Guide to Museums in Edinburgh, Scotland

Museums in Edinburgh, Scotland

Edinburgh’s commitment to education runs centuries deep and with that comes a large selection of museums to spread that learning. With more than 30 different museums in the city, there’s a museum for every interest. Even better, most of the museums are free!

Whether you’re looking to learn more about the history of Scotland, stroll through Scotland’s art scene, relive your childhood with the toys of your youth, or drink your way through the history of whisky, this comprehensive list of museums in Edinburgh has you covered!

Museums in Edinburgh Table of Contents 

History Museums in Edinburgh

National Museum of Scotland

This monster of a museum has something for everyone. Whether you’re looking to learn about the history of Scotland, dinosaurs, world cultures or technology, this history museum in Edinburgh has it all. Notable things to check out include Pictish standing stones, stuffed remains of the clone sheep Dolly, The Maiden (an early form of the guillotine), Viking burial grounds, and a beautiful collection of Celtic brooches.

Address: Chambers St, Edinburgh EH1 1JF, United Kingdom

Hours: Monday-Sunday 10:00am-5:00pm

Cost: Free

Website: https://www.nms.ac.uk/national-museum-of-scotland/

Museum of Edinburgh

Spread across a maze of 16th century buildings, this museum tells the history of Edinburgh through historical artifacts, paintings and more. There’s even an exhibit dedicated to one of Edinburgh’s most famous residents – Greyfriars Bobby!

Address: 142-146, Canongate, Edinburgh EH8 8DD, United Kingdom

Hours: Monday-Sunday 10:00am-5:00pm

Cost: Free

Website: edinburghmuseums.org.uk

The People’s Story Museum

One of the most innovative museums in Edinburgh, The People’s Story Museum in Edinburgh goes in-depth into the stories of Edinburgh’s working class from the 18th to the late 20th century. With displays built around the word of these people, the collection covers the history and culture of the working class with artifacts, images and personal stories.

Address: 163 Canongate, Royal Mile, Edinburgh EH8 8BN, United Kingdom

Hours: Monday-Sunday 10:00am-5:00pm

Cost: Free

Website: https://www.edinburghmuseums.org.uk/venue/peoples-story-museum

Gladstone’s Land

This 500-year old tenement building is not just one of Edinburgh’s oldest buildings, but a museum that explores the lives of former tenants and the history that this building has witnessed over the centuries.

Address: 477B Lawnmarket, Edinburgh EH1 2NT, United Kingdom

Hours: Monday-Sunday 10:00am-6:00pm 

Cost: Adult £7.00; Child £6.00

Website: https://www.nts.org.uk/visit/places/gladstones-land

Georgian House

 A visit to the Georgian House museum can take you back to this time of grandeur and luxury for the Scottish elite. Originally owned by John Lamont, a chief of the Lamont Clan, you can explore the everyday life and luxury of this wealthy family in this Edinburgh museum. Every bit of the house reflects the social and economic aspects of the Lamonts’ time, providing an entertaining and accurate look at the history and lives of Georgian times.

Address:  7 Charlotte Square, Edinburgh EH2 4DR, United Kingdom

Hours: Hours vary; check the website for latest opening hours

Cost: Adult £8.00; Child £6.00

Website: https://www.nts.org.uk/visit/places/georgian-house

National Mining Museum

The coal and mining industry helped shape Edinburgh over the centuries. This history museum on the outskirts of Edinburgh showcases the engineering might of the historic Lady Victoria Colliery Mine and takes an in-depth look at the conditions and struggles of the thousands of mine workers that once passed through the gates of the mine. Guided tours can take you deeper into the mine as well.

Address: Lady Victoria Colliery, Newtongrange, Dalkeith EH22 4QN, United Kingdom

Hours: Monday-Sunday 10:00am-5:00pm

Cost:  Adult £9.50; Child £4.00

Website: https://nationalminingmuseum.com/

Queensferry Museum

Exploring the history of the Edinburgh suburb of Queensferry, this museum showcases the events and traditions that have shaped this historic hamlet on the outskirts of Edinburgh. Be sure to take a look outside the windows of the museum, too, as this Edinburgh museum offers sweeping views of the famous Forth Bridge and the Firth of the Forth.

Address: 53 High St, South Queensferry EH30 9HP, United Kingdom

Hours: Monday-Sunday 10:00am-5:00pm

Cost: Free 

Website: https://www.edinburghmuseums.org.uk/venue/queensferry-museum

Art Museums in Edinburgh

Scottish National Gallery

Boasting one of the greatest collections of art in the world, the Scottish National Gallery is one of the best art museums in Edinburgh to visit. Worldwide masterpieces include works by Botticelli,  Raphael, Vermeer, Monet and Van Gogh. One of the most interesting parts of this museum in Edinburgh is the wing that reviews the history of Scottish painting, with masterpieces by all major Scottish paints.

