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How to Spend 5 Days in Edinburgh with Kids in the Summer

How to Spend 5 Days in Edinburgh with Kids in the Summer

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Planning a trip to Edinburgh with kids and want a totally doable itinerary? Keep scrolling to check out my kid-friendly 5 days in Rome itinerary from my last trip to Scotland!
This kid-friendly 5 days in Edinburgh itinerary was written by family travel expert Marcie Cheung and contains affiliate links which means if you purchase something from one of my affiliate links, I may earn a small commission that goes back into maintaining this blog.

My husband and I spent most of the pandemic binge-watching TV shows. One of those shows was Outlander and we totally fell in love with the Scottish landscape!

From there, we watched Men in Kilts (which features 2 actors from the show who travel around Scotland) and we knew we needed to plan a trip.

Our first stop was Edinburgh and it was such a cool city to get a taste of Scotland. Keep scrolling to see exactly what we did with our kids there!

Image of Marcie Cheung and her family in Edinburgh
I’m glad we had warm layers, even in summer. Photo credit: Kim with Flytographer in Edinburgh

What’s Edinburgh Like in the Summer?

On a recent trip to LEGOLAND California, we happened to have an Uber driver from Scotland. He told me that June was the best time to visit Scotland in terms of weather. He said that the weather starts to be more unpredictable in July and August.

So, we booked our recent trip to Scotland for June to enjoy mild weather and possibly fewer crowds than later in the summer. Our weather was a bit chilly but very similar to Seattle in June.

5 Days in Edinburgh with Kids

Before I really get into the Edinburgh in 5 days itinerary, I wanted to note that we started off our trip in London for a few days. So we weren’t jet-lagged at this point.

DAY 1: ARRIVAL DAY

We hopped on a 9:00 a.m. train in London and arrived in Edinburgh around 1:30 p.m. The 4.5-hour train ride was quite scenic, and we opted for first-class, which meant we had great Wi-Fi and free food/drinks.

Image of two boys on the train to Edinburgh from London.
We usually upgrade to first class cars. Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

When we got to the Edinburgh train station, we did GPS on our phone which took us on a crazy walk up a giant staircase to get up to our hotel (the Radisson Blu). It was only a 10-minute walk but we had to dodge people and roll suitcases uphill while managing 2 kids.

Funny enough, we took another look at the map and found a few more less painful ways to have gone. Oh well!

Exploring Edinburgh

The Radisson Blu is right on the Royal Mile, which is the main reason we booked it. So, we dropped our bags in our room (which was amazing) and then decided to explore the city a bit.

Image of Marcie Cheung and her family dressed in Scottish traditional clothing
We had a BLAST dressing up! Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

I love doing tourist photo ops so I did a bit of research to find out that Tartan Weaving Mill offers a 1-hour photo session where your family can dress up in traditional military or highlands outfits and do a full photo shoot.

It took a minute to get the kids on board but once they found out that they could hold museum-quality swords, they were IN. And we got such fun photos!

Image of two boys dressed in traditional Scottish clothing at the Tartan Weaving Mill in Edinburgh
The kids geeked out picking their weapons! Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

Tartan Weaving Mill is also a really massive store that has all kinds of cool items. My husband bought a tweed jacket and I got a nice wool wrap that we were able to wear for our photo shoot the next day.

Next to Tartan Weaving Mill is Camera Obscura & World of Illusions. My kids saw this and immediately wanted to check it out. We’d been to something similar in NYC and Amsterdam so they knew what to expect.

Image of Marcie Cheung and her family at the World of Illusions in Edinburgh Scotland
The World of Illusions was a hit with my kids! Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

We were there for about 90 minutes, taking our time to explore all the different illusions on each level and doing the fun photo spots.

But I think the coolest part was heading all the way up to the Camera Obscura. It’s the same camera that Mary Short invented about 150 years ago and it captures live camera views all across Edinburgh.

