Skip to main content

Must See Family-Friendly Attractions in Edinburgh

  • Author:
  • Updated:
Edinburgh's magnificent skyline (Photo: Michelle Rae Uy)

Edinburgh's magnificent skyline (Photo: Michelle Rae Uy)

Edinburgh makes for a great family destination this summer. It’s an easy city to explore with the kids, after all, on account of it being compact, brimming with attractions ready to impress, and pleasantly cool even in the summertime. Auld Reekie’s, as it’s affectionately called, streets and closes (that’s Scots for alleys) are imbued with historic sights, striking architecture, underground tunnels and tantalizing viewpoints begging to be explored.

Pop in for a quick two-day visit or make the enigmatic city your terminus ad quem. And while there, make it a point to see these five kid-friendly attractions.

Camera Obscura

One of the exhibits at Camera Obscura (Photo: Michelle Rae Uy)

One of the exhibits at Camera Obscura (Photo: Michelle Rae Uy)

Nearby Edinburgh Castle may draw the most crowds, but Camera Obscura and the World of Illusions may be time better spent, especially when you’re traveling with little and big kids. The popular tourist and kid-friendly attraction, located in Old Town Edinburgh right along the Royal Mile, is designed to pique the kids’ natural curiosity as well as encourage their affinity for touching museum exhibits. Expect awesome mazes, interactive items on display, curious illusions and, of course, the 19th century device that allows visitors glimpses of the city below in real time.

One of the closes in Edinburgh (Photo: Michelle Rae Uy)

One of the closes in Edinburgh (Photo: Michelle Rae Uy)

Mary King’s Close
Also along the Royal Mile a few minutes downhill from Camera Obscura is the astounding big kid-friendly Mary King’s Close. The older kids will be drawn to its mystique while moms and dads will find its history engrossing. The close used to be Edinburgh’s place to be and one of its most sought-after addresses, with its market stalls selling wares of every kind. Today, now underground and buried under the City Chambers, Mary King’s Close—along with its neighboring closes and its tenement houses—has become a popular tourist attraction. And a fantastic one, at that!

Carlton Hill
Edinburgh’s skyline, whether smothered in gray or glowing at sunset, is incredible. It’s crucial, therefore, to capture it during your visit. Carlton Hill, a short and easy hike from the Royal Mile, is one of the city’s perfect vantage points to do exactly this. The historic UNESCO World Heritage Site is, in fact, one of the city’s most photographed as it provides the perfect foreground for Edinburgh’s medieval spires and rooftops. And much like most of Edinburgh, Carlton Hill also boasts its share of history. Take the kids up here on a clear summer morning or at sunset when the sky is beautifully painted.

Scroll to Continue

Recommended for You

Greyfriars Kirkyard

Greyfriars Kirkyard (Photo: Michelle Rae Uy)

Greyfriars Kirkyard (Photo: Michelle Rae Uy)

Harry Potter series fans in the family will definitely get a kick out of visiting one of Edinburgh’s most haunted spots. If the kids are too scared to go on a ghost tour, don’t despair. The graveyard, where many of the city’s most important residents are interred, is also a good spot to visit when the sun’s out and it’s less creepy. Why? Because Draco Malfoy, Tom Riddle and Professor McGonagall’s namesakes are also buried here. And walking around a place that’s helped inspired one of the most famous authors of the modern age will certainly evoke feelings of artistry in the kids.

Ghost Tours
Walk up and down the Royal Mile and you won’t miss the many tour companies offering ghost tours at reasonable rates. More for the tweens and teens in the family craving excitement—visiting one historical attraction after another tend to bore most Millennials and Post–Millennials—these thrilling ghost tours will take you to the city’s creepiest spots, most haunted locales, and even in underground rooms and tunnels that people have had sightings.

Michelle Rae Uy contributed this to MiniTime. She is a travel writer based in Los Angeles and MiniTime's Head of Content, who spends her free time on adventures and film photography.

More from MiniTime:

A Harry Potter Tour of London

Exploring One of London's Oldest Neighborhoods with Kids

Spas We Love at Family-Friendly Resorts


Machu Picchu, Peru (Flickr: Emilio Labrador)

Peru’s Five Best Family-Friendly Attractions

Machu Picchu may be the best known cultural attraction in Peru, but this country offers an array of fascinating things to see and do on a family vacation.

Tulum Ruins in the Riviera Maya (Photo: Michelle Rae Uy)

Family-Friendly Things You Must Do In The Riviera Maya

Flying into Cancun, your first experience might be currency exchange booths, the host of vendors trying to sell vacation packages and a Jimmy Buffett stand to occupy newly arrived tourists as they wait for their bus.

Little Cayman is one of the Cayman Islands' several spots not many tourists get to see. (Flickr: SF Brit)

Family-Friendly Spots in the Cayman Islands That Few Tourists See (But Locals Love)

Without a doubt, Grand Cayman’s Stingray City, Turtle Farm and Seven Mile Beach are exciting family attractions sure to thrill kids. And first-time visitors to the Cayman Islands should definitely check out these popular tourist attractions.

For wildlife attractions for families in Bali, cruelty-free is definitely the way to go. (Courtesy Ubud Monkey Forest)

Cruelty-Free Wildlife Attractions for Families in Bali

Some animal attractions are more interested in your money than in the animals. We've put together a few cruelty-free activities we know your family will love.

London from St. Paul's Cathedral (Photo: Michelle Uy)

Exploring One of London's Oldest Neighborhoods with Kids

Within the City of London, one of the oldest neighborhoods, for example, historical attractions, bustling markets and awe-inspiring architecture abound. Here are some of the best ones that families can visit and explore in one day.

Horse Vacations

5 Family-Friendly Places for Kids Who Love Horses

Several locations, resorts, and ranches offer a variety of horseback riding experiences, so here are a few to get your started planning your next trip to some of these family-friendly destinations for a horse centered getaway.

Looking for offbeat things to do in Los Angeles with kids? We've got you covered. (Flickr: Justin Vidamo)

Family Friendly Things to Do in LA Only Locals Know About

Family Friendly Things to Do in LA Only Locals Know About |There are also many secret gems to discover with kids. Places most visitors never see, but that locals treasure.