Despite being only 50 minutes away on the train, I have to admit that I rarely visit Edinburgh (I did go through recently for a first date, but that’s another story!), so when ScotRail invited us to take part in their #GreatCitySwap we jumped at the chance. I used to visit Edinburgh a lot as a child – my mum would take me & my sister down from Aberdeen regularly for weekends away – so I have lots of happy childhood memories of the city. Typically when I venture through to Edinburgh now, I tend to drive as we’re visiting friends on the outskirts, and I haven’t taken the kids to any of the tourist spots… until now!
The train to Edinburgh was good fun. We grabbed a second breakfast at the station… cinnamon swirls all round! My son loves to engage and chat with people and he had a captive audience on the carriage!! We had a magazine each to keep us occupied, but we didn’t really need them! I had a cup of tea, so I was a happy bunny! Up to two kids can travel free with an adult at off-peak times, any day of the week with a Kids Go Free ticket, and an off-peak day return for an adult costs from £12.70.
First stop was Edinburgh Zoo. We took a taxi to the zoo from Haymarket station, and I was surprised at how quickly we got there – I hadn’t just realised how close it was to the city! As we entered the zoo, we immediately spotted the bright pink flamingos. They are stunning creatures. What I didn’t expect was the size of the pelicans in the next enclosure – they were massive (about the height of my 6 year old daughter!). My son loved the penguins, and it was mesmerising watching them swim underwater through the glass. My personal favourite was the sun bear, oh and the meerkats.
Unfortunately we didn’t get to see the pandas. It’s breeding season, so visitors aren’t allowed to go inside to see them in their sleeping quarter… you just have to cross your fingers that they venture out into their gardens, which they didn’t on this occasion. However, I will most definitely go back to the zoo, and next time I’d spend more time exploring. We were only there for a few hours before heading to our next stop on the itinerary.
After a morning of walking round the zoo, we were very hungry and so we jumped onto a bus to the city for a bite to eat. A day ticket on the bus is £4 for adults, and £2 for kids – perfect for getting around and there were tonnes of buses available… that’s one thing my son commented on about the city (the other was the amount of homeless people that we came across, and we had a few serious conversations about homelessness, why people live on the streets and how you pay for stuff when you’re a grown up).
We grabbed lunch at Giles Cathedral Cafe. I tried to convince the kids to have the stovies, but they weren’t interested and chose to have sandwiches instead. However after trying my stovies, they both wish they had ordered the same! Anyway, lunch filled a hole and we were then ready to hit the streets again… our afternoon activity was Camera Obscura.
Camera Obscura, on the Royal Mile, is a fantastic place for kids. I used to be taken here frequently as a kid, and had only revisited once as an adult (I lived in Edinburgh for a year when I was in my early twenties). We didn’t enjoy the mirror maze, with the kids freaking out a little that we were lost despite me assuring them it was fine (it totally reminded me of one of the games on the Crystal Maze). However aside from that, Camera Obscura was brilliant. The kids, and I, loved it. Some of the exhibits were the same from the last time I was there… the 3D holographs I remembered well… but there were tonnes of new and exciting things to see, like the crazy vortex tunnel!
The Royal Mile was also buzzing – lots of tourists and street entertainers… the kids watched Jamie and his unicycle with awe and were very keen to give him all of mummy’s money at the end of his performance!
Our final destination was dinner, at Fishers in the City. The kids love seafood, so this was an ideal restaurant for us. I was a super proud mummy, as the kids were so well behaved in what was ‘a fancy grown-up restaurant’. The children ordered fish & chips, with my son having a couple of battered king prawns too. I didn’t choose a main, but opted for a few different starters so the kids could have a little of each… I had scallops, fishcakes and salt & pepper squid. My son loved it all, littlest less so. The food was beautiful, and as we were visiting on the train I had a cheeky glass of prosecco!
A taxi took us back to Waverley, where we hopped onto a train back to Glasgow.
It was a fantastic day out, and I’ll certainly take the kids back through to Edinburgh again.
Thank you ScotRail for organising the day out and providing our train tickets, Edinburgh Zoo and Camera Obscura for the complimentary entries. Opinions as always are our own and are honest.