Family Holidays in Edinburgh and the Borders

No visit to Scotland is complete without a trip to the nation’s capital, Edinburgh, and its surrounding Border lands.

If historic sites, hiking, outdoor sports, and raucous theatre shows sound like your kind of family “staycation”, this part of Scotland will be just your cup of tea.

Or should that be Irn-Bru?

3 must-see sights in Edinburgh and the Borders

1. Edinburgh Castle

Built in 1103, Edinburgh Castle has been keeping watch since the city was first established. Today, the castle is open for visitors of all ages to tour The Great Hall, the Half Moon Battery, and a collection of in-house museums. 

Tickets can be purchased before you arrive and there’s a dedicated ‘Edinburgh Castle for Kids’ book which, at just a fiver, gives little ones everything they need to know to make the most of their visit.  

2. Arthur’s Seat

Ready for some brisk Scottish air? Arthur’s Seat — an extinct volcano! — sits just at the end of Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, making it easy to reach on foot or by car.

The walk up may be challenging for the littlest of legs, but if you’re kids are brave hearts, then it’s worth a try. The views from the top are unbelievable and, on a clear day, you’ll be able to see all the way across Edinburgh’s iconic skyline.

3. The Berwickshire Coast

Just south of Edinburgh, close to England, is a band of territory called the Borders. And it’s here that some of the area’s most stunning scenery is to be found.

Whether you explore the Berwickshire Coast via the winding roads or the cliff top walking trails, you’ll find cove after cove, and white sand beach after white sand beach. Perfect for families who are looking to slow down a little on their UK break away.

4 must-do family activities in Edinburgh and the Borders

1. Walk the Royal Mile

A trip down Edinburgh’s Royal Mile is a must-do whether you’re in town for a week or just a day. Steeped with history, at the heart of the city’s Old Town, this street is also a centre of culture. Here you’ll find the Museum of Edinburgh, Museum of Childhood, and many pubs, cafes and restaurants to hop into should the weather take a turn.

2. Laugh out loud at Edinburgh Fringe Festival

If you’re lucky enough to get a hotel booking during the month of August, you need to make time for the world-famous Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Each and every day there’s something new and unmissable going on — seriously, the biggest challenge will be choosing what to see and where!

Make sure you check out the daily programme of children’s theatre, magic and dance. Each performance tends to last around an hour — the perfect length of time to rest your feet (unless the show requires parent participation, that is!).

3. Get your adrenaline fix in the Borders countryside

While the Borders packs all the natural beauty of the area, it’s also here that action-seeking families should base their stay.

Go Ape Peebles has a 160ft zip line across the valley. While the 7stanes mountain biking centre has trails to suit all abilities — from the most advanced, to those who’d rather a casual cycle through the gorgeous Glentress Forest.

4. Ride the Borders Railway

A fun day out for big and little kids, the Borders Railway runs from Edinburgh to Tweedbank in the south east of the Borders. The journey takes just less than an hour, and travels through 140 bridges and tunnels.

The best time to visit Edinburgh and the Borders?

Like anywhere else in the UK, you can always rely on Scottish weather to be… well… unreliable. Broadly speaking, you can expect some lovely sunny days during the summer and bracing winds throughout autumn and winter.

That being said, as long as you pack well, there’s no bad time to visit Edinburgh and the Borders. If the heavens open or a strong wind picks up, just hop into a pub or cafe to warm up!

What to pack for Edinburgh and the Borders?

If Edinburgh’s your main camp, you’ll be fine with layers and a raincoat (regardless of the time of year). But if you’re venturing out to the Borders — and certainly to action parks — then waterproofs, sturdy shoes and fleeces are a must.

Getting around Edinburgh and the Borders

As a major city, it’ll come as no surprise that Edinburgh offers a wide selection of ways to get around. See the city via tourist bus, public bus or tram, or take the scenic route in one of Edinburgh’s black cabs.

The Borders are naturally a little less well connected, but you’ll still find plenty of rail and bus links. And if you’re driving up from home, you’ll find the roads easy to manage — just don’t forget to stop every now and then to take in the scenery!

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