Edinburgh on a budget with kids
Europe,  Destinations,  Scotland

Exploring Edinburgh on a Shoestring Budget with Kids: A 48-Hour Itinerary

Exploring Edinburgh with kids in 2023

The Scottish capital is packed with historical landmarks, museums, and art galleries, as well as plenty of green spaces perfect for exploring, and there are plenty of fun and educational activities for kids of all ages. 

We’re going to share our top tips for spending two days in Edinburgh with kids. We’ll give you our top recommendations for family-friendly activities, as well as where to eat and stay on a budget. So, if you’re planning a trip to Edinburgh with your family, be sure to read on!

Edinburgh is a wonderful city for families with kids for several reasons:

Edinburgh is an absolute gem of a city for families with kids, and let me tell you why!

Historic Attractions

Edinburgh is old, really really old, and there is history at every corner. There are so many fascinating sites and attractions that kids will love, such as Edinburgh Castle, the Royal Mile, and the Palace of Holyroodhouse.

Museums and Galleries

Edinburgh is home to some great museums and galleries that are perfect for families, including the National Museum of Scotland, the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, and the Scottish National Gallery.

Parks and open spaces

Edinburgh has plenty of green spaces for families to explore, including Princes Street Gardens, the Meadows, and Calton Hill.


Edinburgh is famous for its festivals, including the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo. Factor this into your visit, obviously it will be busy. Kids will enjoy the street performers, musicians, and other activities during these events.

Food and Drink

Edinburgh has a wide range of restaurants and cafes that serve delicious food and drinks, many of which are family-friendly but also budget friendly.

Here are the highlights from our visit to Edinburgh.

Your 48hr Itinerary

If you have only 48 hours in Edinburgh with kids, here’s a sample itinerary of what you can do:

Day 1:

Start the day with a visit to Edinburgh Castle, which offers great views of the city and has many interesting exhibitions, including the Scottish crown jewels. Getting there early and heading to the far end will help to avoid the crowds.

After the castle, take a stroll down the Royal Mile, the main street in Edinburgh’s Old Town, and stop at St Giles’ Cathedral and the People’s Story Museum. Take a walk through the Old Town: The Old Town of Edinburgh is one of the city’s most historic areas and is filled with narrow, winding streets and historic buildings. 

Visit Princes Street Gardens: This beautiful park is located in the heart of the city and offers great views of Edinburgh Castle. Kids will love playing in the playground and exploring the green spaces, while adults can relax on the benches and enjoy the scenery. It’s a fantastic spot to picnic so grab a meal deal lunch and head to the park.

End the day with a visit to the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, which has over 70 acres of beautiful gardens and greenhouses to explore.

Day 2:

Take a walk up Arthur’s Seat, the highest point in Edinburgh, for panoramic views of the city.

Take a Harry Potter walking tour. An absolute highlight on our trip to Edinburgh. We booked this FREE tour with https://www.pottertrail.com/home and had the wonderful Sam guide us through the wizarding world of… Edinburgh. It was an absolute highlight, and well worth a generous tip!

In the afternoon, head to the National Museum of Scotland, which has interactive exhibits and activities that are fun for kids. It’s a great place for families to learn about Scotland’s history, culture, and wildlife. The museum is free to visit and has interactive exhibits and activities that will keep kids entertained. Read our post on the ‘best museum in the world’ here and see how we lost 5 hours of our life visiting just one exhibition!

This itinerary provides a great mix of historical, cultural, and outdoor activities that should keep kids entertained and engaged without being overwhelming and exhausting. Of course, you can adjust this itinerary to fit your family’s interests and schedule.

If you’re looking for alternative activities to do in Edinburgh with kids (which we didn’t do but have heard they can be fun), here are some options:

Dynamic Earth: This is a hands-on science center that explores the history of the planet, from the Big Bang to the present day. It’s a great way to introduce kids to science in a fun and interactive way. Get there early, it gets really busy!

The Edinburgh Dungeon: This is a live-action show that takes visitors on a journey through Scotland’s dark history, with live actors and special effects. It’s a thrilling experience for kids who are over 10 years old. Definitely not for our kids!

The Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh: In addition to its beautiful gardens, this botanic garden also offers hands-on activities for kids, including the John Hope Gateway, where children can learn about the science of plants and the natural world.

The Scott Monument: This is a towering Gothic spire that offers great views of the city and is a fun climb for adventurous kids.

The Edinburgh Zoo: This is a great place to see a wide range of animals, including primates, big cats, and penguins. The zoo also has a play area for kids and a number of interactive exhibits. 

Take a trip to the nearby beach, such as Portobello Beach, where kids can play in the sand and enjoy the sea air. Just a short

Visit to the Camera Obscura and World of Illusions, which is an interactive museum with a range of optical illusions and exhibits.

These are just a few of the many alternative activities that families with kids can enjoy in Edinburgh. With so many options to choose from, you’re sure to find something that everyone in the family will enjoy.