The Leith dock is situated in the far north of Edinburgh, but you can easily hop on a bus or hail a taxi and get into the center in half an hour. Try these family-friendly activities during your cruise stopover in this great city.
It’s not uncommon for the weather in Scotland’s capital to be inclement, by which we mean, it rains a lot. If you arrive on a wet, grey day, then head for the National Museum of Scotland on Chambers Street.
It’s a bit further to travel, but it’s worth it for an attraction that has so much to offer. It has science-based activities for older kids, including a racing car simulation; natural history for everyone; and a play room for toddlers and babies, which includes the chance to dress up and play musical instruments. You’ll also find plenty of Scottish history and a choice of places to eat.
National Museum of Scotland — Photo courtesy of M J Richardson
If you’re lucky enough to arrive on a sunny day, then you’ll get a taste of Edinburgh by heading to Princes Street Gardens. The medieval Old Town on one side and the neo-classical New Town on the other makes it ideal for a quick look at what makes the city so special.
There are trees and lawns. The Scott Monument is an option if you fancy a climb for a stunning view, and there is a play park in the west end of the gardens for young kids to enjoy. You’ll also find ice cream on sale by the ornate fountain, which sits in the shadow of Edinburgh Castle.
Princes Street Gardens — Photo courtesy of Tom Brogan
You could opt to visit the castle itself. But you’ll want to spend a couple of hours there to make it really worthwhile, so it won’t leave time for much else. There is plenty to explore, and the castle offers wonderful views across the city from the battlements.
Try to time your visit to coincide with the One O’ Clock Gun for a treat the whole family will enjoy. The tradition started back in 1861 as a way for ships in the port, and Edinburgh residents, to tell the time. It used to be a cannon and then a howitzer that fired at precisely 1 p.m. every day except Sunday. Nowadays, it's a light artillery gun.
On your way back towards the port, or if you don’t want to stray too far, you could always stop off at Ocean Terminal Mall. You’ll find a wide range of shops, including some offering great Scottish souvenirs and presents - like malt whisky - to take away with you.
The mall is also home to a cinema and the Royal Yacht Britannia. This used to be the Queen's official yacht, and it's an interesting attraction for older people, perhaps not so suitable for kids. Ocean Terminal also has a good variety of eateries that are family friendly.