Top 15 Things To Do In Edinburgh With Kids!

We had a wonderful family Christmas in Edinburgh with Grandma Linda.  It was an amazing week and we want to share what we feel are the top 15 things to do in Edinburgh with kids!  Alright, you caught me, Anya is only 12, but she is just as teen as they come.  Many of these activities are specific to the Christmas season, but there are also plenty which are available year-round.

Top 15 Things To Do In Edinburgh With Kids! Read more on

Our family has been all over the world for the holidays, as that is our tradition!  We have spent Christmas in Paris, Vietnam, Ireland, and various locations within the USA, and of course Spain.  It is our desire to see new things and experiencing different cultures, but this year we wanted a taste of the Christmas with some chilly weather and loads of tradition.  We found it with and Edinburgh Christmas!

Views of Edinburgh from Camera Obscura

Things to do in Edinburgh with kids during the Christmas Season

Okay, I will admit you don’t need to have teens to enjoy any of these, as they are all great for adults too!  We kept ourselves busy during our week in Edinburgh and the cold, wind and rain didn’t even stop us from getting out and experiencing the city.

Many of these were hand-picked by the kids, so they were really getting into the planning this year.  It is nice when they help plan a trip, as they have more excitement leading up to it and more enjoyment while we are there.  That is providing you can do it all.  We did have a couple of disappointments, due to inclement weather, but that just means we need to go back!

  1. Be Amazed at Camera Obscura & World of Illusions

    Oh how we love these interactive science centers, and your kids are going to love it!  This was full of great illusions, activities and fun.  We enjoyed all 6 floors of amazement as well as some of the most spectacular views of Edinburgh from the rooftop terrace.  We tricked our eyes, served up Lars on a platter, transformed our faces and electrified our touch.  They open at 10am and I would advise you are there ready and waiting.  It can get quite crowded inside, so if you are there early, you have more time to enjoy the activities.  Click here to see Camera Obscura hours and prices.  *This is one of the ASVA attractions.
    Camera Obscura Edinburgh Lars floating head

  2. Eat your way through the Christmas Markets

    What do we love about markets?  The food of course.  Make a stop off at the crepe stand and fill your bellies with yummy goodness!  Click here to see all of the events and activities available from Edinburgh Christmas.
    Edinburgh Scotland Christmas Markets and City crepes

  3. Walk the Royal Mile

    The Royal Mile is the name given to a succession of streets forming the main thoroughfare of the Old Town of the city of Edinburgh in Scotland.  From what we learned, the Royal Mile is really 1.2 miles long!  It leads from Edinburgh Castle to the Palace of Holyroodhouse, it is a walk through history.  You will pass Parliament square and so much more.  Perhaps there will even be a proclamation announced from Mercat Cross while you are there.
    View of the Royal Mile from Camera Obscura Rooftop Edinburgh

  4. Gliding around on Ice Skates in St. Andrew’s Square

    This was #1 on the list of things to do for the kids.  They love ice skating, especially when it is outdoors in the winter!  Their first time ice skating was in Paris 4 years ago and that was one of our requirements this year too.  We made our way to St. Andrew’s Square the very first day out and of course Barbara caused us some problems.

    Barbara was the storm passing through that day and the rain was coming down fast and furious, not to mention sideways.  Anyway, the skating rink was closed.  With our schedule being pretty packed and the weather not cooperating, ice skating didn’t happen in Edinburgh.  That said, the kids did manage to bring in the new year by ice skating at 12:30am on New Years in Aberdeen.
    Ice Skating in Aberdeen New Year's Eve

  5. Get the adrenaline flowing on the Holiday Rides & Activities

    We had a blast going on all of the rides!  Grandma Linda even joined in on all of them.  We wrote all about the Edinburgh Christmas Activities, so check out our full post.
    Edinburgh Scotland Christmas Markets and Rides

  6. Step into the past at Edinburgh Castle

    The Edinburgh Castle is so beautifully kept and offers beautiful views of the city below.  I would advise arriving as soon as they open, to try to avoid long lines to get in, as well as within the buildings on property.  If you buy your tickets online, that is one line you won’t have to wait in.  Do wear proper shoes, as you will be walking along cobblestone roads.  You can step back in time and pretend like you are ruling the castle!  Click here to check out advanced tickets and deals for Edinburgh Castle.  *This is one of the ASVA attractions.
    Morning at Edinburgh Castle

  7. Harry Potter fans can pay a visit to Tom Riddle’s Tombstone

    This is one site we planned to see, but didn’t make it there!  Oh no!  The weather was a bit cold and wet for us to be out strolling around.  Most of our activity was located on the Royal Mile or Princes Street, so just to go a few blocks away didn’t happen.  It is said that JK Rowling did much of her writing for her Harry Potter series at the Elephant House, just across from Greyfriars Kirkyard.  There were several characters in her books inspired by tombstones within the graveyard.  The one tombstone the kids wanted to see was Tom Riddle, evil wizard Lord Voldemort.  We will just have to return to Edinburgh.
    Thomas Riddell's Grave, Greyfriars Kirkyard