The Scottish National Gallery also now includes the Royal Scottish Academy of Art and Architecture, connected together in one building through an underground tunnel.

Address: The Mound, Edinburgh EH2 2EL, United Kingdom

Hours:  Monday-Wednesday10:00am-5:00pm; Thursday 10:00am-7:00pm; Friday-Sunday 10:00am-5:00pm

Cost: Free

Website: https://www.nationalgalleries.org/

Scottish National Portrait Gallery

The Scottish National Portrait Gallery features images of Scotland’s past and present in portrait form in one of the most beautiful buildings in the entire city. You’ll find yourself taking in the architecture of this art museum in Edinburgh as much as the art hanging on its walls. Displays often change so each visit can offer something new to see at the Scottish National Portal Gallery.

Address: 1 Queen St, Edinburgh EH2 1JD, United Kingdom

Hours: Monday-Sunday 10:00am-5:00pm

Cost: Free

Website: https://www.nationalgalleries.org/

The Queen’s Gallery – Palace of Holyroodhouse

The Queen’s Gallery inside the Palace of Holyroodhouse showcases a curated collection of classic masterpieces and historic royal artifacts that seek to tell the royal history of this centuries old palace. While there are permanent exhibits visitors can peruse, different royal exhibits are put on throughout the year. Recent examples include a painting exhibit that explores the history of the relations between the British and Russian royal families and another that features photography from the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex

Address: Palace of Holyroodhouse, Canongate,, The Royal Mile,, Edinburgh EH8 8DX, United Kingdom

Hours: Monday-Sunday 9:30am-6:00pm

Cost: Adult £7.50; Child £3.80 

Website: https://www.rct.uk/visit/the-queens-gallery-palace-of-holyroodhouse

City Art Centre

Featuring only Scottish art, the City Art Centre’s collection ranges from historic classics to modern works in painting, sculpture and photography. The collections here are always rotating so each visit to this art museum in Edinburgh provides a new experience to see some of Scotland’s best works of art.

Address: 2 Market St, Edinburgh EH1 1DE, United Kingdom

Hours: Monday-Sunday 10:00am-5:00pm

Cost: Free (special exhibitions may charge)

Website: https://www.edinburghmuseums.org.uk/venue/city-art-centre

Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art

Contemporary art fans rejoice, the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art is not just one museum but spread across two expansive museums in Edinburgh (Modern One and Modern Two). Exhibitions rotate in both of the wings, with the latest displays listed on the National Galleries website.

Modern One 

Address: 75 Belford Rd, Edinburgh EH4 3DR, United Kingdom

Hours: Monday-Sunday 10:00am-5:00pm

Cost: Free 

Website: https://www.nationalgalleries.org/

Modern Two

Address: Edinburgh EH4 3DS, United Kingdom

Hours: Monday-Sunday 10:00am-5:00pm

Cost: Free 

Website: https://www.nationalgalleries.org/

Literary Museums in Edinburgh

Scottish National Library

Far and away the largest library in Scotland, the Scottish National Library is the crown jewel of literary museums. In addition to having rotating exhibits that draw on Scottish the culture, the library also boasts a number of rare and historic manuscripts. These include copies of the Gutenberg Bible, Charles Darwin’s submission letter for the manuscript of his seminole work Origin of Species, and the First Folio of Shakespeare. The Scottish National Library also contains the largest number of Gaelic books and records in the country.

Address: George IV Bridge, Edinburgh EH1 1EW, United Kingdom

Hours: Monday-Tuesday 9:30am-7:00pm; Wednesday 10:00am-7:00pm; Thursday 9:30am-7:00pm; Friday-Saturday 9:30am-5:00pm; Sunday Closed

Cost: Free 

Website: https://www.nls.uk/

The Writers’ Museum

The Writers’ Museum celebrates three of Scotland’s greatest authors: Robert Burns, Sir Walter Scott and Robert Louis Stevenson. This free literary museum in Edinburgh explores the lives of these three authors, telling their stories and showcasing important artifacts from their lives.

Address: Lawnmarket, Lady Stair’s Cl, Edinburgh EH1 2PA, United Kingdom

Hours: Monday-Sunday 10:00am-5:00pm

Cost: Free 

Website: https://www.edinburghmuseums.org.uk/venue/writers-museum

Science Museums in Edinburgh

Surgeons’ Hall Museum

Discover about the real-life inspiration for Sherlock Holmes, hear the true story behind urban legend of body snatchers Burke and Hare, and the shocking story of Scotland’s first public dissection. Not your average Museum of Surgery, this museum in Edinburgh will thrill and teach you all about the fascinating histories that make up the field of surgery in Scotland.

