Are you looking for the best things to do in Edinburgh with kids? Scotland’s northerly capital remains a beautiful place to visit across all seasons. The medieval architecture and Edinburgh Castle look even more magical with the snow in the Winter. However, you may need a few indoor options for entertaining the kids if the weather is wet.
Edinburgh’s reputation as one of the UK’s finest cities is well deserved- the Scottish capital attracts over 3 million visitors to its historic streets each year.
Tourists flock here to explore its medieval history, grand architecture and modern, dynamic atmosphere.
Enjoy world class drama at the famous Fringe festival in the summer, or visit in the quieter months to soak up the city’s culture, minus the crowds.
In order to help you during your family holiday in Edinburgh, I have written this guide and researched the best things to do in Edinburgh with kids.
Make sure to check out the created map at the bottom of this article so you can plan in advance your day out in Edinburgh with your children. Let’s go!
1. Edinburgh Castle
Top of our list has to be Edinburgh’s Castle. Dating back over 1,000 years and looking over the city from its rocky point. Most importantly, highlights include the Scottish Crown Jewels and the medieval Mons Meg Canon which is fired at 1pm each day (Monday to Saturday). In addition, there are a wide range of special events throughout the year too. Check the guided tour below.
Opening Hours: Open daily 09:30 – 17:00
2. Camera Obscura and World of Illusions
First opening in 1835, this tourist attraction has been entertaining Edinburgh visitors for centuries. So it is certainly one of the best kids activities in Edinburgh. Today there are five floors of interactive optical illusions, where technology and magic meet. For example, kids will love the fact they can shrink themselves like Alice in Wonderland or get lost in the Mirror Maze. After that, they can climb up to the rooftop terrace for amazing 360 degree views. They will be able to see The Royal Mile, Edinburgh Castle and the Firth of Forth.
Opening Hours: Open daily from 09:30. Closing times vary depending on season, click here for more info.
3. National Museum of Scotland
A great museum offering a mix of ancient history and cutting edge technology. The National Museum of Scotland is well-know for being fantastic for kids. Its guided tours, workshops and themed exhibitions, encourage learning by doing. So it’s guaranteed to spark their imagination. Meet dinosaurs in the Natural World, robots in Science and Technology and mummies in Ancient Egypt!
Opening Hours: Open daily 10:00 – 17:00
4. Dynamic Earth
Dynamic Earth is one of Scotland’s top visitor attractions and a guaranteed hit with the kids. It tells the story of our amazing planet through an immersive tour. You can feel the heat of a bubbling volcano or touch the icy cold of the arctic. Moreover, come face to face with dinosaurs in the rainforest! Certainly a really unique and fun experience for all ages.
Opening Hours: Open daily 10:00 -17:30
5. Chocolatarium Tour (tasting included)
Please note that this tour is not suitable for children under 6 years old
The Chocolatarium is one of those experiences that you will remember for a long time. This tour of the World of Chocolate is a great introduction for families keen to learn about history, fun facts and of course taste different chocolates.
The tour lasts about 90min and has received very positive reviews in the past months. A great immersive activity to do with young explorers who are open to learn about their favourite chocolate bars. Pre-booking the tour is highly recommended.
Address: 3-5 Cranston St, Edinburgh EH8 8BE
6. Palace of Holyroodhouse
The official Scottish residence of Her Majesty The Queen ,this 16th century palace stands against the spectacular backdrop of Arthur’s Seat . As well as stunning rooms and antiques to admire, they offer a great programme of family activities, like storytelling and face painting. And lastly, the grounds are a fantastic place to let the little ones loose on a summer’s day.
Opening Hours: 09:30 – 16:30 but check the website as some days it is closed for royal functions.
7. Museum of Childhood
Please note that this activity is still CLOSED to the public
This interactive space focused on childhood life, learning and play is a fab day out for the kids. It displays toys and games from across the generations, as well as having dedicated zones for little ones to get involved in activities.
