National Museum of Scotland
From a giant T.Rex skeleton to meteorites that fell from space, this huge museum is a gem of a family attraction. With a wide range of exhibits covering the natural world, science and technology and world cultures, there is something for everyone here. Kids can be kept busy for hours unearthing dinosaur fossils, racing a Formula 1 car and dressing up in historic clothing. The short-term touring exhibitions can be well worth a visit as well, extra charges may apply. And, before you leave, make sure you take a trip to the roof terrace for breath-taking panoramic views of Edinburgh.
Due to Covid-19 restrictions, you may need to book your (free) tickets in advance, please check the website.
The Potter Trail
Wizards, witches and muggles won’t want to miss this award-winning magical tour that will take you to all the sites around Edinburgh that inspired JK Rowling as she conjured up the world of Harry Potter. You will see the café where she wrote the very first book, see where Lord Voldermort is buried and walk down the street that inspired Diagon Alley. A hugely entertaining 90-minute tour, this is the ultimate ‘must do’ for any Potter fan. Some tours even include a spot of real life magic, check online first when planning your trip. No booking necessary. Tour guides may ask for voluntary donations at the end of your tour.
Museum of Childhood
This museum is dedicated to telling the story of childhood through the ages. Dating back to the mid-19th Century, the collection includes toys, games, dolls, items relating to hobbies and magazines. Highlights of the collection include the Kindertransport bear which travelled out of Vienna on the last train rescuing Jewish children from Nazi Germany in 1939 and a ‘shoe doll’ from 1905, made from the sole of a shoe and scrap material by a family who could not afford to buy toys.
It is always fascinating to see how children of the past entertained themselves. What will your children think about the toys compared to what they have today?
Due to Covid-19 opening hours may change, please check the website before your visit. https://www.edinburghmuseums.org.uk/venue/museum-childhood
Gorgie City Farm
This friendly, urban farm offers hands-on educational and learning opportunities for all visitors. This little piece of countryside in the middle of the City is home to a range of animals including goats, cows, alpacas, chickens, guinea pigs, ferrets and a snake. Your family can get up close and personal with feeding and petting opportunities as well as learning about farming processes.
Gorgie City Farm is sure to keep you and your family entertained for hours, with a café and outdoor play area also on-site. The charity-run farm is free although donations are requested.
Edinburgh Free Walking Tour
The best way to experience Edinburgh’s sights and sounds is through one of the many free walking tours. Led by a very knowledgeable guide, your 2-hour tour will cover Edinburgh Castle, The Royal Mile, Grassmarket and Greyfriars Bobby (a statue of Edinburgh’s famous loyal dog), among many other spots around the city centre. These tours will allow you to quickly take in everything you need to know about the City, including places you may want to revisit for more investigation.
There are some fantastic walks not far from the city centre, providing perfect family photo opportunities. These suggestions offer the chance to see Edinburgh from a different angle.
Fire your family’s imagination by challenging them to climb this iconic extinct volcano. This 250m high ‘mountain’ in the middle of the capital city is relatively easy to climb and a very popular activity for families. Once you reach the peak you’ll be rewarded with one of the best views of Edinburgh. An uninterrupted 360⁰ vista, it’s the ideal opportunity for those sweeping city shots as well as a memorable family selfie or two.
Sat at the East End of Princes Street, with its iconic Athenian acropolis is Calton Hill. A path runs around the edge of the hill and a walk up to the peak provides panoramic views across the City and north across the Firth of Forth into the Kingdom of Fife. The National Monument and the Dugald Stewart Memorial help to frame some fantastic photos looking across the city to Edinburgh Castle. The National Observatory also sits on the hill, open to any budding astronomers (entrance fees may apply, https://www.edinburghmuseums.org.uk/venue/city-observatory).
Walk the Water of Leith
The nearly 13-mile ‘Water of Leith Walkway’ runs from the south west of Edinburgh through the heart of the City finishing at the Firth of Forth on the shores of Leith to the north. With wild garlic, orchids, brown trout, heron, kingfisher and otters, there is plenty to keep any mini-explorer entertained.
