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From a castle perched atop rocky mountain crags to a quaint harborside lighthouse, Scotland’s capital city of Edinburgh is one of the world’s most photogenic tourist destinations. Boasting several UNESCO world heritage sites such as Old Town, Calton Hill, The Royal Mile and Dean Village, your inner shutterbug will be in heaven strolling along Edinburgh’s cobbled streets and winding lanes. There’s no shortage of Instagrammable spots in Edinburgh. But how do you find the locations that will light up your Instagram feed?

Old town Edinburgh and Edinburgh castle in Scotland UK.
Photo Credit: f11photo/Shutterstock.

With such epic scenery everywhere you look, it may seem hard not to take stunning photos. However, along with all of the iconic shots of Edinburgh that you see plastered all over social media, there are dozens of hidden gems that will really make your photos stand out. As a local photographer with years of experience seeking out the most unique things to do in Edinburgh from every angle, I’m here to share with you my favorite Instagram spots in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Preparing For Your Photo Walk in Edinburgh

Edinburgh is a compact, walkable city so wear your favorite sturdy footwear while you’re out scouting for Instagram spots. When you visit Edinburgh you should be aware that The weather can be very changeable. Chances are you’ll experience everything from blue skies to high winds to the occasional showers in one day so wear layers and don’t forget a waterproof outer shell. I suggest carrying a backpack so you can stash your photography equipment and extra layers as you go.

Edinburgh's busy Royal Mile (The Highstreet) is one of the most iconic streets in Scotland and a mayor tourist attraction.
Photo Credit: matthi/Shutterstock.

Things to Bring With You on Your Photo Walk of Edinburgh

  • Your Smartphone or DSLR camera, whichever you prefer ( I always bring both with me when I’m out shooting, one to take casual photos and selfies, the other to set up more artsy shots!)
  • A lightweight, sturdy portable tripod with a Bluetooth remote so you can make sure you’ve got shots of yourself in your favorite Instagram spots in Edinburgh
  • A phone charger or portable battery pack to recharge your devices. Nobody wants to miss the perfect shot because of a low battery
  • If you’re shooting DSLR, a backup battery and extra memory card can be clutch!
  • Google Maps! It’s worth downloading an offline map of the city and marking your favorite photo spots in Edinburgh ahead of time so you’ll never miss a photo op!
  • A reusable water bottle you can refill on the go. There are many spots in Edinburgh to refill and Scottish tap water is some of the cleanest and best-tasting water in the world, so there’s no excuse not to hydrate!
Someone using smartphone to taking photo of summer landscape with sunset and river.
Photo Credit: meatbull/Shutterstock.

Getting Around Edinburgh

Edinburgh’s city center including Old Town, The Royal Mile, New Town, Princes Street Gardens, Stockbridge and Dean Village are easy to get around on foot. Many of the best photo spots in Edinburgh are close together!

West Lotian Double Decker Bus public transport vehicle on Princes Street with Scottish National Gallery building in the background.
Photo Credit: ML Robinson/Shutterstock.

However, you may wish to go further afield to some other places in Edinburgh or simply get tired of walking. In that case, Edinburgh’s incredibly well-integrated bus and tram network can come to the rescue. I suggest downloading the Lothian Busses App and purchasing a day ticket so you’ve got a sure way home from any of the places in Edinburgh you choose to visit.

Ross Fountain

Located in the city centre at the heart of Edinburgh’s Princes Street Gardens, Ross Fountain is the perfect place to begin your tour of Edinburgh Instagram spots. Ross Fountain sculpted by artist Jean-Baptiste Jules Klagmann is overlooked by the north-facing side of Edinburgh Castle. Why not take a stunning photo for your Instagram feed of Ross Fountain with Edinburgh Castle as your backdrop?

Ross Fountain and Edinburgh Castle in Edinburgh , Scotland.
Photo Credit: Susanne Pommer/Shutterstock.

Bonus shots near the Ross Fountain area include The Scotts National Monument which is a tribute to Sir Walter Scott. You can visit the Scotts National Monument Museum and climb the steps all the way to the top where you’ll be rewarded with one of the best spots in Edinburgh to catch a view of a view of Princes Street, Calton Hill, and many other Edinburgh Instagram spots.

