(Old Town) Edinburgh
Edinburgh is a seriously COOL city. Nestled up in the Scottish highlands, it’s got a load of cool history. All of the buildings in Old Town is made of out this dark gray granite that gives the whole city this cool gothic vibe. The city is surrounded by hills you can easily walk up to enjoy an incredible view of the city. J.K. Rowling spent her Harry Potter-writing days at a café in town (you can visit it yourself). In fact, the whole city of Edinburgh feels has a Harry Potter feel. My kids kept looking up at the castle and asking me if it was Hogwarts.It’s got castles, castle playgrounds, cute Scottish terrier statues, great food options, and a couple fabulous free kid-friendly museums.
|Princes Street Gardens Playground
Europe has cool playgrounds, and this one was one of the best. The play structure itself is really cool. You’re in the shadow of Edinburgh Castle. I kept following my kids around because every shot of them on monkey bars with a castle behind them comes out great!!
|Edinburgh Castle (http://www.edinburghcastle.gov.uk)
Days / Hours: 1 Apr – 30 Sep, 9:30 – 18:00 (last entry 17:00); 1 Oct – 31 Mar, 9:30 – 17:00 (last entry 16:00)
Adult Cost (16-59 yrs) : £17.00
Child Cost (5 – 15 yrs): £10.20 (Children under 5 are FREE)
Tips – Admission/Free Days/Line: I would recommend you buy your tickets beforehand on the website. You’ll need to know the date and time (within a 90 minute range) of when you plan to enter the castle. You can get tickets online from the day of to about a couple months in advance. You can either print out the ticket as a PDF or bring your order confirmation number on the email they send you and collect your ticket from the Ticket collection kiosks are located at the bottom of the Castle Esplanade on the left hand side. If you can’t find it, just ask someone, there are plenty of knowledgeable and friendly guides around to help you out.
Free Wifi? I couldn’t find any when we were there in the summer of 2017.
Bathrooms – Yes, free.
Strollers – Parking? Easy of use? Allowed inside? No no and no. They didn’t design this castle with stollers in mind, I guess that wasn’t the priority back in 1000 AD.
Outside food allowed inside? Nearby food options: I’d feel ok bringing snacks in, but I’d go outside to find a place to picnic.
Is it worth it? Probably, depending on age of kids, how much they are into castles, how many other castles you’ve been at on your trip.
|The Elephant House – This laid-back café is where J.K. Rowling wrote the Harry Potter books you may have heard of a few times. If you’re kids are old enough they will think this is really neat. Get a picture of them writing something 😊
|Greyfriars Bobby Memorial My kids love dogs – watch an old 1961 Disney movie, “Grayfriars Bobby: The True Story of a Dog” in preparation for the statue (my kids hadn’t seen it by the time we went there but still loved the Scottish terrier statue anyway 😊 )
|National Museum of Scotland (http://www.nms.ac.uk/national-museum-of-scotland/)
I was quizzing my kids about a month after we got back about their favorite places on our European adventure and my oldest mentioned this museum. She remembers: “I loved going to the museum in Edinburgh where we could dress up!” I remember loving how close it was to Old Town, the cost (FREE!!), and how uncrowded it was. Check out the “History of Scotland” section of the museum: each floor has a different outfit that you can dress up in. I remember a catapult you could launch – my kids spent probably 30 minutes – dressed up in princess outfits – launching a catapult to knock down a wall. I enjoyed the sit down break 😊
Days / Hours: Daily, 10:00 – 17:00
Adult Cost: FREE FREE FREE Child Cost: FREE FREE FREE (donations welcome)
Tips – Line: We were there on a busy tourist day in the summer….and we did not feel crowded in the slightest.
Free Wifi? Yes!
Bathrooms – Free and there were baby-changing stations on pretty much every floor.
Strollers – We could have used our double stroller everywhere here. Very easy and convenient, elevators, ramps, everything. You could leave a stroller in the cloakroom if it folds up enough but I’d just take it with you.
Outside food allowed inside? Yes, you can eat them in the Group Room in the Entrance Hall as long as it hasn’t been reserved. We ate some snacks in the entrance hall and were not questioned. Nearby food options: The museum has a fun café overlooking the main gallery.
Is it worth it? I think so! At HFMT our philosophy is not to over-museum kids, but the child-centered exhibits, free cost, and pretty central location makes me think it worth a couple hours of your time.
|St. Giles Cathedral – Our philosophy at HFMT is not to over-church our kids, but this would probably be the one in Edinburgh I would go in. It’s right on The Royal Mile. Your kids probably won’t care as much about how important the main preacher Knox was and the effect he had on everything to the American public school system; however, they will like. With all the walking we do, ours enjoyed a 10 minute break to sit down, get out of the weather outside, and look around at the stained glass, religious images, and whatever else they can find.|
|Palace of Holyroodhouse –If the queen is in Scotland, she stays here. I’m not the Queen, and I’ll be honest, we didn’t go in. (It was actually closed the day that would have made the most sense.) However, I need to mention the fountains right next to the parking lot just south of the palace; these were the perfect size for our little ones to hike up their shorts and wade in; if it’s a nice sunny day then take advantage!!|
|Salisbury Crags / Arthur’s Seat –
This is one of my favorite things about Edinburgh. Right off the eastern end of the Royal Mile rise up these big hills that have well-marked hiking paths. Get a map in advance, or find the sign at the beginning of the walk that shows the different trails. We ended up only walking about halfway up the first crag but the view of the city was even incredible from there. We get super-nervous about cliffs and things and were able to find plenty of paths that didn’t give us heart attacks every time a little one started skipping or jumping around. My kids liked people-watching more here than anywhere else! They called the little people ants and watched as they played football on the green and dipped their feet into the fountains outside the Scottish Parliament Building. When we go back and our kids are older we’ll climb all the way to Arthur’s Seat, the highest point. Also make sure to bring good shoes, the trail can get pretty muddy.
| Places to Eat – Lots of places to eat. If you’re walking around in the late afternoon/evening, I would recommend Bene’s – http://benes.co.uk/ It’s the best fish and chips place in Edinburgh. My kids LOVE FISH AND CHIPS
Also, while you’re walking down the Royal Mile, don’t forget to stop by the Fudge Kitchen. Fudge. Free Samples. http://www.fudgekitchen.co.uk/ Last time we caught them at the right time and got to watch them make the fudge – my kids that was awesome. The staff was super friendly, they have fun flavors, and we bought a big chunk to take with us for our picnic on the Salisbury Crags later that day, it was our reward for getting to the top 😛