Last Updated on February 16, 2024 by Louise

Edinburgh is a beautiful and historical city with many wonderful sites and attractions which teenagers will love.

Whether your teen is a thrill seeker, likes science, enjoys shopping, is a foodie or loves scary attractions – there is something in Edinburgh for them.

Explore a world of illusions, journey back in time at Edinburgh dungeon, shop til you drop or try a chocolate tour…. whatever you teen wants to do (and there is so much) they’ll have a brilliant time.

Being a hilly city, there are numerous places in Edinburgh to experience stunning views. This gives teenagers an opportunity to snap Instagram-worthy pictures for their friends, family and followers.

Read on for a multitude of things to do with your teens in Edinburgh

Table of Contents

Discover Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle. Photo Credit: Kara Babcock

If you are in Edinburgh for the first time, the castle is a must. It’s packed with interesting history and it’s worth a visit for the breathtaking views alone.

Venture through the narrow walkways and royal rooms and see Scotland’s crown jewels. A highlight for teens will be Prisons of War, where visitors can experience a recreation of the cramped and dark spaces where hundreds of prisoners were kept during the 1700s and 1800s. Make sure you pre-book in advance to guarantee entry.

Find out more at and book tickets at Edinburgh Castle. 

Alternatively, why not book a Edinburgh Castle guided tour with fast track entry 

Top tip: If you plan on visiting a few historic sites around Scotland, invest in a Historic Scotland pass. It will save money in the long run.

Journey Back in Time at Edinburgh Dungeon


Photo credit: Shadowgate / Wikimedia Commons

If your teenager enjoys learning about gruesome history, the Edinburgh Dungeon will appeal.

Walk the streets of 1645, learn about the murderous duo Burke and Hare and even face trial. The dungeon experience involves live actors, an underground ride and special effects.

Book your Edinburgh Dungeon ticket

Experience Camera Obscura and the World of Illusions


The Vortex Tunnel at Camera Obscura. Photo credit: Camera Obsura Facebook page.

Camera Obscura is a unique attraction with 5 floors of interactive exhibits themed around optical illusions. Lose yourself in the puzzling mirror maze or try to keep your balance in the exhilarating vortex tunnel.

Make sure you book so you don’t miss out on the 160 six-year-old camera obscura in action. The Victorian spectacle is a unique way to see Edinburgh and cannot be missed.

Also, don’t miss the view of the city from the turret at the top of the building.

Find out more at the Camera Obscura website 

Walk along the Royal Mile

The Royal Mile in Winter. Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons

The Royal Mile runs from Hollywood Palace up to the cliff-top Castle. It’s well worth a walk along with your teenager. It’s often described as the beating heart of Edinburgh and is an excellent place to sense medieval Edinburgh.

There are many small museums which have free entry and are super interesting. It’s home to many independent shops, Gothic churches and historic pubs.

Shopaholics might want to pop into the Royal Mile market. It’s a great place to pick up a souvenir. You’ll have no trouble getting a kilt. Nearby, teenage shoppers will enjoy the shops along Cockburn Street, Victoria Street and Northbridge.

The Royal Mile often has free Street acts including magicians, musicians, artists and bagpipers.

Go Underground at The Real Mary King’s Close


Photo credit : The Real Mary’s Queen Close Facebook

Teenagers are going to love going underground to learn about Edinburgh’s deepest secret. Concealed beneath the Royal Mile is a maze of hidden ‘closes’ where actual people lived, worked, and died. They were forgotten and abandoned for centuries…until now. A guide takes you on a tour of the close and imparts lively information about the residents, the plague and local commerce.

Book your guided tour of the Real Mary King’s Close

Play Mini Golf at Volcano Falls

Mini golf is the ideal game for all generations. Kids, teens, parents and grandparents love to compete. Volcano Falls located in Edinburgh has two 18 golf courses to try. Enjoy a fun game and then enjoy a bit to eat after. Great for a fun, rainy day activity.

Find out more at Volcano Falls

Visit a Museum

National Museum of Scotland

National Museum of Scotland. Photo Credit: Mike Mcbey

This free attraction is a great option for a rainy day. It’s one of the best indoor attractions in Edinburgh. There are over 20 000 unique artefacts to see and there’s something for all ages and interests.

Teenagers like the technology area and there is a wide selection of hands-on activities throughout the museum. If it’s sunny, make sure you head up to the rooftop terrace to enjoy views of Edinburgh Castle.

Find out more at the National Museum of Scotland website. 

