Edinburgh is quite walkable and if you stay centrally, you will be able to get to most of the sights without using public transport or taxis. Edinburgh is famous for its dungeons, some of which might be a little too scary for babies and toddlers as they are designed to scare you and are more akin to a haunted house. There are also loads of ghost tours around the city, many of which are by night and again can be quite frightening. Some of the city’s walking tours are great for younger kids as they can sit in their strollers and gaze around while you learn about the city’s history and culture. Hop on hop off tours are also ideals for parents with babies and toddlers as the buses are stroller accessible and allow you to visit all the major sights without having to worry about maps of the city and using public transport. Some of the best family friendly and toddler friendly attractions include;
Butterfly and Insect World
Edinburgh Butterfly and Insect World is a great attraction situated at the outskirts of the city. It has a tropical rain forest in a series of hothouses linked to a large garden center where you can get up close and personal with a wide variety of butterflies and insects. You can even handle tarantula, scorpions and snakes. If not you can enjoy feeding the fish, relax in the tropical gardens and learn more about the myriad species of butterfly living in the world’s longest running butterfly house. There is also a lovely cafe and gift shop.
Camera Obscura and World of Illusions
Edinburgh’s Camera Obscura is located immediately beside Edinburgh Castle. It is an intriguing attraction housed in a Victorian rooftop chamber at the apex of the Outlook Tower where you can see moving images of Edinburgh’s panorama projected onto the walls by the giant periscope. There are also optical illusions to enjoy. This is the oldest purpose built attraction in Edinburgh and dates back to 1892.
Deep Sea World
Deep Sea World is Edinburgh’s Aquarium and is located 20 minutes away from the centre by car.
Edinburgh Castle dominates the city skyline and is home to both the Scottish Crown Jewels and the famous One O’Clock Gun. The castle also offers stunning views. Every evening in August, the Castle hosts the Military Tattoo, a mix of pageantry and parade bagpipers playing traditional music. The Castle is also the permanent home to the National War Museum. There are plenty of cobblestones in this area so be aware that it may be a bit bumpy with a stroller but it is manageable. There is also good access to many of the attractions around the castle with a stroller although be aware that there may be some stairs to contend with if you want to see the place properly.The Royal Mile leads to and from the Castle and there you can visit the Palace of Holyroodhouse, the Queen’s official residence in Scotland which was also home to Mary Queen of Scots during her reign. Here, there are family workshops and activities for ages 5–11 at weekends and during school holidays while younger visitors get access to toys, games and other resources in the Palace Family Room.
Holyrood Park is a free-access parkland with hills, lochs, glens, ridges and natural springs which are ideal for a family stroll. Arthur’s Seat rising up at its centre is a popular and fairly easy walk.
Edinburgh International Climbing Arena
EICA is a fitness center, climbing arena, soft play and spa all rolled into one. Children will love the playroom and soft play (which has areas for babies, toddlers and older children) and its own café where adults can relax. There is also a mobile climbing wall which is perfect for children aged four and over. The main café has great views of the dramatic climbing arena, which is cut from the bare rock of a disused quarry. After your climb you can visit the Jacuzzi, steam room and sauna or unwind with a massage from one of the highly trained therapists.
Edinburgh Zoo has loads of fantastic exhibits and animals which toddlers will love. The best known animals here are the pandas and penguins. The panda couple, called Yang Guang and Tian Tian, are hugely popular. The zoo has been open for over 100 years now, and you can expect to find thousands of different species on show, from koala bears to the Violet Turaco to the White-faced Sari monkey. There are also lots of interactive activities for kids.
Gorgie City Farm
Gorgie Farm is a great, free attraction situated in the heart of Edinburgh’s East End. This little gem has nestled between a busy road and the railway line for over three decades. It operates as a working farm, but also offers courses in agriculture, gardening and handicrafts for both adults and children. The farm is home to a wide range of animals including sheep, pigs, goats, chickens, ducks, ponies and jersey cattle. There is also a petting lodge where you can meet tortoises, snakes, rats, hamsters, guinea pigs and rabbits. When you get hungry you can enjoy some wonderful home cooked food (including delicious home baking) in the farm café.
Netherbow Theatre Edinburgh (formerly, Netherbow Port) is owned by the Church of Scotland. It is small and intimate, making it a dramatic place to see live modern drama and dance. The children’s program is extensive, with a regular schedule of storytellers making appearances; in fact it is home to the Scottish Storytelling Centre.
Our Dynamic Earth
Our Dynamic Earth is a wonderful, interactive museum which celebrates the beauty of the earth via technology. It is situated at the opposite end of the Old Town from the castle, near Holyrood Palace in the shadow of the crags and Arthur’s Seat. Interactive exhibits allow visitors to experience simulated earthquakes, tropical rainstorms, the ocean floor, ice ages, glaciers and mountains. It is educational fun for the whole family and can serve as a good introduction to concepts surrounding the formation of the planet, the creatures we share the earth with, and the growth of the human population.
The Museum of Childhood
The Museum of Childhood is described as ‘the noisiest museum in the world’ and offers a fun day out for the whole family. Young people can learn about the children of the past and see a fantastic range of toys and games, while adults enjoy a trip down memory lane. There are hands-on activities, including a puppet theatre and dressing up area, together with our fantastic museum shop.
The National Museum
The National Museum of Scotland offers fascinating exhibits about ancient Egypt, ancient Scotland, Natural History, and Science and Technology as well as some inspired interactive activities. Children can dig for dinosaur bones, get behind the wheel of a Formula 1 race car or dress up in the traditional costumes of different cultures.
A trip to Time Twisters, Edinburgh’s best soft play center is perfect for children of all ages. Toddlers will love this Egyptian-themed attraction and there is an above average café where adults can enjoy a well-deserved treat while the little ones play.
The Royal Botanic Gardens
If the weather is fine, the Royal Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh is great for a picnic. The winding paths and steps of the rock garden are great for the kids to explore and any leftovers from your picnic can be fed to the ducks. Some of the plants here date all the way back to the dinosaur age. You will also find exhibitions and interactive activities for children in the main building and there is a shop, a restaurant and a couple of cafes.