National Museum of Scotland


Edinburgh is full of fascinating museums that cover every area of interest that you could possibly imagine.

Whether you’re into science, medicine, world culture, history, economics or even teddy bears, there’s a museum in Edinburgh that’s sure to intrigue, thrill and fascinate you. 

© National Museums Scotland
The Grand Gallery at the National Museum of Scotland filled with visitors. ,© National Museums Scotland

National Museum of Scotland

Arguably Edinburgh’s largest and busiest museum, the National Museum of Scotland has a range of exhibits from around the world, showcasing art, design and fashion, the natural world, science and technology, Scottish history and archaeology and world cultures.

Before you explore the exhibits on display, take a moment to take in the striking architecture of the Grand Gallery, a beautiful example of Victorian design with soaring high pillars, large windows and a magnificent glass ceiling that floods the gallery with natural light. From here you can walk through to the contemporary building, dedicated to telling Scotland’s story through fascinating displays and artefacts.

Top Tip 1: Make the most of your trip by taking part in one of the new self-guided trails. These include a Family Puzzle trail, a Staff Top Picks trail, and an audio-led Reset trail to help you find moments of calm and mindfulness.

The museum is free to visit. Some special exhibitions are chargeable.

Museum of Edinburgh

Museum of Edinburgh

Found in the iconic bright yellow Huntly House, The Museum of Edinburgh is a must-visit for anyone who wants to discover the story of our city. Take a look at the collar which once belonged to Greyfriar’s Bobby, see James Craig’s original plans of the New Town, get lost in a spectacular collection of silver and read the historically significant National Covenant.

In addition to the permanent collections, there is a regular programme of special exhibitions hosted at the museum.

Top Tip: This museum should definitely be on the do-list of Outlander fans – Huntly House featured in season 3 of the popular TV series.

The Museum of Edinburgh is free to visit, with donations welcome.

Lower level of the Wohl Pathology Museum

Surgeons’ Hall Museums

If you’re fascinated by the wonders of the human body, these museums on Nicolson Street are a must-visit.

Owned by The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, Surgeons’ Hall Museums consist of The Wohl Pathology Museum, The History of Surgery Museum, The Dental Collection and Body Voyager. The museums reopened in 2015 after an extensive refurbishment, making the collections more engaging and accessible than ever before.

The Wohl Pathology Museum is one of the largest collections of pathological anatomy in the world, with rows of cabinets filled with well-preserved specimens that give a fascinating insight into the human body. Go across the hall to The History of Surgery Museum and explore Edinburgh’s significant contribution to surgical practice across the globe, including some of the more grisly details (keep an eye out for the pocketbook which is said to be made out of the skin of bodysnatcher William Burke), and learn about the development of dentistry from its earliest days to modern times in The Dental Collection.

Entrance exhibition at Museum of Childhood. Images shows the teepee tent and toys.

Museum of Childhood

Take a trip down memory lane and explore the first museum in the world dedicated to the history of childhood.

With five galleries to explore, at The Museum of Childhood you’ll find fascinating and rare objects from childhoods past, including toys, games, clothes, books and dolls dating from the 1800s to the present day.

Old or young, this museum is sure to delight all ages.

Top tip: Don’t miss Stanbrig Eorls, the largest dolls house in the museum’s collection. Dating from 1894 and donated to the museum in the 1960’s, it has 19 rooms and even electric light and running water!

©Jim Stephenson
St Cecilia's Hall

St Cecilia’s Hall: Concert Room and Music Museum

Discover one of the world’s most important collections of musical instruments and Scotland’s oldest purpose built concert hall within the impressive St Cecilia’s Concert Room and Music Museum.

With over 400 objects across four stunning galleries, explore the stories behind musical instruments dating back to the 16th century, along with the characters behind their creation.

In addition to gallery exhibitions, St Cecilia’s also host a lively and engaging programme of events throughout the year, from concerts and talks to workshops and tours.

Top tip: Don’t miss the most famous harpsichord in the world in the Binks Gallery – the Taskin 1769.

Museum on the Mound Image

Museum on the Mound

Take a fresh look at money in the Museum on the Mound.

Located in the beautiful iconic building of the Lloyds Banking Group headquarters on The Mound, this free to visit museum gives a fascinating insight into the world of economics and money. Have a go at cracking open a safe, see Scotland’s oldest banknote and get an idea of what one million pounds actually looks like.

Unfortunately they don’t give away free samples, but this is still a fantastic day out for anyone who has an obsession with coins, notes, and everything in-between.