Surgeon’s Hall is a fascinating medical museum with 3 floors of well laid out exhibitis. If your teen is interested in medical history and doesn’t mind some gruesome exhibits  – it’s a must. Be prepared for body parts in jars!.

Highlights include interactive activities in the robotics exhibition on the top floor, the keyhole surgery machine and the death mask of Burke (Burke and Hare).

It’s also worth checking out the blackened lungs – it will put your teen off smoking and vaping for life!

Teens will also enjoy the blood and guts walking tour which includes free entry into the museum. 

There are several other museums in Edinburgh to enjoy. They include:

Museum of Childhood

Museum of Edinburgh

Museum on the mound (a money museum)

Take a Walking Tour

In Edinburgh, you can embark on several walking tours. It’s worth going on at least one. With a haunted tour, a literary tour, a ghost walk and lots more, there’s something for everyone. Here are three that might appeal to teenagers.

Harry Potter Walking Tour


The Elephant House – the cafe where JK Rowling wrote the Harry Potter books. Unfortunately the café is closed at the moment but you can still see it from the outside. Photo credit: Enric / Wikimedia Commons

You can take a free Harry Potter walking tour and if your teenager loves the Harry Potter books, this is a must. See where JK Rowling wrote the books and the locations that inspired the characters and scenes in the stories.

Find out when and where they set off at the Harry Potter walking tour website. 

Ghost and Gore Walking Tour


Photo credit: The Witchery Tours Facebook page

Edinburgh is renowned for its gruesome history. Teenagers love this Cadies and Witchery walking tour that focuses on ghosts and gore. It’s very entertaining, full of surprises and informative. Highly recommended and has a 5 star rating on TripAdvisor.

Book A Ghosts and Gore Walking Tour

The Greyfriars Cemetery Tour

A fascinating tour of Edinburgh’s most famous graveyard. Hear historical tales of the people behind the gravestones. Discover the story of the lecturer who taught Charles Darwin, the actor buried in full theatrical costume, the enigmatic Miss Cathcart and the First World War ace pilot.

Did you know Greyfriars Cemetery is associated with golf, the moon, and turnips? The cemetery is the resting place of many fascinating characters. Learn about the man who fought a duel in Hyde Park in London. Find where a 1770s bestselling novelist is buried. Also, discover the graves with Harry Potter connections (although Harry Potter is not the primary theme of the tour).

Book your Greyfriars Kirkyard Tour

Visit Greyfriars Cemetery


Greyfriars Cemetery

You can also visit to Greyfriars Cemetery without going on a tour. If your teen is a Harry Potter fan, it’s an interesting place to walk around as you can stop the names on the gravestones that inspired the names of the characters in the Harry Potter book.

Climb Arthur’s Seat


Sunrise from Arthur’s Seat

A fantastic hike in Edinburgh, even for teenagers, is Arthur’s Seat (a volcano which is now extinct.) Teenagers can admire the stunning views. The hike isn’t difficult, so it should be fine for most teens. If you can get them out of bed early enough, it’s a great place to watch the sunrise.

 

Go on an Interactive Adventure at Dynamic Earth


Dynamic Earth Edinburgh. Photo Credit: Flickr Creative Commons

Dynamic Earth is both fun and educational for the whole family so if you have young children and teenagers, this is a good option. The interactive adventure takes explorers on a journey through space and time to learn how the forces of nature shaped Earth over millions of years.

There’s often a host of events for kids to enjoy, so it’s worth checking out what’s on before you go at the Dynamic Earth Website

Go on The Tour of Chocolate at the Chocolatarium

If your teenager loves chocolate, they will love the tour of chocolate at the chocolatarium in Edinburgh. It’s been voted in the top 3 food experiences in the world on Trip Advisor!

A 90 minute guided tour is so much fun. Discover how chocolate is made and make your own custom chocolate bar to take home. Also, make sure you don’t miss the session in the tasting room with over 40 different kinds of chocolate.

Find out more at the Chocolatarium website

See the Animals at Edinburgh Zoo

If they like animals, a trip to Edinburgh zoo should be on your list of things to do with your teenagers. It’s the only zoo in the UK with pandas. Another favourite at the zoo is the Australian section with wallabies and koala bears. The penguin parade is also brilliant.

Just one thing to bear in mind, visiting the zoo involves lots of walking up big hills.

Book your tickets to Edinburgh Zoo

Discover Underground Caves at Gilmerton Cove

Gilmerton Cove. Photo Credit: John Dale

A short drive out of Edinburgh is Gilmerton Cove. Teenagers love the adventurous and eerie nature of this attraction. Discover the underground caves, hand carved passages and chambers once used as a smugglers’ layer and secret drinking den. With tales of ghosts and spirits, it feels a little haunted which adds to the thrill of the attraction.

