48 hrs in Edinburgh - A Family Guide



Edinburgh is one of my favourite cities, it's visually so beautiful and unique and makes for a fantastic weekend city break, although it's easy to spend much longer in the Scottish Capital as there is so much to see and do but if you are heading up north here is my 48 hour family friendly guide to get the most out of your trip.

We arrived into the city very early via the Caledonian Sleeper Train from London, check out my post about what we thought of the experience. We wanted somewhere that was close to Waverley Train Station due to the early arrival and late departure on our return. We decided to stay at The Premier Inn as it's less than 5 minute's walk from the train station, in the older part of town and only a few hundred feet from The Royal Mile. After dropping our bags off we decided to head out as we wanted to make the most of our time in the city. Here is what we got up to in our 48hrs in the city.

Scottish bagpipes

Hit up the Royal Mile 

Yes it is very touristy but there is a reason for that, this mile takes you from The Royal Palace up to Edinburgh Castle and takes in a lot of the old town with many historical buildings and sights. It's a beautiful, vibrant and busy street, packed with plenty of places to eat, traditional pubs, eclectic shops, visitors attractions and entertaining buskers. If it's your first time in the Scottish Capital this is a great place to start and the kids will be captivated by everything that is going on. Along the mile is also a variety of museums including the Museum of Childhood and the Scottish Story Telling Centre, both perfect for families. Even if you don't plan on visiting Edinburgh Castle it's still a must to walk to the top to take in the view and make sure to look out for the Heart of Midlothian Mosaic on the way up

Edinburgh Castle

The Castle without a doubt is one of the most well-known and iconic sights in the city and sits perched high up on the castle rock overlooking the city. While admission is on the pricey side (you can save on booking in advance and under 5's go free) I do feel it's worth it as it's great for families with plenty to see and do and the views are amazing. The ticket not only gives you access to The Great Hall, Palace Apartments and getting to see the Crown Jewels but also includes The National War and Regimental Museums. I also recommend sticking around for the One o'clock Gun which fires each day from the Mills Mount Battery and it's a highlight for kids. The Great Hall is also adorned with armour and swords and is fascinating for both children and adults. 

Kids at the castle

Edinburgh Castle

National Museum Of Scotland 

This has to be one of the best free attractions in the city and one of the most beautiful museums we have been to and fantastic for both adults and children. With Dinosaurs, race cars, aeroplanes and science experiments it has everything you need for a fun few hours, plus it's great if you're looking for somewhere action pack on a rainy day. My kids loved the Animal World gallery with plenty of hands-on exhibits including unearthing a dinosaur fossil as well as trying to generate power in the human-sized hamster wheel and having a go at racing a formula one car. The main gallery is full of natural light and has a wonderful cafe to keep the kids hydrated and tummy full.

Kids Edinburgh

Edinburgh Museum

Dynamic Earth

At the lower end of the Royal Mile, you will find the modern-looking Dynamic Earth, an interactive journey through time and space and nothing like anything else you would have done. I wasn't sure what my youngest was going to think of this as you start the tour off stepping into a time machine and being whisked off millions of years back in time with very realistic visual effects. My eldest loved it right from the start but my youngest was a little unsure but really warmed up as time went and they both had a fantastic time. You are brought back from millions of years to the present day in a fun, inspired and educational way that includes plenty of hands-on activities, a 4D flight, exploring everything from and real-life Ice Glacier to the Rain forest, your ticket also includes a film in the 360 show dome.

Arthurs Seat

If you love the outdoors as much as we do and fancy a little bit of a challenge then head up Arthurs Seat, depending on your fitness levels it will take around an hour to get to the top. I have done it a few times before and I would recommend this for children 5yrs plus unless you are happy to carry them part of the way. The views from the top are fantastic and it's located right behind Dynamic Earth so you can tick both off in the same day.


Art Galleries

The city has plenty of Art Galleries, cultural centres and museums and we always make sure to pop into at least one or two when we are exploring a city. We decided to head to The Fruitmarket Gallery which is a small contemporary gallery with a fantastic shop packed with independent books, creative pieces and unique toys as well as a hip cafe which is always busy but there is good reason for it. This is a very family-friendly space and while we were there they had an audience-led exhibition with large cardboard boxes that encouraged people to become bricks which you can imagine the kids loved. Also right opposite The Fruitmarket Gallery is The City Art Centre which houses a variety of traditional and contemporary Scottish Artworks. Both Galleries are free entry

City Sightseeing Bus

This was the first time we have ever done one of these open top hop on and hop off bus tours and I think they are a great way to get around the city when you are short on time as they take in a lot of the sights and kids love sitting at the top of the bus and there is a special Horrible Histories commentary which my eldest really enjoyed. We used the bus to get us around to places which were just a little too far to walk as well as seeing the sights such as The Scotts Monument, Greyfriars Bobby, Grass market and taking you to the bottom of Carlton Hill.

