Last Updated on July 13, 2022 by Louise
Are you looking for things to do with toddlers in Edinburgh? From interactive museums to soft play, fun playgrounds to amazing animals, sandy beaches to fish in aquariums – there is plenty to keep little ones occupied.
Whether you’re looking for something to do on a rainy day or to make the most of sunny weather, you’ll be spoiled for choice. The trouble will be deciding which activities to choose!
Read on for lots of inspiration of attractions and days out for the under 5s in Edinburgh.
Learn Through Play at The National Museum of Scotland
National Museum of Scotland (image Mike Mcbey)
The National Museum of Scotland is free and there’s lots to do for all ages. If you have a toddler, head for the Imagine Room. (level 1). It features interactive games, musical instruments, shadow play, big teapots and a comfy reading area with books and dress-up clothes.
Another area worth checking out is Adventure Planet on level 5. It’s an interactive nature gallery for kids where they can try the dino-dig, dress up to survive extreme environments and explore hands-on nature activities.
Find out more at the National Museum of Scotland
See the Farm Animals at Georgie City Farm
Another great option for toddlers which is free is Georgie City Farm. You can see alpacas, pigs, sheep, ducks, guinea pigs, chickens and more.
It’s a small farm which is a great place to get close up to farm animals.
Find out more at Georgie City Farm
Try the Interactive Exhibits at Camera Obscura
Camera Obscure is perfect for a rainy day. The attraction has lots of illusions including mirror mazes and moving lights. Toddlers love the interactive nature of the exhibits.
Before you go it’s worth knowing you have to leave buggies on the ground floor. Toilets and baby changing are on the ground floor too.
Find out more at Camera Obscura
Play at the Meadows Playground
The Meadows is a public park to the south of Edinburgh. There’s lots of open grassland for toddlers to run around. It’s perfect for picnics and playing with a ball.
There is a nice playground that is great for kids of all ages with a flying fox, swings, slides and climbing frames. Toddlers will especially enjoy the sand play.
The play park is located at the edge of the Meadows that’s closest to Arthur’s seat.
Explore Edinburgh Botanic Gardens
Photo by cattan2011
The Botanic Gardens are excellent for toddlers with lots of space to run around and explore. The gardens are free but if you want to see inside the glass houses there is a charge for adults (children under 15 are free).
Find out more at Botanic Gardens
Hop On and Hop Off The Edinburgh Sightseeing Bus
Toddlers will love the hop on / hop off bus. For adults there is an interesting commentary as you tour around. It’s also great for getting you around Edinburgh too.
Find out more about the Hop on / Hop Off Bus
See Penguins at Edinburgh Zoo
Toddlers love animals and will be fascinated with a trip to the zoo.
See penguins, koalas, a lion, monkeys, chimpanzee, zebra, jaguar, tigers and lots more.
It’s also the only place in the UK where you can see the giant pandas but book tickets for this in advance. It’s free to book, but because tickets to see the pandas are limited, pre-booking is essential. It’s also worth noting that although the panda experience lasts 30 minutes it is not guaranteed that either panda will show up.
The zoo is hilly so it can be quite arduous climbing to the top of the zoo. You could plan to start your visit at the top of the zoo and then work your way down to the bottom. Also if you’re going on a cold day, wrap up warm because it can get quite chilly up there.
If you’re travelling by bus, there is a bus stop right outside the zoo. It’s only a short trip from the city centre.
Find out more at Edinburgh Zoo
Try the Soft Play at Dynamic Earth
At Dynamic Earth you go on an interesting tour of the history of the plant with lots of hands on activities. Much of it will go over a toddler’s head but there are enough interactive exhibits to keep little ones entertained if you want to take older school aged kids too. There’s also a soft play next to the gift shop for toddlers.
Find out more at Dynamic Earth
Feed the Ducks on St Margaret’s Loch at Arthurs Seat
Toddlers may not be able to climb Arthur’s Seat. However, there is a swan and duck lake on St Margaret’s Loch on Queens Drive, around the north side of Arthur’s Seat where they can see and feed the birds.
Find out about Arthur’s Seat
Build a Sandcastle on Portobello Beach
Toddlers love the beach so if the weather is decent you can’t go wrong with a trip to Portobello Beach, which is 3 miles east of the city centre.
It’s great for building sandcastles and for toddlers to run around. It’s also nice to walk along.
