Edinburgh days out: Family-friendly attractions with breathtaking views

Our great city is not short of scenic views. Whether enjoying a captivating sunset from North Bridge, gazing up at the historic facade of the Castle, or marveling at the panoramic view from atop Calton Hill, one thing is for certain: you truly are spoilt for choice when choosing the best viewpoint of the city.

By Cameron Macpherson
Thursday, 27th January 2022, 4:55 am
Updated Thursday, 27th January 2022, 12:58 pm
Edinburgh is not short of scenic views.
Edinburgh is not short of scenic views.

That said, there are some viewpoints that many miss out on. Here are some of the most breathtaking.

Roof Terrace, National Museum of Scotland

The National Museum of Scotland on Chambers Street boasts diverse collections to take you on a journey of discovery through the history of Scotland, the wonders of nature, art and design, science and technology.

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In addition, the museum also hosts regular exhibitions, such as the upcoming Audubon’s Birds of America or the Typewriter Revolution.

However, the treasures to be found don’t stop on the top floor. If visitors take a lift to the roof terrace they are gifted with the stunning vista of Edinburgh city

centre, complete with views of Calton Hill and Arthur’s Seat from a lesser found perspective.

To learn more about Audubon’s Birds of America – one of the rarest and prized books in the world – the exhibition runs from Feb 12 to May 8.

Camera Obscura

Take a trip to the top of Royal Mile and you’ll find Camera Obscura, a twisted wonderland of mind-bending optical illusions, puzzles and games.

It was originally built as a lookout tower in the 1800s, geared towards providing the ‘best views in the city’. However, since 1977 new elements have been added.

Nonetheless, it remains a popular destination for families, with its quirky yet educational nature.

After you’ve had your mind suitably bent, you can take a trip to their rooftop viewpoint.

There you’ll find a 360-degree lookout showcasing the view of Edinburgh – and with the help of binoculars and telescopes there are plenty of stunning views to soak up across the water in Fife.

That said, one of the best views comes from staring straight down the barrel of Royal Mile. Seeing the ancient street stretch from end to end gives you a true grasp of the scale of this historic street.

Tickets are available via their website, www.camera-obscura.co.uk

Edinburgh Napier - Craiglockhart Campus

Edinburgh Napier acquired the Craiglockhart Campus in 1994.

Situated in the South-West of the city, it may be off the beaten track, however it compensates the journey out with a lovely landscape view of the Edinburgh skyline.

From the sloping grass of the campus grounds, the rows of suburban houses sweep seamlessly into the cluster of the city architecture, with the instantly recognisable backdrop of Arthur’s Seat visible also.

Students of Napier will also know that the best view comes from inside the oval-shaped lecture hall – aptly named ‘The Egg’.

Reminiscent of an escape pod from a Sci-Fi movie, the lecture hall offers a stunning framing of the Edinburgh skyline and makes drifting off into daydream during lectures all the more likely.

Applications are now open to join Edinburgh Napier in 2022. For more information visit www.napier.ac.uk

Edinburgh Zoo

One of Edinburgh’s most popular destinations. The crowds come for the pandas, the penguin parade, and the monkeys.

However, take a trip to the top of Corstorphine Hill, where the zoo lies, and there is more than the animals to gaze at.

You are greeted with a marvelous south-facing view of Edinburgh city-center as it slopes up to meet the base of Pentland hills. Also, in the foreground of the view, you have the sight of grazing zebras and antelopes.

Pack a flask of tea, a few sandwiches and you’re in for a picnic so scenic you could mistake it for Africa. If it was only for the weather.

Deep Sea World Cafe

Across the water hosts some rare viewpoints as well. In North Queensferry there is the renowned family attraction Deep Sea World.

Founded in 1993, it is host to a wide range of aquatic species, from stingrays to sand sharks to starfish.

The aquarium also holds the record for the longest underwater moving walkway in Europe.

But it’s not only the sights inside the tanks that visitors make the trip across the water to see.

The aquarium is perched next to the Forth Rail Bridge. A UNESCO world heritage sight, the bridge is a feat of engineering to behold, with its crimson frame visible from across the water, and it is only when admired from up close that the grand scale of this historic rail bridge can be seen and felt.

Deep Sea World offers a lovely scenic view from its cafe, where visitors can drink in the stunning view along with a warming cup of coffee.

Scottish Seabird Centre

Nestled at the top of East Lothian you find yourself in North Berwick – a region known for its rugged coast, white sandy beaches and beautiful countryside.

A place to find one of the best views North Berwick has to offer is found in the Scottish Seabird Centre.

Opened by Prince Charles in 2000, the Scottish Seabird Centre enlightens and educates visitors on Scotland’s marine wildlife and their habitats – especially around the coastal environments of North Berwick, such as Bass Rock, which plays host to the largest colony of Northern Gannets in the world.

From the centre’s seabird sun deck you can soak up the stunning white beaches that line the coast or gaze out to the monolithic Bass Rock, as it perches in the middle of the sea.

The centre is open daily from 10am to 5pm. They also offer a fantastic range of boat trips from April to early October.

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