Edinburgh is a magical city filled with history, castles, and more. If you’re planning a trip to Scotland, you’ll 100% want to make a stop in Edinburgh, even you’re only visiting for 24 hours or 3 days! When you visit, you can use this guide to find the most Instagrammable places in Edinburgh so that you can get the picture-perfect shot!
72-74 West Port, Edinburgh EH1 2LE, United Kingdom
Armchair Books is a beautiful secondhand bookshop in the old town of Edinburgh and only around five minutes away from Edinburgh Castle. It’s located on West Port, where several Edinburgh bookshops can be found, but with its floor to ceiling shelves and winding corridors, Armchair Books is the best.
Here you can buy second-hand books of all kinds and genres as they sell beautiful vintage editions as well as second-hand copies of recent releases. It’s a great place to look for copies of books that have been released in the last few decades as they usually have several copies of each book at low prices!
This bookshop’s tall and messy brown shelves are positively stuffed with books giving this whole shop has a vintage feel and you could believe that you’d stepped into the past. To snap a good picture of Armchair Books you’ll have to wait for the main corridors of the shop to empty so going earlier in the day is advisable. With quite tight passages you may have to squeeze past people as you browse if you come when the store is busy, but that’s all part of the fun.
Recommended by Laura from What’s Hot?
If you’re looking for a great view of Edinburgh that’s panoramic, then you’ll definitely want to check out Arthur’s Seat. It’s situated on top of an old volcano and some say that it’s even where Camelot was once located!
The hike to the top of Arthur’s Seat only takes 1-2 hours, depending on how fast you are. Keep in mind that it does get pretty steep at the top, but you could opt to just stop right before the peak. No matter where you are on the mountain, you’re sure to get some great views of the city down below!
From the top of Arthur’s Seat, you can see all of Edinburgh, including Edinburgh Castle. You can even see out into the water!
To avoid the crowds, I suggest doing this hike earlier in the morning. Not many people are early birds, and this will make it easier for you to maneuver yourself around at the peak. You’ll also have a better chance of getting unobstructed views for your photos!
Another great place to get a panoramic view of Edinburgh is actually from Calton Hill! It’s one of the biggest hills in the city, and offers views of the city and the water. At the top of the hill, there’s even the National Monument, which will actually never be completed.
There’s also an art gallery which is worth checking out. I highly suggest packing a picnic to eat at the top because the views are just that good. You’ll want to use any excuse to soak them up! If you’re looking for a place to buy lunch from to bring on your picnic, check out this ultimate guide on the best places to eat in Edinburgh!
Most people will ignore the view of the water, but it makes just as good of an Instagram photo as the view of the city does. Calton Hill is also not a super busy area. I visited around 3 pm on a weekend and there were very few people there! Everyone in my photo above was it.
Be warned that there is a bit of a walk to the top, but it is in no way as bad as the hike to Arthur’s Seat, and the view is quite similar.
Castlehill, Royal Mile, Edinburgh EH1 2ND, United Kingdom
Visiting Camera Obscura is one of those funny things to do in Edinburgh. The building has 6 floors filled with several curiosities that give such unique photo ops. The most fascinating is the forced perspective room – the room that, in reality isn’t as it appears in the photo, which creates optical illusions. It’s just too good. A photo-op here is no good unless there are 2 people at least. So, tag along a buddy or you could ask one of the staff there to pose with you.
There’s also a mirror maze, some basic light and electricity science experiments as well as a pin-hole camera observatory here. With very many concave, convex, and combined mirrors, multi-faceted and angled mirrors for funny reflections, this place is every Instagrammer’s delight.
This is located in the Royal Mile just opposite to the Scotch Whisky Experience and very close to Edinburgh Castle. It’s a very short 10-minute walk from the railway station.
Recommended by Bhushavali from My Travelogue
Cobblestones, gorgeous wee mews houses, bright flowers and church steeple in the background… what more could you need for the perfect Instagram photo? Circus Lane is not just a lane; it is one of the most beautiful lanes in Edinburgh.
Circus Lane is located in the Stockbridge area of the New Town, which was built in the 1760s. It was built as a home for the horse stables for the wealthy residents that lived in Royal Mews. These days, it is a very popular place to take the perfect photo.
Circus Lane is easily accessed by foot from Princes Street. Head up Fredrick street (the first part of the walk is up a hill) but as you cross Herriot Row it is downhill walk. Circus Lane will be on your left! Alternatively, you can take bus number 42 towards the Gyle or Longstone and it will drop you off right outside Circus Lane.
To get the best photo, you need to visit the lane early in the morning or late in the evening to avoid the crowds. Circus Lane is a suburban street and therefore there is nothing to do in the lane other than admire its beauty. You need to also be mindful that locals do live in these houses, so try not to disturb them.
The best angle to take your photo from is looking down the lane towards the St. Stephen’s clock tower. This view point showcases the bend in the lane as well as all elements to create your perfect Instagram photo: the houses, flowers and the cobblestone street.
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Cockburn Street is yet another underrated Instagrammable place in Edinburgh. It’s got a beautiful curve and the buildings are so nicely kept.