  8. Family friendly Ghost Tour

    We enjoyed the new family friendly ghost tour with Mercat Tours and it was great fun.  First we learned quite a bit above the ground and then headed underground into the vaults and old shops.  Spooky stories were told and we walked in the steps of those from the past.  We even had a couple of good spooky moments.  The kids loved it!
    Click here to see all of the Mercat Tours offered.  *This is one of the ASVA attractions.
    Edinburgh Scotland Mercat Tours Ghosts

  9. Stop for some Pastries & Hot Chocolate

    What kid doesn’t love hot chocolate?  Okay, the adults indulged too.  It was a nice special treat and they offer beautiful cakes and tarts as well.
    Patisserie Valerie Edinburgh Hot Chocolate

  10. Shopping from the Royal Mile to Princes Street

    We had no trouble doing plenty of last-minute Christmas shopping along Princes Street.  We hopped into many of our favorites and enjoyed all of the holiday cheer.  Of course LUSH was up at the top of our list.  Anya had mapped out all of the stores she wanted to visited, highly influenced by her favorite YouTubers of course.  They are all on our map below.
    Edinburgh shopping day From the Royal Mile to Princes Street

  11. Go underground at Real Mary King’s Close

    This also came highly recommended to us, to walk where the old underground shops once stood.  This is supposed to be something to experience, but with the holidays, we just didn’t have time to do it all.  Next time!  Click here to book a tour.  *This is one of the ASVA attractions.
    Real Mary King's Close

  12. Be dazzled by the Street of Lights!

    This was a real treat and it was free!  On George Street there is one block setup with Christmas markets and an entire street of lights.  Twice each night a 20 minute light show is put on with music to go along.  You can’t help but sing and bop along.  There are market stalls at either end of the street, perfect if you are looking for a hot chocolate, mulled wine or other treats.  There is limited capacity, so even though it is free you need to book tickets online.  Read more about our Edinburgh Christmas Activities.
    Edinburgh Christmas Street of Lights

  13. Enjoy the educational ride at The Scotch Whisky Experience

    What a treat!  We started off hopping in a barrel and going on a ride through the process of becoming whisky!  It was great fun and then we moved upstairs to do a little learning and tasting.  Did you know there is no “e” in Scotch Whisky?
    The Scotch Whisky Experience Edinburgh Christmas- whisky collectionOf course the kids don’t get to try the whisky, but sodas are offered.  It is pretty fun and educational and amazing to see the private collection of whisky with over 3400 bottles!  Click here to see the Scotch Whisky Experience website for hours and prices.  *This is one of the ASVA attractions.
    The Scotch Whisky Experience Edinburgh Christmas

  14. Enjoy a day trip to Loch Ness

    If you have time in Edinburgh go out and explore the Scottish highlands.  We took a day tour to Loch Ness, but it was a 12 hour day.  We had a great time, but spent most of the day driving.  I would highly recommend either doing a 2 day trip or renting a car and taking your time.  Of course we didn’t see Nessie, but we looked!

  15. Get locked up on a day trip to Stirling Castle

    We had every intention of stopping by Stirling Castle when we moved from Edinburgh to Aberdeen, but it just didn’t happen.  We did meet several people at our hotel who highly recommended Stirling Castle, even more than Edinburgh Castle.  There was a group of teens who said they enjoyed pretending to be locked up in the prison.  It is about 40 minutes outside of the city center.  Click here to check out advanced tickets and deals for Stirling Castle. *This is one of the ASVA attractions.

*ASVA – Association of Scottish Visitor Attractionsclick here to see a full list of things to do in Edinburgh and things to see in Scotland.

*Edinburgh Christmas, click here to see the full list of holiday events, attractions, shows and offers.
Edinburgh Chirstmas Market and Rides Princes Street double Carousel

Edinburgh Sightseeing Tours

There are many tours available in Edinburgh and many of them are offered here.  You can do most of these activities as a tour or buy advance tickets and skip the lines.  There is even a chocolate tour, yum!  So check out the organized tours available when you visit Edinburgh.


Places to eat in Edinburgh

Let’s talk food!   When you are busy with all of the things to do in Edinburgh, you do work up a bit of an appetite.  We did our fair share of eating during our week in Edinburgh, but we are going to share our favorites with you.

