Discover Edinburgh Things to Do in Edinburgh Museums


The diverse array of museums in Edinburgh range from a cluster of stunning medieval buildings that straddle the Royal Mile to the extensive grounds of the elegant Laurieston Castle in Edinburgh's western fringes, offering breathtaking views over the Firth of Forth. The museums in Leith, South Queensferry and Newhaven celebrate the heritage of the maritime and fishing communities that continue to thrive in the Forth Estuary suburbs and towns today. Edinburgh's towering cityscape and skyline is adorned with places of cultural significance, including the impressive Scott Monument in the heart of Edinburgh's bustling Princes Street. Each museum has a fascinating story to tell and the majority of Edinburgh City Council Museums are free of charge to the public.

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The stunning collections exhibited, conserved and interpreted by the city's museums eloquently depict Edinburgh's and Scotland's stirring past and never fail to captivate visitors to this remarkable city of contrasting architecture and landscapes. The Museum of Scotland unveils the story of a country of rich cultural heritage that touches many people throughout the world. This stunning museum houses magnificent nationals collections of artifax, illustrations and exhibtions pertaining to the land, the people and the culture of Scotland. The museum is home to some of the nation's most precious treasures and is a spectacular showcase of everyday objects that shine on Scotland through history.

At a local level, The Museum of Edinburgh reveals the history of Edinburgh from prehistoric times to the present day. If you are familiar with the story of ‘Greyfriars Bobby, his collar and feeding bowl are on display accompanied by the original plaster model for the world renowned bronze statue placed in Candlemaker Row in Edinburgh’s Old Town. This spectacular museum is housed in Huntly House facing the Canongate and is undoubtedly one of Edinburgh’s most picturesque buildings dating from the 16th Century.

The Museum of Childhood is a real favourite for both adults and children and when it opened in 1955, it was the first museum of its kind in the world. Dubbed as the world’s nosiest museum, this gem housed in the Royal Mile is jam packed with objects relating to childhood, past and present. The museum has an extensive collections of toys and games from many parts of the world and gives children of today, a clear insight into childhood of the past, how children from previous generations were educated and raised.

A visit to The Writers’ Museum is a captivating and inspiring experience for the literati and the bookish. Situated in Lady Stair’s House in the Lawnmarket, this museum is dedicated to the lives and works of Scotland’s finest writers including Robert Burns (1759 – 1796), Sir Walter Scott (1771 – 1832) and Robert Louis Stevenson (1850 – 1894). It houses this most significant collection of Robert Louis Stevenson’s works in the United Kingdom and a plethora of other Scottish authors are featured in temporary exhibitions.

Moving away from Edinburgh City Centre, The Heritage Centre in Newhaven, overlooking the harbour on the River Forth allows visitors to discover what it was like to live in a close-knit fishing community as a fishwife or fisherman. The museum showcases interactive displays and reconstructed scenes of fishwives and fishermen at work, an extensive collection of photographs of times gone by in Newhaven as well as featuring a video that focuses on the development of this industrious community from its early days as a naval dockyard through to the present day. The museum is accessible by Lothian Buses 10, 11 and 16 from Princes Street and Lothian Bus service 7 from the Bridges heading northwards.

The list of museums in Edinburgh is endless and those featured in this page are undoubtedly the most popular amongst visitors and Edinburgers alike. Whichever museum(s) you choose, you will be enthralled with their captivating collections, encapsulating most subjects from Palaeography to Toys. A visit to Edinburgh's museums is a delightful and inexpensive day out, most being free of charge.

  • Museum of Childhood

    42 High Street, Royal Mile, Edinburgh EH1 1TQ

    Situated in the Royal Mile, the Museum of Childhood has been one of Edinburgh's most loved attractions since 1955, welcoming generations of adults and children. Dubbed 'the world’s noisiest museum", it lives up to its reputation with a fun and intriguing display of toys, games and other childhood memorabilia.
  • Museum of Edinburgh

    142 - 146 Canongate, Edinburgh EH8 8DD

    Discover Edinburgh's remarkable history from prehistoric times onwards at the Museum of Edinburgh in the city's Old Town. Housed in the beautifully restored 16th century Huntley House on Canongate, it is the city's principle museum of local history.

  • National Museum of Flight

    East Fortune Airfield, East Lothian EH39 5LF

    Uncover our fascination of flying at the Museum of Flight, in the village of East Fortune, East Lothian, not far from Edinburgh. A significant military airfield in both world wars, this site is protected as a historic monument and witnessed the record braking east-west transatlantic flight of the R34 Airship in July 1919.
  • National Museum of Scotland

    1 Chambers Street, Edinburgh EH1 1JF

    Uncover the history of Scotland and its civilisation at the Museum of Scotland in Edinburgh's Old Town where you will experience a comprehensive and captivating insight into the formation of its majestic landscapes, its people and its rich heritage.

  • National War Museum

    Edinburgh Castle, Edinburgh EH1 2NG

    Located in the confines of Edinburgh Castle and fully integrated in the castle's visitor experience, The National War Museum of Scotland showcases an exuberant selection of exhibits pertaining to Scottish infantries and national military service that was obligatory in Scotland and the UK up until the early 1960s.
  • Queensferry Museum

    53 High Street, South Queensferry EH30 9HP

    Located in picturesque South Queensferry on the banks of the Firth of Forth, The Queensferry Museum is home to an intriguing collection of artefacts and curiosities pertaining to the history, culture and development of this former Royal Burgh.

  • National Mining Museum Scotland

    Lady Victoria Colliery, Newtongrange, Midlothian, EH22 4QN

    From its inception in 1984, The National Mining Museum Scotland has been enjoyed by generations of families and visitors through its accurate presentation of the Scottish Coal Industry and its heritage from the Victorian period up until the early 1980s.

  • Surgeons' Hall Museums

    Nicolson Street, Edinburgh EH8 9DW

    The Surgeons' Hall Museums in Edinburgh is home to two museums dedicated to the world of surgery and pathology, namely the Surgeon's Hall Museum on the lower floor and the Museum of Pathology on the upper floor.

  • The People's Story

    Canongate Tolbooth, Royal Mile, City of Edinburgh EH8 8BN

    A museum in Edinburgh detailing the history of Scotland's capital, and it's people. Situated on the Royal Mile this former prison is an impressive building with an even more interesting past.

  • The Writers Museum

    Lady Stair's Close, Edinburgh EH1 2PA

    The Writer's Museum in Edinburgh is superbly situated in a charming narrow lane just off the Lawnmarket in the city's medieval Old Town. Managed by Edinburgh City Council and free of charge to all visitors.