The street is also located right next to Edinburgh Waverley Station, so if you’re taking a train to get to the city, you have no excuse not to come take a photo!
Since it’s a walking street, it’s usually pretty busy. If you really want to get a photo without anyone else in it, be sure to visit earlier in the morning or really late at night. I’m sure this street looks amazing when it’s all lit up!
To get a photo like I did, you’ll want to stand all the way at the end of the street right before the curve. This allows you to snap an Instagrammable shot!
Dean Path, Edinburgh EH4 3AY, United Kingdom
One of the prettiest and most photogenic areas of Edinburgh is slightly off the beaten path, but its close proximity to the city centre makes it a popular spot for those who know about it. Dean Village is only a 10-minute walk from Princes Street, but it feels like another world. The fairytale houses and the striking Well Court building make this an incredibly picturesque gem, and over the years it’s become an Instagram hit. It feels like you’ve been transported back in time, and there are even still hints of the past grain mills that were there for over 800 years.
Dean Village is also set on the Water of Leith, and many people begin a 3-mile walk here to the Shore in Leith, following the river and often stopping off in nearby Stockbridge, one of Edinburgh’s fancier neighbourhoods with lots of great restaurants and shops.
Dean Village is the perfect place to visit on a summer’s day when the colours pop even more, but it feels magical whatever the weather.
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Castlehill, Edinburgh EH1 2NG, United Kingdom
Edinburgh Castle is one of the top tourist attractions in the city for good reason! Just look at it… it’s gorgeous and looks like a castle straight out of a fairytale!
The castle served as a fortress for many years and is now a museum for tourists to visit. It also holds all of Scotland’s Crown Jewels.
It’s located right along the Royal Mile near Edinburgh’s Old Town, so there’s a lot to do in the area. The castle is also directly across the street from the popular Castle Rock Hostel, which is one of the greatest places to stay in Edinburgh.
An adult ticket costs £19.50, but the admission price is worth it. However, if you’re just visiting for the Instagram picture, you don’t even have to pay to go inside. The best view is from its exterior!
The only downside to the castle is that it’s always very busy. If you were to visit during the day, there’s a 100% chance that other people will be in your photos. Visit earlier in the morning to avoid the rush.
National Museum of Scotland Roof
Chambers St, Edinburgh EH1 1JF, United Kingdom
One of the best and totally free Instagrammable viewpoints in Edinburgh has to be from the top of the National Museum of Scotland on Chambers Street. Not only is it a wonderful (and did I mention free?!) museum with interactive exhibits from all over the world and Scotland‘s history, but so few people know you can access the roof with views over Edinburgh Castle and the Royal Mile in one direction and Arthur’s Seat in the other.
The reason why very few people know it exists is that the roof is a little tricky to find. Follow signs for the lifts/elevators and travel as high as possible and then take the stairs (don’t worry, there isn’t many!) out to the open roof. There is always a staff member on hand to help you if you need further guidance. The plants around the outside of the roof are the perfect tool to give your Instagram snaps some depth, so you might have to squat a little to capture an Insta-worthy photo!
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Get outside the city centre for an afternoon and visit Portobello, a picturesque seaside suburb of Edinburgh. Here you’ll find something not particularly common in Scotland—a long, sandy beach! Portobello is an adorable little area and the beach’s allure makes it a must-see, especially if you’re visiting Edinburgh in the summer. While Portobello isn’t always found on typical Edinburgh highlights lists, it should be on yours.
The water is cold for a swim, but many still tough it out! It can be refreshing on a hot summer day. It’s also a lovely spot to kayak, picnic, and play beach games. The promenade has some cute little cafés, too. A beach is photogenic just about any time of the day, but Portobello’s is particularly moody on a misty Scottish morning around sunrise.
If you want to mix it up from the classic water-facing beach shot, wade into the water and take a gorgeous picture of the beach with Edinburgh’s medieval buildings in the background. It definitely makes for an interesting contrast. Either way, Portobello is an underrated, unique area of Edinburgh you won’t regret visiting.
Recommended by Kaisa from Glam Granola Travel
Princes Street Gardens
Address: Princes Street, Edinburgh EH1 2EU, United Kingdom
What’s a visit to Edinburgh, Scotland without a photo of the infamous castle? Since the castle sits upon the top of a narrow hill, it can be difficult to get a good photo from the entrance of the castle. The best spot I found of a view is from the Prince St. Gardens below.
It is really quite simple to find the gardens from Edinburgh Castle. If walking down the Royal Mile away from the castle entrance, turn left onto Ramsay Lane. It’s impossible to miss the gardens, which are more like a massive park.
Any entrance to the gardens will eventually lead to a great photo spot with a view of the castle. My favorite spot is right in front of Ross Fountain toward the west end of the park.
Once you’ve got the shot, treat yourself to a dessert from The Fountain Cafe nearby! The park has so many beautiful areas to relax and enjoy the scenery while you snack.