It’s a small room with a tour guide who runs the demonstration. My kids loved using the paper to “lift” people off the screen. It’s something we’ve never seen before, and I think it’s one of the best kid-friendly Edinburgh activities.

Dinner at Ondine Oyster & Grill

We were all pretty wiped so we figured we’d just swing into the first restaurant that sounded good. We ended up at Ondine Oyster & Grill specifically because they feature mussels (a family favorite).

The mussels were SO good that we placed 2 orders. We also enjoyed the lobster thermidor and filled up on bread.

Luckily our hotel was just a few blocks away so we went there and crashed.

DAY 2: PHOTO SHOOT + HARRY POTTER TOUR

Breakfast at Hotel

Our hotel rate came with free breakfast, so we figured we should take advantage. We got there about 7 a.m. and was impressed to find a full buffet with hot and cold items. Plus coffee and tea service at the table.

Flytographer Photo Shoot

We met our photographer Kim right by our hotel for a photography session along the Royal Mile. We picked this Flytographer route because it seemed to incorporate a bunch of iconic Edinburgh backdrops.

Image of Marcie Cheung and her family in Edinburgh
It was fun finding cool photo spots. Photo credit: Kim with Flytographer in Edinburgh

I chose a 90-minute shoot because I know my 7yo can be a range of emotions and I wanted to give ourselves time in case we needed breaks. If your kids are more predictable, you’d be totally fine with a 60-minute shoot.

Image of Marcie Cheung and her family in Edinburgh
Victoria Street was a fun spot! Photo credit: Kim with Flytographer in Edinburgh

This was a really fun way to see a ton of areas in Edinburgh that we hadn’t explored yet. Plus we got to chat with Kim about her favorite spots and get a local’s perspective. Check out our photos here.

She was truly phenomenal and was able to engage our 7yo so he could fully participate in the shoot. If you’d like to try Flytographer, use my link to get $25 off your first photo shoot.

Shopping & Hotel Time

Our photo shoot ended at about 9:30 a.m. so we figured we’d spend about an hour doing some light shopping. I grabbed a chai tea latte from Starbucks to warm up a bit and then we hit the streets.

Boots is one of my favorite stores for beauty and health items. We grabbed some vitamins, Boots skincare products, and some Irn Bru soda (which is famous in Scotland).

Image of a boy at the Museum of Context in Edinburgh
Museum Context is a must-stop for Harry Potter fans. Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

Next, we took a walk to check out some cute boutiques and ended with a stop at a convenience store to stock up on snacks and drinks for our room.

Then, we had about an hour to hang out in our hotel room and rest before heading to lunch.

Lunch at Byron Proper Burger

My 10yo loves burgers so we decided to go across the street to have lunch at Byron Proper Burger. It had great reviews online and it sounded fairly quick.

They had a great kids menu! Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

They had a great kids menu (which doubled as an activity placemat) and we all ordered our food on our phone and it was delivered to our table shortly.

Our burgers were really good and my 7yo liked his mac & cheese. We’d totally recommend it to families.

Potter Trail Private Tour

If you like Harry Potter, you’ll definitely want to do The Potter Trail Tour. They have free walking tours (you still need to pre-register) but they also have private tours.

Image of Marcie Cheung and her family on the Potter Trail tour in Edinburgh
Our tour guide was fabulous! Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

We opted for the private tour because we like to go at our own pace, get a lot of attention from our guide, and have time to ask questions.

Our tour guide Allistair was awesome! Not only did he show up wearing a cape but he taught us all a magic spell to make the crosswalk lights change.

Image of a boy wearing a Slytherin scarf in front of Tom Riddell's grave in Edinburgh
My 10yo geeked out seeing Tom Riddell’s grave. Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

A few highlights included getting to see Tom Riddell’s grave (the inspiration for Tom Riddle in the books), the Elephant House (where J.K. Rowling wrote several Harry Potter books), and Victoria Street (the inspiration for Diagon Alley).

We ended our tour with a stop to get Butterbeer, which was perfect!

