Discover the best Edinburgh Instagram spots, and make your Edinburgh photographs sensational with our fiercely fussy guide.
At the time of writing, Edinburgh (and much of the world) is locked down due to Coronavirus/Covid-19. If you are lucky enough to live here, and see some of our best Edinburgh Instagram spots whilst exercising, we hope you find the contents of this article useful. If you can only dream of visiting Edinburgh for the time being, we so much look forward to welcoming you back to our beautiful city. We’re looking after it for you. #Edinburghwillwait
Edinburgh is one of the world’s most beautiful and picturesque cities, both because of its amazing volcanic topography (Edinburgh is famous for being built on 7 hills) and for the amazing architecture that goes with it. As a visitor, or even a proud Edinburgh resident, you’ll want your pictures to reflect this reality. Most locations in Edinburgh make great photographs, but the best Edinburgh instagram spots featured here will allow you to create outstanding instagram posts, regardless of your camera skills!
Do you agree with our selections? What are your best Edinburgh instagram spots? Let us know over on social.
1. The views from Calton Hill
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Often given an extra ‘r’ and mispronounced ‘Carlton Hill’, Calton Hill is nature’s gift to the Instagram snappers and pro-photographers alike, and no guide to Edinburgh’s best Instagram spots would be complete without it.
Immediately adjacent to the city centre, it is ascended via a steep but mercifully brief climb up a series of steps. At the summit, there is a collection of monuments. These include the Nelson memorial, shaped like the telescope the famous Admiral put up to ‘his blind eye’, the Scotland Monument, an unfinished replica of Athens’ Acropolis that is often known as ‘Edinburgh’s Disgrace’, and the Dugald Stewart Monument, erected to commemorate the Scottish philosopher.
However, the main attraction is not what is on the hill, but what can be seen from it – magnificent panoramic views of Edinburgh’s New and Old Towns, and beyond them, volcanic ‘Arthur’s Seat’ on one side, and across the Firth of Forth toward Fife on the other. Vistas are all-encompassing but close enough to capture wonderful architectural details. Unless you’re hit by sudden fog, you won’t be able to take a bad picture, we promise!
2. The Castle from West Princes Street Gardens
Edinburgh locals know that the best snaps of Edinburgh Castle are not gained from walking up the Royal Mile on to Castle Esplanade, but from further away, looking upwards at the imposing structure sitting on its volcanic rock.
The very best area to do this, in our opinion, is West Princes Street Gardens. This Victorian pleasure park has everything a photographer could wish for – mature trees, beautiful flowers in the season, rolling lawns, a picturesque Church, an extravagantly ornate fountain complete with gilded cherubs, delightful flower displays in summer, a bandstand, and of course the looming grandeur of Edinburgh Castle in the background.
The smaller and busier East Princes Street Gardens, complete with Floral Clock and the imposing Scott Monument, is also well worth a visit. Do so at 1pm to hear the 1pm gun salute from the Castle ramparts.
3. Circus Lane, Stockbridge
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Toward the north of the city centre lies Stockbridge, adjoining the elegant New Town. As with so many city suburbs, it was originally a village, and retains a feeling of separateness, despite having been part of the City of Edinburgh since the 19th century. Unsurprisingly, Stock bridge takes its name from a bridge – over the pretty Water of Leith. The current “Stock Bridge” was built in 1801.
Some of our favourite restaurants lie in this part of the city, but it is also known as an Instagrammer’s paradise, particularly for the frequently immortalised view down cobbled Circus Lane. The lane was originally a ‘mews’ – a street to keep the coaches and horses for larger properties nearby, so its properties are closely spaced and on an intimate scale.
If all this wasn’t picturesque enough, the spire of St Stephen’s Church rising in the background completes the effect of a fairy-tale village. Head there first thing in the morning if you want an empty street for a perfectly pretty picture.
4. The Castle from The Vennel
If there’s a view that perfectly sums up Edinburgh’s Old Town, it is the view down The Vennel toward the Grassmarket and the Castle beyond. Vennels are passageways or lanes between buildings, and this type of medieval minor street is unique to Scotland and the North East of England. Vennels aren’t accessible to vehicles, so they must be wandered on foot. There are many in Edinburgh’s Old Town, and ‘The Vennel’ is one of the most picturesque in the city.
The steep downward (or upward) trajectory of its many steps allows for a magnificent view of the Castle, with Victorian buildings and a Victorian lamppost in the foreground completing the picture. You shouldn’t find this area too busy at any time of day, but it is particularly atmospheric at dusk, and is even often photographed at night if you feel comfortable doing so. Your friends will think you’ve discovered a time machine.
5. All of Dean Village
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Situated on the banks of the Water of Leith, Dean Village originally housed various watermills, along with the workers that ran them. Riverside walks here offer a complete escape from the bustle of city life, despite the fact that Dean Village is only five minutes’ walk from Princes Street.
A visit to Dean Village isn’t just good for the soul, it’s good for the Instagram follower count. The area is laden with beautiful photo opportunities, among them the quaint Victorian dwellings built as ‘model’ worker accommodation, that line the river. These have a medieval and slightly Germanic look to them, like something from a Brothers Grimm tale. Further along a wooded walk, you’ll be able to capture the Dean Bridge designed by Thomas Telford, and St Bernard’s Well, a classical folly in the style of a colonnaded temple. It will keep your Instagram account going for months.
6. Victoria Street
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The Late-Georgians and Victorians adored the romance of Old Edinburgh, and they built so many structures echoing this style that the Old Town contains more of these ‘modern’ buildings than buildings from the more distant medieval and renaissance eras.
Typical of such splendour is Victoria Street, a curved parade of shops with tenement buildings above, winding its way down from George IV Bridge to The Grassmarket below. Designed by architect Thomas Hamilton, and begun in 1829, it was renamed for Queen Victoria when she ascended to the throne. Small independent shops selling wonderful looking (and often smelling) wares line the steep pavement, and the scene is topped off a galleried walkway with a bistro offering outdoor dining at one end. J.K. Rowling wrote her first Harry Potter book nearby, and many have compared Victoria Street to the fictional ‘Diagon Alley’.
This street is busy – go early to avoid the crowds if you want a better chance of that amazing shot.
7-ish… The Cherry Blossoms in The Meadows. *seasonal!
Each of the previous six best Edinburgh Instagram spots looks amazing regardless of time of year. This one however, is strictly seasonal. From the beginning of June until the end of March, The Meadows is a large, pretty, but not extraordinary park between Edinburgh’s pleasant Bruntsfield and Marchmont suburbs. However, between those dates, in April and May, something magical happens, and the cherry trees planted along the paths to form shady avenues, suddenly come to life with beautiful, fragrant blossoms.
If you’re not visiting Edinburgh in Spring, unfortunately you’ll miss it. All the more reason to plan a second visit!
We hope you enjoyed our best Edinburgh Instagram spots guide – did we miss any of your favourites? Why not head over to our Instagram page and let us know – or better still, tag us into your proudest creations and we could feature them on our account.
All that snapping in Edinburgh will probably make you hungry – so take a look at our Edinburgh restaurant section, where we’ve helpfully star-rated a huge selection.