4 July 2024

Family activities in Edinburgh this summer

Mother and 2 children taking part in a an activity trail in the gorunds of the Palace of Holyrood House
© Royal Collection Enterprises Limited 2024 Royal Collection Trust. David Cheskin

Take a look at some of the family activities you can do in Edinburgh this summer.

School’s out for summer! Thankfully in Edinburgh there are plenty of great activities and events taking place throughout the summer months to keep boredom at bay, no matter the weather.

From fruit picking to bus tours, take a look at our round-up of events and activities and start planning your family’s summer of fun.

Family activities at the Palace of Holyroodhouse

Mother and child decorating crowns at Midweek Makes event at the Palace of Holyrood House
© Royal Collection Trust

Discover over 900 years of Scottish royal history as the Palace of Holyroodhouse offers a variety of fun family sessions.

Discover more about the history of the Palace’s beautiful Physic Garden, listen to stories of its past and how it was used on the free Physic Garden Family Tours. Or follow the unicorn activity trail and create craft paper masks of your favourite animal on Magical Menagerie Activity Day.

Get up close to a mix of historical and replica items that would have been used in the Palace hundreds of years ago at Hands on History; decorate your own crown in Midweek Makes, or have a go at making a cloak using recycled materials at Recycled Fashion: Family Workshop.

Events take place on selected dates between 08 July and 28 August 2024. See website for booking details.

Summer events at Edinburgh Zoo

Two girls standing next to Lion made out of bricks

Have a wild time this summer with Edinburgh Zoo’s extensive range of family events.

Start your day with the Sunrise Safaris and get an exclusive one-hour guided tour from one of the zoo’s experts; see how you compare with some of the zoo’s residents in challenges of strength, speed at the Animal-ympic Weekend, or connect with nature with CAT Saturdays. And don’t miss Edinburgh Zoo Brick Safari – a fantastic new trail of toy bricks inspired by your favourite animals.

Events run over selected dates until 14 September 2024. See Edinburgh Zoo website for booking details.

Explore earth’s epic story at Dynamic Earth

Boy and girl in Dynamic Earth. Boy reaching up to touch large model of the earth as if holding it.

This July, Dynamic Earth celebrates its 25th anniversary with a range of out-of-this world events.

Learn about sustainability and conservation while exploring the natural habitat of Holyrood Park in the Summer Outdoor Club; get hands on with science and discover more about our changing planet in Free Activities: 25 Years of Scotland’s Science Discoveries or join the centre’s resident astronomers for What’s Up: 1999 to see how our night sky has changed in the last 25 years.

See Dynamic Earth’s website for further details and booking information.

Have a soaring day with Go Ape

Girl and Boy on Tree Top Trail at Go Ape

With three incredible treetop courses to explore, Go Ape at Dalkeith Country Park takes excitement levels to a whole new height. Climb, swing and zip through the air as you navigate the treetop adventure zone.

One course is designed for children over 1m tall, one for children over 6 years (if 1.2m+), and a third one for families with older children.

Or for an exhilarating day out, don’t miss their latest activity, Archery Tag, which is suitable for 8+ years.

Learn more about nature with the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

This summer, the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh are inviting children aged 8 to 11 years old to learn more about the renowned garden’s plants and creatures with the Mighty Oaks Holiday Club

Delve deeper into this fascinating garden with a range of guided activities, including games, trails, storytelling, arts and crafts.

Clubs run over four weeks from 08 July to 02 August 2024. Places should be pre-booked online.

Pick Your Own at Craigies Farm

A man and a lady picking  raspberries at Craigies Farm
© Phil Wilkinson

There’s no doubt that summer means strawberries. If you can’t get enough of this fruity goodness, and you’re looking for a fun family day out, be sure to head to Craigies Farm in South Queensferry.

Their Pick Your Own is a great way to get some fresh air and stock up on some delicious seasonal fruit. Simply pick and fill your basket then weigh and pay.

Entry vouchers should be purchased online in advance. Check the Craigies website to see what fruit is available.

Go on a wildlife boat trip

Puffins on the Isle of May,© Nicol Nicholson
© Nicol Nicholson

If you fancy learning more about the sealife that live around the islands in the Firth of Forth, the Scottish Seabird Centre in neighbouring North Berwick offer a range of fascinating wildlife boat trips.

See puffins, guillemots, gannets and if you’re really lucky, dolphins as you take to the water with knowledgeable guides. You’ll also learn more about the history of this ancient coastline.

Tours last between 1 hour 15 minutes and 4 hours. RIBs (rigid inflatable boats) are unsuitable for anyone with back and or neck problems or who is pregnant.

Trips run from late March to early October and should be prebooked online or by calling the Scottish Seabird Centre on 01620 890 202.

Explore Arthur’s Seat

Arthur Seat

Suitable for children aged 12 and over, join the ranger’s at Holyrood Park for Arthur’s Amble.

Learn more about Arthur’s Seat, an ancient volcano which is the parks highest point, explore its diverse range of flora and geology and learn more about the people that lived and worked here.

Selected dates until Sunday 29 September 2024.

See Edinburgh from the top deck

Kids go free, Edinburgh bus tours

On a bright summer’s day, what could be better than capturing the best views of the city from an open top bus?

The multi-language commentary CitySightseeing Tour lasts for around an hour and takes in famous sights such as Edinburgh Castle, the National Museum of Scotland and the Royal Mile, all while listening to a fun Horrible Histories Children’s commentary.

Not only that, but up to 3 children (aged 5 – 15 years) go free with every paying adult!

The main departure point is Waterloo Place, but you may board at any tour stop. Tickets can be booked in advance online or from a ticket seller on Waterloo Place.

Discover Harry Potter in Edinburgh

Girl holding toy owl next to Harry Potter merchandise in Department of Magic

Love all things magical? From the graveyard said to have inspired some of the key characters in the world-famous books, to an assortment of shops where you can stock up on all kinds of magical delights, Edinburgh is jam-packed with Harry Potter sights and attractions.

Why not kick off your wizarding adventure with The Potter Trail – led by a knowledgeable and entertaining guide, this 90 minute tour is not only free, but you’ll see all Edinburgh’s top Potter sights, and you may even learn a spell or two along the way!

Get a real sense of Hogwarts and the Wizarding World in our Ultimate Harry Potter Guide to Edinburgh.

Go on a Daytime Ghost Tour

A tour group stands by a lamp in the middle of an empty courtyard off Edinburgh's Royal Mile.

A daytime tour for kids, Mercat Tours’ Gory Stories: The Kids’ Tour shows you a side of Edinburgh that others don’t see, providing an informative and fun way to learn about the secrets of our city.

Suitable for ages 5+, wander through the ancient streets of Edinburgh’s Old Town and learn about creepy characters from the past and what treasure could be found buried in a 19th century graveyard!

Summer at the National Museum of Scotland

Dad and Son looking at display of hand held games at the Game On exhibition in Newcastle
Life, Newcastle © Richard Kenworthy

From hands-on sessions to craft projects, there’s lots going on at National Museum of Scotland this summer, the majority of which are free to attend. Taking place in the Grand Gallery and spaces across the museum, they run on specific dates until 09 August 2024.

It’s also time to get your game face on as Game On, the world’s largest interactive exhibition about the history and culture of video games takes up residence until 03 November 2024. Featuring iconic characters and games ranging from Space Invaders to Sonic the Hedgehog and Mario to Minecraft, visitors will be able to explore gaming’s rich history by playing many of the key games produced over the last 50 years.

Still looking for more ideas?

Take a look at some of the family activities you can do in Edinburgh this summer.

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