The Best Activities for Kids and Families in Edinburgh

Places to go and things to do in Auld Reekie

The Best Activities for Kids and Families in Edinburgh

Camera Obscura

Camera Obscura
Visitors have been climbing to the top of Camera Obscura’s rooftop chamber for over 150 years, so they must be doing something right. Up there, you can view Edinburgh through a giant periscope, ‘pick up’ a bus or person on a piece of paper, and learn stories about the city’s past and present. Then work your way back down five floors of fun, including the ‘World of Illusions’, ‘Magic Gallery’ and the largest hologram exhibition in Europe.

Gorgie Farm
A working farm in the middle of a busy city, this popular attraction has been welcoming families for over 30 years. Home to farm animals such as pigs, sheep, cows, goats and chickens, it also finds space for hamsters, guinea pigs, rabbits and snakes. For 20p you can buy a pot of feed and give some of them a snack – then feed yourself in the café after having fun in the play area.

Edinburgh Castle
Much of Scotland’s history is tied up in this impressive castle, a former home to Mary Queen of Scots – and current home to the ‘Stone of Destiny’, on which monarchs were crowned for centuries. Here you’ll also find the oldest crown jewels in Britain, the National War Museum, a magnificent Great Hall, and the famous One O’clock Gun.

Edinburgh Zoo
There is so much to explore at this world-famous zoo, that visitors return again and again. Highlights include the ‘Budongo Trail’ chimpanzee enclosure, Europe’s largest outdoor penguin pool (don’t miss the daily ‘Penguin Parade’ at 2.15pm) and the UK’s only giant pandas and koala bears, each in their own purpose-built enclosures.

Meadows Play park
Close to the city centre, the Meadows is home to Edinburgh’s largest play park. All ages are catered for here, from toddlers to teens, with a wide variety of apparatus to climb up, slide down, whizz across and run around.

National Museum of Scotland
Currently undergoing a period of re-development, there is still much to enjoy at Edinburgh’s largest museum, including lots of interactive exhibits to engage younger visitors. The ‘Natural Science’, ‘World Cultures’ and ‘Scottish History and Archaeology’ rooms are all open and filled with fascinating items from past and present. There are also regular events taking you to the heart of the exhibits.

National Galleries
Edinburgh is home to three national galleries – Scottish National Gallery, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art (One and Two) and the Scottish National Portrait Gallery – each with its own special collection and temporary exhibition. All of them are committed to welcoming families, holding monthly drop-in workshops such as Art Maker, Bags of Art and Portrait Detectives. You can also pick up a free family trail at the Scottish National Gallery to guide you around the building.

Our Dynamic Earth
Edinburgh is full of historic buildings, but none of them take you back in time as far as this award-winning science centre. Step inside the time-travelling lift and find yourself at moment of the Big Bang, ready to discover how planet earth was formed. Feel a volcano rumble beneath your feet, watch the ice age carve up prehistoric Scotland, see the rain fall in a tropical forest, then compete your visit with a screening inside the 360˚ dome film theatre.

Royal Botanic Garden
Hugely popular with young families, the Royal Botanic Gardens has wide open spaces for little ones to explore without fear of being ridden into (no bikes allowed) or stepping in something (no dogs). The beautiful flora and fauna changes throughout the year, making it a fascinating place to introduce young children to flowers, plants and trees.

Royal Commonwealth Pool
Recently upgraded, this large complex has three swimming pools and five diving boards. It’s also home to the popular ‘Clambers’ soft play centre and a large cafe. Check out the fun inflatable ‘AquaRun’ set up at selected times during the school holidays.

Camera Obscura and World of Illusions

Castlehill, Royal Mile, Edinburgh, EH1 2ND

The eye-catching Camera Obscura building stands at the top of the Royal Mile and contains an amazing range of optical experiences across five floors. The 'camera' itself is a giant Victorian periscope offering an interesting 360° perspective on…

Edinburgh Castle

Royal Mile, Edinburgh, EH1 2NG

Sitting atop the volcanic Castle Rock, Edinburgh Castle dominates the city skyline and is the most popular paid visitor attraction in Scotland. Events at the castle include regular re-enactments of events from its history, occasional concerts by…

Edinburgh Zoo

Corstorphine Road, Edinburgh, EH12 6TS

Situated three miles west of the city centre, Edinburgh Zoo offers much more than the world-famous Penguin Parade and those headline-grabbing pandas, being home to over 1000 rare and endangered animals. The hillside location means that a visit can be…

Gorgie City Farm

51 Gorgie Road, Edinburgh, EH11 2LA

This city-based farm is home to a wide range of livestock and a Pet Lodge for more exotic animals such as tortoises and chinchillas, in addition to 19 species of wild birds who nest in the area. There’s a café and play park, and a shop selling the…

The Meadows

Melville Drive, Edinburgh, EH9 1JU

National Museum of Scotland

Chambers Street, Edinburgh, EH1 1JF

In its landmark building, occupying more than half of Chambers Street, the National Museum of Scotland was formerly two different museums – the Royal Museum, built in 1861, and the more modern Museum of Scotland, completed in 1998. The facilities were…

National War Museum of Scotland

Edinburgh Castle, Royal Mile, Edinburgh, EH1 2NA

Located inside Edinburgh Castle, the museum explores over 400 years of the Scottish military experience. Exhibits include weapons and uniforms from various conflicts, a gallery of military paintings and recruitment posters, and occasional weekend events…

Our Dynamic Earth

Holyrood Road, Edinburgh, EH8 8AS

Located directly between the Scottish Parliament Building and Arthur’s Seat, Our Dynamic Earth presents a linear journey through the creation of the earth, from the Big Bang to the present day. Exhibitions make use of sounds, smell and visuals to make…

Royal Botanic Garden

Arboretum Place, Edinburgh, EH3 5LR

Just one mile from the city centre, this idyllic oasis of greenery covers over 70 acres and features horticultural specimens from around the world. Among these, the Scottish Heath Garden and the Rock Garden are fantastic examples of conservation and…

Royal Commonwealth Pool

Dalkeith Road, Edinburgh, EH16 5BB

Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art One

75 Belford Road, Edinburgh, EH4 3DR

Standing opposite Modern Two (formerly Dean Gallery), the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art One is fronted by the giant Landform sculpture by Charles Jencks, a stepped, serpentine mound reflected in three crescent-shaped pools of water. Inside the…

Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art Two

73 Belford Road, Edinburgh, EH4 3DS

Opened in 1999 in a former orphanage, the Scottish National Galleries' second modern art gallery, formerly known as the Dean Gallery, stands across the road from its partner, just outside Edinburgh’s Dean Village. Since its opening it has housed the…

Scottish National Gallery

The Mound, Edinburgh, EH2 2EL

Stationed at the foot of the mound, this building was designed by William Henry Playfair in 1850 to be a 'temple erected to the Fine Arts'. Since its completion the National Gallery has been home to some of the world's finest Western art ranging from…

Scottish National Portrait Gallery

1 Queen Street, Edinburgh, EH2 1JD

Modelled on the Doges Palace in Venice, the Scottish National Portrait Gallery has an impressive gothic red sandstone façade designed by Sir Robert Rowand Anderson. As well as classical subjects such as Mary Queen of Scots and Bonnie Prince Charlie, the…


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