Are you looking for the perfect destination for a UK family-friendly holiday? Have you considered the UK’s northern beauty, Edinburgh? There are many reasons why Edinburgh is the ideal place for a family-friendly weekend break in the UK.
Not only is our Edinburgh a UNESCO World Heritage Site with rich history, stunning buildings and great restaurants, but it’s also well-suited for little ones. Both adults and kids of all ages will love visiting our beautiful city.
With its calm, welcoming atmosphere and friendly locals, parents can relax and enjoy a drink or two while their baby says ‘hiya’ to Edinburghers. Most attractions are pram-friendly and major train stations have elevators. Nappies and baby-food are also readily available at supermarkets and drugstores. Edinburgh even some great attractions, designed specifically for young children.
Keep reading to discover our parent-approved recommendations on things to do in Edinburgh with children, child-friendly restaurants, and family-friendly accommodation.
Whether you’re travelling with a baby, toddler or teenager, Edinburgh has a range of fantastic attractions for kids of all ages. Toddlers will love exploring the light displays at Camera Obscura, while teenagers will delight in the opportunity to visit Lord Voldemort's grave and learn about Harry Potter’s birthplace. Here are some of our top recommendations for kids’ activities in Edinburgh.
At the base of Arthur’s Seat, you’ll find Dynamic Earth, one of Edinburgh’s best family attractions. Dynamic Earth, an Earth Science museum, teaches kids and adults about the world’s creation. You can travel back to the beginning of time in the Deep Time Machine, stand beneath the Aurora Borealis in amazement, or experience 360-degree cinematic adventures at the ShowDome Cinema. Dynamic Earth also hosts kid-friendly events and special exhibits throughout the year. Perfect for school-age children.
Similar to London’s iconic British Museum, the National Museum of Scotland is home to Edinburgh and Scottish treasures. Kids can come face-to-face with t-rex, marvel at planes and cars in the transport exhibit, or learn about the stars and solar system. There are plenty of interactive, fun exhibits to keep the older kids entertained like the Dino Dig and Formula 1 Race Car Experience.
The Imagine Gallery, on level-one, is a special play area specifically for babies and toddlers. Your little one can explore a world of interesting shapes, colours, patterns and music. They’ll enjoy dressing up in traditional costumes or dancing on the giant soundboard.
With so much on offer, the National Museum of Scotland is perfect for kids of all ages from toddlers to teenagers.
What child doesn’t love a good story? The Scottish Storytelling Centre brings Scotland’s classic tales to life. You can meet Nessie, find Greyfriars Bobby or venture into the deep dark woods with the Gruffalo at their interactive Story Wall or swap stories in their family-friendly cafe.
The Scottish Storytelling Centre holds a number of fascinating cultural events throughout the year, but are particularly well-known for their annual Scottish International Storytelling Festival. Held at the end of October, the Scottish International Storytelling Festival is a twelve-day celebration of live storytelling, oral traditions and live music. An event not to be missed!
On the outskirts of Edinburgh, you’ll find Deep Sea World, an interactive aquarium that takes kids and adults beneath the surface. Travel through the UK’s largest underwater tunnel, where you’ll see sharks, tropical fish, stingrays and more swim above and around you. Older kids can take the plunge and dive with sharks while younger kids can explore rock pools and touch starfish. Deep Sea World offers fun for the whole family.
At the top of the Royal Mile, Camera Obscura is perhaps one of the most fun kid activities in Edinburgh. Explore over 100 mind-blowing and bending exhibits of illusions, light tricks, puzzles and hands-on experiences. Highlights include touring Edinburgh’s streets without moving, shrinking yourself like Alice in Wonderland and an incredible mirror maze. There’s plenty on offer to keep kids of all ages entertained for hours. While you’re here, make sure to check out their rooftop view over Edinburgh -- one of the best in the city.
Spread across 82 acres, Edinburgh Zoo is home to some of the kids’ favourite animals. You can meet penguins, koalas, giant pandas, Asian lions, Scottish wildcats, monkeys and much more. In fact, Edinburgh Zoo is the only place in the UK where you can see giant pandas.