Address: 42 High St, Edinburgh EH1 1TG
Opening Hours: Open daily 10am – 5pm
8. Soft Play
Love it or hate it, soft play is one of the best kids activities in Edinburgh on a rainy day. As with most major cities, Edinburgh has a fair few to choose from. You can head for instance at Tumbles Soft Play in Portobello – a pretty little seaside suburb where you can peruse the cafes shops and beach if the weather brightens up.
Trampolining is always a hit with young kids, and it’s a great way for parents to get some exercise too. As well as being loads of fun! In Edinburgh you can choose to go to Gravity Trampoline Park or Jump In Trampoline Park. Both have dedicated family or toddler sessions, so check their websites to see which suits you best.
10. Scottish Storytelling Centre
A fantastic venue celebrating Scotland’s storytelling culture, from one-off performances to seasonal events for Burns Night, Halloween and Christmas. There is plenty to inspire all ages, from children’s story times with famous authors to poetry writing workshops. This is certainly one of the most charming and unique kids activities in Edinburgh.
Address: 43-45 High St, Edinburgh EH1 1SR
Opening Hours: Mon – Sat 10am – 6pm
Need more inspiration on things you could do in Edinburgh with kids? Read on…
11. Royal Yacht Britannia
Frequently voted Scotland’s Best Visitor Attraction, this is one you mustn’t miss. Her Majesty The Queen’s official yacht for over 40 years, this floating palace is steeped in history. The kids will love hearing the tales of life at sea, and getting involved in fun activities like treasure hunts. Or why not book a special children’s tour to really pique their interest?
Address: Ocean Dr, Edinburgh EH6 6JJ
Opening Hours: Open daily 10 am – 3:30pm
12. Edinburgh Dungeons
This is one older kids are sure to love, and any adults who like a bit of fun and gore! Aimed at ages 8 and over, this underground visitor attraction brings the city’s darkest history to life. Listen to ghostly tales by costumed characters as you make your way through the theatrical sets.
Address: 31 Market St, Edinburgh EH1 1DF
Opening Hours: Open daily 11am – 4pm
13. A Trip to the Theatre
As a city famed for its performing arts festival, you’ll be pleased to know Edinburgh has plenty of theatre shows suitable for children. The Edinburgh Playhouse and The King’s Theatre are two of the biggest theatres, offering big name shows like The Lion King Musical and Paw Patrol live.
14. Doodles Ceramic Workshop
Doodles welcomes all ages of children from babies to teenagers, who are keen to unleash their inner artist. And adults too of course! First you choose a piece of pottery from hundreds of items. Next, select your colours before painting the rainbow. And finally add your finishing touches with glitter, stamps, stencils or etching. In addition there are special children’s workshops and events throughout the year. So make sure you check the website to see what’s on.
Opening Hours: Mon-Sat 10:30am – 6pm / Sundays 11am – 6pm
15. Edinburgh International Climbing Arena
Europe’s largest indoor climbing arena is built in a disused quarry on the outskirts of Edinburgh. For little ones there’s a fab soft play area complete with its own mini climbing wall. As well as a playroom complete with a bouncy castle, ride on toys and games. In addition, older kids and adults can tackle the advanced climbing walls or nerve wracking aerial assault course.
Address: South Platt Hill, Newbridge EH28 8AA
Opening Hours: Mon-Fri 7am – 10pm / Sat & Sun 8am – 6pm
Need more ideas on things to do with kids in Edinburgh?
16. Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh
One of the world’s leading centres for the study and conservation of plants, this popular tourist attraction has loads to see and do. Explore 70 acres of perfectly preened landscape, the ten beautiful Glasshouses (dating back to 1858) and fine artwork at Inverleith House gallery. The kids will love running around the different areas, from steamy tropics to arid desert, and discovering all about the exotic plants.
Address: Arboretum Place, Edinburgh EH3 5NZ
Opening Hours: Open daily 10am – 4pm
17. Edinburgh Zoo
Home to the UK’s only Giant Pandas, Edinburgh Zoo give the kids a chance to get up close to over 1,000 rare and endangered animal. Spread over 82 acres, you can meet koalas, monkeys, pelicans and snakes, to name just a few. Don’t miss the amazing Tiger Tracks – a see through viewing tunnel where tigers will walk right over your head! A must do when in Edinburgh for Under 5’s.
