Visiting Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh – The Palace of Holyroodhouse

Holyrood Palace (the Palace of Holyroodhouse) is a working royal residence in Scotland. Tour this royal residence when the royal family is not in residence!

Stunning stone architecture at Holyrood Palace

Everyone knows that the British Royal Family spends much of their time in Buckingham Palace, but did you know that they spend their summers in Edinburgh, Scotland? Specifically, they come and stay in the Palace of Holyroodhouse – more commonly referred to as Holyrood Palace. Last summer, we spent a month in Scotland. Mike was there for work; the kids and I were there to re-visit the country Mike and I loved living in for three years. Our oldest daughter Emma finally got to see the place where she was born! Our four children were enthralled by Edinburgh Castle, and they loved visiting the ruins of Craigmillar Castle. Since we arrived in the city BEFORE the royal family, we were also able to take the kids on a tour of Edinburgh’s working royal residence, Holyrood Palace.

Visiting Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh

Visiting the Palace of Holyroodhouse

A view of Arthur's Seat from Holyrood Palace

Holyrood Palace sits in a lovely flat piece of land at the base of Arthur’s SeatThe Scottish Parliament was built across the street while Mike and I were in grad school. The tents you see in this photo are set up for the Garden Parties the queen hosts while she is in town. The kids and I caught a glimpse of one of these parties the day we climbed Arthur’s Seat.

A garden party at Holyrood Palace

You cannot apply to attend a Garden Party, but we do know several people who have been invited. Some of our friends attended, and a few refused due to their opinion of the royal family (and said Garden Party). The Garden Parties were, historically, a way to introduce debutantes to society. These days they are meant to recognize and reward public service.

Visiting Holyrood Palace with Kids

Visiting Holyrood Palace with Kids

I wasn’t sure what to expect, visiting Holyrood Palace with kids. It turned out that the Palace of Holyroodhouse makes an effort to be kid-friendly! Each of our children were given headsets with a tour created just for children who were visiting.

Crafts for kids at Holyrood Palace

A children’s room had craft supplies and dress-up outfits, as well as some interesting books for the kids to read.

Holyrood Palace offers crafts for children who come to visit.

Four-year-old Anna was enormously pleased with the crown she made! She actually is quite sad that this crown did not make it into our luggage to come home. Maybe I’ll make a new one with her here at home soon.

You aren’t allowed to take photos inside the palace. My daughter Lily LOVED Lord Darnley’s fancy bed so much that she wanted to go back. We could have gone back once. We had our admission price categorized as a donation, and if you do that you can return once on the same ticket within the year. But with the Queen arriving and everything else that we had going on it didn’t happen. Lord Darnley is not a very nice person, anyway.

The gardens at Holyrood Palace

The audio tour continues into the stunning palace gardens. You can keep listening as you enter the ruins of beautiful Holyrood Abbey.

The ruins of Holyrood Abbey

Can you imagine what this Abbey would have looked like before being ruined? We loved finding this pair of birds roosting in an opening in the stones as we left the Abbey ruins.

A pair of birds roost in an opening in the stone walls of Holyrood Abbey

Would you like to learn more about Holyrood Palace? Check out my daughter Emma’s Holyrood Palace article!

Have you visited Holyrood Palace? Tickets are pricey, but it is a neat experience, and a great look into Britain’s royal history. You can read more about our Scotland adventures here. We will likely return to Edinburgh in 2018, again for Mike’s job. Is there somewhere we should be sure to go? Share your ideas on my Facebook page, or tag me on Instagram

MaryAnne lives in Silicon Valley with her Stanford professor husband Mike and their four children. She writes about parenting through education, creativity, and play. Mama Smiles - Joyful Parenting is a space to share crafts, hands on learning activities, and family outings that enrich lives and bring families together.

3 thoughts on “Visiting Holyrood Palace in Edinburgh – The Palace of Holyroodhouse”

  1. Amusingly enough I was just reading about this palace as a side note in an article about the royal family. I’ve never been to Scotland, so I obviously haven’t been to the palace, but I’d love to go someday.

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