Family days out near me: Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh - Open their eyes to a new kind of reality at the Capital's evergreen visitor attraction

There’s no need to venture far when you can open their eyes to a world of living beauty – and digital art – in the heart of the city.

By Julie Douglas
Thursday, 9th June 2022, 7:00 am

Name: Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

Description: Founded in 1670, the garden is acknowledged to be one of the finest in the world, offering peace, tranquility and a stunning collection of plants.Highlights include the Rock Garden, Alpine Houses, Woodland Garden, the Arboretum or tree collection, the Chinese Hillside, the Rhododendron Collection and the Scottish Native Plants Collection in the Heath Garden.

Location: There are two entrances – the West Gate (John Hope Gateway) on Arboretum Place (EH3 5NZ) and the East Gate on Inverleith Row (EH3 5LP).

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Gilded Cage, a work by Ai Weiwei,  can be experienced in augmented reality as part of the “Seeing the Invisible” exhibition running at  the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh until August

Suitable for: Under-14s must be accompanied by an adult and dogs, other than trained assistance dogs, are not permitted. Wheelchairs and mobility scooters are available free of charge.

Entry costs: Free. Donations welcome.

Opening hours: Open daily throughout the year, the garden welcomes visitors from 10am to 6pm (last entry 5.15pm) from March to September. Check the website for seasonal opening hours.

What they say: “A national treasure of Scotland, this spectacular Living Collection of plants is over 350 years old.“Set in over 70 acres of beautiful landscape and just one mile north of the city centre, the Garden offers superb panoramic views of the city skyline featuring Edinburgh Castle. The Botanics, as the Garden is affectionately known locally, is breathtaking at any time of year.“Visitors cannot help but leave with a deeper appreciation and understanding of the importance of plants in our world, and the need to support the Garden's important work.”

Young visitors take in their surroundings at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

What visitors say: “We saw a wonderful variety of flowers at this gem. The best part is entry is free. Grounds are well manicured and there is comfortable seating throughout with beautiful views.”“These gardens are beautifully kept all year round and make for a fantastic free day out in the city. Great for families and the cafe in the middle is a good point for meeting friends.”

Look out for: Until August, famlies can enjoy “Seeing the Invisible”, a major visitor attraction which can only be experienced with a smartphone or tablet. Augmented reality technology has been used to create an exhibition with digital artworks displayed in stunning locations around the garden.The garden’s famous glasshouses are currently closed for Edinburgh Biomes, a major restoration and construction project.

Parking: There’s metered on-street and Blue Badge parking at the West Gate on Arboretum Place.

Facilities: The Gateway café offers seasonal dishes created with ingredients from the kitchen garden, while The Terrace serves coffee, cakes and afternoon tea. Garden inspired gifts, plants and pots are on sale at the Botanics Shop.