Best Things to do in Edinburgh With Kids

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If you’re planning a visit to Edinburgh with the kids, check out our child-friendly activities. Don’t forget to get our insider’s guide to the best family hotels in Edinburgh.

  1. Explore five jam-packed floors filled with over 100 illusions and get rooftop views of Edinburgh at Camera Obscura and World of Illusions.
  2. Learn about the battles and sieges fought at Edinburgh Castle, see the Crown Jewels and take in panoramic views of the city.
  3. Journey through space and time to discover the past, present and future of our planet at Dynamic Earth.
  4. Visit The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh with over 15,000 plant species amongst 70 acres of beautiful landscape and fantastic views of the capital’s skyline.
  5. Explore five galleries and find toys, games, books and dolls dating from the 1800s to the present day at the Museum of Childhood.
  6. See giant pandas, koalas and 1,000 rare and beautiful animals at Edinburgh Zoo.
  7. Cuddle with rabbits and ride ponies at the Gorgie City Farm with free entry.
  8. Take a sirius-ly good Harry Potter walking tour of Edinburgh and discover the city where the world of Harry Potter was created.
  9. Journey through the city’s dark history with live actors, theatrical sets and thrilling rides at Edinburgh Dungeon.
  10. Enjoy a full day tour of some of the most dramatic Scottish Highlands scenery with highlights at Glencoe, Loch Ness and Urquhart Castle.
  11. Climb the Scott Monument in Princes Street Gardens and enjoy breathtaking views of Edinburgh.
  12. Take a spin on the giant hamster wheel at the National Museum of Scotland, a fun museum with lot of exhibits tailored for kids. Or take a personalised tour to get a deep understanding of Scotland’s history.
  13. Learn what “gardyloo” means on a guided tour down Real Mary King’s Close, a preserved warren of subterranean streets, frozen in time since the 17th century.
  14. Head to the hothouses of Butterfly and Insect World to get up close and personal with a wide variety of creepy crawlies.
  15. Slide, climb and burn off some energy at Wonder World, a huge soft play with ball pool, go-karts and a giant climbing volcano.
  16. Blair Drummond Safari Park is worth the one-hour drive from Edinburgh to Stirling. Get up close to elephants, lions, giraffes, bison, zebras and more.
  17. Have a picnic in West Prince’s Street Gardens where kids can have a run around on the lawns, whilst adults can take in the views of Edinburgh Castle.
  18. Visit Edinburgh International Climbing Arena, the largest in Europe on a rainy day.
  19. Visit East Links Family Park where you can take a train safari, play crazy golf, see the outdoor farm animals and much more.
  20. Sample the sweet treats at S. Luca, a diner-style ice cream parlour in Morningside.
  21. Bounce across a sea of trampolines, free fall onto a giant stuntbag and walk the wall at Ryze Xtreme Air Sports.
  22. Walk The Royal Mile which starts at Edinburgh Castle and finishes at the Palace of Holyrood and is always bustling with street performers.
  23. Check out Mary Queen of Scots’ historic chambers at The Palace of Holyroodhouse.
  24. Visit the statue of Greyfriars Bobby and learn the heartwarming tale of a faithful and loyal dog who refused to leave his master’s graveside for many years.
  25. Learn how to crack a safe at The Museum On The Mound, the former headquarters of the Bank of Scotland.
  26. Go on a thrilling ghost tour of Edinburgh’s Old Town that takes you underground to the Edinburgh Vaults. Not suitable for under 5s.
  27. Take the Chocolatarium Tour and see the transformation from bitter beans to sweet, smooth chocolate plus make your own chocolates to take home. Not suitable for under 8s.
  28. Board the Hogwarts Express steam train for a day trip to the Scottish Highlands and learn where J.K. Rowling found inspiration for her Harry Potter stories.
  29. Ride the rapids on The River Tay with a half-day rafting adventure. Not suitable for under 8s or pregnant women.
  30. Visit the Royal Yacht Britannia which was a floating home to the royal family for 44 years. The kids will love the LEGO replica of the boat.
  31. Head to the famous Meadows Park and let the kids explore one of the largest playgrounds in Edinburgh.
  32. Stroll along the promenade and build sandcastles at Portobello Beach, a few miles from Edinburgh City Centre.
  33. Climb Arthur’s Seat, an extinct volcano, and see some of the best views of Edinburgh from the summit. Or book a local Edinburgher for a personalised tour.
  34. One whisky tour you can take your kids to is The Scotch Whisky Experience (Silver Tour) where you get to ride in a barrel and sample the drink (Irn Bru if you’re a child!)