Nearby is the Mound, a steep hill that connects Edinburgh’s Old and New Towns and is also the home to one of Scotland’s National Galleries. During the holiday season, The Mound is one of the best places in Edinburgh for a photo opportunity of Princes Street Gardens all dressed up for the Edinburgh Christmas Market.

Starbuck’s Window on Princes Street

Chances are you’ve seen a photo of Edinburgh Castle framed in a stately Victorian window. Completing the scene is a leather easy chair and cafe table set with a worn leatherbound book and a coffee in the foreground. Maybe you’ve even fantasized about what it would be like to have such a stunning view.

Starbucks, Logo sign from exterior shop on Princes Street. Starbucks is one of the most world famous coffeehouse chains from the United States.
Photo Credit: Moomusician/Shutterstock.

Well, you’re in luck. You don’t have to rent a posh Princes Street flat to spend a cozy afternoon sipping coffee and drinking in unobstructed castle views. All you have to do is head to the city centre grab a coffee at the Princes Street Starbucks and head upstairs to take advantage of these views of Princes Street Gardens and the castle. This iconic Starbucks location is a wonderful place to refuel and take some shots that will make you look like a literati!

Calton Hill

The UNESCO World Heritage site Calton Hill is one of Edinburgh’s main hills and is sometimes referred to as ‘Edinburgh’s Acropolis. Calton Hill is the home of Scotland’s National Monument, which was designed to resemble the Parthenon in Greece. It is also the location of the telescope-shaped Nelson Monument. With an absolutely stunning view, Calton Hill happens to be one of the best Edinburgh Instagram spots.

Edinburgh city view from Carlton hill, Scotland.
Photo Credit: Studio51/Shutterstock.

In my opinion, what really makes a hike up Calton Hill worthwhile is the panoramic, 360-degree view of the entire city of Edinburgh. You’ll be treated to a bird’s eye view of the city from Arthur’s Seat to Holyrood Palace to Edinburgh Castle to New Town all the way down to the shores of Leith.

Bonus: If you visit Edinburgh around the Celtic festivals of Samhain and Beltane (around Halloween and Easter, respectively) Why not check out the colorful Beltane Fire Festivals? These immersive outdoor festivals taking place on Calton Hill celebrate the passing of the seasons through song, dance, acrobatics, drumming and so much more. The fire festivals are truly Instagrammable events in Edinburgh like no other.

Circus Lane

After you’re done checking out Calton Hill, why not take a stroll by Circus Lane? Circus Lane is a quiet, cobbled residential street that is one of the prettiest streets in Edinburgh. In recent years Circus Lane has drawn visitors for its distinctive terraced Mewes houses draped in flowers and ivy. If you’re looking to capture an iconic shot, Circus Lane is a do-not-miss stop on your tour of the most Instagrammable places in Edinburgh.

Circus Lane in the New Town in Edinburgh, Scotland. Circus Lane is Edinburgh street popular with photographers.
Photo Credit: Jeff Whyte/Shutterstock.

Cockburn Street

Once you’re done on Circus Lane, head on over to Cockburn Street. (Pro tip, It’s pronounced Co-burn!) Cockburn Street is one of Edinburgh’s most famous streets. This colorful cobbled shopping street in the heart of Old Town is a great place to browse a boutique or two and take a truly swoon-worthy selfie as you check off yet another spot on your hot list of Instagrammable places in Edinburgh.

View of the famous Cockburn Street on a busy summers day in the city centre on May 31, 2021 in Edinburgh, Scotland.
Photo Credit: Gabriel Murad/Shutterstock.

Arthur’s Seat

A hike up Arthur’s Seat is a must for anyone who loves the great outdoors and beautiful views. For a fresh take on your Insta photos that won’t be totally overdone, try hiking up to St. Anthony’s Chapel Ruins, set up your tripod, and take a portrait of yourself standing in the open archway with the peaks of Arthur’s Seat framed in the background.

Cityscape of Edinburgh from Arthur's Seat in a beautiful summer day, Scotland, United Kingdom.
Photo Credit: Sergii Figurnyi/Shutterstock.

Dean Village

Do you want to step back in time? Then Dean Village is the place for you. Tucked away by the Waters of Leith only a short walk from Princes Street, charming Dean Village feels like a fairy tale come to life. This former miller’s village is now a UNESCO World Heritage site. Featuring historic stone houses and winding cobbled streets, Dean Village is stunning any time of year but it’s especially worth a visit in the fall, when the foliage will be in full color.