View of The People's Story Museum entrance from the Royal Mile

The People’s Story Museum

The People’s Story is located in the Canongate Tolbooth, which is a historic landmark in itself, built in 1591.

This museum provides visitors with a realistic and fascinating look at what life was like for Edinburgh citizens in days gone by. Explore displays that range from crime and punishment to a night out at the cinema; the suffragettes to Leith docks; advertisements for work at breweries to figures of 1980s punk.

This is the perfect place to get a glimpse into the Edinburgh of everyday people – from the 18th century to recent times.

Free entry, donations welcome.

Writers Museum

The Writers’ Museum

Celebrate the lives of Scotland’s greatest writers, Robert Burns, Sir Walter Scott and Robert Louis Stevenson at the architecturally enthralling Lady Stair’s House, built in 1622.

At the Writers’ Museum you can see Robert Burns’ writing desk, the printing press on which Scott’s Waverley novels were produced and many more.

Free to visit, with donations welcome.


Museum of Scottish Fire Heritage

Did you know that that the city of Edinburgh established the world’s first public and local authority funded Fire Service, in 1824?

From the early days of firefighting throughout Scotland to today’s modern service, find out more about the story of Scottish firefighting at the fascinating Museum of Scottish Fire Heritage, located just off Leith Walk.

The museum is spilt into five themes: Heritage, On the Run, Being a Firefighter, Your Safety and the World Wars. Adults can explore the collection of fire appliances, uniforms and operational equipment, while children can dress up in a firefighter uniform.

A range of events for all ages take place throughout the year – see their What’s On page for details.

Entry to the museum is free, with a £3.00 suggested donation.

Image Credit: Museum & Galleries
Queensferry Museum

Queensferry Museum

Queensferry Museum showcases the past and traditions of historic Queensferry and neighbouring Dalmeny.

As well as permanent displays, the museum hosts a room dedicated to temporary exhibitions, curated by community groups.

With stunning views out onto the Firth of Forth and UNESCO World Heritage site, the Forth Bridge, whether your interest is social history, folk traditions or civic engineering, there’s something here for everyone at this small but enjoyable museum.

Free to visit, with donations welcome.

© Image Credit: Corstorphine Trust
Corstorphine Heritage Centre,© Image Credit: Corstorphine Trust

Corstorphine Heritage Centre

Housed in a building which dates back to 1587, the Corstorphine Heritage Centre is at the heart of the neighbourhood of Corstorphine.

As well as being used as a focal point for concerts, social events and musical evenings, the centre is also a small local history museum, with a collection of items relating to Corstorphine’s past. Maps and artefacts covering everything from transport to farming in the local area can be all seen here, as well as information on previous residents who have made their mark on history.

Keep an eye on their website and social media for opening times.

Image © Ruth Armstrong Photography
Visitors walk under the Concorde aircraft on display indoors at the National Museum of Flight.,Image © Ruth Armstrong Photography

National Museum of Flight

Around 50 minutes’ drive from Edinburgh city centre is the National Museum of Flight at East Fortune Airfield in East Lothian.

Home to a world-class collection of aircraft and set on the site of the UK’s best preserved Second World War airfield, it offers a unique opportunity to learn about aviation history.

Spanning from the First World War to the present day, the museum houses over 50 aircraft. Step aboard Scotland’s Concorde to experience firsthand what transatlantic flight was like; discover how planes are built and the essential skills required to become a pilot; and find out what life was like for the men and women who worked at this airfield in the exhibition, Fortunes of War.


National War Museum

Located within Edinburgh Castle, the National War Museum shines a light on 400 years of Scotland’s military history.

Through a collection of uniforms, medals, weapons, paintings, ceramics and silverware, it explores life in the armed forces, right up to the current day.

Access included with admission to Edinburgh Castle.


Museum of Magic, Fortune-telling & Witchcraft

Museum of Magic, Fortune-telling & Witchcraft

If you’re interested in witchcraft, magic, occult and fortune-telling then the Museum of Magic, Fortune-telling & Witchcraft just off the Royal Mile is an intriguing place to visit.

As well as taking a close look at the tragic Scottish Witch Trials of 1590 to 1662, the museum houses a collection of objects relating to witchcraft, magic and folk traditions from the 17th century to modern day.

They also run a series of events, including palm reading, spiritual healing and tarot reading – keep an open on their website and social channels for details.

Please note: some scenes and exhibits in the museum might be unsettling or sensitive to some people. Please consider this before entering the museum.

There’s always a lot happening in Edinburgh

From special exhibitions to festivals, shows to workshops…


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