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Must-See Museums in Edinburgh

Must-See Museums in Edinburgh

Scotland’s capital has a rich history and a host of impressive museums to match. From the Renaissance masterpieces of the National Gallery to the Royal Yacht Britannia, here’s our take on Edinburgh’s must-see museums.

 

Scottish National Gallery

This national gallery houses Scotland’s collection of art from the Renaissance to the 20th century. Among its treasures are paintings by Velazquez, Raphael, and Cézanne, as well as Scottish greats such as Raeburn and Ramsay.

**How to Visit:**Travel one of Edinburgh’s hop-on hop-off bus routes, which stop at Market Street close by.

 

Museum of Childhood

On Edinburgh’s High Street, the world’s only museum dedicated to the history of childhood brims with toys and playthings beloved through the generations. Highlights include an 18th-century wooden doll, 1970s Chopper bikes, Steiff teddies, comics, costumes, and more.

**How to Visit:**Take a hop-on hop-off bus tour and alight at the John Knox House—the museum is nearby.

 

National Museum of Scotland

Uncover Scotland’s history and culture at this huge modern museum. It’s home to a 20,000-artifact collection that captures Scotland’s rich heritage, from prehistoric and medieval times to today.

**How to Visit:**Join a Royal Mile walking tour that includes the museum, or stop off on a hop-on hop-off loop.

 

Writers’ Museum

Within a beautiful mansion off Lawnmarket, this museum tells the life stories of three great Scottish authors—Robbie Burns, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Sir Walter Scott—through documents and personal objects, including Burns’ writing desk.  

**How to Visit:**See the 17th-century mansion on a Royal Mile walking tour and return later, or get here via a hop-on hop-off bus that stops at Lawnmarket. 

 

John Knox House Museum

History buffs will love this museum, reputedly home to the Scottish Reformation leader just before his death in 1572. Highlights include the wood-paneled upper room and ‘luckenbooths’—once rented as shops—dating from the mid-15th century.

**How to Visit:**Hop-on hop-off buses halt right outside, and some walking tours discuss the house and take in its exterior.

 

Royal YachtBritannia

Used by the British royals for more than 40 years, this historical yacht welcomes the public. Explore its visitor center before boarding for an audio tour of its State Apartments and other areas once occupied by figures such as Princess Diana and Winston Churchill.

**How to Visit:**Ride a hop-on hop-off bus to Edinburgh’s Ocean Terminal, or book an admission ticket and visit independently.

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5 Tours and Activities | All Edinburgh Tours

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City Sightseeing Edinburgh Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour

City Sightseeing Edinburgh Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour

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1184
An Edinburgh bus tour is the perfect way to hear commentary on city sights and get a panoramic overview. This City Sightseeing tour of Edinburgh lets you hop on and off at several strategically placed stops as many times as you like. Board the open-top double-decker bus and travel the entire route, or stop at Edinburgh Castle, the National Museum and many more. Buses depart regularly and tickets are valid for 24 hours from first use.
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  • 1 hour
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$22.94
From
$22.94
Taking safety measures

Small Group Royal Mile Walking Tour with Optional Entry to Edinburgh Castle

Small Group Royal Mile Walking Tour with Optional Entry to Edinburgh Castle

star-4.5
543
See the best of medieval yet modern Edinburgh on this walking tour with optional skip-the-line access to Edinburgh Castle. As you walk, listen as your guide shares the history of this formidable city with ancient Roman roots and UNESCO-listed pockets. Explore atmospheric cobbled walkways along the Royal Mile, breeze into Edinburgh Castle to witness royal opulence (if option selected), and pass iconic locations like St. Giles Cathedral, Parliament Square, and John Knox House.
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  • 2 hours 15 minutes
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$26.36
Price varies by group size
From
$26.36
Price varies by group size
Taking safety measures

Royal Mile Guided Walking Tour in Edinburgh

Royal Mile Guided Walking Tour in Edinburgh

star-5
517
Explore famous landmarks and hidden secrets in Edinburgh on this walking tour. Explore Edinburgh’s famous Royal Mile with a guide, and gain insight into famous writers and inventors who have called the city home. Hear tales of Scotland's national bard—Robert Burns—and discover top landmarks such as St. Giles’ Cathedral and the National Galleries of Scotland. Capture Edinburgh through the eye of your camera as you go, and find out what makes this ancient city tick.
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  • 3 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$34.88
From
$34.88
Taking safety measures

Private Tour Guide Edinburgh: 100% Personalized, See the City Unscripted

Private Tour Guide Edinburgh: 100% Personalized, See the City Unscripted

star-4
4
Make sure you see all the spots you wanted to in Edinburgh on this personalized tour led by a private guide. Your customized itinerary takes you to the places you request, and your guide's commentary is based on your interests. You can go to famous locations, such as Edinburgh Castle to see Scotland’s crown jewels, or you can choose to go to areas known only by locals.
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  • 2 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$72.65
Price varies by group size
From
$72.65
Price varies by group size
Taking safety measures

Edinburgh Royal Mile Walking Tour

Edinburgh Royal Mile Walking Tour

star-5
8
Embrace the best that Edinburgh has to offer on a 3-hour small-group walking tour of the Royal Mile. You’ll cover everything along the famous route, starting in the Lawnmarket and following it down to Holyroodhouse and Scottish Parliament. Listen as your guide tells you the little-known stories of the city’s most important people and events, before returning to a central location.
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  • 3 hours
  • Free Cancellation
  • Taking safety measures
From
$43.01
From
$43.01
Taking safety measures