Dean Village in Edinburgh on a beautiful sunny day.
Photo Credit: Natalie De Winter/Shutterstock.

As you stroll through Dean Village, don’t forget to take a pause on the footbridge over the Waters of Leith to enjoy your surroundings and take a photo of yourself in one of the most Instagrammable places in Edinburgh with Dean Village’s iconic and recognizable architecture as a backdrop.

Victoria Street and the West Bow

Rivaled only by Circus Lane and Cockburn Street for its beauty, Victoria Street and Victoria Terrace are known as one of Edinburgh’s most photographed streets. When you visit it will be easy to see why!

One of the best photo spots in Edinburgh Old Town, Victoria Street is just around the corner from the Royal Mile. Appearing like something out of Harry Potter, the storefronts of Victoria Street were designed in a neoclassical style recalling the architecture of ancient Greece.

View of colorful buildings at Victoria Street. United Kingdom.
Photo Credit: Milosz Maslanka/Shutterstock.

The West Bow area of Victoria Street is often likened to Harry Potter’s Diagon Alley because of its narrow and winding quality. Today Victoria Street is a wonderful place to do a bit of shopping.

While you’re in the area why not pop into a local cafe, such as the Elephant House, which was made famous by Harry Potter author J.K Rowling and is now one of the most popular Instagrammable places in Edinburgh. Victoria Street is a must-visit on your quest for the best photo spots in Edinburgh.

Greyfriars Bobby

Once you’re done exploring Victoria Street, why not head uphill by way of the George IV Bridge to one of the most iconic photo opportunities in Edinburgh?

A statue of Greyfriars Bobby in Edinburgh on December 10, 2015. Bobby was a dog who supposedly spent 14 years by the grave of his owner until he died in 1872.
Photo Credit: f11photo/Shutterstock.

Dog lovers cannot miss Greyfriars Bobby. One of the most visited spots in Edinburgh, Greyfriars Bobby is a statue of a loyal dog who is said to have guarded his master’s grave for 14 years until he himself passed away.

Greyfriars Bobby is now one of the sought-after places in Edinburgh for tourists. This beloved photo spot draws crowds who come to pat the dog’s nose for good luck and snap a photo of themselves at one of the most Instagrammable places in Edinburgh.

Royal Mile

Packed with some of the most historically significant spots in Edinburgh, the Royal Mile is a do-not-miss on your walking tour of Instagrammable places in Edinburgh.

Flanked by the castle at its peak, with Holyrood Palace and Holyrood Park at its bottom, The Royal Mile is a non-stop parade of breathtaking photo spots in Edinburgh.

A street view of Royal Miles,
Photo Credit: Richie Chan/Shutterstock.

There are a variety of walking tours you could take to explore this magical street in depth. Packed with absolutely stunning spots, the Royal Mile will be one of the highlights of your visits to Edinburgh, Scotland.

During the August Festival period, it’s the perfect spot to take some snaps of street performers in action, so long as you can get around the crowds! Get there in the early morning to grab one of the best photo spots.

Any time of year The Royal Mile is an ideal stroll to hit top sights such as St. Gile’s Cathedral and the modern architectural wonders of Scottish Parliament on your photo tour of Edinburgh, Scotland.

Holyrood Palace

Holyrood Palace is the king’s official residence while in Edinburgh. This famous attraction is located in the heart of Holyrood Park, a royal park and vast green outdoor space in the shadow of the ancient volcano of Arthur’s Seat.

Palace of Holyroodhouse is residence of the Queen in Edinburgh, Scotland.
Photo Credit: Tomas Marek/Shutterstock.

Not only is Holyrood Palace an ideal place for a photo, but it’s also a great idea to take one of the amazing tours of Holyrood Palace so you can learn more about one of the most famous places in Edinburgh, Scotland.

The Writers Museum

Tucked just beyond Lady Stair’s close in Gladstone Land, a quiet courtyard just off the Royal Mile, the Edinburgh Writers Museum is well worth a stop on your tour of the best Instagram spots in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Lady Stairs Close in Edinburgh with unidentified people. Most notably it contains the Scottish Writers' Museum.
Photo Credit: Christian Mueller/Shutterstock.