Opening Hours: Open daily 10am – 4/6pm (dependent on season)
18. Princes Street Gardens
In view of the Castle and separating the Old Town and New Town, Princes Street Gardens are one of the most popular green spots in the city. Divided into East and West, they attract dog walkers, city workers and families in search of some calm and tranquillity on the midst of the capital. The perfect spot for a picnic on a sunny day.
Address: Princes Street, Edinburgh EH2 2HG
Opening Hours: 24/7
19. Portobello Beach
Fancy escaping the city for a day? Just a couple of miles away is a beautiful sandy stretch of beach, in the popular suburb of Portobello. Many locals head here in the summer, but we think it’s equally as beautiful in the cooler months too. There are some nice cafes and shops to mooch around after you’ve had your fill of building sandcastles.
Getting there: Regular busses (numbers 26, 44 or 45) operate from Edinburgh city centre to Portobello beach, taking less than 30 minutes.
Address: Portobello Beach, Edinburgh, UK
20. Gorgie City Farm
Little ones will love this small, family run city farm where they can interact with goats, lambs, chickens and even a tortoise! There’s also a small playground and some fruit and vegetable gardens – you can purchase the fresh, organic produce at the end of your trip.
Address: 51 Gorgie Road, Edinburgh EH11 2LA
Opening Hours: Daily 09:30 – 16:00
How’s your wish list doing so far? We still have 19 more things to do in Edinburgh with kids!
21. Harry Potter Walking Tour
Enjoy a Harry Potter themed walking tour across Edinburgh. See the city where JK Rowling found inspiration for Hogwarts, her famous characters, and discover the place where she wrote the books. Have your Harry Potter trivia tested with an audio-visual quiz, and earn points for your house.
Find out which Hogwarts House you’re in, and whether you’re a pure blood, a muggle, or a squib. Visit the Grave of Tom Riddle in Greyfriars Kirkyard, and pass JK Rowling’s golden handprints outside City Chambers. See all this and more on a magical 2-hour guided tour.
22. Edinburgh Zoo Giant Lanterns
Every year around November, Edinburgh Zoo exhibits over 600 brand-new lanterns that are mesmerising to watch in the evening.. Previous years the lanterns were all themed around China or the Lost World, so expect dinosaurs and prehistoric marvels galore. Great for dino mad kids! If you like the sound of this, then you should also have a read of our review of the Jardin des Plantes light sculpture display in Paris .
We keep an eye for you when the new edition will open this year. Watch this space!
Opening Hours: Exhibition open Nov-January from 5:30pm
23. Dalkeith Country Park
Just five miles from Edinburgh’s city centre, you’ll find Dalkeith Country Park, a stunning 2,000 acre estate home to Fort Douglas adventure playground and Restoration Yard – a gorgeous store, restaurant and wellbeing space in the restored stables and courtyard. The kids will love exploring the huge treehouses, zip wires and Sky Maze. There are also walking and cycling trails which will take you through the ancient woodlands and along the river.
Address: Via King’s Gate, Dalkeith EH22 1ST
Opening Hours: Open daily 7am – 7pm (individual attractions may vary)
24. Craigie’s Farm & Deli
If you want somewhere not too far from the city but with all the charm of the countryside, head for Craigie’s Farm and Deli. This is a great spot when exploring Edinburgh for Under 5’s . From PYO fruit, to farm animals, beautiful woodland walks and an award-winning butcher. Meet pigs, chickens, sheep & shetland ponies. The farm cafe has a safe outdoor play area, featuring slides, swings, and tractor rides. There you can spot the playful Pygmy goats.
Opening Hours: Open daily 9am- 5pm
25. Arthur’s Seat
Did you know there’s a volcano in Edinburgh?! And you can climb it too – but don’t worry, it’s extinct! At the top you will find it’s highest point, called Arthur’s Seat, and amazing views across Holyrood park and the whole city. It’s a steep climb to the top, so if you have tiny tots you may wish to put them in a sturdy baby carrier. Or you can drive to Dunsapie Loch – from there it’s only a 15-20 minutes hike to the summit.
