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5 Reasons for Families to Visit Edinburgh, Scotland

by Barbara Rogers

May 13, 2024

© Shahid Khan | Dreamstime.com

Destinations / Europe

The first place family travelers will want to visit in Scotland’s capital is the majestic castle that commands the landscape from atop its craggy hill in city center. Edinburgh Castle has something for every member of the family. Kids will know they’re in a real castle from the moment they cross the drawbridge and enter through the portcullis gate.


As you travel through its splendidly ornamented rooms, kids will find suits of armor standing guard in the Great Hall, and among the Scottish Crown Jewels they’ll see a gold crown studded with nearly 100 pearls and 40 glittering gemstones. In other buildings inside the castle walls are military and regimental museums and a tiny chapel. Be sure to be there for the One O’Clock Salute, when a cannon is fired from the Half Moon Battery. At another cannon, the huge Mons Meg, few kids can resist a photo with their head inside its giant barrel.


Atop a building just down the hill is quite a different sort of attraction, Camera Obscura & World of Illusions. Since the mid-1800s, this pinhole camera has used lenses and mirrors to project real-time moving images of the city. Confuse your senses in a hall of mirrors, 3-D holograms, a spinning vortex and more optical illusions.


At the foot of Castle Hill, Palace of Holyroodhouse is a feast for the senses with opulent rooms and halls. Moreover, it’s a real occupied royal palace where Queen Elizabeth II stayed and now King Charles III lives when in Edinburgh. Save this for another day, since it may be a little too much royal grandeur on the same day as the castle, but do bring kids here for a chance to dress up in costumes in the Family Room.


More dressing up awaits at Museum of Childhood, where kids can wear period costumes and play games enjoyed more than a century ago by Victorian children. You’ll find collections of toys and dolls from all over the world, model trains, kids’ fashions, dollhouses, and a recreated Victorian street scene where kids can play with the toys.


A leader in animal conservation and protection of endangered species, Edinburgh Zoo is home to creatures from across the world, some of which were born here as part of the breeding program. See lions, giraffes and zebras from Africa; tigers from Asia; penguins from Antarctica; koalas and kangaroos from Australia; and anteaters from South America, along with chimps, baboons, armadillos, sloths and red pandas living in spacious naturalistic environments.


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