Edinburgh is a city filled with beautiful views, culture and historic architecture – an Instagrammer or photographer’s dream! Join us as we cover the best Instagram spots in Edinburgh.
What is the best month to go to Edinburgh?
Generally, May is considered the best month to go to Edinburgh. The days are long and warm, and it’s also the driest month. It’s just before peak tourist season so the city shouldn’t be too busy.
Tips for getting the perfect Instagram shot in Edinburgh
- If you want less busy shots, you’ll need to get up early. Edinburgh starts to wake up around 8am and the streets fill with locals and tourists.
- Wear comfortable shoes! A lot of Edinburgh is hills or cobbles, so wear something sensible
- Check the weather forecast. It rains all year round in Edinburgh so plan around this, and protect your camera equipment
- Most of these spots are in the Old Town, so you can do them in a day. Plan your route in advance
- Edinburgh’s buildings are mainly dark, neutral stone so wear something bright to contrast!
How to get around Edinburgh
It’s very easy to get around Edinburgh on foot – the city is relatively small and nice to walk around. However, it is very hilly and covered in cobbles, so you if you struggle with mobility or don’t fancy the workout, opt for a car or public transport. They have Uber, or you can order an Edinburgh City Cab.
Dean Village, formerly “Water of Leith Village,” was a grain milling hub and is often overlooked by tourists as it’s off the beaten path. This hidden gem is just a 5-minute walk from Princes Street, and is one of the prettiest areas in Edinburgh.
This Instagrammable spot offers a fairy-tale scene, with cobbled streets, colorful buildings, and a 19th-century bridge. Despite being a brief stroll from the city center, Dean Village feels like you’re in a completely different place.
Originally built over 800 years ago, it retains its charm, with remnants of the past grain mills. The Dean Bridge, constructed by Thomas Telford in the 1880s, offers a great aerial view.
Accessible from Circus Lane, it’s a favorite spot for capturing the essence of a fairytale in Edinburgh.
Victoria Street in Edinburgh is a vibrant, Instagram-worthy spot, believed to have inspired Diagon Alley in Harry Potter. Curving around the Grassmarket, it’s a colorful street with independent shops and restaurants, making it one of the most picturesque in the city.
The street’s architectural contrast, with old stone buildings towering behind colorful shops, creates a beautiful scene. For the best Instagram shot, stand at the top or bottom of the curved street. Check out the views from La Barantine at the base and Howies at the top.
Due to its popularity, it’s advisable to visit early in the day to avoid crowds.
Known for its iconic shot facing towards St Stephen’s Cathedral, Circus lane boasts cobblestones, mews houses, flowers, and a church steeple, making it perfect for Instagram photos.
Originally built in the 1760s as stables for wealthy residents, Circus Lane is easily accessible from Princes Street or by bus number 42. To avoid crowds, visit early in the morning or late in the evening, respecting the fact that locals live in the houses. The best angle for photos is looking down the lane towards St. Stephen’s clock tower, capturing the bend in the lane and its picturesque elements.
Calton Hill, part of Edinburgh’s UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a favorite spot for locals and tourists.
Best enjoyed at sunrise or sunset, Calton Hill showcases candy-colored skies and various monuments commemorating achievements of former residents. It’s an ideal spot for photography and picnics on warm summer days. The photos you get offer a postcard representation of the city, overlooking Princess Street and the Dugald Stewart monument.
Despite being a bit of a walk to the top, it’s not as strenuous as the hike to Arthur’s Seat, and the view is comparable.
Off Edinburgh’s Grass Market and across from the Fiddlers Arms pub, The Vennel is a must-visit Instagram spot. Climbing the old staircase from Grass Market, set up your shot at the top, capturing the castle overlooking the city. The narrow street frames the perfect Insta-worthy shot with brick buildings and charming lamps.
It gets busy during the day, so for the best lighting and fewer crowds, visiting earlier is recommended. At the bottom, explore Grassmarket with its amazing buildings and boutique shops.
Princes Street Gardens
Princes Street Gardens is a versatile location, perfect for picnics and relaxation in the summer, and it transforms into the Edinburgh Christmas market in winter. Snap pictures on the grass, below the castle, or beside the iconic Wallace Monument for iconic Edinburgh moments.
Ross Fountain, located inside the gardens, offers a great angle for capturing Edinburgh Castle in your Instagram photos. The fountain, designed in aqua and gold, provides an impressive backdrop, especially when surrounded by beautiful flowers depending on the season.
Edinburgh’s Old Town centerpiece is the Royal Mile, running from Edinburgh Castle to Holyrood Palace. For 500 years, this historic route for kings and queens has been adorned with buildings like Mary King’s Close, John Knox House, and the Museum of Edinburgh. Explore the closes and wynds, narrow passageways lining the Royal Mile, for a step back in time.
The Royal Mile offers a lot of photo opportunities, including White Horse Close, St Giles Cathedral, the Castle, and the Palace of Holyroodhouse. The official residence of the Queen of Scotland, the Palace’s gates, and the castle can be captured from outside, but a closer look and tour are possible with purchased tickets.
White Horse Close
At the base of the Royal Mile, there’s a hidden gem called White Horse Close – a tiny enclosed courtyard filled with charming houses, yellow doors, and vibrant plants. Formerly the stables for Holyrood Palace, this delightful spot is tucked away just steps from the Scottish Parliament. Despite its beauty, White Horse Close remains a well-kept secret, often overlooked by tourists. Keep a sharp eye out for its entrance, concealed by an unassuming stretch of pavement beneath the buildings overhead.
