Family Attractions in Edinburgh

There are many places in Edinburgh which the whole family can enjoy together. Some of the many family attractions which Edinburgh has to offer include the Edinburgh Zoo, Our Dynamic Earth and the spectacular Royal Military Edinburgh Tattoo.


Camera Obscura Edinburgh

Camera Obscura and World of Illusions stands out as one of the oldest tourist attractions in Edinburgh. It was built in 1853 and is located just behind Edinburgh Castle.

On your visit to Camera Obscura you can explore 360 º Panoramas and 3D Edinburgh, observe the city from the rooftop telescopes, discover the history associated with the city in 3D, and have some fun with optical illusions which are larger than life!

More information can be found at the Official Camera Obscura Website

How to get there

Castlehill, The Royal Mile, Edinburgh
Served by Edinburgh’s Hop-on Hop-off Tour Bus

Opening Times and Prices

See Camera Obscura website for current opening times and prices


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The Scottish Parliament Building

Completed in 2004, Scotland’s cutting-edge Parliament building rests at the foot of Edinburgh’s renowned Royal Mile in front of the stunning Holyrood Park and Salisbury Crags. Designed by the Catalan architect Enric Miralles and created from a combination of steel, oak, and granite, the sophisticated building continues to be heralded as among the most impressive designs in the UK today.

Obtaining inspiration from the encompassing landscape, the flower works of art by Charles Rennie Mackintosh as well as the upturned boats around the seashore, Enric Miralles created a design which he proclaimed as a building “growing out of the land”.

Walking guided tours of the Scottish Parliament Building are available by simply getting in contact with Visitor Services in advance. The one hour guided tour normally takes you from the Main Hall to the Garden Lobby, and towards the floor of the Chamber to check out the location where the MSPs meet to debate.

Further information is available at the official Scottish Parliament Website

Edinburgh Zoo

No trip to Edinburgh would be complete without spending some time at the world-renowned Edinburgh Zoo where tourists can marvel over more than 1,000 different species of wildlife and birdlife.

Although just walking through the zoo with its hundreds of rare and endangered animals (it boasts the United Kingdom’s only koala bears) will amaze and delight any visitor, must-see attractions include the Penguin Parade featuring the gregarious gentoo and the regal king penguins as well as the free Hilltop Safari rides, which provide an information-filled introduction to the entire facility. The Lion Enclosure with its Asian lions is another family favourite, as is the intriguing Magic Forest, which offers tantalising glimpses of such wonderful creatures as golden-headed lion tamarins and eastern pygmy marmosets.

Further first-class attractions include the Budongo Trail, which introduces visitors to the zoo’s chimpanzees, and the Living Links exhibition, which treats tourists to up-close-and-personal visits with a fascinating family of Capuchin monkeys. For ornothologically inclined visitors, the Rainbow Landings lorikeet experience is a must, as are the Animal Antics shows, which feature the daredevil escapades of turkey vultures and tawny owls.

A visit to the Edinburgh Zoo is simply a must for the whole family.

How to get there

134 Corstorphine Road, Edinburgh
Served by Edinburgh’s Hop-on Hop-off Tour Bus


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Our Dynamic Earth

Our Dynamic Earth explains the history of the earth using interactive displays that allow visitors to explore the scientific forces that shaped and transformed the planet. From the instant you arrive at the striking building, which consists of a steel tent-like membrane stretched over a steel base structure; it is clear that you are in for an unforgettable technological journey.

After entering, board a time machine that ushers you back 15,000 million years while historical events like the age of the dinosaurs and the dawn of man pass before your eyes. Upon exiting the time machine, visit the Restless Earth–a volcanic landscape where the earth shakes as the smell of smoke and sulphur fills the room. For more adventures, take a 4D virtual helicopter on a thrilling ride through many of the earth’s diverse ecosystems, such as the Arctic and a tropical rainforest.

After fully exploring the earth’s above-ground attractions, dive beneath the sea in a submarine for a trip through the planet’s underwater environment where various aquatic landscapes can be viewed through the submarine’s portholes. Once you emerge from the ocean, finish your journey in a state-of-the-art digital planetarium show that showcases far-off galaxies and gives you a close-up view of the stars.

How to get there

Dynamic Earth, Edinburgh
Served by Edinburgh’s Hop-on Hop-off Tour Bus


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The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo

Throughout the month of August each year, the refrains of well-known military tunes can be heard on the esplanade of Edinburgh Castle. These amazing performances are all part of the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo.

A tattoo or “tap toe” as it was once known, was used by a military regiment’s Pipe and Drum corps to signal pub owners that it was time to turn off the taps and send the soldiers back to their lodgings. As times changed, the tattoo became more of an end-of-day ceremony for the soldiers. Today, the military tattoo is brought to life as a display that entertains an average of over 217,000 visitors to Edinburgh every year.

The Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo features tattoos executed by the British Armed Forces and Commonwealth military bands. It has also features International military bands from the United States, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and many other locations around the world.

Whilst the majority of performances occur on the esplanade of Edinburgh Castle, there is an event called “Taste of the Tattoo” that involves summary performances held at the Ross Bandstand in Princess Street Gardens. As a charitable event, the Royal Edinburgh Military Tattoo has raised over £5 million for civilian and military charitable organisations.

In 2010, because of its long-standing popularity, six-decades of service and contributions to charity, Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth awarded the Royal title to the Edinburgh Military Tattoo. Such an honour is befitting of an activity that celebrates Scotland’s officers and personnel of the British Armed Forces.

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