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Museums in Edinburgh: Discover the Rich History of the Capital

The National Museum of Scotland

Where to find it: Chambers St, Edinburgh EH1 1JF

Opening hours: 10am - 5pm, 7 days a week. Closed on Thursdays.

One of the UK’s most popular attractions, the National Museum of Scotland should be an item on any trip itinerary on your visit to Edinburgh. Even for locals, this museum is well worth a revisit as it showcases new exhibitions and provides fun days out for the city. 

If you’d like to see a lot but don’t have time to squeeze all of your museum visits into your trip, this is a good option. Not only do they have heaps of info on Scottish history but you will find plenty of variety, from impressive animal skeletons to fashion exhibits. There’s something for everyone to enjoy. 

Check out their upcoming exhibitions and events on their website


Museum of Edinburgh 

Where to find it: 142-146 Canongate, Edinburgh EH8 8DD

Opening hours: 10am - 5pm, 7 days a week.

Located within a nest of 16th-century buildings, wind through the historic structures and discover various collections. Dedicated to Scottish history, explore highlights like the National Covenant of 1638 and the First World War commander Earl Haig’s extensive collections are also on display. Visitors can also explore an impressive collection of decorative art that tells the story of Scottish craftsmanship such as engraved glass, delicately made silver, historic costumes, longcase clocks, Scottish pottery from the 1760s and more. 

Find out more about what you can expect on their website

Museum of Childhood

Where to find it: 42 High St, Edinburgh EH1 1TG

Opening hours: 10am - 5pm, 7 days a week. 

The world’s first museum solely dedicated to the history of childhood, located on High Street, the Museum of Childhood is a great day out for any family. With pieces ranging from the present day back to the 1800s, discover toys, games, clothes, books and more as you wander around the space. 

As you explore, you’ll see iconic toys from decades past - you might even see some favourites from your own childhood. There is also a dress-up and play area for families to enjoy spending time together. 

Learn more about the Museum of Childhood on their website


Surgeons’ Hall Museum

This award-winning museum is home to one of the largest and most historic pathology collections in the UK - and for those interested in the history of surgery and medicine, it deserves a spot on your trip itinerary. Originally used as a medical teaching source, after a refurbishment, the spot is now open to all. 

When visiting the anatomy museum in Edinburgh, you can expect to discover a number of fantastic collections such as The Wohl Pathology Museum, the History of Surgery Museum, The Dental Collection, Body Voyager and more. Learn all about the history of surgery and how it has evolved into what we know in the present day while marvelling at bone and tissue specimens along the way. 

Find out more about their collections and history on their website

Where to find it: Surgeons Hall Museums, Nicolson St, Edinburgh EH8 9DW

Opening hours: 10am - 5pm, 7 days a week. 

National Galleries of Scotland (Portrait)

Where to find it: 1 Queen St, Edinburgh EH2 1JD

Opening hours: 10am - 5pm, 7 days a week.

Described as a “love letter to Scotland”, the National Gallery of Scotland (Portrait), the neo-gothic palace is dedicated to showcasing Scotland’s story. The museum strives to tell the story of Scotland’s past and its people. Take in portraits of some of Scotland’s most important figures such as Mary Queen of Scots, Billy Connolly, and Robert Burns. 

Their famous Zodiac ceiling is worth visiting alone in their great hall - don’t forget to look up when you visit!

Find out more about the collections and facilities on their website


National Galleries of Scotland (National)

Where to find it: The Mound, Edinburgh EH2 2EL

Opening hours: 10am - 5pm, 7 days a week. 

One of the city’s most breathtaking art collections, spend an afternoon at the National Galleries of Scotland (National) and soak up magnificent art pieces from artists such as Vermeer, Titian, Rembrandt, Velázquez and the Impressionists. 

They also have a newly opened Scottish Galleries where you can admire work by William McTaggart, Anne Redpath, Phoebe Anna Traquair, Charles Rennie Mackintosh and the Glasgow Boys. One for real art lovers, or those looking for a relaxing way to spend a day in Edinburgh. 

Find out more about their collections and more on their website

The Writers’ Museum

Where to find it: Lawnmarket, Lady Stair's Cl, Edinburgh EH1 2PA

Opening hours: 10am - 5pm, 7 days a week.

One for book lovers or literacy connoisseurs, a visit to the Writers’ Museums should be on your to-do list for your trip to Edinburgh museums. The museum celebrates the lives of three of Scotland’s most significant and treasured writers - Robert Burns, Sir Walter Scott and Robert Louis Stevenston. 

Visitors can expect to see portraits, rare books, and personal artefacts with gems such as Robert Burns’ writing desk, his riding books and one of three plaster casts of his skull. Alongside this, admire the printing press on which Scott’s Waverley novels were first published, and the rocking horse he used as a child. 

Find out more about the Writers’ Museum in Edinburgh on their website. 


National War Museum

Where to find it: Edinburgh Castle, Castlehill, Edinburgh EH1 2NG

Opening hours: 9:45pm - 5:45pm, 7 days a week. 

Located within the walls of Edinburgh Castle, the National War Museum is a treasure trove of information about Scotland’s rich history and wartimes. Discover uniforms, insignia and equipment, medals, decorations, weapons, paintings, ceramics and silverware - all in place to showcase Scotland’s past. 

Explore the daily life of Scottish servicemen across history and admire letters and personal items from the men. Visiting this museum will definitely enrich your experience at the castle for those hoping to uncover the history of Scotland. 

Find out more on their website

Camera Obscura & World of Illusions

Where to find it: 549 Castlehill, Edinburgh EH1 2ND

Opening hours: Friday, Sunday Thursday - 9am - 9pm, Saturday 9am - 10pm, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday - 9am - 8pm.  

A favourite amongst visitors, locals and families, visit the Camera Obscura & World of Illusions museums on the Royal Mile and spend an afternoon discovering the magic of eye trickery and illusions. 

Fun for the whole family, wind through five floors with over 100 interactive, hands-on exhibits to entertain all ages. This includes a magic mirror maze, a vortex tunnel, and Infinity Corridor, and more. Don’t forget to snap photos as you go for a great souvenir of your time there. 

Watch the sunset across Edinburgh if you time it right from their rooftop and marvel as the city is bathed in golden light. They list each day’s sunset time on their website, so be sure to plan ahead if you visit. 

Find out more about pricing and exhibits on their website


Visit The Witchery on your day out in Edinburgh 

Located on Castle Hill, across from Camera Obscura and neighbours to Edinburgh Castle, join us for a light lunch or an evening meal in the Old Town, and top off your day of exploration with a dining experience in one of Edinburgh’s most historic restaurants. 

Scottish seafood, Highland meats, and our commitment to seasonal and local produce work together to create dishes that you can indulge in and memories you can cherish forever. 

Discover our á la carte menu and book your table now. 

Explore more of Edinburgh

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