Stop for a photo on Lady’s Stair close before moving on to the Writers Museum. The Writers Museum is one of the best places in the Scottish Capital to learn about Scottish writers such as Robert Louis Stevenson, Robert Burns, and Sir Walter Scott. It also just happens to be a place to take a perfect Instagram photo.

The Writer’s Museum is housed in a stately 17th-century brick house, which is also home to the Lady Stairs, a narrow, winding staircase you can traverse while you visit the museum. One of Edinburgh’s loveliest photo spots, it’s one of the best places in Edinburgh to spend a quiet afternoon.

The Witchery by the Castle

The Witchery is one of Edinburgh’s most sought-after restaurants, and with just one look it’s easy to see why. Located on the Royal Mile just a stone’s throw from Edinburgh Castle, this restaurant and boutique hotel is a wonder of Gothic architecture.

 A restaurant in a sixteenth Century building, Boswell’s Court on Castle Hill, near the place where witches were burned at the stake.
Photo credit: Spiroview Inc/ Shutterstock.

Pause for a selfie in front of the Witchery or book yourself a meal in the restaurant to explore the building’s truly luxurious interiors and ornate dining room. Whatever you choose, you are sure to get some stunning photos as this is truly one of the most Instagrammable places in Edinburgh.

The Miss Jean Brodie Steps

If you need that shot of the castle that’s splashed all over your Instagram feed, you simply must pay a visit to one of Edinburgh’s most sought-after photo spots, the Miss Jean Brodie Steps. You’ve seen this place before; a winding stone staircase, a cast iron street lamp, a view of castle rock nearby.

View of Edinburgh castle from the medieval streets of the old town, Scotland
Photo credit: JeniFoto/ Shutterstock.

Named after the iconic main character from Scottish Writer Muriel Spark’s novel, The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie, this is one of the best spots in Edinburgh to take a perfect Instagram photo in all seasons.

St. Cuthbert’s Churchyard

This spot is a must-visit during the spooky season. With autumn leaves falling around historic graves and views of castle rock in the distance, this hidden gem is one of Edinburgh’s most unexpected photo spots.

View of the steeple of St Cuthbert's Church steeple from the burial grounds, UK September 13, 2019.
Photo Credit: Nature’s Charm/Shutterstock.

Roof Terrace of the National Museum of Scotland

This well-kept secret boasts stunning views of Edinburgh’s skyline including the rooftops of Old Town and Edinburgh Castle. The National Museum rooftop is a truly iconic yet overlooked photo spot in Edinburgh. Why not take a peek after touring the National Museum and take advantage of this perfect photo opportunity? Bonus: You can also dine at their rooftop restaurant!

The Front Entrance of the National Museum of Scotland, Chambers St, Edinburgh, Scotland, UK.
Photo Credit: clivewa/Shutterstock.

Camera Obscura

If you’re looking for one of Edinburgh’s most offbeat Instagram spots, look no further. Edinburgh’s Camera Obscura World of Illusions is located on Castle Hill at the top of the Royal Mile. Inside are three floors of mirrors and other optical illusions you can immersive yourself in completely and yes, take advantage of some really funky photo opportunities.

"Camera Obscura" sign at the Royal Mile / Camera Obscura & World of Illusions.
Photo Credit: M. Vinuesa/Shutterstock.

Protip: Don’t miss the Camera Obscura’s outdoor roof deck. It offers a stunning 360-degree view of the Edinburgh skyline, including a peek into nearby Edinburgh Castle! The Camera Obscura is truly one of my favorite Edinburgh Instagram spots and when you visit it will be easy to see why.

Duddingston Village and Dr. Neil’s Garden

Looking to add a little adventure to your hike up Arthur’s Seat? Continue over the mountain path and check out the hidden gem on the other side. Duddingston Village is an Instagram location that very few people who have visited Edinburgh will have captured.

duddingston village Edinburgh Scotland 2019.
Photo Credit: Elizabeth Edie/Shutterstock.

This charming village tucked behind the Scottish capital boasts adorable homes with manicured gardens and an authentic British Pub called the Sheep’s Heid Inn. Stop by to get some true, “I’m in Britain,” photos.

