After careful consideration, I’ve put together a short list of my Top 10 Edinburgh photography locations. Edinburgh is a fantastic city for photography and there are countless great photo opportunities around the city. It was very difficult for me to come up with such a short list. However, this should hopefully be helpful if you’re wanting some tips or are planning a trip to Edinburgh. Make sure you don’t miss out on one of these top photography locations!
Let me know at the bottom if you agree/disagree or if you think I’ve missed anywhere out!
Top 10 Edinburgh Photography Locations:
These are my Top 10 Edinburgh photography locations – in no specific order. I’ve also included a few honourable mentions at the bottom for other photography spots that I feel deserve a mention but didn’t quite make my top 10 list.
Calton Hill is one of the obvious top Edinburgh photo locations (and one of the clichés!) but no list like this would be complete without mentioning the views from Calton Hill. A short walk up from Princes Street, Calton Hill is ideally located for city-centre photography. There are multiple ‘classic’ views of Edinburgh that can be taken from this spot. For example, the view down Princes Street, the view looking towards the Castle with the Dugald Stewart Monument in the foreground, photos of the National Monument and more… Calton Hill is hard to beat as a top Edinburgh photography location! It is popular for a reason!
There’s plenty to see, including the Acropolis-like National Monument. If you wake up early, this monument makes for a great photo shortly after sunrise! There is also the Dugald Stewart Monument and the Nelson Monument.
Edinburgh Castle and Princes Street
This is one of my favourite views in Edinburgh and is great any time of day (and any time of year)! Be careful if you’re going up Calton Hill at night though!
I took the following photo from Calton Hill just as it was starting to rain. The sun low in the sky and the stormy weather worked together to create a ‘Hand Of God’ over Edinburgh. I got completely soaked shortly afterwards but it was definitely worth it! This photo took off on social media and I later had the photo published in multiple newspapers worldwide! Some people said they see a dragon or a bird or a spaceship… what do you see here?
Another top Edinburgh photography location is the Vennel. This location is one of my other favourite spots to photograph Edinburgh Castle. When you get the right lighting and weather conditions, then photos from here just work perfectly! Some of my favourite photos I’ve taken of Edinburgh have been from the Vennel. While a less well-known view of the Castle, the small path that connects the Grassmarket to Lauriston Place is a superb spot for photography. If I was a tourist visiting Edinburgh I would hate to miss this view.
As of 2022, with the popularity of Instagram, this spot is a fair bit busier than it once was! It’s still quiet enough that most of the year if you wait 5-10 minutes you can get a photo without any people on. Especially if you’re there at 6:00 am as I was in the photo on the left here!
First, there was the Forth Bridge (or the Forth Rail Bridge as some call it). Next to be built was the Forth Road Bridge. Most recently there was the Queensferry Crossing. The three bridges provide a multitude of different photo opportunities from a variety of different angles! My favourite however has to be the Forth (Rail) bridge as it is so unique! There’s many opportunities for great photos from either side of the river – please explore and see what you can find!
Victoria Street/ The west bow
Victoria Street / The West Bow is one of the top Edinburgh photography locations because it is one of the most unusual and photogenic streets of Edinburgh’s Old Town. I’m sure if you have any interest in visiting/photographing Edinburgh then you will have at least seen pictures of this street before. With a grand curving terrace high above the road below, photographers have several interesting viewpoints to capture one of Edinburgh’s most recognisable streets. This street is reportedly the main inspiration for Diagon Alley in JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series.
Long exposure photos at night to create ‘light trails’ up the West Bow look great in my opinion!
I would generally prefer it if this street was completely pedestrianised but sometimes the cars make a nice photo subject!
The view from Victoria Terrace in the snow looks amazing if you’re ever fortunate enough to see it! Great for photos!
The Crags and the Radical Road
If you’ve ever visited Edinburgh, you’ll know how Arthur’s Seat and the Salisbury Crags loom over the city providing great views in all directions. I find that the Crags or Radical Road are better than Arthur’s Seat for views/photos toward Edinburgh City Centre, Calton Hill or the Castle. Getting to the top of the Crags also requires less effort than getting to the top of Arthur’s Seat – although I still wouldn’t consider it very accessible if you have any difficulties getting about! Holyrood Park is well worth a visit when the weather is nice and it looks like a colourful sunset is on the cards!