  • Kyloe Restaurant & Grill

    This is a wonderful steakhouse located at the end of Princes Street, with great views of the city streets and Edinburgh Castle.  Please read our full review here.
    Kyloe Restaurant & Grill, a great steakhouse in Edinburgh. Read our full review on

  • Zizzi’s

    Christmas Eve dinner was here and it was fabulous.  We all enjoyed our meals, the ambiance and service.  It wasn’t too formal, so was perfect for us.
    Edinburgh dinner at Zizi's Queensferry street

  • Gusto Edinburgh

    This was a nice surprise, as we just popped in after viewing the Edinburgh’s Christmas Street of Lights.  It was starting to rain and it was near.  We were seated up on the loft area and the entire meal was scrumptious.  It was a little more on the expensive side, but well worth it.
    Dinner at Gusto Edinburgh Christmas

  • The Amber Rose

    This was a traditional pub and they offered amazing home cooked meals, which filled the plates.  The deals they had for the meals just couldn’t be beat, 2 meals for about £10.50!  We enjoyed chicken mushroom pie, fish and chips, burgers and more. We enjoyed it so much we returned a second time.

  • Patisserie Valerie

    If you are looking for a quick warm up or fancy treat, the this is the place to go!  We enjoyed hot chocolate with cakes and tarts.  Located on Rose Street, just behind Princes Street.
    Patisserie Valerie Edinburgh Hot Chocolate and Cakes

  • No.8 Lister Square

    This was a modern pub, located in the square near the Marriott Residence Inn.  It was a perfect location to just pop down from our rooms and enjoy a meal.  I think we all voted thumbs up on the burgers!
    Edinburgh awesome burgers at No. 8

  • Christmas Markets

    You can’t go wrong with all of the goodies offered at the Christmas Markets.  From sausages, to crepes, to fondue, but we loved the Baileys booth most of all.
    Edinburgh Christmas market treats

  • Hot dog stand!

    When you are out shopping, sometimes just an ordinary hot dog will do the trick.  Located right along Princes Street, we kept seeing this adorable hot dog cart. Finally one day the boys stopped for a snack and were quite pleased.
    Edinburgh Hot dog stand on Princes Street


Places to stay in Edinburgh

Marriott Residence Inn

This is where we stayed and It is about a 15-20 minute walk or 5 minute taxi ride to the Royal Mile.  Since there were 5 of us, we had 2 x one bedroom apartments. They were very nice and the staff was extremely helpful.  Every day they called a taxi for us, and the buffet breakfast was always delicious.
Click here to check prices and availability.

We would also recommend the following places with space or the family and close to the action!

  • Aparthotel Adagio Edinburgh Royal Mile

    This is just 600m from Edinburgh Festival Theatre, a great location. This is an apartment hotel, which offers a bit more space and can save you money by have a few meals in.
    Click here to check prices and availability.

  • St. Giles Apartments

    Located on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile and Old Town, these luxury, 4-star apartments feature stylish interiors with spacious lounge areas.  Edinburgh Castle is less than 10 minutes’ walk away.
    Click here to check prices and availability.

  • Ice Cream Suite

    They offer a very clean and modern 2 bedroom apartment, with an ice cream theme! This is still about a 10 minute walk from the action, but it is nice to have the space.  There are 2 large parks nearby, so it is great if you have little ones.
    Click here to check prices and availability.

  • Dunedin Apartments

    Situated a 5-minute walk from the Royal Mile in Edinburgh city centre, these apartments are spacious and luxurious.  Each apartment has a fully equipped kitchen, a living room with a dining area, a flat-screen TV, DVD player and free wifi.
    Click here to check prices and availability,

  • Stay Edinburgh City Apartments

    By far the best location you could desire.  They offer fully furnished luxurious apartments (studios to 4 bedrooms) with stylish open plan lounge and dining areas. Features include a flat-screen satellite TV and DVD player and leather sofas.  They really have some great deals on the 3 bedroom, much cheaper than a hotel.
    Click here to check prices and availability.

  • Nicolson Apartments

    Amazing deals and very nice apartments.  The Nicolson Apartments are in the centre of Edinburgh’s Old Town, 700 m from the Royal Mile. Edinburgh Castle and the shops of Princes Street are less than a kilometer from the building.
    Click here to check prices and availability.

  • innerCityLets

    Spread across Edinburgh city centre, innerCityLets offers a collection of 5-star apartments providing a home-away-from-home experience in the heart of the city. The Royal Mile is only metres away.  Many of the innerCityLets apartments offer large windows and lovely views of the Royal Mile.
    Click here to check prices and availability.



Guess what?  We have things to do in Edinburgh mapped out for you!

Everything we have mentioned above is on the map.

Tell us what you think.  What would you add to the list of things to do in Edinburgh?  Do you want to visit Edinburgh?

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Top 15 Things To Do In Edinburgh during Christmas. Read more on

Disclosure:  We partnered with This is Edinburgh (the official guide to Edinburgh) for some of our activities and experiences.  All opinions are our own.

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