Our Family Trip to Edinburgh with Virgin Trains

Nearly two weeks ago, our family of 5 headed off to Edinburgh for a 4 day break. With the recent arrival of baby Arlo, we had already decided to forgo a summer holiday this year, as we weren’t sure how we’d feel with a new little one- whether he’d be a chilled out little guy, and also whether or not I would feel up to going anywhere after having him. As it happened, he has slotted into our family perfectly, and I (despite some sleep deprivation!) feel great, so we decided to book a last minute short break to one of my favourite UK cities: Edinburgh. We knew there would be lots to do here that would be suitable for Freddie and Sasha to enjoy, and it still seemed very ‘doable’ with a young baby too. 

Adam and I have both been to Edinburgh briefly, back in 2010 when I was pregnant with Freddie, and as part of our work with Virgin Trains East Coast this summer, they kindly gave our family return tickets there, which we were delighted about! Last time we went to Edinburgh we flew (and I’m not the biggest fan of flying it has to be said), so I was pleased to have the chance to get the train. Despite being nearly 4.5 hours long, I wasn’t too nervous about the journey, as the older two children had been on Eurostar before for a similar length of time with no problems, and we figured that Arlo could hang out and have a cuddle with either Adam or myself, and also would hopefully sleep during much of the journey, which thankfully we did. 

We stayed in a 2 bedroom Air BnB apartment in the heart of the city, and for the price the location was amazing, I would highly recommend it! It also meant that whilst we went out to dinner with the children on one of our nights, we could stay in the other two and cook something and they could play, as they were often tired after a long day walking and exploring. 

Anyway, enough of my waffling on, here are some photos of what we got up to- there’s quite a few!

The children were SO excited to be getting the train! We were lucky enough to be travelling first class, and I have to say it really made the trip more enjoyable with young children. The seats were huge, as were the tables, and it made such a difference having food and drink brought to our table when we wanted it. It also meant that there was plenty of room to move about, even with Arlo in our arms, so much more comfortable than regular seating. 

The food on the train was delicious, and I believe the menu is curated by celebrity Chef, James Martin. Adam and I both opted for full English breakfasts, washed down with decent coffee, and the children went for Scottish porridge with sliced banana and maple syrup. 

Two excited little ones on arrival at Edinburgh! We had a LOT of luggage with us, including a travel cot and pushchair, so I was worried about getting on and off the train in time as it was heading on to Aberdeen, but I needn’t have been concerned as staff were there to help us.

Our Air BnB! I think everyone was grateful to be able to stretch their legs after such a long journey. The apartment was a short taxi ride from the station, and actually on the way back to it for our return journey we walked there once we realised how close we actually were. 

Once we’d arrived at the apartment and unpacked, it was late afternoon, so we weren’t going to go out and about too far then. Despite being quite tired, the children need to unwind after being on the train for so long, so we headed to nearby Meadow Park (about 10 minutes on foot from where we staying), so they could burn off some steam. There is a HUGE playground and sandpit there too, which we ended up at every day at some point. Just shows that wherever you go in the world, kids still want a swing and slide and they’re happy!

The next day, we made plans to visit the castle in the morning, and go on an open top bus tour in the afternoon. Edinburgh is really so pretty (and hilly!), and it was lovely just to stroll around the streets, en-route to our next destination. 

The castle was fantastic as Adam and I knew it would be (we had been before), and you kind of have to go if you’re in Edinburgh as it’s so impressive. In the interests of honesty though, our experience with 3 little ones was HECTIC! We were there two hours and I’m sure about 90 minutes of this was spent in the cafe having lunch at 11am/feeding the baby/trying to maneuver the buggy about (I warn you, despite having a sling with us, there was NOWHERE to leave a buggy safely for security reasons which wasn’t ideal on the cobbles at all). We did manage to visit the dungeons though, and have a walk around and talk about the giant cannons, so we still had a nice time.

Post-lunch we went on the tour bus whilst Arlo slept in the sling, and F & S got to sit at the front on the bus (life was worth living again for Freddie!), and it was extremely enjoyable. You get given headphones to listen to the commentary, and I found this so relaxing that I actually dozed off for about 20 minutes! The tour does a large loop of the city, and you can hop on and off at anytime, and your ticket, although quite expensive for a family, is valid for 24 hours so we used it the next morning too. 

On our second day in Edinburgh, we decided to treat the children to pancakes at The City Cafe, (thanks for all your recommendations!), and we’re so glad we did as the place was AMAZING! Styled like an American diner, it was a real mix of families and hungover student-types, and the food was incredible and really reasonably priced. 

Adam opted for a full Scottish breakfast (including haggis which is questionable), and I had The Kennedy, ham and poached eggs on muffins with Hollandaise sauce, again with lots of coffee (there’s a theme here, no?). Highly advise you pay the place a visit if you’re in Edinburgh!

Our second day in the city was all about visiting Camera Obscura, an experience/museum that’s packed with 5 floors of optical illusions and things to do- we knew the older two kids would love it! I have loads of photos from here so please bear with me…

The hall of mirrors maze! Freddie in particular loved this, and of course, we got lost quite easily! If you’re planning on visiting Camera Obscura with a baby or toddler, or recommend you bring a sling to pop them in so you can really enjoy your time there. There is a buggy park at the bottom near the paying desks, so we left our’s here so Arlo could nap in the sling and we were ‘hands-free’. 

Viewing the city from the top of the museum!

There was so much for Freddie and Sasha to do here for their age group, and actually they really learnt quite a lot of science without knowing it. 

There’s also lots of fun activities and experiments for adults to do too. We especially loved a machine created by the University of St Andrews that enabled you to see yourself as a different race using clever photo technology. Chinese and Nigerian Adam were brilliant!

LOVING all the different illusions you could try out- some were really quite freaky!

So that’s just some of our trip to Edinburgh… we also checked out the National Museum on our last day before heading home, but the places I’ve featured took up most our time, and to be honest were enough for a 5 and 6 year old (plus baby). We would definitely come again, and there are other attractions and tours we’d love to do, but I feel that we really made the most of our time there. 

I’m looking to put together a post soon with tips on visiting Edinburgh with little ones, and you can watch my vlog of the trip below:

Have you ever been to Edinburgh? Is there anywhere you’d recommend going that we’ve missed? I’d love to hear! 


Our other family travel posts are HERE.


*In collaboration with Virgin Trains, who paid for our return tickets to Edinburgh. 



  1. September 12, 2017 / 10:53 am

    I LOVE Edinburgh. We have visited twice in the last 12 months (glamping at Dundas Castle – highly recommended and a birthday city break in December – also recommended, Edinburgh is even more gorgeous at this time of year).

    It’s only 1.5 hours for us on the train direct from Newcastle so super easy to get to. I’d always opt to get the train as parking can be quite expensive and navigating the one way roads can be stressful!

    I really want to visit the camera place – definitely on the cards for our next trip. I love that there’s fun stuff to do there for grown ups too x

    • Becky
      September 20, 2017 / 1:37 pm

      Thanks Sam! Camera Obscura really is worth a visit, we all had a great time there, adults and children alike! x

  2. September 20, 2017 / 1:59 pm

    It looks like you had such a good trip. I’ve never been to Edinburgh but would love to go – so much to see! x

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