Address: Arthur’s Seat, Edinburgh EH8 8AZ
26. Real Mary King’s Close Guided Tour
Step down into Edinburgh’s hidden history at The Real Mary King’s Close, voted Scotland’s Best Heritage Tourism Experience. Discover over 400 years of history and learn about the intriguing stories of Edinburgh’s past residents. Journey through time and find out why the Close, once open to the skies and bustling with trade, came to be underground. This 1-hour character-guided tour also includes an immersive walk-through of the city’s uniquely preserved streets and spaces, all located underneath Edinburgh’s famous Royal Mile.
Address: 2 Warriston’s Cl, Edinburgh EH3 5LG
27. Edinburgh Vaults: Ghost Tour
This tour is not suitable for young children
If you want to learn about spooky facts about Edinburgh and be transported by the story telling of a great guide whilst walking down the cobbled streets of Old Town of Edinburgh, this tour is for you. You will visit the famous Edinburgh Vaults as well as narrow streets where lots of scary stuff happened in the past.
This tour is not frightening but you will hear great stories from funny and knowledgable guides. One of the most praised tour guides in the Edinburgh.
28. The Meadows
One of the best places in Edinburgh for Under 5’s is The Meadows. This huge green space is one of the city’s most popular places for outdoor pursuits, be that dog walking, cycling or wearing out a toddler on the play equipment! The Meadow’s boasts a fantastic playground for kids, as well as large grassy areas, tennis courts and a cafe. A great spot to stop for a picnic on a sunny day too.
Address: Melville Dr, Edinburgh EH9 1ND
29. Cramond Beach
Want to see a different side of Edinburgh for Under 5’s? Then head to the beach! A short ride on the number 41 bus to this suburb of Edinburgh, Cramond. Enjoy the feel of an old fishing village complete with a quaint row of whitewashed houses. The small sandy beach is a popular choice with Edinburgh residents as well as tourists who head here to walk and cycle on the beachside paths. It’s ideal for a family day out or simply a relaxing stroll and offers splendid views of Firth of Forth.
At low tide you can walk across the causeway to the mysterious Cramond Island. do keep an eye on the tides though!
Address: 2 Kirk Cramond, Edinburgh EH4 6HZ
14 more things to do in Edinburgh with kids to discover down below…
30. Bobcat Alpacas
Take the opportunity to learn more about these unique and curios exotic animals – your kids will truly be fascinated. Often confused with the llama, the alpaca is usually smaller than the former. At Bobcat Alpaca, your family can have fun getting immersed in all things Alpacas. Although the focus is on care and breeding these domesticated animals for their quality fleece, there’s still lots more to be done in these fields. Therefore, if you are looking for kid-friendly things to do in Edinburgh, this location can fit the bill.
Address: Bonaly Rd, Edinburgh EH13 0PB
31. Jupiter Artland
This spot is one of the most artistic locations you will find in the UK. It is a haven for budding and experienced artists looking for inspiration. Jupiter Artland makes it a mission to open its doors to young minds of all ages. For that reason, this beautiful landscape is ideal for parents interested in kid-friendly things to do in Edinburgh. The exciting thing about it is the long stretch of land that encourages tourists to walk around the various installations. Indeed, Jupiter Artland offers a holistic, fun day out for families.
32. Festival Theatre
A place for all art forms and art-loving families, the Festival Theatre has maintained its relevance since 1994. Initially designed for dance and opera performances, the Festival Theatre now holds a variety of art forms. More importantly, it is a place you can visit with your children to see several performances first-hand. This is why Festival Theatre makes it onto the list of things to do with kids in Edinburgh.
Address: 13-29 Nicolson St, Edinburgh EH8 9FT
33. Edinburgh Playhouse
If you’re searching for kid-friendly things to do in Edinburgh this festive season, look no further. The Edinburgh Playhouse has musical shows and other performances booked throughout the holidays to 2022. This Playhouse has a wealth of tradition that the new generation can learn from. More importantly, the physical structure has withstood the test of time. Since the 1920s, the Edinburgh Playhouse has transformed from a theatrical stage into more contemporary productions.
