The Top 12 Museums and Galleries in Edinburgh

The Top 12 Museums and Galleries in Edinburgh

The Top 12 Museums and Galleries in Edinburgh

Edinburgh has a great range of museums, galleries and attractions to suit all ages.  Here we have hand-picked some of our favourites to find the top 12 museums and galleries in Edinburgh.

National Museum of Scotland

Great for all ages, the National Museum of Edinburgh is a vast Museum set over 7 floors, covering everything from ‘the age of dinosaurs’ to ‘the technology of the future’.  There are many interactive exhibitions perfect for children to enjoy as well quieter spaces displaying stunning art, intricate design and historic archaeology.  Highlights of this popular Edinburgh museum include Dolly the sheep – the first cloned mammal, a true to size TRex skeleton, and opulent jewellery that once belonged to Mary Queen of Scots.

The museum is free but donations are welcome.

Open daily 10 am – 5pm

Top tip-  It is worth going up to the roof terrace for impressive panoramic views of Edinburgh

Dynamic Earth

Dynamic Earth in Edinburgh promises to take you on a journey through space and time like no other.  See how the Earth was formed and developed with a 4DVENTURE around the world.  Experience the big bang, feel the ground shake as molten lava flows, touch a real iceberg and delve deep into the ocean on-board a yellow submarine. This interactive experience really is something different and helps illustrate how amazing our world really is.

Open 10am- 5.30pm daily

Royal Yacht Britannia

Permanently moored at Ocean Terminal on Edinburgh’s scenic waterfront is the Royal Yacht Britannia.  This impressive vessel was once a Royal residence and served the Queen and her family for over 44 years.  Used for official state visits, Royal family holidays and even honeymoons, it is steeped in history.  You can now board the ship and walk in the footsteps of the British Royal family and their guests.  Learn all about the ship and its occupants including its creation on the Clyde shipyards, life on the ship for those that served the Queen, and discover all the tales from the exotic voyages it once took.

Open daily, first admission 10am last admission 15.30pm

Camera Obscura and World of Illusions

The oldest visitor attraction in Edinburgh, Camera Obscura has been entertaining visitors since 1853.  Located at the top of the Royal Mile, in Edinburgh’s old town, Camera Obscura & World of Illusions provides a fun and unique experience for all ages.  Filled with interactive displays including optical illusions, puzzles and holograms there’s lots to explore over the six floors.  The Camera Obscura Show is set in the historic observatory at the top of the building.  This informative display still uses the same remarkable technology established by its Victorian creators and continues to be just as astonishing, giving a memorable, virtual tour of Edinburgh with impressive views and guided commentary too.  There’s also an outdoor viewing platform which provides fantastic panoramic views of Edinburgh you’d find hard to beat.

Open 9.30am – 8.00pm with longer opening hours over the summer months and school holidays.

Top tip: It can get quite busy so it’s best to go early. Tickets are valid all day so you can even leave and pop back after dark to see the city lights come to life under the night sky.

Edinburgh Castle

Possibly the most notable attraction in Edinburgh, Edinburgh Castle is reaped in history and one of Scotland’s most popular tourist attractions.  This historic fortress sits on ‘Castle Rock’ a volcanic plug in the centre of Edinburgh and you can’t miss it dominating the city skyline.  Home to some of the Edinburgh’s oldest and most important buildings, the city itself grew around the Castle.  Along with the impressive buildings Edinburgh Castle tells the tales from Scotland’s historic past. Highlights include The Scottish National War Memorial, Scotland’s Crown Jewels, The stone of destiny and the stunning Grand Hall.

Top tip: It is worth planning your trip and purchasing tickets online in advance to receive a discount.

The ‘One o’Clock Gun’ is fired every day at 1pm (except Sundays, Good Friday and Christmas Day) from the Mills Mount Battery in the Castle.  It is impressive to watch but also very loud and usually surprises the people on Princes Street below.

Scottish National Gallery

The Scottish National Gallery houses Scotland’s national collection of fine art, from both Scottish and international artists.  The gallery is housed in a stunning neoclassical building that stands proudly on the Mound in central Edinburgh, close to Princes Street.  Inside you’ll find masterpieces from acclaimed Scottish artists Ramsay, Raeburn, Wilkie and McTaggart.  Along with work from world famous artists Botticelli, Rembrandt, Constable, Monet and Van Gogh.

Open daily 10am -5 pm. Thursdays until 7pm.

Free admission but some exhibitions may be charged.

Jupiter Artland

Jupiter Artland is a sculpture park and art gallery set in the stunning 120 acre grounds of Bonnington House, a 17th Century Manor House.  Open From mid-May until September, it’s the perfect place for a unique summer day out. Walk round at your own pace and enjoy the collaboration of impressive contemporary art sculptures, set in stunning natural surroundings. The park is full of surprises and is designed to encourage exploration allowing visitors to discover the unique art on display throughout the meadows and woodland.

Open daily from 18th May to 30th September 2019.  10am – 5pm.

Museum of childhood

Popular with both children and adults alike, the Museum of childhood in Edinburgh is dedicated to the history of childhood and displays toys and games from across the generations.  Whatever your age, the museum will take you back to your youth as you reminisce your nostalgic childhood memories and favourite toys.  Recently refurbished this Edinburgh museum has lots of hands on displays and toys children (and adults) can play with and enjoy.

Open daily 10am – 5pm

Free entry

Museum on the Mound

An original museum displaying all things money and banking related. Set in the historic bank of Scotland’s head office, in the heart of Edinburgh. You can find out about the history of the bank and money through the ages.  See what one million pounds looks like in the flesh, crack open a safe and view Scotland’s oldest bank note.  There’s also a range of hands-on interactive displays which prove popular with younger visitors too.

Open Tuesday – Friday 10am – 5pm

Free entry

Scottish National Portrait Gallery

Housed in one of Edinburgh’s most iconic buildings, the Scottish National Portrait Gallery is worth visiting for the stunning gothic revival architecture alone.  Inside you’ll find the equally inspiring national collection of portraits, showcasing influential Scots from the past and present.  Come face to face with Mary Queen of Scots, Bonnie Prince Charles and Robert Burns, as well as modern day icons from Scottish sports and culture.

Top tip: National Galleries Scotland runs a shuttle bus for visitors between the three national galleries for a donation of £1.

Surgeons Hall Museums

Not for the faint hearted, the Surgeons’ Hall Museums in Edinburgh were originally developed as teaching museums for students of medicine. They consist of the Wohl Pathology Museum, The History of Surgery Museum and the Dental Collection.   Opened to the public in 1832 they are among Scotland’s oldest museums and home to the largest and historic collection of pathology in the UK. The museums provide a unique experience where visitors can see a vast range of historic specimens that have been preserved for hundreds of years, including organs, tumours and bones.  Discover how surgery has developed over the years and key medical advances including the tools and medicine used.

Open daily from 10am to 5pm

The Peoples Story Museum

The Peoples History Museum tells the story of Edinburgh’s people, focusing on the history, culture and trades of Edinburgh over the years.  The museum gives a real personal insight into what life was like for Edinburgh’s working class from the 18th Century to the late 20th Century.  The museum includes scenes recreating daily life, vintage displays and significant objects relating to political and social events.

Open daily: 10am -5pm, Free entry but donations are welcome.

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