When your city is built in the shadow of a towering castle atop a mighty volcanic rock, you can bet there are a few fascinating stories and unbelievable histories to behold. And like anyone who has walked the cobbled streets of Edinburgh knows, our beautiful capital city is a veritable fortress of History, Heritage and Archeology. A UNESCO world heritage site in itself, Edinburgh is home to some of the best museums in the world. And when it comes to must-visit museums in Edinburgh, where better to start than the Museum of Edinburgh?
1. The Museum of Edinburgh: The Story of Our City
Home to a collection of important historical Edinburgh artefacts, the Museum of Edinburgh is an absolute must for anyone who wants to learn more about the story of our city. Set in the iconic bright yellow Huntly House, on the cobbled streets of the Royal Mile, the Museum of Edinburgh is a treasure trove of historical objects from Edinburgh’s rich and vibrant past. Take a look at the beloved Greyfriar’s Bobby’s collar and bowl. Or see the original plans for Edinburgh’s New Town. Dress up as some of Edinburgh’s favourite historical characters and bring our city’s past back to life.
Visitor Tip: Don’t forget to visit the secret outdoor courtyard at the back of the museum. Reopened in 2015, this charming little nook has some fascinating artefacts that date back to the 16th century.
2. Child’s Play: The Museum of Childhood
Staying on the Royal Mile, make your way to the Museum of Childhood and behold a fascinating display of toys and games that span generations. Set in two historic buildings straddling South Gray’s Close, the Museum of Childhood is the first museum in the world dedicated to the history of childhood. A treat for visitors both young and old, don’t let the name fool you. For children, the museum is a wonderful window into the times and toys of the past. But for adults, it is an unforgettable trip down memory lane.
Visitor Tip: Pop some pennies into the Penny Machines in the welcome hall and watch some of the exhibits come to life.
3. The Surgeons’ Hall Museums: 3 Museums in Edinburgh in 1
For something completely different, visit the Surgeons’ Hall Museums in the campus of The Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh. Not only is it one of the oldest museums in Scotland, it is one of our favourite museums in Edinburgh. Three fascinating museums in one (The Wohl Pathology Museum, The History of Surgery Museum and The Dental Collection), the Surgeons’ Hall Museums houses collections from as far back as 1699 when ‘natural and artificial curiosities’ were publically sought. Originally established as a medical teaching resource, the museums are home to one of the largest and most historic pathology collections in the world.
Visitor Tip: In the History of Surgery Museum, keep an eye out for a pocketbook made from the skin of William Burke – a notorious bodysnatcher who made a killing (quite literally) selling corpses to be studied.
So there you have it. 3 of our favourite must-visit museums in Edinburgh. To find out more about the fascinating history of Edinburgh and the many wonders of our historical city, take a look at our fabulous Edinburgh Guide, book an Edinburgh holiday and discover historical Edinburgh for yourself.