We instantly fell in love with the city of Edinburgh, Scotland and when you’re traveling with young kids, it’s especially grand when you find a place that makes everyone happy.
Here is our complete list of what not to miss in Edinburgh with kids!
Prague, Munich, Dublin, London, Paris, Edinburgh. There’s something that all of these cities have in common and that is that they each have a castle in the city proper. I haven’t seen them all, but Edinburgh’s medieval castle sits on a volcanic rock, which is 250ft above the city, called Castle Rock. Yes, the castle is sitting on a dormant volcano! How extraordinary is that?!
The Castle is a must-visit while in Edinburgh, your kids will absolutely love it! You can visit the Crown Jewels of Scotland, the Royal Apartments, The Great Hall (weapons and armory displayed), War Memorial, Mons Meg (a medieval cannon), and the oldest chapel – St. Margaret’s chapel. This Castle of Maidens offers panoramic views of the city.
Your Edinburgh Castle tour provides an optional guided tour, or you can explore on your own. The Castle’s website recommends different itineraries, (they have a family one) so do a little bit of research before you go so you can best utilize your time! When you arrive, you can pick up an Explorer Quiz, from the audio tour counter, which will provide your children with a great scavenger hunt to keep them busy.
This is the castle, lit up at night, out of our bedroom window at The Waldorf Astoria.
And a view out our window, during dinner.
On the Royal Mile, also where the castle is located, you will find Camera Obscura and the World of Illusions. This exhibit is probably the most fun way to learn about Edinburgh. With moving pictures projected onto a viewing table, you get to see the city and you can pick up the cars and people and move them around.
There is also the Magic Gallery and the Illusion Lab. Both equally entertaining. In the Magic Gallery, you can make your hands glow as if they’re being x-rayed and the Illusion Lab has giant holograms.
Harry Potter Tour
If you have young fans of Harry Potter you will want to check out the Harry Potter Magical Walking Tour. You will see all of the sites that inspired J.K.Rowling’s Harry Potter novels, like the inspiration for Diagon Alley and the tombstone where Tom Riddle’s name was found.
If you’d like to see these sites on your own, you can. Victoria Street is where you should start and then meander through all of the alleys and streets on the hill. The architecture is beautiful and it definitely makes you feel like you’re in her books. The addition of tourist shops that sell wands and Potter memorabilia help lend a hand to it as well.
The Elephant House, where J.K.Rowling began writing Harry Potter.
Victoria Street, the beginning of Diagon Alley and so much magic!
The inspiration for Tom Riddle’s grave.
Prince’s Street Gardens
In the spring or summer, you could picnic here. It’s the grandest view of the Castle. In the summer they have a carousel and in the winter they have their Christmas market complete with an ice-skating rink, fairground rides, and a Ferris wheel.
National Museum of Scotland
Basically a Natural History Museum with loads of hands-on exhibits, areas on Science and Technology, too. You could easily spend a whole day here and not see it all. We recommend you keep this museum in your back pocket for those rainy days. You could visit more than once to break it up for your children’s attention spans, especially because it’s free. The National Museum of Scotland is one of the 20 most visited museums in the world and is really extraordinary.
The Museum of Childhood
This is the world’s first museum dedicated to childhood. They have an extraordinary collection of toys throughout the ages and it’s really interesting to see the difference in what children have played with throughout the years.
This phone booth is right across the street from The Museum of Childhood.
The Edinburgh Zoo
We didn’t make it to the zoo, but it is surely something you should try to visit, weather permitting. It’s the only zoo in the UK with giant Panda’s and they have red pandas, koalas, kangaroo, and tigers.
While in Edinburgh, we highly recommend staying at The Waldorf Astoria Edinburgh, The Caledonian.
You can see our complete review of The Caledonian, here.
The Waldorf Astoria is the perfect treat to your Edinburgh stay. Almost all of the hotel rooms have incredible views of the castle and they treat you like a queen, so it’s an absolute dream stay and a complete 10/10 recommendation from us.
They also offer something that no other hotel in Edinburgh offers and it’s just perfect for the Harry Potter readers in your life. Make sure to inquire about their Book Master program and other special activities upon arrival.
Edinburgh is one of our favorite cities in the world and we know you will love it too!!!t