  35. Let the kids run wild at Calton Hill with it’s breathtaking views and an Athenian style acropolis.
  36. Check out the mini supermarket and pizza delivery play area at OceanPlay overlooking the water and the Royal Yacht Britannia.
  37. Children’s story time at the Scottish Storytelling Centre will inspire kids of all ages, plus they can get involved in writing workshops and more.
  38. Hit Cramond Beach for a great family day out with its fishing village vibes and splendid views over the Firth of Forth.
  39. Get creative at Doodles Ceramic Workshop where you can choose from 100s of pieces of pottery, which you would like to paint.
  40. Prepare to be scared at The Edinburgh Dungeon, an underground journey through the city’s darkest history, with live actors, theatrical sets, and thrilling rides.
  41. Book a show at the Edinburgh Playhouse and see big productions like The School Of Rock and Paw Patrol Live.
  42. Explore the Sky Maze at Fort Douglas Adventure Park with zip wires, suspension bridges, slides, climbing walls and secret tunnels.
  43. Explore one of Edinburgh’s top free attractions, The Scottish National Gallery. See masterpieces from Raphael to Van Gogh and take part in activities and events to suit all ages.
  44. Head down to The Pitt Market in Leith to enjoy live music and street food. Kids and dogs get free entry.
  45. Learn the story of the lives of ordinary people in Edinburgh from the late 18th century onwards at free The People’s Story Museum.
  46. Follow the Harlaw biodiversity trail at the stunning Pentland Hills, where kids can learn about the local plants and wildlife.
  47. Create one of a kind keepsakes like imprints, outprints and 3D casts at The Ceramic Experience, great for all ages.
  48. Discover 1,000 years of history at St Giles’ Cathedral and lookout for family events such as craft sessions and music and poetry workshops.
  49. Go on an Edinburgh treasure hunt and open your eyes to many things you would ordinarily just walk straight past.
  50. Take a kids’ trail and watch a harpsichord being played at St Cecilias Hall Museum of Instruments.
  51. Go on a circular walk of the Braid Hills, where you can get amazing 360 degree views of Edinburgh.
  52. Hit the tree canopies at Go Ape in Glentress Forest and ride the 325-metre-long zip wire across a valley that’s a whopping 160ft high.
  53. Race the indoor Go Karting track at Xtreme or if you don’t fancy that, there’s also Laser Tag and Escape Room all under one roof.
  54. Hit the slopes at Midlothian Snowsports Centre for an exhilarating slide down the hill and fun for all the family, try tubing.
  55. Harry Potter fans can see J.K. Rowling’s golden hand prints on a flagstone in front of Edinburgh City Chambers – Edinburgh’s answer to Hollywood’s Walk of Fame.
  56. Visit The Yard, home to adventure and play for disabled children and young people with sensory garden, sand pits and much more and its open to the public on Sundays.
  57. Take the kids to Escape Hunt and put your puzzle-solving skills to the test in one of 4 themed rooms. Suitable for over 8s.
  58. Learn about victory and defeat at the National War Museum and see military artefacts and historical personal items of Scotland’s infantry soldiers.
  59. Prepare to be spooked on this Ghostly Underground Vaults Tour giving an insight into the dark history of the city’s past and its people. Not suitable for under 5s.
  60. Keep your eye out for seals and puffins on a family-friendly Forth Boat Tour with fabulous views of the Firth of the Forth.
  61. Explore Edinburgh’s wizarding world on an interactive self-guided Harry Potter Walking Tour with integrated codebreaking.
  62. Daring kids will enjoy the award winning Cadies and Witchery Tours which are funny or frightening guided tours of the city with tales of plague, punishment and persecution a plenty.
  63. Head to Inverleith Park where you’ll find a children’s play park, tennis courts, basketball court and football pitch.
  64. Finding a pub where you can take kids can be a challenge in Edinburgh but Newhaven Quay Brewers Fayre is family-friendly and has a multi-level play gym.
  65. Walk through the longest underwater shark tunnel in the UK at Deep Sea World – Scotland’s national aquarium.
  66. Take the kids for a splash at Beacon Leisure Centre which has water flumes, a wave machine and an astro-pitch.
  67. See the top city sights with an unlimited 24-Hour Hop-on Hop-off Bus Tour where the kids can enjoy the open-top, double-decker bus.
  68. Go back in time at the National Mining Museum of Scotland where kids can see what life was like working in a cramped, dark mines (in which children as young as 5 used to work in in the 1800s)