Booking in advance is essential.

Check out the website for more information.

Hop On the Edinburgh Open Bus Tours

Edinburgh bus tours are a fantastic way to acquaint yourself with the city. There’s onboard audio commentary and you can hop on and off as you wish to visit the different attractions. Conveniently they have an app with live bus times so you can keep up to date with when the next bus will arrive.

Book your Edinburgh bus tour

Go Ice Skating

Join a skate session on an olympic sized ice rink in the heart of Edinburgh. Murrayfield Ice Rink has several public skate sessions throughout the week. On Friday and Saturday evenings there are disco sessions too!

Climb to the Top of Scott Monument


The Scott Monument. Photo Credit: Herbert Frank

The Scott Monument is the largest monument ever dedicated to a writer (Walter Scott). You can go up inside and climb 287 steps to the top. There are different viewing levels as you go up. At the very top, enjoy the wonderful views of old Edinburgh.

Climb at Alien rock

Why not try rock climbing at the Alien Rock Centre located in a former church.

Book in advance on the website. 

Play Dodgeball at Ryze Xtreme Air Sports

It’s a little way out of the city, but the physical nature of this attraction will to appeal to some teenagers. It’s perfect for adrenaline junkies. Test your skills on the crazy obstacle courses. Challenge your family and friends to a game of dodgeball and have a go on one of the many trampolines.

For more information and to book check out their website.

Take a Cycle Tour of the City

If your teenager likes cycling, they will enjoy a bike tour of Edinburgh. The bike and helmet is included in the price. There are a number of different cycling tours you can take part in. For teenagers under 16, try the family tour. Teenagers over 16 who are confident on their bike can take part in a longer city tour of Edinburgh. Older teens (16 and over) can go on other bike tour beyond Edinburgh to places like Portobello beach. Find a list of all the Edinburgh bike tours here.

More Ideas:

Escape rooms – like all cities Edinburgh has some good Escape Rooms. The Operation Odyssey escape room is fun.

Axe Throwing  – axe throwing is the new craze to hit cities throughout the UK. Coaches will advise you on how to throw, then have fun throwing axes at the target. Find out more at Black Axe throwing.

Foot Golf – foot golf is a fun thing to try especially if you’ve never given it a go. It’s exactly what you’d expect it to be – a bit like golf but with a football. Can you kick the football into the hole. Find out more about footgolf in Edinburgh

VR Arcade – For teens that want to experience the thrill of virtual reality like never before. They can travel to an arctic wasteland and fight off endless hoards of zombies. The Realm VR is an excellent choice for teens interested in VR

Boom Battle Bar – go to Boom Battle Bar before 7pm and take your pick from several fun games. Try augmented reality darts, shuffleboard, axe throwing, American Darts or crazier golf. It’s great for a bite to eat too. Please note that after 7pm it’s a strictly over 18s venue.

Roxy Lanes – a similar venue to Boom Battle Bar, Roxy Lanes Edinburgh has a whole host of activities from bowling to shuffleboard to curling. There’s also a karoke bar. Under 18s are allowed until 5pm on Saturdays and 7pm on every other day with a supervising adult.

Carlton Hill for Amazing Views


Carlton Hill. Photo credit: Ronel Reyes

Carlton Hill is located in the city centre. Here you’ll find beautiful monuments and some incredible views. It’s a top spot for  Instagram pics!

Take a Boat Trip

South Queensferry is about a 35 minute drive from Edinburgh where you can hop aboard the most amazing boat trips.

If you don’t have a car, Forth Boat tours run a bus journey from Edinburgh to South Queensferry where many boat trips depart.

There are lots of boat tours you can take. I have included a couple below but find plenty more boat cruises at the Forth Tour website.

Three Bridges Boat and Bus Experience


The Forth Bridge Edinburgh

Hop aboard a bus in the centre of Edinburgh at St Andrew Square for a trip to South Queensferry. Then enjoy a boat ride to Blackness Castle and the Three Bridges on one of Forth Boat Tours’ vessels. It’s the only place in the world where there are 3 bridges that are built within half a mile of each other and each in a different century.

Book here. 

Three Bridges and Inchcolm Island


The Abbey on Inchcolm Island

This 3 hour cruise takes you to the 3 bridges and to see Inchcolm Island. You can buy an option landing pass and explore Inchcolm Island (add 90 minutes onto your journey). At Inchcom Island explore the iconic abbey and wartime defences. The island is also a haven for wildlife.

