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23 Enticing Things to do with Kids in Edinburgh, Scotland

23 Enticing Things to do with Kids in Edinburgh, Scotland

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Are you planning a trip to Scotland with kids and looking for fun Edinburgh activities? Keep scrolling to check out the coolest things to do with kids in Edinburgh, Scotland!
This list of things to do with kids in Edinburgh Scotland was written by family travel expert Marcie Cheung and contains affiliate links. If you purchase something from one of my affiliate links, I may earn a small commission that goes back into maintaining this blog.

I just spent 5 days exploring Edinburgh with my kids and we had a blast!

Considering it’s the capital city of a country famous for whisky and pubs, you’ll be surprised at all the things to do with kids in Edinburgh, Scotland!

As well as being a small place that’s easy to get around with children, there are lots of family attractions in Edinburgh. Most museums are kid-friendly and there are several parks, castles, tours, and other unique things to do in Edinburgh for children.

Whether you’re looking for days out in Edinburgh for families or need enough family activities to fill a long weekend, this is the guide for you!

You’ll find inspiration for things to do in Edinburgh in the rain, with toddlers, with teenagers, and everything in between for an unforgettable family vacation.

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23 Exciting Things To Do With Kids in Edinburgh, Scotland

Edinburgh Castle

One of the top visitor attractions in the country, one of the unmissable things to do in Scotland with kids is to visit Edinburgh Castle.

Image of Marcie Cheung and her family in front of Edinburgh Castle in Scotland
You can’t miss Edinburgh Castle! Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

Even if your kids are young, they’ll love seeing the crown jewels and the views from one of the oldest fortresses in Europe. Not to mention the cannons are fun to sit on!

National Museum of Scotland

The National Museum of Scotland has something for all visitors. It’s one of the best Edinburgh attractions for families because most of the exhibits are interactive and colorful.

Image of a dad and two boys at the National Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh
This was SUCH a cool museum with tons of hands-on activities. Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

There’s everything from Scottish fashion through the ages, natural history, and science.

Even better, it’s free to visit!

Calton Hill

Speaking of free things to do in Edinburgh with families, climbing Calton Hill is one of the best. It’s one of the easiest of Edinburgh’s seven hills to climb and views over Princes Street are dreamy.

Image of Calton Hill in Edinburgh, Scotland
Lots of people like to climb up Calton Hill.

Older kids might prefer to hike Arthur’s Seat, the highest of Edinburgh’s hills at 823 ft/251 m tall. It’s an extinct volcano and looks out over the whole city!

Edinburgh Dungeons

You always need some rainy day things to do in Edinburgh for kids under your belt. 

When you visit the Edinburgh Dungeons, you get a thrill and a history lesson. Enjoy underground immersive experiences with actors, sets, and rides while learning about the horrors of the grave robbers Burke and Hare and the witch hunts.

Camera Obscura and World of Illusions

Located steps away from the castle, Camera Obscura and the World of Illusions is always one of the highest-rated kids’ attractions in Edinburgh.

Image of Marcie Cheung and her family at the World of Illusions in Edinburgh Scotland
My kids LOVED this place! Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

It’s part fun-house, part viewing platform. My kids begged to do this when we were walking down the street and we don’t regret it.

Kids of all ages will enjoy blowing off steam before climbing to the top of the building for 360° views of the city.

The Real Mary King’s Close

Did you know that entire streets in Edinburgh were sealed over and the city was rebuilt on top? 

Image of the exterior of Mary King's Close in Edinburgh, Scotland
This is great for kids who don’t scare easily. Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

It’s true! The tenants of Mary King’s Close, a narrow cobbled street, moved out in 1902 when it was sealed up. The Real Mary King’s Close experience opened in 2003 and soon became one of the top family things to do in Edinburgh off the Royal Mile.

Take a tour through old houses and learn about Edinburgh’s history with the plague and much more. You can buy a souvenir photo, too!

Greyfriars Bobby & Kirkyard

Yes, a graveyard might not seem like one of the most fun things to do with kids in Edinburgh, Scotland. But it is! There are two reasons why, and one is related to a super cute dog.

Image of Greyfriars Kirkyard in Scotland
Take a peek at the names in this graveyard to find Harry Potter connections!

Legend has it that Bobby was a Skye Terrier who spent 14 years in the late 19th century guarding the grave of his deceased owner. When he died, he was buried in pride of place in Greyfriars Kirkyard and he even has a statue on the street outside.

Two names in this graveyard also inspired the names of two characters in Harry Potter: William McGonagall and Tom Riddell. 

The Potter Trail Walking Tour

If your kids are fans of the Harry Potter books, then you should book places on The Potter Trail walking tour! 

