10 Best Museums In Edinburgh, Scotland

Edinburgh with its Old Town and Royal Mile, as well as a castle perched on a hill, is already an extraordinary city that’s like one huge open museum and gallery. There’s a lot of interesting and unique things to see and with the many museums spread around the city, it is but natural that a first-time visitor would devote a day or two exploring them. Here’s a list of the best museums in Edinburgh to help you figure out where to go.

10 Best Museums In Edinburgh, Scotland

1. National Museum of Scotland

National Museum of Scotland

Occupying two buildings right in the heart of Edinburgh, the National Museum of Scotland is hailed as one of UK’s top attractions. Building One introduces visitors to Scotland’s history while Building Two features archeology, industrial technology and decorative arts from other countries’ ancient periods such as that of Egypt, China, Japan, and Korea.

Aside from those on display you should also check out the museum’s stunning interiors featuring glass atriums and vaulted ceilings and the stunning views from the rooftop. Another must-see is the National Museum of Scotland are the remains of Dolly, the first cloned mammal, truly a significant part of history and modern science.

Opening Hours

Monday – Sunday –  10:00 AM to 5:00 PM

Admission Fee

FREE

Contact Information

Address: National Museum of Scotland Chambers Street Edinburgh EH1 1JF

Phone: 0300 123 6789. 

Email: conferences@conventionedinburgh.com

2. Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art

Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art

Divided into buildings called Modern One and Modern Two with a sculpture park in between, the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art invites more than just a few hours when you visit. There’s a lot to see in the galleries and you can even request to view the archives that tell more about the art movements and artists featured. Step into Modern One, and immerse yourself in some of the best pieces from British art masters such as Francis Bacon, Tracey Emin,  Damien Hirs and David. Modern One also has American artists like Andy Warhol, and legends Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse.

Outside, you won’t miss a spiraling mound with steps, and reflecting pools inside, also known as ‘Landform’ by Charles Jencks’. Modern Two, meanwhile, takes you through a stunning Dada and Surrealist art collection as well as works of Sir Eduardo Paolozzi.

Opening Hours

Monday – Sunday –  10:00 AM to 5:00 PM

Admission Fee

FREE

Contact Information

Address:  75 Belford Road, Edinburgh, EH4 3DR

Phone: +44 (0)131 624 6200

Email: enquiries@nationalgalleries.org

3. The Museum of Edinburgh

The Museum of Edinburgh

A free museum located in a charming 16th-century townhouse, the Museum of Edinburgh is a must-visit if you want to be acquainted with the city’s history and culture. The place has a maze of rooms, all containing unique items that tell a story. The eclectic mix of artifacts includes glass, silver, and pottery, as well as the collar and bowl of Greyfriar’s Bobby, the dog who guarded his human’s grave for more than a decade.

The museum also has the National Covenant of 1638, with most of its signatures written in blood, a national treasure that you must see when in the Museum of Edinburgh.

Opening Hours

Monday – Sunday –  10:00 AM to 5:00 PM

Admission Fee

FREE

Contact Information

Address: Lady Stairs House Lady Stair’s Close Lawnmarket | Royal MileEdinburgh EH1 2PA, Scotland

Address:  142 Canongate, Royal Mile.

Phone:+ 44 (0) 131 529 4143

4. Scottish National Gallery

Scottish National Gallery

Located in Princes Street is the Scottish National Gallery, home to an impressive collection of Old Masters and Scottish artists. As you step into the gallery, you’ll be greeted by the Renaissance piece Titian’s Venus Anadyomene, which is 500 years old. A few steps more and you’ll see Canova’s Three Graces, while the ground level contains 16th to 19th-century masterpieces.

Also in the basement are what is considered as the highlight of the national gallery – the stunning Scottish collection.  This includes ‘Reverend Robert Walker Skating on Duddingston Loch’ by Sir Henry Raeburn, as well as unique pieces from other Scottish art luminaries like Allan Ramsay and Sir David Wilkie.

Opening Hours

Monday – Wednesday – 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM

Thursday – 10:00 AM to 7:00 PM

Friday – Sunday – 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM

Admission Fee

FREE

Contact Information

Address: The Mound, Edinburgh, EH2 2EL

Email: enquiries@nationalgalleries.org

5. Royal Scottish Academy

Royal Scottish Academy

Linked by a walkway from the Scottish National Gallery, the impressive Royal Scottish Academy of Art and Architecture is a definite must when you go museum hopping in Edinburgh. The building in itself is a work of art, of Neoclassical influence with pale-blonde sandstone and colonnaded pillars. Located close to Princes Street, the Royal Scottish Academy of Art and Architecture is also a popular exhibition venue in the UK.