Room Service Dinner

Since we knew we had a long day the following day, we decided to call it an early night and just do in-room dining at our hotel. It’s something our kids love doing and it saved us all a lot of effort.

DAY 3: SCOTLAND IN A DAY TOUR

This was an early and LONG day. We booked a Scotland in a Day tour through Tartan Viking that lasted 10 hours. That meant we had to wake up at 5:45 a.m. to make sure our family was able to meet at the spot by 7:45 a.m.

Breakfast at Hotel

We headed to breakfast at about 7 a.m. and tried to load up on protein items and things to fill our bellies. We also took advantage of their tea and coffee service.

Castle Doune

We met up with our tour guide, Calum, and he hilariously narrated all the way from Edinburgh to Castle Doune. If you’ve ever watched Monty Python and the Holy Grail, this is the castle featured in the movie.

Image of Marcie Cheung taking a selfie at Doune Castle in Edinburgh
It was exciting to see Doune Castle! Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

It was nice to get out of the van to stretch our legs and take a few photos in front of this castle while hearing a bit of the history.

Our kids were mostly interested in hearing about how enemy soldiers used to stand underneath where the other soldiers would poop and immediately shoot them with their crossbows. Ewww.

Callander

Next, we headed to the village of Callander specifically to pick up lunch items at Mhor Bread. OMG I’m so glad we stopped, even if it was at 9:30 a.m.!

I got a ham and coleslaw sandwich (it was amazing) as well as an Irn Bru tea (which actually tasted like the soda but better).

Image of Empire Biscuits in Scotland
Empire biscuits were a big hit! Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

We also grabbed an assortment of pastries because we love to try stuff at bakeries. Then we hopped back into the car to store our lunch items for later and continue with the tour.

Meeting Highland Coos!

Our next stop was just a few minutes away and we got to meet and feed a few highland cows! This was a total bucket list item for me!

Image of Marcie Cheung and her son taking a selfie with a highland cow in Scotland
It was great to have the chance to feed them! Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

They had a really nice gift shop where we bought some cute sweatshirts, some shortbread, and got a bag of food for the highland coos.

My 7yo was game to feed them and my husband and I also took turns. It was such a cool experience!

Falls of Dochart & Cheese Tasting

Our next stop was to check out one of the prettiest landscapes we’d seen so far! It was the Falls of Dochart.

Image of Marcie Cheung and her family at Falls of Dochart in Scotland
It was a wee bit chilly! Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

Calum gave us a bit of history about the area and the clans who lived (and fought) there. And then he walked us down for some epic photo spots.

Then, we walked over to the Falls of Dochart Smokehouse where we got to try some cheddar cheese infused with the whisky flavor.

A few of us got hungry for lunch by then, so we started enjoying our sandwiches as we headed to the next spot.

Glencoe

We made a few stops in Glencoe. A couple of then were just for a few minutes to snap a quick selfie with the stunning landscape.

Image of Marcie Cheung and her husband in Glencoe, Scotland
Our guide took this photo of us while the kids stayed warm in the van. Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

Calum briefly showed us where Hagrid’s Hut from Harry Potter was filmed, we saw the Three Sisters and some waterfalls, and just took in the views.

Next, we drove over to the Visitor’s Center which was fascinating! We spent about 45 minutes getting to see what an old-timey house made of peet and sticks was like. It was pretty fascinating and reminded me of the sod house my great-grandma was born in.

Image of a family looking at a hut in Glencoe Visitor's Center
It was neat to see a hut made of peet! Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

The Visitor’s Center also had an area about mountaineering that was pretty cool! My 10yo loved hearing about the climber who kissed the mountain before his wife when he finished climbing all the peaks.

Laggan Dam

Our next quick stop was at Laggan Dam, which helps create power used for the area.

Pattack Falls

This was a slightly longer stop and quite fun! We did a short hike to the waterfall and got a few cute family photos.

Image of two boys hiking at Pattack Falls in Scotland
The kids liked climbing down the rocks at Pattack Falls. Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

My 7yo was mostly interested in dropping sticks into the water below.

