Edinburgh with kids

A city break to Edinburgh with kids for a few days is definitely a good idea! There is enough to do in this Scottish city to keep you well entertained for a few days. Despite Glasgow being Scotland’s largest city, Edinburgh is still much more visited by tourists. This is partly because of the beautiful downtown area that makes you feel like you’re back in the Middle Ages. In any case, we loved the city. You fly there from Amsterdam in as little as 1.5 hours with several (budget) airlines. In short, plenty of reasons to visit the city with the family! We list the best activities in Edinburgh with kids.

Edinburgh with kids
Edinburgh with kids

Package tour Edinburgh with kids

You can obviously arrange a trip to Edinburgh with kids just fine on your own, but sometimes it can also be easy to book a package tour. Here you book the flight including hotel right away. You can then often choose which airport you want to fly from in the Netherlands, Germany or Belgium. For more information on a package tour to Edinburgh, take a look here.

Edinburgh with kids #1: Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh’s most famous landmark is undoubtedly the city’s castle. The castle sits atop a rock and from most points of the city you can see the castle. Of course, we also visited the castle during our city break to Edinburgh, and there are definitely aspects that are fun for kids, but your kids have to really enjoy visiting a castle, otherwise they will soon find it boring.

What will certainly appeal to young kids on the castle’s viewing platform are the cannons you’ll find here. These cannons face the city and kids can climb on them. In addition, the view you have of the city from here is magnificent. Inside the castle, everything in that regard is beautifully maintained and also well explained. Of course, everything is listed in English, but you can translate that just fine for your kids.

For example, in the castle you have a room where the crown jewels can be viewed, there is the Great Hall (a large room with weapons and shields that is considered one of the most beautiful rooms in the United Kingdom) and you can also visit a chapel in the castle. Every day (except Sunday) a cannon is fired at 1 p.m. For more information on opening hours, entrance fees and the castle, visit the Edinburgh Castle website.

Edinburgh with kids #2: Royal Mile

Edinburgh’s most famous street is High street, which is also often called the Royal Mile. Actually, you cannot avoid this street, as it is the center of the city. Of course it’s fun to take a walk down this street with your kids. For example, there are plenty of beautiful historic buildings on this street and there were also several street performers performing when we were there.

The street runs from the castle (Edinburgh Castle) on the hill to Holyroodhouse Palace. You have several attractions and activities for kids here that we’ll revisit later in this blog. One of the most famous landmarks of this street is St. Peter’s Cathedral. Giles Cathedral, which you can visit for free.

Opposite this cathedral is still the Real Mary Kings Close, in which you can book a tour with the family to an underground corridor system under the city. They have Dutch audio, so it’s also easy for kids to follow. The whole set of narrow corridors and scary stories makes it a kind of ghost tour underground.

Edinburgh with kids
Edinburgh with kids

Edinburgh with kids #3: National Museum of Scotland

This museum is located right in the center and is free to visit. They have in this Scottish museum a huge collection of different exhibits on different subjects. Check beforehand which exhibits your kids will like and which they won’t and then make choices as to which part of the museum you will visit each. Because there are so many collections, the museum may come across as a bit cluttered, so a map of the museum does help.

What we ourselves always find interesting is the department of stuffed animals. Still, it is always fascinating to be able to see all these different animals up close. In addition, dino skeletons continue to capture the imagination of most kids. The museum also has all kinds of airplanes hanging in the air and you can see certain old Formula One cars.

Of course, how much time you need for this museum depends entirely on how many collections you want to see with your kids and how very interested your kids are in the different collections. For more information on opening hours, collections and address, check out the museum’s website.

Edinburgh with kids #4: Princess Street Gardens

If you want to escape the busy city for a while in Edinburgh with kids, the city park Princess Street Gardens is a nice option. This city park is located between the old town and the newer part, and you can have a great walk here with your family. The park also contains a playground in the shape of a castle, where your kids can climb and scramble. From the park you walk to the newer part of Edinburgh with all the modern stores.

Another place to escape the busy city during your city break to Edinburgh with kids is the beach. Edinburgh is by the sea, so especially on hot days it can be nice to cool off. From the city center you can reach the beach in half an hour by public transportation.

Portobello beach is a large sandy beach, where there are several play areas around the beach for kids. There is also an indoor pool at the beach in an old building for when the weather is not so good and your kids still want to swim for a while. In the summer, the beach also has several stalls where you can buy pancakes, ice cream and drinks.

Edinburgh with kids
Edinburgh with kids

Edinburgh with kids: other activities

In addition to the activities in Edinburgh mentioned above, there are a number of fun activities in Edinburgh with kids that you can do. We list them below.

#5 Camera Obscura: At this museum, they have no less than five floors with more than a hundred interactive displays dedicated to illusions. You can have a great morning or afternoon here with the kids. Go right in the morning when Camera Obscura opens, so it’s still nice and quiet and you can do the experiments at your leisure. You can also watch a show dedicated to illusions. You can also climb a tower here and get a nice view of the city.

#6 Hop on Hop off bus: if you are short on time and want to see a lot of the city in a short time, these buses are ideal. There are several routes through the city, which you can book with a bus tour. Most of these tours drive around the city for about 75 minutes, stopping at all the sights along the way. You can buy a pass for 48 hours and then you can have unlimited use of these buses during that period.

#7 Mercat tours: if you are visiting Edinburgh with kids who are older, the ghost-themed tours can be fun with this provider. Some tours are centered around death and also take you to the Edinburgh cemetery in the evening, though these are only suitable for kids 18 and older.

Edinburgh with kids
Edinburgh with kids

#8 Baja Bikes bike tours: you can also see Edinburgh from a bike with kids. The Dutch company Baja Bikes organizes three-hour bike tours of the city, taking you by bike past the city’s highlights. This bike tour is led by an English-speaking guide who can tell you more about the city. Bicycles are available for children eight years and older, and kids under eight can ride on a bike seat with parents on the back.

#9 Museum of Childhood: this children’s museum is also free to visit and toys (of earlier times) are the focus of the museum. Several years ago, the museum was renovated and also became a lot more interactive. The museum is not large (it contains only five rooms), so you don’t need to spend a lot of time here.

#10 Viewpoint Carlton Hill: if you want a nice free view of the city, this is a good option. The walk from the center is not too long to the top and from this mountain you have a beautiful view of the city.

#11 Edinburgh Zoo: You can also go to the zoo in Edinburg. This zoo is located in the western part of the city and you can get to this zoo in 15 minutes by public transportation from the city center. You can easily entertain yourself here for half a day. Here you can admire several large African animals such as the lion, zebra, giraffe, rhino and also several monkeys. The most special animals at this zoo are the panda bears. Keep in mind that the zoo is on a hill, so you will be walking up and down quite a bit.

Where to stay in Edinburgh with kids?

You can stay in Edinburgh with kids just fine. There are plenty of family-friendly accommodations where you can stay during your city break. We list the best rated hotels in different price ranges.

Budget hotel: Novotel Edinburgh Park

Mid-range hotel: Cityroomz Edinburgh

Luxury hotel: Wilde Aparthotels by Staycity Edinburgh Grassmarket

For a list of all accommodation in Edinburgh, take a look here.

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