34. Royal Commonwealth Pool
At the Royal Commonwealth Pool, you can book your fun activities in advance. This will help you explore the venue as much as you want to. Moreover, during the festive season, people tend to patronise the Royal Commonwealth Pool in huge numbers. Therefore, you can avoid confusion by booking yours in advance. Even better, it is a kid-friendly location you can visit with the entire family in Edinburgh.
Address: 21 Dalkeith Rd, Edinburgh EH16 5BB
35. Time Twisters
With your young explorers in tow, Time Twisters is a children’s haven. This educational playground is your child’s imagination coming alive. Time Twisters offers an opportunity for kids to see first-hand the things they learn from history books, focusing on ancient Egypt, pharaohs, and mummies. Therefore, if you are looking for kid-friendly things to do in Edinburgh this festive season, Time Twisters can be fun to visit. Keep in mind that you will have to book play sessions in advance before touring Time Twisters.
36. Edinburgh Chichuahua Café
If your family and especially your kids are dog lovers, perhaps you should consider making a trip to Edinburgh Chihuahua Café. Where else can you get cakes and dogs to pamper you and your little ones in tow? There is more to enjoy and learn as you spend a few hours with these cute chihuahuas who love to be cuddled. For a better experience at the café, book your visit in advance.
Address: 15 Frederick St, Edinburgh EH2 2EY
37. Dominion Cinema
As the holiday season approaches, it is expected that most households will be looking for fun things to do as a family. This is where Dominion Cinema comes into the picture. Thankfully, you can find movies showing on particular days and book your seat. Moreover, if you want family-themed movies suitable for all age groups, you will find them here. Dominion Cinema pays attention to all COVID safety protocols. Therefore, you can be assured of your protection and that of your family. Indeed, visiting this cinema can be one of things to do with kids in Edinburgh.
38. Wonderworld Softplay
Most parents love to see their kids running around and having fun. However, there is the fear of kids falling and getting hurt from play at the same time. Fortunately, at Wonderworld Softplay, your children are cushioned from dangerous falls and injuries. The centre also observes COVID protocols to ensure the safety of all customers. Turn this festive season into a memorable one by making every activity here a kid-friendly thing to do in Edinburgh.
Address: 377 Easter Rd, Edinburgh EH6 8HU
39. Craigmillar Castle
Situated in the South East of Edinburgh centre, Craigmillar Castle is now displaying ruins of a medieval castle that was famously used on a couple occasions by Mary, Queen of Scots. The site is beautifully maintained and you are free to explore the castle and its gardens at your leisure.
The Craigmillar Castle makes a lovely half day activity to do with children if you are visiting Edinburgh. Children under 5 go FREE to.
40. Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art
If you are travelling to Edinburgh with kids who have a keen eye on contemporary art, you shouldn’t miss paying a visit to the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art. The museum is split into 2 different buildings. Modern One displays modern and contemporary art from worldwide known artists such as Miró, Matisse or Picasso. Modern Two is usually used for temporary massive scale art but is currently closed to the public.
41. Watch a Rugby Game at Murrayfield Stadium
Murrayfield is one of the most famous Rugby stadiums, home of the Scottish National team but also the Edinburgh Rugby local team. When a game is on such as an Autumn Test game, 6 Nations or even a European Champion game, the vibe inside the stadium is incredible and gathers families too.
With a capacity of over 67,000 seats, the venue is one of the best sports arenas in Scotland but also hosts huge concerts. For instance, Murrayfield will welcome in 2023 Harry Styles and Bruce Springsteen.
Address: Roseburn Street, Edinburgh EH12 5PJ
42. Meadows Play Park
If you are looking for a park to allow your kids go wild and play outdoor, have a look at Meadows Play park located on the South of Edinburgh Castle.
The green area has different playgrounds for all age groups with great equipment such as slides, climbing wall, swings and so much more.
43. Surgeons’ Hall Museums
Here is a great museum to discover with grown up children or teenagers who may be interested in medicine and pathology. The museum displays hundreds of exhibits such as body parts, specimens and more.
Please be aware that no photography is allowed inside the museum.
44. Leith Links Play Park
If you need a great park with a playground to keep your kids active whilst visiting Edinburgh, you can’t go wrong by spending some time at Leith Links Play Park.