Book here

Experience a High Speed Sea Safari

If your teen fancies something a bit more high speed, why not take a sea safari? The sea safari takes in the 3 islands and 3 bridges on one high speed trip. During the trip you are guaranteed to see seals and there is an abundance of sea birds which may include fulmars and puffins.

The trips leave from Hawes Pier in South Queensferry (about 35 minutes drive from Edinburgh).

Book your Trip

Visit Portobello Beach

Portobello Beach (image Flickr Creative Commons)

Portobello Beach is the coastal spot just a couple of miles from the city and there is plenty to do here. If it’s a sunny day, relax on the sandy beach. You can head to the amusement arcade and check out Portobello High Street for some independent shops and eateries.

Getting Around Edinburgh

Edinburgh is a compact city with a fabulous bus service. If you can, leave the car behind as parking can be pricey in the city centre.

Buses

Buses in Edinburgh are easy to use, they take contactless payments and cap the daily cost for adults so you automatically get charged the cheapest amount for the journeys you’ve made on that day.

Or you can buy a day family ticket from the driver or the m-tickets app..

Find out more about Edinburgh bus tickets here.

.Apple maps or Google maps will also tell you which bus to get.

Fun Places To Eat With Teenagers In Edinburgh

Holy Cow

A great place for vegan cheese with plant-based burgers and sweet treats.

Holy Cow Cafe

Hard Rock Cafe

The rock n roll themed chain has a cool atmosphere which most teenagers will love. The menu include a wide variety of burgers! Teens will also enjoy sampling the mocktails.

Hard Rock Cafe, Edinburgh

Coro the Chocolate Cafe


Photo credit: Coro The Chocolate Cafe / Facebook

An exceptionally good café that specialises in desserts including crepes, waffles and milkshakes. Perfect for hungry teenagers

Coro the Chocolate Cafe

Gutso

Gustso is an Italian chain with a nice atmosphere and it’s located on George Street.

Gusto, Edinburgh

 

Cosmo – All You Can Eat World Buffet

A huge buffet with a range of Asian, Mexican, Italian, for fixed price and a chocolate fountain too!

Cosmo Edinburgh

Hula Juice Bar and Cafe

This is one of the most Instagrammable cafes in Edinburgh, so perfect teen selfies. It’s excellent for brunch.

Hula Juice Bar and Cafe

The Witchery

If you think your teen would love afternoon tea, try the Witchery by the castle.  It’s a very atmospheric place to eat and you can choose between afternoon tea in the secret garden dining room or the candlelit original dining room. The Witchery is also a great place to go for a special meal.

The Witchery

Chain Restaurants

There are plenty of chain restaurants in Edinburgh the are favourites with teens. Check out Wagamama (Japanese food) and Nandos (lots of chicken).

Where To Stay

Best Hotels With Swimming Pools

The Radisson Blu – located in Edinburgh’s Royal Mile the Radisson Blu boasts a swimming pool, sauna and fitness centre. There are lots of room options with enough space for a family with teenagers. Choose from a junior suite, family room or interconnecting rooms.

Apex Waterloo Place – if you’re looking for a hotel with a swimming pool and gym facilities in the heart of Edinburgh, Apex Waterloo Place is worth checking out.

Best Luxury Hotel

The Balmoral – located in lovely grounds in the centre of Edinburgh, the Balmoral offers five star luxury. If you are staying with teens in toe they offer in house activities including teen spa treatments. Books, magazines, movies, games and content protected wi-fi are available on request. You can also book interconnecting rooms. Find out more about staying here with teenagers. 

Best Budget Hotels

Premier Inn, Waverly Street – like all premier Inns, this is excellent budget accommodation with a Hypnos mattress for a good night’s sleep. The premier Inn on Waverley Street is close to everything so makes a good choice.

Holiday Inn Express – Another great budget hotel, with excellent reviews near the train station.

Best Apartments

The Rutland Apartments – these four and five star apartments are located in the heart of the city centre, at the west end of Princes Street. The two bedroom apartments will sleep a family of four (although if you have two kids, check they don’t mind sharing a double bed!).

Other Options

Hilton Edinburgh – A great hotel and only 10 minute walk to city centre. They have a place when you can pay and park a few minutes walk from the hotel. Easy to leave your car there for the whole time you’re in Edinburgh and take the bus / walk around the city.

Stay City Apartments Edinburgh – An mid range apart hotel with 1 and 2 bedrooms with kitchenettes. There are two locations, one in the centre of the city just below Edinburgh Castle and the other a 10 minutes walk away in Edinburgh’s West End.

 

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