City Guide: Edinburgh with kids
Edinburgh: ideal for a short city trip
Family life can leave you exhausted at times. You need to charge your battery from time to time and going on a city trip is the ideal way to charge your battery. But what if you don’t have the time for a long weekend (your kids have to be on school on mondays) or don’t want to use too much of your vacation days? A short weekend break is the solution. Arrive on Friday afternoon and be back by Sunday evening.
We visited Edinburgh last October on a short weekend break. My teenage son and I chose to stay at the Radisson Collection Royal Mile Hotel located around the corner of the Royal Mile. Because of the short amount of time we had, this was a smart move. The Royal Mile is the centre of the Old Town, where many of the city’s historical highlights can be found. It links the Edinburgh Castle to the Palace of Holyroodhouse. If you want to play house close to where all the magic happens, this is your search area.
We checked into our room which was spacious and clean. A real plus was the Handy phone that was in the room and available to us during our stay. We could book tickets to sites and restaurants in the city and we could also order different pillows or order room service via the menu on this smartphone.
But first things first. After leaving our luggage behind in our room we went to the restaurant of the hotel, Cucina, to have a Scottish Afternoon Tea. The tea was lovely, but it was the finger food that really impressed us. We never had Haggis before. And although the ingredients of Scotland?s national dish don’t really sound appealing, it was the first thing we tried. It was Haggis with a Scottish Egg inside of it. I really enjoyed it. My son, ehh, not so much. The rest of the light meal was very much like the English version, apart from the finger sandwich with Scottish Salmon. It was really good and a fun way to start our weekend of exploring all Edinburgh has to offer.
GET ACCESS TO THE RESOURCES LIBRARY
Subscribe for free access!
Harry Potter vibes in Scotland
If you live in western Europe, like me, there are lots of options. Many cities consist of a centre where much of their places of interest are within walking distance. One of these cities lies in Great Britain. Scotland, to be precise. Edinburgh! There’s lots to see and do, for parents and for children. My teen and I had lots of fun in this city. Lots of culture for me and Harry Potter for him.
The Boy Wizard Store
After walking around the centre for a while we waited until it started to get dark. We had a special mission; a Harry Potter related one. If there is one city that knows how to capitalize on the popularity of this boy wizard, it is Edinburgh. And believe me: it is great fun! While walking through Victoria Street it is obvious that J.K. Rowling used this street as the inspiration for Diagon Alley. It doesn’t matter if you’re a kid or an adult, when you enter the Boy Wizard Store and touch the wands and see the Nimbus 2000, you are enchanted. Of course we bought Bertie Botts every-flavour beans (the earwax one is vile!) and a chocolate frog.
With our candy in our hands we headed over to our second Harry Potter stop of the night: Greyfriars Kirkyard. It’s open during the night. You can actually book a tour, which looked like fun, but we opted to search for a special grave. While using our iPhone’s flashlights we were kinda spooked while checking the names on the graves in search of He Who Must Not Be Named.
Don’t look for Lord Voldemort or even Tom Riddle. It is actually Tom Riddel that inspired Rowling to use the name Tom Riddle. I won’t spoil the fun and tell you exactly where to look, believe me it is much more fun to roam around the graveyard in the dark, but if you’re tired of searching: it is somewhere behind the Flodden Wall Arch. Oh, and also look for the grave of a man called McGonagall, the inspiration for the female professor and head of Gryffindor.
Facts about Edinburgh
- Edinburgh is the capital of Scotland
- Scotland is part of the UK
- You pay in British Pounds
- J.K. Rowling wrote large parts of the Harry Potter books in Edinburgh
- The Royal Mile is 1 Scottish mile long. Scottish miles were in use until the 18th century. In English Miles the Royal Mile is actually 1.11 miles long
- There’s a big difference between High Tea and Afternoon Tea. High Tea is more of a meal and tea, whereas Afternoon Tea consists of fingerfood and tea.
- The ultimate Scottish dish is Haggis (finely chopped heart, lungs and liver of a sheep)
The Royal Mile
The next day we decided to check out the Royal Mile. We started by visiting the Edinburgh Castle. Fun for young and old. You can easily spend hours at the castle. But we were on a mission to make the most of our day and there was so much more to explore along this mile.
Camera Obscura and World of Illusions
After a visit to this majestic place it was time to visit a fun one. Just a few meters from the palace you will find Camera Obscura and World Of Illusions. The illusions are interesting, especially the spacey Vortex Tunnel that makes you wonder if you are moving or if the tunnel is. When you check out the Camera Obscura you have the opportunity to check out the rooftop terrace where you get a great view of this extremely picturesque city. Don’t miss out on that.
Mary King’s Close
We already visited two diverse attractions along the Royal Mile and there was still loads to explore so after lunch in a pub we headed over to the St. Giles Cathedral for a short visit, because after that it was time to visit an interesting place below ground. Mary King’s Close is a site where you can check out closes, located under the buildings along the Royal Mile. The closes are narrow streets with tenement houses on either side. You aren’t allowed to take pictures inside, but the tour (with tour guides dressed as former residents) is so entertaining and informative that we didn’t miss taking pics.
While walking on the cobblestones on the Royal Mile there are lots of souvenir shops left and right. If you’re interested in buying anything tartan, this is the place to be. If you are a whiskey fan you can combine buying your favorite bottle of whiskey while wearing your new kilt.
Palace of Holyroodhouse
And once you’ve checked out all the sites and bought your souvenirs you end up at the other end of the 1.11 miles where you can visit the Palace of Holyroodhouse. If Her Royal Highness is in Scotland, this is where she sleeps. But we skipped a visit, because we had seen enough for one day and it was time to chill out and have a drink.
What a great city! We will definitely come back another time. If you’re looking for the perfect city that will entertain your kids as much as yourself: Edinburgh is a winner!