Apparently it’s popular for wild swimming and we chatted with a lady who had just done the plunge and she raved about the health benefits.

Pitlochry Village

Our final stop was Pitlochry Village. It has a bunch of cute boutiques and restaurants. We stopped to get ice cream and then did a quick walk around the village.

Image of Highland Soap Co in Pitlochry Village
We loved the products at Highland Soap Co. Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

Our favorite shop was the Highland Soap Co. and we got a bar of shampoo as well as some shaving essentials and fancy chapstick.

Then, we made the 90-minute drive back to Edinburgh.

Takeout Dinner

It was about 6:30 p.m. when we got back to Edinburgh and our family was WIPED. Thankfully, we were able to order in food for dinner at our hotel.

We opted to see what Scottish Chinese food tasted like, since Chinese is one of our comfort foods. It was similar to what we get in Seattle but the flavors were a bit different.

DAY 4: PRIVATE HIGHLANDS TOUR WITH ANDY

Breakfast at the Hotel

Since Andy picked us up at 8:45 a.m., we actually had a somewhat leisurely morning and enjoyed breakfast and tea at the hotel.

Blackness Castle

Andy the Highlander is a popular Scottish content creator (@andythehighlander on IG) who has also been in a lot of episodes of the hit show Outlander.

Of course, our kids weren’t interested in that. But they were immediately interested when they got to wear kilts, grab some fake weapons, and do an all-out family battle in front of Blackness Castle!

Image of Andy the Highlander and Marcie Cheung's family at Blackness Castle in Scotland
Andy made Blackness Castle simple epic! Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

Once we got some initial energy out, we entered Blackness Castle where we got to check out filming sites as well as learn more of its history. It was super cool!

Midhope Castle (aka Lallybroch)

Our next stop is where my husband and I totally geeked out because it’s where they filmed all the Lallybroch scenes!

Image of Marcie Cheung and her family at Midhope Castle (aka Lallybrach) in Scotland
It was amazing to see Lallybroch in person! Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

We happened to get there between the crowds, which was amazing! Andy showed us photos and videos of a few scenes they shot there. It was epically cool!

We got to walk around the exterior and see where they added CGI, which was neat.

There’s a little stand in front of Midhope Castle where you can buy some special items too. My husband bought the “key” to Lallybroch!

Abercorb Church

Right around the corner from Midhope Castle is Abercorb Church. That’s where they filmed scenes of the Boston cemetery where Frank was buried. It was interesting to see that but it was even more interesting to see the graves that had symbols instead of writing on them.

Lunch at Red Lion Inn

We had lunch at the Red Lion Inn which is where the main characters of Outlander had a meal during the filming of season 1.

The food here is really, really good and I’d definitely recommend it. Andy and my husband ordered pies that looked mouthwateringly delicious.

Playground Time

After lunch, Andy took us over to a really cool playground where the kids got to run around and get some wiggles out.

Image of a playground in Scotland
My kids could have spent a full hour here. Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

It was a seriously cool playground with a lot of things we don’t often see in American parks. The kids LOVED it.

Culross Palace & Town

Our next stop was Culross Palace, which was the set for a bunch of Outlander scenes in several seasons.

Image of a family walking into Culross Palace in Scotland
The kids were excited for the scavenger hunt. Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

The kids loved that there was a scavenger hunt to find LEGO minifigures, so they kept them occupied while we got all the Outlander scoop.

We also went out to the garden where Geillis Duncan and Claire go to pick herbs for medicinal purposes.

Image of two boys walking through the garden at Culross Palace in Scotland
The garden at Culross Palace was really special. Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

After we toured the palace, we walked around the town and saw Geillis Duncan’s house and the place where the kid got his ear nailed to a board.

Doune Castle (aka Castle Leoch)

This was our final stop and I almost asked Andy to skip it since we had stopped by on the day before. But I’m SO glad I didn’t!