The exquisitely curated collection meanwhile boasts of pieces from the 1780s, showcasing works of featured artists even as they were just starting until they’ve attained success. The Royal Scottish Academy is also regarded as one of the premier art institutions in Scotland for the past 200 years.

Opening Hours

Monday – Saturday – 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM

Sunday – 12:00 PM to 5:oo PM

Admission Fee

A Registration and Handling Fee of £6.00

Contact Information

Address: The Royal Scottish Academy of Art and Architecture
The Mound, Edinburgh, EH2 2EL

Phone: 0131 225 6671

6. The Museum of Childhood

The Museum of Childhood

A one of a kind museum that houses an eclectic collection that’s sure to remind anyone of their childhood whatever era they’re from, The Museum of Childhood is a must-visit in Edinburgh.  Essentially retro heaven, this museum was founded in 1957 by Joseph Patrick Murray.

This four-story building is home to a rare collection of toys, games, clothes, teddy bears and dolls, all reflecting the year they were from. The place is family-friendly with furniture for small guests, a puppet theatre and PA system that plays children’s voices and nursery rhymes.

Opening Hours

Monday to Sunday – 10:00 AM to 5:45 PM

Admission Fee

FREE

Contact Information

Address:

42 High Street,
Royal Mile,
Edinburgh,
City Of Edinburgh,
EH1 1TG

Phone: +44 (0) 131 529 4142

7. Scottish National Portrait Gallery

Scottish National Portrait Gallery

 

An extensive collection of some of the most evocative and fascinating pieces await you at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery. There may be a lot to see here and a day visit might not be seen enough, make sure you look at Alexander Nasmyth’s portrait of Scotland’s national poet Robert Burns.

The vast collection of portraits and photographs also include those bearing the images of other famous Scots such as David Hume, Alex Ferguson, Tilda Swinton, and Sean Connery. Make sure you also look out for some notable modern classics such as a photo of John Lennon and Yoko Ono from 1980, by Annie Leibovitz.

Opening Hours

Monday – Sunday –  10:00 AM to 5:00 PM

Admission Fee

FREE

Contact Information

Address:  1 Queen Street,
Edinburgh,
City Of Edinburgh,
EH2 1JD

Phone: +44 (131) 624 6200

Email: info@nationalgalleries.org

8. Writers Museum

Writers Museum

 

The Writers Museum primarily pays tribute to Scottish literary greats Robert Burns, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Sir Walter Scott. Through guided tours and the items on display are insights about their life and work. Established by William Gray in 1622, the Writers Museum has on display a deak originally owned by Burns, kiddie rocking horses from Scott and Stevenson’s wardrobe.

Other curious items include the press that printed early editions of ‘Waverly’ by Scott, rare books, portraits, and some early drafts. It is free to explore the museum, which is located in the Royal Mile.

Opening Hours

Monday – Sunday –  10:00 AM to 5:00 PM

Admission Fee

FREE

Contact Information

Address: Lady Stairs Close

Phone: +44 (0) 131 529 4901

9. John Knox House

John Knox House

Dating back to 1470, the Knox house is the only Medieval building remaining in the Royal Mile area of Edinburgh. This structure is closely associated with one of the most turbulent times in Scottish history – the Reformation era. The Knoxx House is a museum that is home to portrait puzzles and a variety of other curious items each with an intriguing story behind them.

Opening Hours

Monday to Saturday – 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM

Admission Fee

£ 5 adult, £ 4 senior, £ 1.00 child

Contact Information

Address:

43 – 45 High Street,
Edinburgh,
Mid Lothian,
EH1 1SR

Phone: +44(131)5569579

Email: reception@scottishstorytellingcentre.com

10. The People’s Story Museum

The People’s Story Museum

A fascinating venue that showcases Edinburgh’s social history through the ages, the People’s Story Museum is a must for anyone interested in history. This is history that’s particularly focused on the life, struggles, and accomplishments the city’s working-class, as told through the intriguing artifacts on exhibit.

There is a variety of items on display, reflecting culture and history, as well as crafts and trades, covering different eras up to the 1980s. These include periods that have significantly influenced culture and history such as women’s lib, punk and even sports such as football.

Opening Hours

Monday – Sunday –  10:00 AM to 5:00 PM

Admission Fee

FREE

Contact Information

Address: 163 Canongate, Royal Mile, Edinburgh, United Kingdom

Phone: +44 131 529 4057

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