The highlight of the route boasts one of the most scenic areas in Edinburgh, Dean Village. Dating as far back as 1145 this ancient village became part of Edinburgh in the 19th Century. This oasis close to the city centre comprises old worker’s cottages, warehouses and mill buildings, lining either side of the river. Make sure to bring your camera to capture the colourful and breathtakingly picturesque architecture.
Picnic at the Meadows
If the weather permits, there is nothing better than packing a picnic and heading to one of Edinburgh’s largest parks. Once a loch that provided most of Edinburgh’s water supply, this large grassy park is a very popular place to relax on a sunny afternoon. Visit in March or April and you will see the bright pink blossom trees in full bloom lining the park’s many paths.
If your children still have energy from running around the big, open space, take them to the generous play park to the east of the park. Suitable for all ages, the park includes swings, slides, climbing rocks, a sand pit and a zip line. And if you still have energy, there is a fantastic (and free) pitch and putt course on the other side of the park (golf clubs and balls supplied).
Royal Botanic Gardens
One of the world’s leading botanical gardens, you and your family will lose yourself in 70 acres of open space with stunning views of the City skyline. You and your family can learn about all sorts of different plants, and the role they play in helping the planet. Simply wandering around the various gardens, your children will discover hidden paths, leading to secret areas. There are also plenty of opportunities to feed the ducks and squirrels. You can recharge at one of the many cafes around the gardens, or bring a picnic.
Due to Covid-19, you may need to book a timeslot for your visit, please check the website in advance. https://www.rbge.org.uk/visit/royal-botanic-garden-edinburgh/
Located in Falkirk, a 45-minute drive from Edinburgh, Helix Park is famous for its giant steel horse heads (The Kelpies) standing at almost 100 feet tall. These impressive structures sit by the Forth and Clyde canal and form part of the Big Lottery funded Helix Park, a huge greenspace with over 27km of path networks.
After exploring the giant horse heads, head down to the Lagoon where you will find the amazing ‘Adventure Zone’ play park filled with tunnels, climbing nets and giant slides. Top your visit off with a visit to the café and visitor centre.
A trip to the seaside
Portobello is a seaside suburb of Edinburgh, a few miles from the city centre. With 2 miles of sandy beach, this is the perfect place for sandcastles and swimming (or blowing the cobwebs away on a winter’s day). No trip to the Portobello beach is complete without an ice-cream from one of the many cafes along the promenade. There are also a few children’s play parks found along the promenade, if the kids fancy a change from the sand.
East of Edinburgh lies the picturesque fishing village of North Berwick. The number 124 bus terminates here, alternatively a direct train from Edinburgh takes around half an hour. This small fishing village is popular with locals during the summer and boasts a lovely beach with views out to the imposing Bass Rock (home to the world’s largest Northern Gannet population).
Overlooking North Berwick is Berwick Law, similar to Arthur’s Seat in that it is formed from volcanic rock. A walk to the top of this hill offers some spectacular views across the village and beyond, back across to Edinburgh and out across the Forth over to Fife.
Home from home…
After running about Edinburgh for the day, burning off all that excess energy, you will want somewhere to relax for the night and recharge of the next day. Our self-catered Richmond Place Apartments are absolutely ideal for families looking to stay in the centre of town. With everything from a kitchenette, fridge/freezer, flat screen TV and free WiFi, our apartments allow you and your family to set your own schedule for your trip to the capital. If you would like a break from cooking, there are plenty of great restaurants nearby and you also have the option to add breakfast on to your stay.
Richmond Place Apartments are within easy walking distance of the Royal Mile as well as being well connected by bus to the rest of the city. In fact, the number 300 bus runs directly from Edinburgh Airport to our apartments.
If you would prefer a hotel to self-catering, we have two other recently-refurbished hotels available close by. KM Central is next door to our Richmond Place Apartments, still in the hustle and bustle of the city. Salisbury Green Hotel & Bistro is at the foot of Arthur’s Seat, still within easy walking distance of the city centre and with great bus links this is the perfect location to sit back and relax after a fun filled day with the family.
Click here to check availability of our rooms at our best price for your visit.