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help with plans in Edinburgh

hello all! we arrive by train around 3:30 in Edinburgh and are trying to decide how to best spend our time. we are staying off of Princess St near castle. family of 3 including 13 y/o.

need help with plans on Sat evening...have been looking at evening walking tours...but are very open to other ideas. the castle closes at 5 (I believe) so that is not enough time to tour it.

Sunday will be an all day trip outside of Edinburgh on rabies tour as I am set on seeing scenery after 8 days in city of London plus I am a nature nut.

Monday we were planning on going first thing to tour the castle and then are open until we have to catch plane to Dublin at 7. so we need suggestions for Monday afternoon as well.

thanks to all! we are open to any suggestions keeping in mind we will have 13 y/o with us.

Posted by
2081 posts


just before you make it into the castle there is a museum? called the "camera obscrua & world of illusions". I didnt make it on my 1st trip there, but its just more or less outside of the driveway on the corner.

the National Museum of Scotland is really cool. Its has some interactive displays for kids & adults.

as far as walks go, you can do the Royal Mile. From Edinburgh castle to holyrood place. Also walking around old town or in/around the Princes street. you can go into Jenners store. Its an old historic building across from Scotts monument. The building has to be preserved on the outside but they modded the inside.

happy trails.

Posted by
5678 posts

If you're an active family, you might look into climbing Arthur's Seat. I've not done that, but I know people who have and it's often recommended. It would get you outdoors and provide spectacular views of the city, the Firth of Forth, and the surrounding countryside.

Alternatively, you see a bit of New Town. The Georgian House is also only open until 5, but you don't need anywhere as much time. It give you a wonderful introduction to late 18th/early 19th century Edinburgh. I love their tour. Afterwards, you can go for a walk in New Town, go have dinner at the Mussell Inn on Rose Street. And then stroll Princes Street Garden. If you want to climb something, there is the Sir Walter Scott Monument.

I like Gladstone's Land. Its in Old Town and shows you what those early sky scrapers were like. :) It's and interesting contrast to the Georgian House. Of course, the National Museum of Scotland is truly amazing. The Lewis Chessman are on exhibit along with a guillotine, Bonnie Prince Charlie's canteen, and early steam engine, and Jackie Stewart's Formula One race car! You start in the basement and work your way up.

Don't miss the Castle. It's well worth your time.


Posted by
809 posts

Pam has given a lot of great ideas - my 17yo daughter and i really enjoyed Gladstones Land and the Georgian House on our visit in 2009, as we love seeing how people lived in the past. You might be able to see georgian House when you arrive - it's less than a mile frim the train station.

We also had a great time at The Real Mary King's Close if you want another view of life in the past.

And here's a London suggestion- Benjamin Franklin's house on Craven Street. He lived there for 10 years before the Am Revolution. We live in Virginia and have visited various Colonial houses here; very interesting to see some American history in London. Have a great trip!

Posted by
6619 posts

These are good ideas, more than enough to fill your day. The Castle will take all morning if you let it. If I were 13 I wouldn't have appreciated the long lineup for the crown jewels, but I'd have gone for the military museum.

I'd skip the Camera Obscura. It's interesting but takes longer than it's worth, imho. Start at the Castle, do it justice, then work your way down the Royal Mile, stopping at places that interest you. Make sure you have plenty of time to make the Dublin flight. And come back to Edinburgh when you have more time and can take some day trips.

Posted by
792 posts

If you are a nature lover, I second the suggestion to climb Arthur's seat. There are several different trails. The trails that start closer to Holyrood Palace are less steep and very doable for someone who is not a hiker, which I am not. The trails that start on the other side are a lot steeper. The Royal Yacht Brittania is also very interesting especially if anyone is into ships or the British royal family. It is a little off the city center but you could get there by taxi or city bus. Edinburgh is a great city. I think you would have a great time meandering around and people watching.

Regarding your Sunday tour-On a lot of those tours, you spend about 60-70% of the time in the car because there is so much ground to cover. If physically being IN nature, and not just driving by, is very important to you, I would double check your itinerary. have a great trip!

Posted by
2390 posts

we too also very much enjoyed Mary King's Close underground tour and I seem to remember they are open in the evening and it is just down from the Castle on your right as you face castle and I think just across from St. Giles. The museum of Scotland is very interesting and has something for everyone, we split up as the teens wanted to see more of ancient history and we wanted to see pottery, etc. Just across from the museum you can wander into the cemetery to see Grey Friars Bobby grave and that of his master. Not too sure how much of the story is true but I like to think it is. I think it is very worthwhile to go to the the bottom of the hill to look up at the old town and castle lit up at night, great view. Enjoy.

Posted by
191 posts

I went on a Rabies tour a few years ago and had a good time.

Not sure when you will be in Edinburgh, but if you are there in August, the Military Tattoo is a great way to spend an evening at the castle.

Posted by
1657 posts

If your 13 yo is anything like I was at 13, they will love the Edinburgh Dungeon.

Posted by
7567 posts

If you're looking at Stephanie's suggestion of the Military Tattoo, you may want to get on the Website and get seat reservations ASAP. We're going this August and have reservations on a weeknight. We understand the weekend performances are in highest demand, and will sell out. Rick's guidebook has more info on tickets and schedules for the Tattoo. We may also take a city bus for the short trip to Leith to see the retired Royal Yacht Britannia.

Posted by
6619 posts

We loved the Britannia, I never miss a boat if I can help it, but it's some distance from central Edinburgh and takes awhile to tour. For Ruth and family I'd recommend staying in the city for the one afternoon they have before making an early evening flight. Save the yacht for next time.