Image of Andy the Highlander and two boys inside Doune Castle in Scotland
Andy helped my boys with their scavenger hunts. Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

First of all, we were able to go inside the castle and the kids did a cool scavenger hunt. Plus we learned about the Outlander scenes as well as where they filmed scenes from Monty Python and the Holy Grail.

It was really awesome to get to fully explore the castle and take our time.

When we were finished, Andy drove us back to our hotel and bid us goodnight.

Monty Python and the Holy Grail Movie Night

Since the kids had seen a few Monty Python scenes at Doune Castle, they were curious about the movie. Thankfully, we were able to stream the movie at the hotel!

The kids thought it was one of the funniest movies they’ve ever seen and immediately started quoting it! And they recognized SO many of the filming sites from Doune Castle!

Italian Delivery Dinner

We were pretty wiped from the day’s activities, so we ordered in Italian food to eat at the hotel and have an early-ish night.

DAY 5: NATIONAL MUSEUM OF SCOTLAND AND DYNAMIC EARTH

We were actually supposed to do a full-day Harry Potter tour that included a ride on the Jacobite Steam Train (aka Hogwarts Express), but they canceled on us about a week prior.

The silver lining was that it gave us a much-needed free day in our Edinburgh itinerary.

Breakfast at Southern Cross Cafe

Actually, our “first breakfast” was going to Starbucks at 7:30 a.m. to get coffee and croissants. Then we had a leisurely morning and did a late breakfast at Southern Cross Cafe.

We really liked the food options! My eggs florentine were yummy and my husband enjoyed his eggs benedict. The kids also raved about their hot chocolate, yogurt, and toast with jam.

Shopping

We also took some time to go shopping along the Royal Mile. There’s tons of cute touristy shops that were fun to take a peek inside.

Image of Highland Cow slippers
My 10yo insisted on getting this highland coo slippers! Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

We also were on a mission to get more chapstick made by the Highland Soap Co. and we found it in a whisky shop!

We had planned on swinging by Edinburgh Castle until we saw that it was sold out for the entire day. In hindsight we should have gotten our tickets in advanced, but we were able to get some for our departure day.

National Museum of Scotland

The kids weren’t super stoked when I suggested we check out the National Museum of Scotland. And to be fair, it does look a bit boring from the exterior.

Image of a boy at the National Museum of Scotland
The National Museum of Scotland is a gorgeous building. Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

However, we all were in awe as soon as we entered and saw all the amazing exhibits, hands-on activities, and kid play areas.

We spent about 90 minutes just going through a few of the exhibit areas. That’s because there are so many places for kids to experience hands-on learning.

Image of a dad and two boys at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh
The National Museum of Scotland was a blast! Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

They also have one of the nicest museum gift shops we’ve seen with a HUGE kids section.

Tesco Express for Lunch

We were a bit tired, so we figured we’d grab lunch items and snacks from Tesco Express on our way back to the hotel.

Then, we spent a couple of hours eating, relaxing, and zoning out for a bit so we’d have energy to continue on our day.

Dynamic Earth

After we rested up, we walked over to Dynamic Earth. It’s a really cool science museum with lots of hands-on activities for the kids.

Image of two boys at Dynamic Earth in Edinburgh, Scotland
We enjoyed the immersive rooms. Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

It’s a self-guided tour through a bunch of rooms where there are sensory things, like touching a real iceberg or feeling a volcano erupt.

Image of Marcie Cheung at Dynamic Earth in Edinburgh
We liked all the statues and exhibits. Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

There are also shows like a 3D virtual reality flight around the globe and a variety of planetarium shows.

Our kids really loved exploring it! We spent about 90 minutes doing the entire museum, including the show.

Dinner at Bertie’s Proper Fish & Chips

We figured we should eat out for our last night in Edinburgh, so we headed over to Bertie’s Proper Fish & Chips on Victoria Street.

The ice cream was a great kids dessert! Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

It’s a great place to go for families because they have a nice kids menu (where all meals include dessert) as well as an extensive regular menu.