There’s also a good selection of cafes, pubs and restaurants at Portobello.
Meet the Animals at Little Farmers, Craigies Farm
Little Farmers is an adventure car park that’s great for toddlers. There’s lots to do! Meet the animals and enjoy the indoor and outdoor playgrounds.
It’s about a 20 minute drive from the centre of Edinburgh so you’ll need a car to get here.
Find out more at Little Farmers
Explore the Soft Play at the Royal Commonwealth Pool
The young explorer soft play at the Royal Commonwealth Pool is popular with toddlers. You can just drop in, no need to book! A new frame with an aquatic theme was installed in Feb 2020 for toddlers, juniors and babies.
Find out more at The Royal Commonwealth Pool
Walk Around Princes Street Gardens
Princes Street Gardens is a lovely space for toddlers to explore.
The play area in Princes Street is great for young kids. Walk up to St John’s church and there is a nice little cafe in the basement of the church serving Fairtrade teas and coffees.
See the Fish Deep Sea World
Deep Sea World is Scotland’s national aquarium and is located underneath the iconic Forth Rail Bridge, in the quaint village of North Queensferry. Toddlers love fish and so it’s an excellent attraction to keep them entertained. They will especially love the tunnel where fish swim above your head and around your sides.
Find out more at Deep Sea World
Jump in Trampoline Arena Edinburgh
The Jump in Trampoline attraction has an area dedicated to toddlers. There are also toddler time sessions.
Find out more at Jump In Edinburgh
Where to Eat with Toddlers In Edinburgh
Vittoria on the Walk – a lovely Italian restaurant which is great for families and kids. There is a kid’s menu and lots of kids friendly food such as pizza and pasta.
Coro the Chocolate Cafe – if you looking for chocolate, pancakes, waffles and other treats this is the place to come. There is a kids menu where you can build your own mini waffle.
The Scran and Scallie – is an award winning gastro pub which is very family friendly with kids menus and a play corner / area for small kids which has toys and a TV.
La Favorita – this pizzeria is fantastic for families and kids, especially if they love pizza. There’s a kids menu and the staff are very accommodating for families with young children. As well as pizzas, there are other offerings on the menu including pasta, steak, risotto and fish.
Reds Portobello – if you’re heading to Portobello beach this is a great cafe to eat if you have toddlers. There’s a soft play area and a climbing area for over 2s as well as a dedicated kids menu.
Getting around Edinburgh with Toddlers
Edinburgh is a pretty compact city with an excellent bus service.
The buses are cheap and pushchair friendly. There are also lots of them and they’re easy to use.
You can use contactless payments and there is a daily cap for adults. There are also family tickets which you can buy from the driver on the m tickets app. Up to 3 children under 5 travel free with a fare paying passenger.
Find more information about Edinburgh buses
Where To Stay with Toddlers In Edinburgh
Best Budget Hotel
The Premier Inn is a family friendly budget hotel. It’s excellent value for money with comfortable beds with hypnos mattresses. Kids normally have pull out sofa beds and travel cots are provided on request. The premier Inn by Waverley Station is good and close to everything in the city centre. If your staying in Edinburgh on a budget, you can’t go wrong with Premier Inn.
Find out more at Premier Inn Edinburgh
Best Luxury Hotel
The Balmoral. It’s set in lovely grounds and located in the heart of the city. The have some great services for parents with kids including a 24 hour babysitting service, bathrooms with kids products and kid’s sized hooded robes and 50% of kids menus.
Find out more at The Balmoral Hotel.
Best Hotel With a Swimming Pool
The Radisson Blu. The Radisson Blu is centrally located in the heart of Edinburgh’s Royal Mile in the Old Town. It boasts a swimming pool, sauna and fitness centre. There’s plenty of room options which include family room or a junior suite with extra space for families.
Find out more at The Radisson Blu, Edinburgh
Best For Visiting The Zoo
The Holiday Inn Edinburgh Zoo – This holiday Inn are family rooms and interconnecting rooms for families. There’s also a swimming pool, gym, free parking and wifi. It’s located right next to the zoo. There’s a bus stop right outside and it takes about 5 minutes to get into Edinburgh on the bus. Reviews are mixed with some complaints about dated rooms but many families love it. If you book on the holiday Inn website you can get 50% off tickets to the zoo if you go from 2pm onwards.
Find out more at Holiday Inn Edinburgh Zoo
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