Image of a boy wearing a Slytherin scarf in front of Tom Riddell's grave in Edinburgh
My son loved seeing Tom Riddell’s grave! Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

Walk along the streets that inspired the magical places in the books and see the cafés where the author wrote the first few chapters. Thanks to the enthusiasm of all the tour guides, it’s absolutely one of the most fun things to do in Edinburgh with families.

Our family did this and we rated it one of the best kid-friendly tours in Scotland!

The Meadows 

It always helps to know where the good parks and playgrounds are. 

One of the best things to do in Edinburgh with toddlers is to visit The Meadows. This park has lots of hiking and biking trails, wide-open green spaces for picnics, and huge climbing areas. There’s often a funfair in summer, too!

Craigmillar Castle

Edinburgh Castle isn’t the only one in the city! Take the bus or walk along The Innocent Railway Path to Craigmillar Castle.

Image of Craigmillar Castle a ruined medieval castle in Edinburgh, Scotland
Craigmillar Castle is a ruined medieval castle.

Built during the 14th century, this castle has unfortunately fallen to ruin. But it has connections to Mary, Queen of Scots, and is one of the best things to do in Edinburgh with family.

Dynamic Earth

Opening in 1999 on the site of a former brewery, Dynamic Earth is a state-of-the-art science experience.

Image of two boys at Dynamic Earth in Edinburgh, Scotland
Dynamic Earth is SUCH a cool place for kids! Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

This exhibition covers the progression of the earth’s history from the Big Bang until the present day with a focus on Scotland. Just some of its immersive experiences include a planetarium, an earthquake experience, and a real iceberg (yes, we touched it).

My kids thought this was one of the coolest science museums we’ve seen so far!

Edinburgh Zoo

This 82-acre zoo was built on top of Corstorphine Hill. Not only can you check out around 20 species of exotic and native wildlife, but you can also look out over the entire city.

Image of Red Panda at Edinburgh Zoo, Scotland, a Rare and Endangered Species native to Himalaya
You can still see red pandas there!

Even though Edinburgh Zoo’s famed Giant Pandas have returned to China, it’s still one of the best things to do in Edinburgh with a child.

Cramond Island

Visiting Cramond Island is a great way to enjoy a beach day and see something unique at the same time with your family. 

Image of Cramond Island in Scotland
Cramond Island is a great option for summer!

Cramond Island is a tidal island just a bus ride away from Edinburgh’s city center. There is a causeway to the island that is safe to cross in low tide, and completely covered during high tide.

It’s one of the coolest things to do in Edinburgh with children, but double-check the tide times before crossing. You can also buy ice creams and relax on the beach in the summer!

Coro the Chocolate Café

There’s no way your kids won’t enjoy Coro the Chocolate Café. It’s a super kid-friendly dessert restaurant with all the hot chocolates and chocolate-covered pancakes and waffles they can munch.

There are over 50 sauces and toppings to choose from! Add this to your itinerary of things to do in Edinburgh with kids with caution.

Palace of Holyroodhouse

While younger kids might have spent their historical house bandwidth on Edinburgh Castle, one of the best things to do in Edinburgh with teenagers is to visit the Palace of Holyroodhouse, too.

Image of Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh
Isn’t it gorgeous?

This 16th-century palace was once owned by the Stuarts though now it’s property of the British monarchy. Take an audio guide through royal Scottish history and visit the bedroom of Mary, Queen of Scots, and see many of her possessions.

Edinburgh Playhouse

Are you visiting Scotland at Christmas? One of the best cultural experiences for families in the UK is to book tickets for a pantomime performance at Edinburgh Playhouse.

These theatrical shows are based on fairytales and involve lots of audience interaction. Check their program if you’re visiting at other times of the year for puppet shows and musicals.

Princes Street Gardens

There are so many beautiful city parks in Edinburgh, but Princes Street Gardens is one of the best. 

Luckily, it’s right next to Edinburgh Castle!

Image of Princes Street Gardens in Edinburgh
It’s pretty lovely in warm weather!

Head to the Ross Fountain for beautiful views of the castle but it’s worth strolling through the whole park to see the statues and memorials.

Visiting this park is one of the best things to do in Edinburgh for families at any time of year thanks to the cherry blossom trees and rich fall colors.

When we were there, the playground was being renovated, and it looks like it will be awesome when it reopens!

Mary’s Milk Bar

There’s only one place you should go for ice cream in Edinburgh. Yes, the line can be long but yes, it’s worth it. 

Mary’s Milk Bar is mostly known for its odd flavor combos (which you should try! Sea Buckthorn ripple is surprisingly tasty). But they also always have a classic milk, chocolate, and salted caramel flavor for fussy eaters (i.e. kids).