Edinburgh tour bus

Art Gallery Edinburgh

Carlton Hill

Carlton Hill is another popular hill and viewpoint in Edinburgh and a great place to take kids to run off some steam while taking in some pretty breathtaking views of not only the city but also across The Leith and the coastline. Located on the East End of Princess Street it's a pretty easy climb up to the top and doable for even toddlers. The hill is also the location of some iconic monuments including Nelsons Monument, the Robert Burns Monument, the City Observatory and the unmistakable Athenian Acropolis which is actually an unfinished monument but is very popular with visitors climbing on top of the giant steps. You can also climb to the top of The Nelsons Monument and there is a small hip coffee station with some delicious cakes and its easy to spend an hour or two up here and I recommend fitting it into your trip.

Princess Street Gardens

This is a lovely public park right in the heart of the city with the castle in the background and Princess Street right above with a view of Scotts Monument this is a great little place to get away from the manic city for a moment and let the kids run around. During the winter they have a fantastic Winter wonderland here and through the warmer months, it's a great spot for a picnic. During our stay, there was a really cool interactive light installation as part of the Lumen show and it was a really fun art piece to see and the kids loved running through the light show which played to music.

Light lumen

A few more suggestions 

We could have easily spent a few more days exploring the city but when your doing a short weekend visit you have to be selective about what you fit in. We also would of loved to have checked out more of the Leith area and The Royal Yacht Britannia as well as the Botanical Gardens. Camera Obscura which is only a few meters away from Edinburgh Castle is also a big hit with all ages as well as The Edinburgh Zoo. We all had an incredible action-packed stay in Edinburgh and would highly recommend visiting this unique Scottish city as a weekend break or part of a bigger trip to Scotland. 

Check out the vlog of our time in the Scottish Capital

T ravel Loving Family


  1. Amazing! Looks like you had so much fun, we went last week to the castle an it threw it down with rain every day! Gutted - You look like you had glorious weather!

  2. we really want to take our children up to Scotland, so then they've been to all countries in the UK and Ireland. Edinburgh sounds like a good option for families x

  3. Thanks very nice blog!

  4. I'm absolutely loving your photos, it makes the post so much more enjoyable to read. I've never been to Edinburgh but I would love to one day so thank you for the advice as I wouldn't know where to start. (:

  5. Looks like you and the family had an amazing time! I am hoping to visit in the summer for the first time with a couple of friends. I definitely want to do the mile so this is a great list of things to do. I can't wait!

    Tea in the Tub

  6. Outstanding story there. What happened after? Take care!

  7. I have never been Edinburgh before. I would love to visit the art gallery though that my type of thing. It looks like you enjoyed it 😊

  8. I have never been to Scotland but I annoy wait to visit. Reading your article about Edinburgh makes me want to start a Scottish trip soon!

  9. Edinburgh looks lovely , I went there many many years ago as a student. It’s changed so much since then. Lovely photos .

  10. This has come just at the right time as I'm going back to Edinburgh in a few weeks for my third time and I'm trying to work out what's best to do x

  11. I have never been to Edinburgh but this looks fabulous and my son would love it!

  12. Thanks for your personal marvelous posting! I really enjohed reading it, you can be a great author.
    I will always bookmark your blog and will often come
    back sometime soon. I want to encourage yourself to continue
    your grewt job, have a nice evening!

  13. I love the article, I always find a guide when going to visit a city and I really like Edinburgh, I would love to visit it some day. :)

  14. Edinburgh sounds a good place to visit with family. Lovely pictures, the castle is quite enchanting!

  15. Ah wow! I’d love to take my kids to Edinburgh! You’ve summed up a brilliant weekend here. I’ve always been put off by the distance...but your recent post on the sleeper journey up makes it actually seem achievable! One to add to the list! #MondayEscapes

  16. I love Edinburgh and we were really impressed with the National Museum of Scotland and Dynamic earth when we visited

  17. Edinburgh is on my bucket list for this year, as we've never been. Thanks for all the great ideas of things to do - getting there on the Caledonian Sleeper train sounds like a fun and relaxing way to travel!!! Looking forward to finding out more when they revamp!

  18. Scotland is a beautiful place, I would love to take Lucas one day and there is obviosuly a lot to show him in Edinburgh x

  19. Edinburgh is one place i would like to visit as it looks very interesting

  20. What an incredibly busy 48 hours you had in Edinburgh. I've only ben once and was barely there for a few hours of shopping. I'd love to go back. There's so much inspiration in this post! #MondayEscapes

  21. Laura you have just convinced me to return to Edinburgh! I've only been with work but it is definitely a place to visit with kids. The sleeper train sounds great fun too:) #MondayEscapes

  22. Hello! Would you mind if I share your blog with my facebook group?
    There's a lot of people that I think would really appreciate your content.
    Please let me know. Cheers

  23. Pretty! This was an extremely wonderful post. Thanks for providing this info.

  24. Brilliant article about what to do in Edinburgh with kids. The National Museum of Scotland has really changed since I moved back from Australia to my home town of Edinburgh! So much for our little Aussies (or 'Scaussies', a reference to their Scottish parentage and being born in Australia we presume) to do in there. In fact it's a whole day out without going anywhere else. Thankfully we managed to have a cheeky Nandos over the road afterwards to wind down!


Lovely comments

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