Please note that as of 2022, the Radical Road is pretty much closed off (annoyingly!) with some fairly sturdy barriers due to rock falls. I’m not sure I agree with this as it means an amazing view of Edinburgh is closed off to the public. Perhaps I should add this location as one of my Hidden Views of Edinburgh!
In my opinion, the Radical Road should be open, with the proviso that you accept the risk of a rock landing on you! Others may disagree!
Night time view from the Radical road!
A view of Edinburgh from the Radical Road – it looks very golden at night! This is from a few years ago so there was more sodium lighting than currently. If we were allowed up now I reckon it would look less yellow!
Best Edinburgh Sunset location?
The end of June / start of July is the best time for this particular Edinburgh view. If you are up the Salisbury Crags the sun will set behind Calton Hill, which makes for some amazing sunset photos of Edinburgh!
As well as centuries of history, Duddingston Village makes for an enjoyable walk for a photographer with a number of great photography locations. I particularly like the view of the old Kirk on the shores of Duddingston Loch. There are often quite a few ducks, swans and some other waterbirds if that is something you are interested in taking photos of!
Princes Street Gardens
Whether it’s a shot of the “gingerbread house” (Gardener’s Cottage), the Scott Monument, Edinburgh Castle or something else entirely, there’s plenty to keep a photographer busy in Princes Street Gardens. If you’re looking for a way to spend a couple of hours on a sunny afternoon then you could do worse! The Ross fountain was also renovated in recent years and now looks amazing – make sure you don’t miss it!
If you fancy a break from photography for the afternoon then Princes Street Gardens is also a nice place to have a seat and soak in the Edinburgh atmosphere!
Perhaps you don’t expect to find an attractive wee village in the centre of Edinburgh but if not then prepare to be pleasantly surprised! One of the most interesting things about Edinburgh as a city (and particularly for photographers) is that there are so many of these unexpected finds. Dean Village is one of these unique spots and is just a short walk from Edinburgh’s West End. Dean Village is a delightful combination of old stone houses including the unique Well Court. There are many great photography locations, with the Water of Leith cutting through the centre of the Village.
The Royal Mile
As one of Edinburgh’s most popular tourist streets you need to be up early (or very late) if you want to get a shot of the Mile clear of people! I’m quite a fan of long-exposure photography on this busy Edinburgh street as you can cut out most of the people but still get a sense that the city is alive!
The Royal Mile is also a good spot if you want to do some street photography, particularly during the Edinburgh Festival in August. It’s pretty much impossible to miss the Royal Mile when visiting Edinburgh and you’re bound to walk down at least some of the Roya Mile while visiting some of the other spots included on this list.
Long exposure of people walking past St Giles’ Cathedral gives quite a ghostly effect!
Light Trails of a car passing the Royal Mile’s Tolbooth.
I also like how the Tolbooth looks in black and white. Check out my Tolbooth blog post!
The Old Town Closes
There are countless ‘closes’ in Edinburgh, the most famous ones coming off the sides of the Royal Mile. In Scotland, a ‘close’ is a small street or alley that runs between buildings and Edinburgh certainly has quite a few! There are a number of very recognisable ones including White Horse Close, Barrie’s Close and Milne’s Court. However, every one of these little streets offers some sort of photographic opportunity and as a photographer, they’re all worth investigating (with the exception of Carrubber’s Close – I never like going down there for some reason)!
White Horse Close - amazing day and night!
There are plenty of other amazing locations for photography in Edinburgh that I’d like to mention that didn’t quite reach my ‘Top 10 Edinburgh Photography Locations’, including:
- The New Town – the part of Edinburgh on the north side of Princes Street. The New Town has some great architecture and nice green areas. Circus Lane in Stockbridge is a classic!
- Arthur’s Seat – a great spot for a walk and a beautiful spot of green in the middle of the city. I think Arthur’s Seat is better as a background than a spot for taking photos from though, which is why I went for the Salisbury Crags instead and Arthur’s Seat didn’t quite make the Top 10.
- Newhaven – Nice harbour and a lighthouse, great spot for sunsets in the summer in particular!
- Cramond Island – An island just outside of the city to the west, with some old wartime structures on it. There is a causeway that allows you to walk over at low tide… just don’t get stuck! Remember to check the tide times if you’re going to visit!
That’s all for now! Let me know what you think of the list I’ve put together and whether you’d disagree with any of my choices! What are your favourite Edinburgh photography locations? Have I missed your favourite? Let me know in the comments below!