Keepers host daily talks to help kids and adults learn about the animals and offer you the opportunity to get up close and personal with some of the critters. There are also daily feeding sessions, penguin parade and special events like the Giant Lanterns of China. Even the tiniest tot will love a day out at Edinburgh Zoo.
Fans of the iconic Harry Potter series will delight in the chance to visit the novel’s birthplace. J.K Rowling wrote the famous book in Edinburgh’s Elephant Cafe and much of her inspiration came from Edinburgh. As such, you can visit the graves of iconic Harry Potter characters, like Lord Voldemort, admire the real Hogwarts and travel down Diagon Alley.
The Harry Potter Trail, a free Edinburgh city walking tour, will take you to some of these iconic sites and explain the connections between Edinburgh landmarks and the famous novel. We recommend taking this tour as it can be difficult to find some of the places on your own.
Looking for a way to burn off energy? Hiking up Arthur’s Seat, an extinct volcanic plug in Edinburgh city centre, is one fantastic way to make sure your kids sleep through the night. The walk is relatively easy and only takes a few hours. Once you get to the top, you’ll get sweeping views over our beautiful city. In fact, this is probably one of the best views of the entire town.
Kids over five can walk up Arthur’s Seat on their own, or you can carry smaller children in a hiking backpack. As the walk is relatively easy and on gravel paths, it’s a fun, enjoyable way to spend time outdoors AND explore our gorgeous city.
Eating out and sampling local cuisine is half the fun of travelling. When picking a family holiday destination, it’s important to think about local restaurants and whether they’re child-friendly. Thankfully, Edinburgh has a great selection of family-friendly restaurants that both adults and young ones will enjoy.
If you want to sample traditional Scottish fare, head to the Scran & Scallie in Stockbridge, run by Michelin-starred chefs Tom Kitchen (The Kitchin) and Dominic Jack (Castle Terrace). Adults will love the gastropub’s delicious Scottish mains, like roe deer terrine and roast hake, as well as the fantastic collection of locally brewed beer and spirits. For the kids, there’s a special kids menu of simple pub classics and adult mains are available in half portions.
Even better, this kid-friendly restaurant boasts a large playroom with toys in the back. So, you can sit back and enjoy some of Scotland’s best cuisine, while your wee one entertains themselves. A win, win for everyone!
Across Edinburgh, you’ll find a series of Scandi-bars designed specifically for families. Restaurants like Hemma, Bar Boda, Sofi’s Joseph Pearce’s and Victoria are a family-friendly haven during the day and turn into trendy bars after dark.
Hemma has a bright, spacious venue with plenty of room for the kids to run around as well as kid-friendly menus. Menus feature Scandinavian dishes like smorgasbord platters, Swedish meatballs and Hasselback potatoes. Older kids can spend hours playing table football, while younger kids will especially like the kids’ zone which is packed full of toys. You’ll be hard pressed to find a better family-friendly restaurant in Edinburgh.
Earthy’s menu features some of the best organic and seasonal produce in Scotland and perhaps even the UK. There are three locations throughout the city, but the original Causeway site is probably the best for children as it features an outdoor play space. Kids will enjoy picking their meal shopping ‘market style’ and can then run wild in the fun outdoor play space.
Located in Edinburgh’s Canonmills neighbourhood, The Waters of Leith Cafe has a fantastic family-friendly vibe and is a great place to go for a coffee or light meal. The menu features fresh and healthy dishes with a French twist, which both adults and kids will love. Breakfasts are particularly popular here! Plus, with its bright, cheery atmosphere and customer-focused owner, you could easily spend hours at The Waters of Leith Cafe.
Ready to book your next kid-friendly UK holiday? We have some fantastic self-catering apartments across Edinburgh, perfect for those visiting with babies, toddlers or teenagers. We can also provide high chairs and travel cots to make your stay even more comfortable.
Book today or speak to our dedicated property manager to learn more about travelling to Edinburgh with children.
Written by Karen
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