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E. Princes St Gardens, Edinburgh EH2 2EJ, United Kingdom
Built in 1846, Scott Monument is one of the iconic Victorian Gothic architecture one cannot miss when travelling in Edinburgh. This imposing monument stands in the centre of Princes Street, dedicated to Scottish Author Sir Walter Scott. In fact, this is the biggest dedicated monument to a writer worldwide. The gothic spire is 200 feet high, and the highest viewing platform can be reached after climbing 287 steps. The steps do get narrow towards the end, but the strenuous climb is well worth it, as it offers great views of Edinburgh Castle, views of old town buildings in Royal Mile, new town view, Calton Hill, Princes street and the gardens.
The original colour of the monument was pale sandstone, however over years the marble darkened to this dark colour due to air pollution. Fondly known as “gothic rocket”, Scott Monument is a great photographic opportunity and is certainly one of the Instagrammable places in Edinburgh. Whether you climb the monument or not, you can still enjoy the monument from many corners of Edinburgh – pretty much from anywhere in Princes Street, Princes Street Gardens, Calton Hill, North Bridge, and St. Andrew Street.
NOTE: Admission to the monument cost £8 for an adult.
Recommended by Anu from Country Hopping Couple.
The Royal Mile
The Royal Mile is the long connecting street from Edinburgh Castle to Edinburgh’s Old Town. It’s filled with a bunch of shops, museums, and history!
In fact, if you want to know more about the area, there are many tour guides that focus just on the Royal Mile.
However, it also makes for a great Instagram spot! The street is always bustling since it’s one of the more lively and busy areas of the city, so unless you want to wake up super early, be prepared to have other people in your photo.
You could easily try to take your photo without other people in them just by tilting your lens up to crop everyone completely out! This is a good time to practice different framing techniques too.
Located right on the Royal Mile is also Camera Obscura, which is another great place to get some Instagrammable images.
Timberyard, 10 Lady Lawson Street, Edinburgh,EH3
Step through the giant red door of Timberyard, situated in the heart of Edinburgh and be prepared to be thrilled by the fabulous food, drink and service of this incredible restaurant. The family-run restaurant has been wowing diners in the Scottish capital since 2012 and continues to please with its Nordic influenced menus.
You may have guessed the restaurant is in a former timber yard dating back to the 19th century. The striped back dinning room is sleek, seductive, and relaxing at the same time; great for photo opportunities. It is the perfect background for the outstanding ingredient-led cooking which is also incredibly photogenic. Each dish showcases local produce sourced from the artisan producers found across Scotland. The chefs use a variety of techniques to bring out the flavours. Pickling, smoking, and curing are at the forefront of the tasting menus so the range of colours on the plate is fabulous. The food is packed with flavour and looks absolutely beautiful.
Getting a great Instagram-worthy photo here is easy as the food is so pretty and the table settings so classy. Your only challenge is the dimmed lighting if you are visiting in the evening, so use appropriate settings on your camera. Turning up the ISO or using a quicker lens will help. Don’t be tempted to use a flash as your photo will lose its detail. Putting a white napkin behind your plate can help reduce shadows and holding said napkin above your place can reduce the glare of spotlights. Timberyard is a must visit when you are in Edinburgh: a total treat for the senses.
Recommended by Melanie from Two Plus Dogs.
11, 1 Vennel, Edinburgh EH1 2HU, United Kingdom
No list of the most Instagrammable places in Edinburgh would be complete without The Vennel. Located off Edinburgh’s Grass Market and directly across the road from the Fiddlers Arms pub, this beautiful alleyway offers one of the most scenic views of Edinburgh Castle.
For the best Instagram shot, head up the old staircase from Grass Market. Set up your shot at the top of the steps, looking down the alleyway. This viewpoint provides the perfect photogenic scene of one of Scotland’s best castles perched atop its hill overlooking the city. The narrow street itself provides framing for the perfect Insta-worthy shot with its chimney-topped brick buildings and charming street lamps.
As the city can often be wet and dreary (or dreich as the locals call it!), take a colourful prop with you to add a splash of vibrancy to the shot.
A huge bonus to this picturesque viewpoint is the lack of crowds. It is possible to visit at any time of day and capture incredible shots! You will find a few people passing through but with a little patience it’s very easy to capture a shot without anyone else in it.
Recommended by Sophie and Adam from We Dream of Travel.
Victoria Street is arguably the most Instagrammable street in all of the city! It was used as inspiration for J.K. Rowling’s Diagon Alley from the Harry Potter series, and it’s actually one of the many Harry Potter sights in Edinburgh.
The street is curved and is filled with a whole bunch of cute shops that are in beautiful colors! The best way to get a photo like mine for Instagram is to stand at the top end of the street and look down. You could get the opposite photo by standing at the other end of the street if you wanted!
Within the same area of Victoria Street is Greyfriar’s Kirkyard, the National Museum of Scotland, and the Elephant House. You could easily visit a lot of top Edinburgh sights and Harry Potter sights within an hour!
There are some great shops on the street too that I recommend checking out. Visit Oink for some of the best hog roast sandwiches and visit The Boy Wizard to purchase some Harry Potter merchandise!