This hole-in-the-wall ice cream parlor is also in Grassmarket, which is one of the hotspots in the city. Climb up the steps next to Mary’s and sit down close to the top where you can enjoy your delicious ice cream with an incredible view of Edinburgh Castle.

Royal Botanic Gardens

This incredible 70-acre botanic garden is free to visit and boasts a whopping 13,300 species of flora. That’s around 4% of all known plant life!

Image of Royal Botanic Garden park center of Edinburgh city, Scotland
Garden enthusiasts will love this place!

Plus, these plants are expertly spread between lots of charming gardens. You can visit John Muir Grove (the Father of the US National Parks was Scottish), Queen Mother’s Garden, Chinese Hillside, and many more.

The pièce de résistance is the Victorian greenhouse named the Palm House. It boasts its own waterfall!

Maid of the Forth Boat Ride

The Forth Bridges technically stretch from South Queensferry, not Edinburgh. But this cute seaside town is only a short bus ride away!

Image of Forth Bridges in Edinburgh
The bridges are pretty cool to see!

Plus, the Forth Rail Bridge is such an impressive UNESCO World Heritage Site. 

The best way for you and your family to see the bridges is by hopping on the Maid of the Forth boat ride. Get up close to the bridges and, depending on the season, you might be able to spot seals and puffins!

Portobello Beach

Although Cramond Island is great, Edinburgh has a beach too. Portobello is an up-and-coming neighborhood thanks to the locals’ love of wild swimming in the sea here.

Image of Aerial photo summer in Portofino Beach Edinburgh Scotland UK
This is perfect for summer vacations!

Expect fish and chip shops along the promenade and beautiful sunsets.

Museum of Childhood

Along Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, you’ll find lots of small (and free!) museums. The Museum of Edinburgh is a great one, but your kids will love visiting the Museum of Childhood.

Image of the Museum of Childhood in Edinburgh
This is a great free museum in Edinburgh. Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

See toys, dolls, and video games that the residents of Edinburgh used to play with over the centuries. There’s even a doll house owned by Queen Elizabeth herself!

Scott Monument

This is a great Edinburgh attraction for families with small babies or older kids who are willing to climb up 287 steps divided into four levels. The views are worth it!

Image of The Scott Monument is a Victorian Gothic monument to Scottish author Sir Walter Scott.
It’s pretty cool architecture.

Scott Monument is located in Princes Street Gardens and is dedicated to the Scottish writer, Sir Walter Scott. You can see the castle, the Balmoral Hotel, and Edinburgh Waverley Station from the monument.

Things To Do With Kids in Edinburgh, Scotland FAQs

Is Edinburgh Castle suitable for kids?

Yes, Edinburgh Castle is suitable for kids. While it lacks interactivity (no activity sheets or treasure hunts) it’s still stroller-accessible and welcomes children of all ages.

Edinburgh Castle’s history might go over the heads of your kids but it’s a sprawling complex with canons to climb and lots to see.

Which is better for kids, Edinburgh or Glasgow?

Both Edinburgh and Glasgow are great cities to visit with kids. While there is an abundance of family activities in Edinburgh, there are plenty in Glasgow too.

Glasgow has better museums for kids than Edinburgh (the Science Center, Kelvingrove Art Gallery, etc.) and larger parks (Pollock Country Park, for example). It also tends to be cheaper than Edinburgh, which is a bonus when traveling as a family!

However, Glasgow lacks an iconic castle and fun tours like the Potter Trail. Ultimately, Edinburgh is better for creating lasting memories with your kids.

How many days to spend in Edinburgh with kids?

Spend at least two days in Edinburgh when traveling with kids. This gives you enough time to visit Edinburgh Castle, the National Museum of Scotland, and two or three other must-do attractions.

Things To Do With Kids in Edinburgh, Scotland Wrap-Up

Edinburgh is truly a kid-friendly city with activities that appeal to all ages.

Toddlers will love the parks and older kids will love interactive museums like Dynamic Earth and funhouses like the Edinburgh Dungeons. Even your teenagers will enjoy visiting the castles!

It’s difficult to get bored with all the great things to do with kids in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Looking for more Scotland travel resources? Check out Planning a Trip to Scotland: Step-by-Step Guide, 9 Best Edinburgh Hotels for Families Worth Booking, How to Spend 5 Days in Edinburgh with Kids in the Summer, How to Plan a Budget-Friendly Photo Shoot in Edinburgh, Scotland, 13 Best Day Trips From Glasgow by Train, Edinburgh vs Dublin, 13 Must-Read Scotland Travel Tips for First-Timers, and 13 Best Day Trips From Edinburgh by Train!

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