Address: Nicolson Street, Edinburgh, EH8 9DW, United Kingdom 

Hours: Monday-Sunday 10:00am-5:00pm

Cost: Adult £7.50; Child £4.00 

Website: https://museum.rcsed.ac.uk/

Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh

Escape from the city into a diverse world of plants in a matter of minutes through a visit to the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh. With more than 3,000 plants and 10 different climate zones to explore, there’s plenty to see and do at this museum in Edinburgh.

Address: Arboretum Pl, Edinburgh EH3 5NZ, United Kingdom

Hours: Monday-Sunday 10:00am-5:00pm

Cost: Garden entry – free;  Greenhouse entry – Adult £7.00; Child – Free 

Website: https://www.rbge.org.uk/

The Anatomical Museum, The University of Edinburgh

This isn’t your average Anatomy Museum. Housing the skeleton of notorious body snatcher William Burke, the skull of George Buchanan and a dissected body that has been injected with mercury, it explores different aspects of the more than 300 years of anatomical research that has taken place within the halls of this Edinburgh institution.

Address: Doorway 3, Medical School, Teviot Place, Edinburgh EH8 9AG, United Kingdom

Hours: Opening times vary; check the website for latest times

Cost: Free 

Website: https://www.ed.ac.uk/biomedical-sciences/anatomy/anatomical-museum

Dynamic Earth

This interactive museum in Edinburgh tells the story of the earth from its creation during the Big Bang all the way up to  the changing forces that continue to shape our planet today. You can feel the force of the Big Bang, meet a dinosaur, walk through a rainforest, and fly high above an Ice Age glacier.

Address: Holyrood Rd, Edinburgh EH8 8AS, United Kingdom

Hours: Monday-Sunday 10:00am-5:30pm

Cost: Adult £15.95; Child – £13.95 

Website: https://www.dynamicearth.co.uk/

Cockburn Geological Museum

The Cockburn Geological Museum promotes a large collection of geological and historical objects that have contributed to the field since Jame Hutton’s research in the 18th Century. Minerals, rocks, fossils, maps, and photographs not only tell the history of the earth, but Scotland’s contributions to the field of geology.

Address: Grant Institute of Earth Sciences, James Hutton Rd, King’s Buildings, Edinburgh EH9 3FE, United Kingdom

Hours: Monday-Friday 9:00am-5:00pm (visit must be booked ahead of time); Saturday and Sunday Closed

Cost: Free

Website: https://www.ed.ac.uk/geosciences/about/history/museum

Edinburgh Zoo

Pandas, Tigers, Gorillas, Penguins and more call the expansive Edinburgh Zoo home. This animal museum in Edinburgh sits out on the outskirts of the city and has dozens of animals and plenty of interactive opportunities to learn about its inhabitants.

Address: Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, 134 Corstorphine Rd, Edinburgh EH12 6TS, United Kingdom

Hours:  Monday-Sunday 10:00am-5:00pm

Cost: Adult £17.95; Child – £9.00 

Website: https://www.edinburghzoo.org.uk/

Military Museums in Edinburgh

National War Museum

Located inside the walls of Edinburgh Castle, the National War Museum explores the history of Scotland at war. Weapons, uniforms and wartime artifacts come together to tell the stories of the battles that Scotland has won and lost over the centuries. It not only dives into the events of these wars, but also recounts life on the homefront during these conflicts and the wars’ impacts on the country at home and abroad.

Address: Edinburgh Castle, Castlehill, Edinburgh EH1 2NG, United Kingdom

Hours: Monday-Sunday 9:45am-5:45pm

Cost:  Part of entry to Edinburgh Castle; Adult £19.50; Child – £11.50 

Website: https://www.nms.ac.uk/national-war-museum/

Royal Scots Regimental Museum

Starting from its founding in 17th century all the way to its role in the 2000s war in Afghanistan. Found inside the former drill hall for the Royal Scots in Edinburgh Castle, the museum consists of dioramas that recount important battles, medals from its members and other historical items related to the regiment.

Address: Edinburgh Castle, Castlehill, Edinburgh EH1 2NG, United Kingdom

Hours: Opening times vary depending on the time of year; check the website for up to date information on opening times

Cost: Part of entry to Edinburgh Castle; Adult £19.50; Child – £11.50 

Website: http://www.theroyalscots.co.uk/museum/

The Royal Scots Dragoons Guards Museum

Like the other military museums in Edinburgh on this list, the Royal Scots Dragoons Guards Museum stands inside the gates of Edinburgh Castle. The museum showcases uniforms, medals and other important historical artifacts from the Royal Scots Dragoons and its predecessors.