Edinburgh Castle is another photogenic spot and the birthplace of the city. As one of the oldest fortifications in Europe, it has served various purposes throughout history, from a royal residence to a military garrison and fortified prison. The castle is now a popular museum showcasing the Honours of Scotland, Mons Meg (the most powerful cannon), the one o’clock gun, St. Margaret’s chapel, and the Great Hall and museums. While crowds are common throughout the day, buying tickets in advance can help beat the tourist rush.
For those looking to capture the essence of Edinburgh Castle without entering, the best photo spot is outside the castle at the entrance square. This area, where the Edinburgh Tattoo is held during the summer, provides a great backdrop for photos. To avoid crowds, visit early in the morning or wait until evening after the castle has closed.
National Museum of Scotland
The National Museum of Scotland, a popular spot in Edinburgh, offers exhibits spanning all eras of Scottish history. The central atrium, a light-filled space with a glass roof and intricate Victorian metalwork, provides a beautiful setting for photography.
For a unique Instagram opportunity, head to the top of the museum on Chambers Street. Accessing the roof is a hidden gem, known to few visitors. Follow signs for the lifts, go as high as possible, and then take the stairs to the open roof. The panoramic views include Edinburgh Castle, the Royal Mile, and Arthur’s Seat. The roof garden is adorned with plants, adding some nice decoration to your Instagram snaps.
The Salisbury Crags in Holyrood Park, just south of the Palace of Holyroodhouse, offer numerous vantage points and a breathtaking view of the city. In this large royal park, you’ll discover three lochs, the extinct volcanic peak Arthur’s Seat, and the impressive Salisbury Crags. These 150-foot basalt column cliffs provide the perfect backdrop for capturing the Edinburgh skyline. For added magic in your photographs, visit during sunrise or sunset and enjoy the stunning views from this picturesque location.
Grassmarket, situated at the base of Edinburgh Castle, is a historic market area and event space located below the water table. While it was once used for executions, today Grassmarket is a vibrant district filled with unique and quirky pubs. This spot in the city is perfect for grabbing a bite to eat, catching up with friends, or snapping some street shots.
For Instagram-worthy pictures, explore the colorful storefronts, pubs, restaurants, and shops that line the area. Keep in mind that Grassmarket is a popular walkable area, so consider going early in the morning to avoid crowds and capture the essence of the area.
Royal Botanic Garden
The Royal Botanic Garden, one of the most beautiful botanical gardens in Europe and the world, stands out as one of the best Instagram spots in Edinburgh. While most parts of the garden are free to visit, an entrance fee is required for the Glasshouses.
Boasting over 13,000 plant species, this garden is a delightful and diverse destination that deserves a spot on your Instagram feed. Explore the lush greenery, vibrant blooms, and captivating landscapes for stunning photo opportunities.
For the ultimate panoramic shot of Edinburgh and Scotland, head to Arthur’s Seat, the highest point in Holyrood Park at 822 feet above sea level. This extinct volcano offers breathtaking views of the city and beyond. A steep ascent takes you to the summit, which is even higher than Edinburgh Castle. The hike takes 1-2 hours, and while it can get steep at the top, the views are worth it.
On a clear day, you can see Edinburgh Castle and the water from the top. Whether sunny or cloudy, the climb offers an awesome experience.
The School of Divinity
Check out the School of Divinity at New College, part of the University of Edinburgh, established in 1843. The neo-gothic building has a dramatic presence, resembling Hogwarts and making it a perfect addition to your Instagram feed. While you may not be allowed in the courtyard during school hours, visiting before or after lessons is recommended. Capture the entire background with a wide-angle lens or set up your tripod for the best shot.
Discover the hidden courtyard at the top of the Royal Mile, called Makar’s Court, accessible through Lady Stairs Close. This evolving national literary monument pays tribute to great Scottish writers and poets, with the word “Makar” meaning ‘one who fashions, constructs, produces, prepares, etc.’ Inside, explore the free-entry Writers Museum, celebrating the lives of Robert Burns, Sir Walter Scott, and Robert Louis Stevenson. The courtyard is drop-dead gorgeous and a perfect spot for a few snaps. To avoid crowds, visit early in the morning.
Map of the best instagram spots in Edinburgh
Edinburgh Instagram Spots FAQs
What is the most Instagram street in Edinburgh?
Victoria Street is the go-to Instagram street in Edinburgh. Its colorful shops and unique architecture make for eye-catching photos.
What places of beauty are near Edinburgh?
Arthur’s Seat, Holyrood Palace, Royal Botanic Garden, Dean Village, Calton Hill, and the Scottish Highlands are all close and beautiful spots near Edinburgh.
What is the most Instagrammable bar in Edinburgh?
Check out The Devil’s Advocate, a stylish bar in an old Victorian pump house. Its unique decor and impressive cocktails make it a hit on Instagram.
Can I take pictures in Edinburgh Castle?
Yes, you can snap photos at Edinburgh Castle. The views of the city from the castle are amazing, and there are plenty of photo-worthy spots inside.
Where to get the best photo of Edinburgh castle?
For the best shot of Edinburgh Castle, head to Princes Street Gardens or the Vennel viewpoint for iconic views. Also, try the North Bridge or Calton Hill for stunning panoramic shots.