With the holiday season rapidly approaching, Edinburgh is a city just waiting to be explored by you and your little ones. It’s undoubtedly one of the most fun-packed places in Scotland, with museums, historical buildings and parks galore. To help you get the most out of your free time, we’ve compiled a list of our best days out in Edinburgh with children.
1. Edinburgh Zoo
134 Corstorphine Road, Edinburgh, City of Edinburgh EH12 6TS
Easily the best zoo in Scotland (if not the UK) your kids are sure to love this animal experience. Edinburgh Zoo became famous over 100 years ago for bringing the first king penguins to these shores and is now equally well-known for its two giant pandas, Tian Tian and Yang Guang. Book a time slot to see these guys (at no extra cost) as they’re extremely popular. You’ll also find a host of other endangered and exotic animals like aardwolfs, arguses and hairy armadillos. Keep an eye out for daily events and activities where you get to meet the animals. Adults £15.50, children £11.00, family tickets also available.
2. Edinburgh Castle
Castlehill, Edinburgh, Midlothian EH1 2NG
Situated on the highest vantage point above the old town, Edinburgh Castle offers historical attractions for all the family. It is home to the nation’s crown jewels (The Honours of Scotland), along with the National War Museum where older kids will enjoy seeing military artefacts from a bygone era. On certain days, you can witness costumed performers enacting historical events, and every day the One O’Clock Gun is fired in a tradition dating back to 1861. It’s little wonder that the castle is Scotland’s most visited tourist attraction. The price includes a complimentary guided tour. Adults £14.50, children £8.60
3. National Museum of Scotland
Chambers Street, Edinburgh EH1 1JF
Kids won’t fail to be entertained by the newly refurbished National Museum of Scotland, whose exhibitions bear more than a passing resemblance to the British Museum in London. You’ll find a mind-boggling array of artefacts from many different cultures and eras, including animals, technology and the history of Scotland, depending on what takes your fancy. Among the exhibits are the famous Isle of Lewis chessmen and Dolly the cloned sheep (now stuffed of course). Visitors will be pleased to know that the stuffed animals are now out of their glass cases and there are some new interactive play areas for children. Entrance is free.
4. Museum of Childhood
42 High Street, Edinburgh, City of Edinburgh EH1 1TG
I’m sure most of us can remember a time before iPads and video games when children played with dolls and train sets, and that’s exactly what the Museum of Childhood is here to remind us. The collection spans all aspects of childhood from toys to school and clothing. Adults will get a kick out of revisiting their youth, while children will be able to experience a not entirely bygone era of train sets, toy soldiers and teddy bears. For youngsters there’s even a puppet theatre and dressing up area. Although the collection spans the 18th to 21st centuries, the focus is more on older toys. Entrance is free.
5. Camera Obscura and World of Illusions
549 Castlehill Edinburgh, City of Edinburgh EH1 2ND
Edinburgh’s oldest purpose-built tourist attraction, the Camera Obscura, has been wowing visitors since 1853 – and for good reason. This optical illusion has great views of the city and surrounding countryside, while five floors of light tricks like bendy mirrors and giant kaleidoscopes will have children gazing on in awe and laughing out loud. It’s just as good as the Science Museum in London at making science fun and accessible. Ticket prices include a guided tour of the Camera Obscura. Adults £10.95, children £7.95.
If you’re looking for places to stay, Edinburgh has hundreds of hotels and B&Bs to suit all budgets. Visit HotelClub for an extensive range of Edinburgh hotels in the city’s most popular quarters.
Photo source: kevgibbo from Flickr
Prices correct at time of publishing 22/11/12