  69. Get your skates on and head to Murrayfield Ice Rink, a fun-filled leisure activity for the whole family with skate hire (from a child’s size 4 to an adult size 14).
  70. Older kids will enjoy Edinburgh Combat Challenge which is an exciting laser combat game using state of the art infra-red weapons with a range of up to 200 metres. Not suitable for under 8s.
  71. Get exclusive access behind the scenes at Tynecastle Park Stadium. This family-friendly tour is great for sports fans of all ages.
  72. Become a real life Sherlock Holmes with a Museum Detectives workshop at the Surgeons’ Hall Museum.
  73. Little ones will enjoy the pedal tractor farm area at Conifox Adventure Park, plus there’s trampolines, go-karts and much more for a fun family day out.
  74. Watch artists at work at Dovecot Studios, a tapestry studio located in a renovated Victorian pool building.
  75. Have a go at Cosmic Bowling at Edinburgh Tenpin Fountain Park.
  76. Take a stroll around the ‘most haunted burial grounds in the world’ at Greyfriars Kirkyard where you will spot some famous gravestones including Tom Riddell and Greyfriars Bobby.
  77. Go for a walk in the Walled Garden at Corstorphine Hill, a popular spot for the locals.
  78. Check out the Wojtek soldier bear memorial in Princes St gardens which immortalises an orphaned bear that was adopted by a group of Polish soldiers during WWII.
  79. Pick your own fruit, meet the animals and take a woodland walk at Craigie’s Farm Shop and Café.
  80. Take tea and cake at The Elephant House Café where J.K Rowling wrote the earlier Harry Potter books (and the café toilets are now a shrine to all things Potter).
  81. Catch a 3-D film at Vue Edinburgh Omni Centre with 12 huge screens.
  82. Take kids to see the 1 o’clock gun being fired at Edinburgh Castle. This takes place everyday except Sundays.
  83. Take a rock climbing taster session at Alien Rock and experience the thrill of indoor climbing. Suitable for over 5s.
  84. Join in with the locals and sign your kids up to a junior park run, perfect for kids aged between 4 and 14.
  85. Take a delightful afternoon’s stroll or cycle away from the hustle and bustle of the city along The Water of Leith Walkway.
  86. Head to the coastal village of South Queensferry for a great view of the iconic Forth Rail Bridge.
  87. Visit Jupiter Artland, a contemporary park on the outskirts of Edinburgh, showcasing innovative sculptures, a woodland art trail and more.
  88. Combine softplay with swimming at the Royal Commonwealth Swimming Pool, also home to Clambers, perfect for babies or kids of up to 10 years of age.
  89. Little historians can discover the highlights of Roman Britain and Hadrian’s Wall on a 1 day tour from Edinburgh.
  90. Prepare a picnic and take a trip to the 220 acre Almondell and Calderwood Country Park.
  91. Head to Holyrood Park which is a free-access park with hills, lochs, glens and natural springs which are ideal for a family stroll.
  92. Download the Edinburgh Film Map for free and discover your favourite film locations in the capital.
  93. Take any cowboy mad children for a selfie in Old Wild West Town.
  94. Enjoy an Edinburgh Treasure Hunt, taking you past many local attractions including The Scott Monument, Edinburgh Castle and Waverley Station.
  95. Take a stroll in the cool, damp Innocent Railway tunnel that runs undergound and exits into the pleasant green surroundings of Holyrood Park.
  96. Visit Prestongrange, a family-friendly free open-air museum where you can see the powerhouse, a vast brick kiln, coal wagons and a steam crane.
  97. Saddle up at Whiteloch Farm Riding and Trekking Stables where there is horse riding for all abilities (over 5s welcome).
  98. Wester Hailes Education Centre has a wide range of facilities including a free form swimming pool, toddler pool and a fitness suite.
  99. Ride the miniature railway (on a Sunday) at Vogrie Country Park.
  100. Visit the award-winning Japanese gardens at Laurieston Castle, or step back in time and experience what life was like in a middle-class home at the beginning of the 20th century.
  101. Enjoy the Outlander Adventure Day Tour, which takes you on a trip to three castles and an exceptionally well-preserved village.

101 Things To Do With The Kids

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Dominic Sawyer

Dominic has been writing on the web since 2000. He has a BSc (Hons) degree in Biological Sciences from Nottingham University and his research thesis has been published in journals. With a foundation in painstaking research he found his passion for travel and has worked in the sector for 20 years. He has written a book about travel and has extended his expertise to consumer research across the travel and leisure sector.