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10 Things to Do in Edinburgh with Kids

If you come with children to Edinburgh you should know that it is a city that has dozens of panoramas for the little ones to have a great time in the city of mysteries.

Ana Caballero

Ana Caballero

9 min read

10 Things to Do in Edinburgh with Kids

Edinburgh | ©cattan2011

Edinburgh has plenty to see and do and is suitable for all ages. Maybe if you come as a couple, one of the things you will enjoy most is a good whisky tasting and a romantic cruise. However, for children there are also plenty of plans that will make the most of your vacation.

Interactive museums, themed tours of mysteries and famous wizards, excursions to Loch Ness or spend the day being a real farmer are some of the plans I have reserved for you if you come to Edinburgh with children, are you going to miss them? Well, let's get started!

1. Step into the world of Harry Potter

George Heriot School was the inspiration for Hogwarts School.| ©Yisong Yue
George Heriot School was the inspiration for Hogwarts School.| ©Yisong Yue

One of the sagas that children tend to be most passionate about is Harry Potter. If you come to Edinburgh you have to know that you are in luck because it was precisely in this city where the author, J.K. Rowling began writing the first novel and, precisely among these streets, was where some of the scenes of the movies were filmed.

If your little ones like the movies and the fantastic universe of Harry Potter, I don't think they will enjoy more than attending the many Harry Potter tours that are organized in the center of the city of Edinburgh and that go through the scenarios that appeared on the screen.

These tours usually cost around 20 € and last two hours, time in which children will be fascinated and adults will know a little better the secrets of this fascinating city.

Book your tour of the Harry Potter sets

2. Test your senses in Camera Obscura

Inside the Camera Obscura| ©Jamie Marie
Inside the Camera Obscura| ©Jamie Marie

Many children tend to get bored when adults spend their vacations going from museum to museum or gallery to gallery. Therefore, one of the alternatives that you can do in Edinburgh if you go with children, is to make a stop to know a very different type of museum and ideal for the little ones of the house: the Camera Obscura.

This museum, located very close to Edinburgh Castle, in the Royal Mile, is very different from what you imagine, since its main objective is to play with your senses with more than 100 optical illusions that will make you the protagonist throughout the visit. Children will enjoy exploring all its floors and interacting freely.

The price can be a bit expensive, around 20 € per head, but access lasts all day, so you can enter as many times as you want.

3. Visit Edinburgh Castle with a child's eye view

Edinburgh Castle in the snow| ©generalising
Edinburgh Castle in the snow| ©generalising

There are tourist places that offer different views depending on your age and without a doubt Edinburgh Castle is one of them. While an adult may see it as a historical place from where the city was founded, from the eyes of a child it is like a huge theme park where you can let your imagination run wild.

If you are thinking of organizing a trip to Edinburgh with your children, do not hesitate to visit Edinburgh Castle with them as it will be an enriching but also fun experience. Its great medieval walls, its defensive cannons and its mysterious chambers make it a must-see tourist attraction.

If you go with children, I recommend you to take a guided tour so that it does not take too long, also, take advantage of the fact that the kids have reduced admission for less than 15 €.

Book a tour of Edinburgh Castle

4. Discover the interactive rooms of the National Museum of Scotland

Inside the National Museum of Scotland| ©Fil.Al
Inside the National Museum of Scotland| ©Fil.Al

It is clear that for children museums are not the highlight of the vacations. However, there are some in Edinburgh that are essential to learn more about the history not only of the city, but throughout Scotland and also has an interactive part in which the youngest can enjoy and entertain. It is the National Museum of Scotland.

This museum keeps among its galleries all the history and culture of the country but not only that, it has several interactive rooms where children can touch and actively participate.

In this way, young and old can enjoy and learn. In addition, the building is spectacular and has a huge stained glass window in the central nave. Definitely a perfect and free plan for one of the frequent rainy days in Edinburgh.

5. Have a picnic in Princes Gardens

Princes Street Gardens in spring| ©Stuart Montgomery
Princes Street Gardens in spring| ©Stuart Montgomery

If you come to Edinburgh in summer or spring and you can enjoy a day of good weather and some sunshine, one of the best plans you can organize with your children is to enjoy nature and the weather in one of the busiest parks in New Town; Princes Gardens.

This place is close to the monument of Walter Scott and it is common that on warm days it is full of people who go to eat in the meadow. So that the children can run and play to their heart's content, I suggest you have a mid-morning picnic and bring a tablecloth so you can spend the afternoon in true Scottish style.

You can buy the food in a take-away restaurant or in the many supermarkets in the area. Good food, a cool drink and a bit of nature, what more could you ask for?

6. Visit the Museum of Childhood

Entrance to the Museum of Childhood| ©Kjetil Bjørnsrud
Entrance to the Museum of Childhood| ©Kjetil Bjørnsrud

If there is a museum designed and thought for children in Edinburgh, this is the Museum of Childhood, a place dedicated to everything related to the little ones. Games, toys, dolls and all kinds of collections that show how it has been changing the way of playing and growing up since childhood.