Your children will find different climbing frames, swings and even a sand pit. Leith Links Play park is a perfect place to bring your kids on a sunny day out in Edinburgh. It has been renovated in 2019 and is among the largest outdoor play area in Edinburgh.
Address: Leith, Edinburgh EH6 7EL
BONUS #1: Day out at East Links Family Park
Around a 40 minute drive from Edinburgh, this 20 acres farm is a fab place for little ones to burn off some energy and get some fresh air. Won numerous awards including Best Visitor Attraction in Edinburgh, Lothians and Fife (2011 & 2016). Enjoy a train safari and indoor animal barn, bouncy castles, crazy golf, climbing walls, go-karts, a giant fortress and more! Pony rides in summer. Bottle feeding lambs in spring. Open all year round.
Address: Dunbar EH42 1XF
Opening Hours: Open daily 10am – 4pm
BONUS #2: Edinburgh International Children’s Festival
2023 edition: between 27th May 2023 and 4th June 2023
Edinburgh is not limited to the Fringe festival. The Scottish city has also organised the Edinburgh International since 1990 where more than 10,000 children and their parents attend great plays and shows suitable for the young audience. Expect to see the best of the dance shows that kids will love and also unique performances from International artists.
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Map of Edinburgh Activities for Families
In order to plan your trip to Edinburgh with the kids, I have created this map where you can find all the things to do with kids in Edinburgh. I have highlighted in red the indoor attractions and in in green things you can do outdoor such as playground or a zoo. Make sure to zoom in and out the map so you can check how far your accommodation is from all these activities.
Frequently Asked Questions
Where can I take my kids in Edinburgh?
As any big cities in Europe, you can get lost and find so many things to do with children in Edinburgh. However, if you are short in time, I would suggest taking the kids to the Edinburgh Castle in the morning and visiting the National Museum of Scotland after lunch. If the day is clear and sunny, you could also take your children for a nice walk to Arthur’s Seat. Don’t forget the baby carrier though!
Where can I take my 4 year old in Edinburgh?
If you aim for a day out in Edinburgh with your 4 year old child, plan a visit to the Edinburgh Zoo in the morning with a lunch over there then head over to the centre of Edinburgh at the Meadows Play Park where your kid can find a great playgrounds. In the summer, you can even plan a picnic at the Meadows.
Is 3 days enough for Edinburgh?
Usually, visitors spend 2 nights in Edinburgh to fully appreciate the culture and the different activities of Edinburgh. If you plan to spend 3 days with the family in Edinburgh, you are spot on! It would mean you would have plenty of time to spread your days between indoor activities and fun walks and outdoor excursions.
Where can I take a 2 year old in Edinburgh?
We visited Edinburgh with our son when he was 2 years old and he loved the National Museum of Scotland. I wish I would have known about any soft play areas in Edinburgh where to take him in the afternoon. So have a look at Wonder Word Soft Play or Timetwisters Play Centre where you pre school children will enjoy playing with others in a safe environment.
What is not to miss in Edinburgh?
Without hesitation, the Edinburgh Castle is the place to see. Not only the site is beautiful outside but also you will find the audio guide very helpful to make the visit of the castle very interesting and interactive for your children.
Is Edinburgh good with kids?
Absolutely. Edinburgh is one of our favourite city breaks that we have done with the kids when they were young children. No matter which season you are visiting Edinburgh; there are plenty of activities and fun museum to keep the kids entertained all day long.
What are the free things to do in Edinburgh?
If you are looking for the best free things to do in Edinburgh with children, you can make note of visiting the National Museum of Scotland, the Museum of Childhood and the Scottish National Gallery and Modern Art. And if you are lucky with the weather, you can’t go wrong by spending time at the Botanic Gardens, climbing Arthur’s Seat and exploring Dean Village.
That’s a wrap. Phew! We hope that all these indoor activities and day out ideas will help you out on picking the right things to do with your kids in Edinburgh. I am sure there are plenty of other great things to do with kids in Edinburgh so feel free to reach out to us if you’ve discovered a great activity to add on this page!
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