Address: Edinburgh Castle, Castlehill, Edinburgh EH1 2NG, United Kingdom

Hours: Opening times vary depending on the time of year; check the website for up to date information on opening times

Cost: Part of entry to Edinburgh Castle; Adult £19.50; Child – £11.50 

Website: https://www.scotsdgmuseum.com/

Unique Museums in Edinburgh

Mary King’s Close

Mary King’s Close is certainly not your ordinary museum. This historic underground close claims dives into the stories of this street’s past and explores the hauntings within its walls. Covering over 400 years of history, the museum is led on a tour basis and recounts the stories of former residents, the plague and the myths and legends that surround this infamous museum in Edinburgh.

Address: 2, Warriston’s Close, High St, Edinburgh EH1 1PG, United Kingdom

Hours: Opening times vary depending on the time of year; check the website for up to date information on opening times

Cost: Adult £16.50; Child – £9.95

Website: https://www.realmarykingsclose.com/

Museum of Childhood

Bring your inner child back to life by a visit to the Museum of Childhood. This unique museum in Edinburgh boasts an extensive collection of children’s toys and games. When the museum opened it was the first of its kind in the world and today contains toy collections that cover the 18th to the 21st century.

Address: 42 High St, Edinburgh EH1 1TG, United Kingdom

Hours:  Monday-Sunday 10:00am-5:00pm

Cost: Free 

Website: https://www.edinburghmuseums.org.uk/venue/museum-childhood

Museum of the Mound

Housed in the headquarters of the Bank of Scotland, the Museum of the Mound is all about money. Telling the story of money in Scotland, this museum in Edinburgh features exhibits on the evolution of money in the country, how the banking system evolved and how money allowed the city to grow over the centuries.

Address: The Mound, Edinburgh EH1 1YZ, United Kingdom

Hours: Tuesday-Friday 10:00am-5:00pm; Saturday 1:00-5:00pm; Sunday-Monday Closed

Cost: Free

Website: https://museumonthemound.com/

St Cecilia’s Hall: Concert Room and Music Museum

Within Scotland’s concert hall you’ll find a museum of some of the most important historical instruments in the world. You can even play some of them!

Address: 50 Niddry Street, Edinburgh EH1 1LG, United Kingdom

Hours: Tuesday-Friday 10:00am-5:00pm; Saturday 12:00pm-5:00pm

Cost: Free 

Website: https://www.ed.ac.uk/visit/museums-galleries/st-cecilias

Royal Yacht Britannia

For over 40 years this historic boat served as the British royal family’s sea vessel under Queen Elizabeth II. Today the Royal Yacht Britannia rests docked at the Ocean terminal in Leith, Edinburgh. During a visit to this historic landmark in Edinburgh, you can see five of the ship’s decks and then treat yourself to a tea fit for the royals.

Address: Ocean Dr, Edinburgh EH6 6JJ, United Kingdom

Hours: Monday-Sunday 9:30am-4:30pm

Cost: Adult £16.50; Child – £8.75

Website: https://www.royalyachtbritannia.co.uk/

Camera Obscura and World of Illusions

Boasting the claim of the oldest tourist attraction in Edinburgh (continuously operating since the mid-1800s), this museum of illusions has captivated visitors from around the world for decades now.  This museum is really broken into two parts. The Camera Obscura provides sweeping views of the city of Edinburgh, while the World of Illusions takes visitors through more than 100 illusion.

Address: Castlehill, Royal Mile, Edinburgh EH1 2ND, United Kingdom

Hours: Sunday-Friday 9:00am-9:00pm; Saturday 9:00am-10:00pm 

Cost: Adult £16.00; Child – £12.00

Website: https://www.camera-obscura.co.uk/

The Scotch Whisky Experience

A museum that encourages drinking of whisky? This museum in Edinburgh tells the history of Scotland’s  national drink, provides tasting and even ends with a barrel wide.

Address: The Royal Mile, 354 Castlehill, Edinburgh EH1 2NE, United Kingdom

Hours: Monday-Sunday 10:00am-6:00pm

Cost: Varies depending on tour experience; check website for details 

Website: https://www.scotchwhiskyexperience.co.uk/

The Heart of Midlothian Museum

Located in the Hearts Stadium, this museum in Edinburgh explores the history of Edinburgh’s football club. Through videos and other interactive displays, The Heart of Midlothian Museum takes visitors through the founding of the club, its ups and downs, and into the present day happenings for the team.

Address: Tynecastle Park Stadium Tours, McLeod St, Edinburgh EH11 2NL, United Kingdom

Hours: Thursday-Saturday 10:00am-4:00pm; Sunday 12:00pm-4:00pm (closed on game days)

Cost: Free 

Website: https://www.heartsfc.co.uk/tickets-and-hospitality/tours/hearts-museum

Write A Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.