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Travel bucket list idea:

Last updated: 06 February, 2024
Expert travel writer: Lucy Gillmore

Up until recently, many large-scale museums were dull, dusty and stuck in the past. Now, though, they strive for the wow factor, and the state-of-the-art National Museum of Scotland, which reopened in 2011 after a £47 million revamp, is a prime example.

The Grand Gallery is an airy atrium housing the four-story Window on the World installation, while 16 other spellbinding galleries explore Scotland’s history, culture, art and design, fashion, science and technology. There are also galleries devoted to Ancient Egypt, East Asia and Pacific Islanders.

Don’t miss 

The story of Mary Queen of Scots – Scotland’s most infamous and controversial monarch executed by Queen Elizabeth – is told in the ‘Kingdom of the Scots’ gallery.

Dolly the sheep – the first-ever cloned mammal and the most famous sheep in the world – is on display in the ‘Explore’ gallery.


Price: Free
Minimum age: Any
Age suitable: 16+
When: All year around

Getting there & doing it

The nearest train station is Edinburgh Waverley and the museum is a 15-minute walk away. Prebooking tickets is not required – you can just turn up.

The museum can seem overwhelming, but thankfully they offer a number of themed trails on the website.

Including a family trail, and a staff picks trail of the key highlights. Worth checking out before you go (and keeping with you on your mobile device). You can also download a museum map, or again, keep it with you on your mobile.

When to do it

The museum is open all year round, seven days a week.

Destination guides


Destination guides including or relevant to this experience


Edinburgh Region, United Kingdom (UK)

An overview of Old town Edinburgh and Edinburgh castle in Scotland. thousands of buildings covering the ground with on a blue sunny day with a scatter of white clouds

Capital treats abound, from mighty castles and royal palaces to gourmet restaurants and arguably the world’s best performing arts festival.