The kids ordered chicken nuggets, I had fish and chips, and my husband had a steak pie.

BONUS DAY 6: EDINBURGH CASTLE & PRINCES STREET GARDENS

We actually had a half-day in Edinburgh before heading up to Inverness, so we spent it visiting Edinburgh Castle. We actually tried to get walk-up tickets the day before but they were completely sold out.

So, we got tickets for our last day because it seemed like it was the “big” thing to do in Edinburgh.

Image of Marcie Cheung and her family in front of Edinburgh Castle in Scotland
We finally got to go inside Edinburgh Castle. Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

I think we would have enjoyed it more if it was the only castle we visited. However, after having several castles almost to ourselves earlier in the trip, we were all overwhelmed by the massive crowds.

We did manage to be there during the 1:00 gun, which is something that happens everyday but Sunday. However we only stayed at the castle for about an hour before the kids insisted that we leave.

Image of a boy jumping in a harness by Edinburgh Castle
My 7yo conquered his fear of heights! Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

Thankfully, we spotted a play area at Princes Street Gardens, so we headed there. While the playground was under renovation, the kids were able to go bungee trampolining and play in a hamster ball on water thanks to a pop up attraction.

It was the best way to end our time in Edinburgh!

Tips for Visiting Edinburgh with Kids

Stay Near Edinburgh Attractions You Want to Visit

Edinburgh is definitely set up as a pedestrian city and it’s a little tricky to rely on taxis. We stayed right on the Royal Mile because we were able to walk to almost everywhere we needed to go. But another option is to get tickets for a hop-on-hop-off bus or just the city bus that will take you to the major spots.

Plan Ahead

If you’re going during the busy months (like summer), you’ll definitely want to plan ahead. Tours sell out weeks in advance. Tickets to Edinburgh Castle also sell out days in advance. Do your homework and book your must-do activities before you go.

Ask Your Kids What THEY Want to Do

I find it helpful to do some research and offer up a few different activities per day (for things you don’t have to book in advance). That’s why we visited the World of Illusions, the National Museum of Scotland, and Dynamic Earth.

Book Kid-Friendly Edinburgh Tours

We had a blast with the Potter Trail Tour and Andy the Highlander because they tailored it specifically for kids. They knew how to keep our boys engaged and interested in what they were talking about.

There are also a bunch of ghost tours available at night that could be cool for brave kids and teens.

Edinburgh Itinerary FAQs

Is it worth visiting Edinburgh with kids?

I think Edinburgh is a really kid-friendly city! It’s pretty easy to walk most places and there are some great kid-friendly museums, restaurants, and fun shops. The only tricky thing is that there are a lot of cobblestones so I’m not sure I’d recommend bringing a stroller.

Are 5 days enough for Edinburgh?

I felt like 5 days was a great amount of time to explore Edinburgh as well as do some day trips outside the city. We hit a lot of highlights, walked all over town, and got a good sense. Plus, it left us a few things to do when we return.

What are the major attractions in Edinburgh?

Edinburgh’s major attractions include Edinburgh Castle, a historic fortress with amazing views of the city, and the Royal Mile, a famous street that runs through the heart of the Old Town. Another popular site is Arthur’s Seat, an ancient volcano that offers great hiking and panoramic views of Edinburgh.

5 Days in Edinburgh Travel Tips Wrap-Up

I hope this 5-day Edinburgh itinerary for families helps you plan your own trip. Of course, this is just what our family did. The possibilities are endless!

Looking for more Edinburgh travel resources? Check out 13 Best Day Trips From Edinburgh by Train, Edinburgh vs Dublin: Which City Wins for Family Fun?, 23 Enticing Things to do with Kids in Edinburgh, How to Plan a Budget-Friendly Photo Shoot in Edinburgh, Scotland, 13 Must-Read Scotland Travel Tips for First-Timers, and 9 Best Edinburgh Hotels for Families Worth Booking!

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