While you’re there, check out Dr. Neil’s Garden as well. This beautifully kept garden features winding paths, a pond, and an enormous variety of plants from all over the world. Snap a photo in this charming garden with Arthur’s Seat in the distance and congratulate yourself for finding one of the best-kept secret photo spots in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Rosslyn Chapel

If you’re looking to get a bit off the beaten path, this ornate gothic chapel is just one of many easy Instagrammable day trips you can take from Edinburgh without a car!

Rosslyn Chapel on a sunny summer day, located at the village of Roslin, Midlothian, Scotland.
Photo Credit: essevu/Shutterstock.

This stunning chapel which was a shooting location for the film The da Vinci Code is well worth a visit. Rosslyn Chapel and its surrounding grounds offer endless photo opportunities, as does a stroll to the nearby Rosslyn Castle ruins. Take a pause on the footbridge that crosses the river into Rosslyn Glenn and snap a selfie that will look like something straight out of Fairy Land.

The Royal Botanic Garden

The Royal Botanic Garden is the perfect place to get away from it all on your visit to Edinburgh. This lush oasis houses different types of vegetation from all over the world in its manicured gardens and glasshouses, making it one of the best Edinburgh Instagram spots in all seasons.

The Palm House at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh is a scientific center for the study of plants, their diversity and conservation.
Photo Credit: JWCohen/Shutterstock.

The School of Divinity at New College

These stately gothic buildings are part of the campus of Edinburgh University. They’re a must if you want to stop by and pay tribute to Harry Potter by having a Hogwarts moment on your tour of Edinburgh’s best Instagram spots.

The "New College" entrance building. It is a large centre for studies of theology and religion at the School of Divinity.
Photo Credit: pio3/Shutterstock.

Tolbooth Tavern

Built in 1591, this traditional Scottish pub on the Royal Mile has been serving up hospitality for hundreds of years. The distinctive clock on the outside of the building is one of the most recognizable photo spots in Edinburgh and well worth snapping a photo of.

Facade of Tolbooth Tavern pub at Canongate Street in historic part of Edinburgh.
Photo Credit: Fotokon/Shutterstock.

However, you may want to stop inside to soak up some spooky Edinburgh history as well! The building was at one time a prison and it is said that the spirits of its prisoners still haunt it to this day!

Edinburgh Farmer’s Market

Located on Castle Terrace, this is an award-winning farmer’s market with a view of Castle Rock! One of the most overlooked Instagram spots in Edinburgh, this is the perfect spot to grab some organic veggies and fresh baked goods. Don’t forget to stop and snap some photos of Edinburgh Castle from an unusual vantage point.

Vendors and visitors enjoying a very popular farmers market on Castle Terrace Edinburg, UK.
Photo Credit: Nature’s Charm/Shutterstock.

Newhaven Harbor Lighthouse

Built in 1869 by James Dove & Co, this 50-foot cast iron lighthouse has been guiding ships safely into Newhaven Harbor for generations. This hidden gem is one of my favorite Instagram spots in Edinburgh.

Sunrise at Newhaven Harbour on the Firth of Forth. Newhaven is a district in the City of Edinburgh, Scotland, between Leith and Granton and about 2 miles north of the city centre.
Photo Credit: jimmonkphotography/Shutterstock.

Take advantage of sweeping views of Edinburgh’s Firth of the Forth estuary as you stroll along the harbor, grab some fish n’ chips and enjoy an afternoon by the sea.

The Takeaway

As you can see, Edinburgh Scotland truly lives up to its reputation as one of the world’s most photogenic cities.

View of Edinburgh castle from the medieval streets of the old town, Scotland.
Photo Credit: JeniFoto/Shutterstock.

We’ve shared with you our secrets to finding the must-see Instagrammable Photo locations such as Circus Lane, charming Dean Village, Lady Stair’s Close, and the real Diagon Alley! These spots will light your Instagram feed on fire.

However, this list is only the beginning! With so many charming and unique photo opportunities just around every corner, you’re bound to discover some new ones on your trip to Edinburgh, Scotland.

Have you discovered any utterly Instagrammable places in Edinburgh that we missed? Let us know in the comments!

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Alyssa Osiecki

Alyssa is an American writer, traveler, and creator living in Scotland. Her passion is supporting women in their 30s and 40s to live their solo travel and life abroad dreams. She is an experienced solo traveller and career expat with a talent for sniffing out what's unique, offbeat, and truly authentic about every place she visits.

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