History, Science and Culture at Edinburgh's Best Museums

Edinburgh has a rich and fascinating history, and this is reflected in the city’s many museums. From the smallest local history museum to the hugely popular national museums, there is more than enough to keep you entertained every day of the week.

Arguably the most popular is the National Museum of Scotland on Chambers Street. This free resource was given a major upgrade a few years ago and is now one of the UK’s premier attractions. The permanent exhibitions include wonderful interactive displays and cover diverse subjects such as astronomy, ancient Egypt, science and technology, Scottish history and zoology. They also regularly host great temporary exhibits, so it is worth checking their website to see what is coming up.

At the other end of the scale you will find a host of smaller museums inhabiting beautiful historical buildings in the Old Town. You could learn about local history, famous literary figures or see some wonderful antique toys. For a unique (and sometimes macabre) view of the history of medicine you should seek out Surgeon’s Hall in the South side.

The city of Edinburgh is dominated by the imposing form of Edinburgh Castle, and one of the capital’s most popular attractions is housed within its walls. For a fascinating, and sometimes poignant, exploration of military history and the lives of those who signed up to defend their nation head to the National War Museum.

Edinburgh’s museums are fascinating, thought provoking, and often free – what more could you ask for!



This fascinating attraction was the first museum in the world to be dedicated to the history of childhood. The collection was originally established by Patrick Murray, an Edinburgh Councilor who was a passionate collector of toys and childhood...  Read More

Museum of Edinburgh


The Museum of Edinburgh is dedicated to displaying the local history of Edinburgh. You will see Greyfriars Bobby's collar and feeding bowl and the National Covenant, signed by leaders of the Presbyterian Church in Scotland in 1638. There are...  Read More



The Museum on the Mound is housed in the former Bank of Scotland headquarters (now the Lloyds Banking Group's Scottish HQ) which is a spectacular Victorian building just off the Royal Mile. It's all about money and it covers the art and design...  Read More



The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh was founded in 1505 and the city has been an important location for medical research ever since. The museum here was originally designed as a teaching museum for students, but it first opened to the...  Read More



John Knox House is a fascinating mediaeval building constructed in 1470. It is named after the famous Protestant reformer John Knox, although he actually only lived there for a short period in his life. The house was also home to James Mosman,...  Read More



Set within the walls of historic Edinburgh Castle the National War Museum explores the history of Scotland at war. During the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the Scottish Highlander was viewed with suspicion and fear by the British state...  Read More



Housed in the historic Cannongate Tolbooth, the People's Story Museum tells the story of the people of Edinburgh from the late 18th century to the present day. The three galleries explore life in an Edinburgh tenement during the eighteenth...  Read More



The Writer's Museum is housed in the beautiful and ornate Lady Stair's House, a category 'A' listed building. Built in 1622 by Sir William Gray, it was given to the City of Edinburgh in 1907 for use as a museum. The collection celebrates the...  Read More

Our Dynamic Earth


This phenomenal museum celebrates the beauty of the earth via innovative technology. It is situated at the opposite end of the Old Town from the castle, near Holyrood Palace in the shadow of the crags and Arthur's Seat. Interactive exhibits...  Read More

National Museum of Scotland
Photo courtesy of Simon Hill


The diverse collection at the National Museum of Scotland encompasses the history of Scotland along with exhibitions of international interest. You can learn all about Scotland's past from the age of chivalry through to the industrial revolution...  Read More


Meet Simon Hill

Simon has lived in various corners of Edinburgh over the last 18 years. He fell in love with the city as a small child after visiting the castle and returned to study Scottish History.

After...  More About Simon