Edinburgh is one of the most photogenic cities I’ve visited recently, and it will no doubt end up on your list of favorite cities if you’re into photography. The striking contrast between the medieval Old Town and the Georgian New Town, both together inscribed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, gives the city its unique character.
|The most famous cityscape of Edinburgh from the back of the Dugald Stewart Monument on Calton Hill
With a compact city center and most attractions close to the Royal Mile, Edinburgh’s main historic street, you can see a lot in just a single day. Here are some of the most photogenic locations throughout the city that I was able to cover on a volatile spring day.
PRINCES STREET GARDENS
New York has Central Park, Munich has English Garden and Edinburgh has Princes Street Gardens. Beautifully filled with flower beds and green space, a stroll through the gardens is the best way to approach the Edinburgh Castle.
|Edinburgh Castle seen from Princes Street Gardens
|The Ross Fountain in Princes Street Gardens and the castle in the background
|Spring in full bloom – Daffodils
|Spring bulbs that we all love
|Lovely place for a stroll
Perched high on the Castle Rock with views across the city, Edinburgh Castle is the most popular tourist attraction in town. As such, there will be thousands of tourists piling through the gates, but it does offer a fantastic view over Edinburgh.
I actually preferred to skip a visit to the castle itself and photographed its imposing presence from various points around the city. Be sure to keep your eyes open for a unique perspective.
THE ROYAL MILE AND THE OLD TOWN
The Royal Mile, the old town’s main thoroughfare, connects the castle with Holyrood Palace. As Edinburgh Castle is located at the top of the Royal Mile, you logically walk the street all the way down to the Palace of Holyroodhouse at the other end. Along the way, you’ll find oodles of photo opportunities.
|Husband, last seen at the day care center 🙂
OLD TOWN CLOSES
There are many so-called ‘closes’ in Edinburgh, the most famous ones leading off the Royal Mile. A ‘close’ is a narrow alleyway or street that leads to private property and hence is usually gated and closed to the public. Narrow and mysterious with high buildings on each side, Edinburgh Closes were typically named after a notable resident who once lived in the apartments, and in many ways, the closes represented an early example of gated communities.
Photo Tip: I didn’t but you should visit when the dim street lamps create an eerie atmosphere.
|Scott Monument as seen from Advocate’s Close
This one is my favorite activity in Edinburgh: tight squeeze climbing to the top of the Scott Monument! The Victorian Gothic spire to Scottish novelist Sir Walter Scott stands 61 meters tall, making it the largest monument in the world dedicated to a writer.
To scale the gothic landmark, you’ll have to climb the 287 steps of the dizzying spiral staircase all the way to the top. The spiral staircases are divided into four levels with an opportunity to admire the views at each one. Towards the summit, it becomes more and more challenging with the final spiral being incredibly tight. Once you reach the pinnacle though, you won’t be rewarded with a welcome party but the views are absolutely worth the challenge and it’s a fun way of escaping from the rain. Definitely (not) recommended (for the claustrophobic)!
|View from Scott Monument
|Castle view from the top of Scott Monument
|Scott Monument Detail
Calton Hill is a great spot to take in the best panoramic views of Edinburgh and hope for a glorious sunset with the city’s skyline in the background. Let it be a sunny glow behind the Edinburgh Castle, a sun burst through the giant columns of the National Monument of Scotland, or the city lights in the evening, Calton Hill definitely delivers with impressive views.
|View of the old town with Edinburgh Castle foregrounded by wild gorse flowers
|View of Arthur’s Seat, the famous volcanic feature, from Calton Hill
|Beneath the Greek temples of Calton Hill – Edinburgh’s acropolis, aka the National Monument of Scotland
|A bunch of people crawling all over the National Monument of Scotland, a memorial to Scottish soldiers and sailors with giant columns
From the Calton Hill, it is only a short walk to the Princes Street, the main shopping street in Edinburgh’s 18th century New Town.
|Another classic view straight down the famous Princes Street with the Balmoral Clock and Scott Monument
Trust me, there is no shortage of photography locations in this beautiful city nestled under a series of rocky hills overlooking the sea. Come explore Edinburgh’s historic Old and New Towns and see the stunning cityscape for yourself!