If you are spending a few days in the capital of Scotland with your children or the children of the family, surely this plan is perfect for the whole family. The museum is located in the old town of Edinburgh and admission is completely free, which makes it a safe bet in which children can see all kinds of toys while adults remember their childhood games.

7. Be a farmer for a day at Gorgie City Farm

A day at Gorgie City Farm| ©Nathalie L
A day at Gorgie City Farm| ©Nathalie L

Yes, Edinburgh is a medieval city that attracts thousands of tourists every year who want to explore its alleys and its best castles. But, beyond that, Edinburgh is also nature and rural environment. You only have to move a little away from the city center to discover the great importance of the countryside for the country. I can't think of a better way to encourage these values in the little ones and live a different experience than spending the day at Gorgie's urban farm, located just 20 minutes by bus from the city center.

This place, completely free of charge, allows children to become farmers for a day, being in direct contact with animals such as rabbits, chickens, sheep and even alpacas.

Its objective is to teach all visitors, regardless of their age, how to respectfully care for animals through close contact and affection. The kids will live an incredible experience and learn to respect and value nature.

8. Are you up for a mystery tour?

Calton Hill| ©concrete&fells
Calton Hill| ©concrete&fells

Edinburgh is a city full of stories and ancient legends that will make your hair stand on end. However, despite all this, the city has managed to take advantage of all this and organizes numerous tours that go to hidden corners and hidden passages carrying a whole mysterious theme that will attract the attention of children.

Be careful, it is not an activity for the youngest children as it could be too strong an experience for them. But, from the age of 10 and up, I can't think of anything more entertaining than being transported back to medieval times with a guide and going on a ghost tour around Edinburgh to discover its most terrifying past.

Book a tour of ghosts and mysteries of Edinburgh

9. Spend the day with your family at Edinburgh Zoo

Edinburgh Zoo Penguins| ©Kevin D
Edinburgh Zoo Penguins| ©Kevin D

One of the activities that never fails if you go on vacation with children is to visit the city zoo and you are in luck, because the Edinburgh Zoo is the most important in the country.

With more than 1,000 species, this place houses all kinds of animals from all over the world and even protects endangered animals such as the white rhinoceros.

Spending the day surrounded by flora and fauna is something the whole family is sure to enjoy. The zoo is located just over 3 kilometers from the city and can be easily reached by public transportation.

You can pre-book tickets to better organize your visit and, for less than 20 € spend an amazing day where children see animals of all kinds in first person. In addition, the kids have reduced admission, you have no excuse!

10. Track the Loch Ness Monster

The beautiful scenery of Loch Ness| ©Dave Conner
The beautiful scenery of Loch Ness| ©Dave Conner

If you've come to Edinburgh on vacation with the family and want to take a day trip out of the city, there's a must-see destination for the little ones to enjoy. Have you heard of the Loch Ness Monster? I can't guarantee that you will see it, but the place is located near Edinburgh and there are numerous tours that take you to Loch Ness.

Getting to Loch Ness from Edinburgh is quite easy and offers a full day trip where children and adults will enjoy the stunning natural environment that Scotland has to offer.

Plus, you'll keep the kids entertained for the whole trip, eager to find a glimpse of the famous ancient monster that continues to fuel the legend to this day.

As I was saying, there are excursions that usually take the whole day and that you can book for small groups for approximately 70 €.

Book a Loch Ness tour from Edinburgh

Tips for traveling to Edinburgh with children

Edinburgh Tourist Bus| ©Viator
Edinburgh Tourist Bus| ©Viator

Traveling with children can become an odyssey when planning a vacation. Fortunately, Edinburgh, like other major capitals, is quite well suited for families to enjoy together.

When it comes to getting organized, there are a number of tips to follow. I am not going to stop to tell you the general ones that you can apply in any destination, but I am going to dwell on some specific tips for Edinburgh that you may want to know for your visit to Scotland:

Book in advance

Edinburgh is the most visited city in Scotland and has internationally known places like the Edinburgh Castle that welcomes thousands of tourists month after month. That is why, if you are traveling with children, to avoid annoying queues and end up tiring them, it is best to book in advance your tickets to castles, museums and tours.

Don't stay late in pubs

Scottish pubs are known all over the world and if you travel with children you can also visit them because, in addition to national beers and whisky tasting, they also serve abundant and tasty typical food.

However, if you want to go to dinner with children to one of them, you should organize with time because, after 20h is not allowed access to young children as it is considered that it is not an environment conducive to them.

Avoid bad weather

I'm not going to lie to you, Edinburgh, and Scotland in general, is a pretty cold place. If an adult already thinks twice before going to Edinburgh in February or March, with children the situation can get even more complicated.

Unless you want to come to Edinburgh at Christmas time for its festivals and markets, my recommendation is to visit Edinburgh during the summer months, when the weather is more stable and the temperatures are warm enough to enjoy walking and being outside all day.

As you can see, there is no excuse for not coming to visit Edinburgh with children, a cosmopolitan city full of history and a mysterious aura that will delight visitors of all ages.