free
Museum of Childhood
A good way for kids to learn about how kids of the past had fun and the kinds of games they played. They can even have a go of a few. You will love it too, it will bring the memories flooding back and you’ll find yourself regaling the kids with stories of your childhood. A lovely little museum just across the road from the Storytelling centre.
Prices - Free
42 High Street,
This section is for the older ones or ones that won’t mind a bit of a fright. The dungeons are actually pretty family friendly. I’ve been loads and see kids there all the time. You will be treated to little frights with a few laughs thrown in. The tour takes you through Edinburgh’s history and you’ll meet some “interesting” characters. You’ll also encounter a wee boat ride, a drop ride and a mirror maze. Brilliant fun.
Prices £17.95 Adults, £13.95
31 market Street,
These walking tours begin on the Royal Mile at the Mercat cross. They do excellent ghost walks which involve a trip down to the Blair Street underground vaults. The tour guides are brilliant at keeping everyone entertained. There is also history tours for those a little less brave. Hear tales from Edinburgh's sometimes grisly past, learn about the less savoury characters and have a giggle as you imagine Edinburgh as it used to be.
Prices begin at £13.00 Adults, £5.00 Children, family tickets available
The Mercat Cross,
Gorgie City Farm
This farm is right in the heart of Edinburgh and it’s aim is to give city kids the opportunity to try out life on the farm, welcoming volunteers to give them experience. As a community run venture entry is by donation and tourists are welcome to take the kids along and see the animals for themselves.
Prices - Free
51 Gorgie Road,
Guaranteed to make the kids smile Edinburgh Zoo is home to over 1000 animals including the UK’s only giant pandas. There is a new meerkat plaza, a wallaby walk, a pretty cool chimpanzee enclosure and a huge penguin area where you can watch them swim, sunbathe and feed. Sometimes there are even babies! Pay extra for a keeper experience and the children can have a go at looking after the animals themselves. There is a popular penguin parade and shows and exhibitions throughout the day.
Prices £18.50, Adults £14.00 Children, under 3 free
134 Corstorphine Road
Butterfly and Insect World
Take the kids to a tropical rainforest and let them see up close colourful exotic butterflies, darting around them as they explore. If they are feeling brave they can even handle a snake or tarantula! Daily talks and handling and feeding sessions get the kids involved and the large Dobbies next door means you can go for a nice lunch afterwards.
Prices £7.95 Adults, £5.95 Children, under 3 free
Dobbies Garden Centre,
Midlothian Snowsports Centre
It doesn’t matter what the weather is like when you visit as these dry ski slopes are open year round. They will supply everything you need for a spot of skiing or snowboarding and offer lessons for all stages and abilities. If you're keen to learn it might as well be on the longest dry ski slope in Europe right?
Prices start at £12.50 Adults but vary greatly so check website
Edinburgh International Climbing Arena
The largest indoor climbing arena in the world is bound to tire them out and luckily it’s situated just outside Edinburgh, built in a disused quarry in Ratho. The whole family can join in with a climb, an abseil or attempt the aerial assault course. It’s open until 10pm too so a good one to fit in after dinner.
Prices £10.90 for an adult climb, check website
South Platt Hill,
Murrayfield Ice Rink
Right next to Murrayfield stadium, this ice rink is home to Edinburgh elite hockey team, the Edinburgh Capitals. With almost daily skating sessions catering for different abilities and hire skates available the little ones will burn off all that ice cream in no time.
Prices £5.50 Adults, £3.00 under 5
Known to the locals as the commie, this fantastic pool was built for the 1970 Commonwealth Games. It has recently been given a £37,000,000 reburbishment adding a 25-metre diving pool to the existing 50-metre pool as well as a teaching pool and new cafe and gym. The kids will love trading the cobbles for the water for a little while.
Prices £6.00 Adults, under 5 free
21 Dalkeith Road,
Arthurs Seat and Castle Rock
Which kid wouldn’t want to climb up an extinct volcano? Sitting at 251 metres above sea level you can just imagine the views over the city. The easiest way to get to the top is from the east above Dunsapie Loch.
Car Park beside Holyrood Palace
This award winning beach has a cool and quirky vibe. The two miles of golden sand plays host to triathlon competitions, beach volleyball and an annual big busk. The surrounding Georgian and Victorian building are gorgeous and there are plenty of beach-side cafes and bars for ice cream. Perfect for a wee swim when Scotland’s sun decides to shine.
Edinburgh is also home to 12 major annual festivals including the world famous Fringe festival and the equally impressive Military Tattoo. If you happen to be in Edinburgh whilst one is taking place then all the better. Grab the family some tickets and see for yourself why Edinburgh really is the world’s leading festival city.
Have you visited Edinburgh before? What would you recommend?