This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my disclosure policy for details.

Edinburgh is one of my all time favourite cities in the UK and, in my humble opinion, one of the most photogenic too. 

So, over the years, I’ve visited a lot of these Instagram Spots in Edinburgh way before there even was such a thing as an Instagram app.

The capital of Scotland is steeped in history and so is full of stunning architecture, spectacular viewpoints, fairytale castles, magical film locations (I’m looking at you Outlander and Potter heads) and even an extinct volcano you can climb!

So, I would make sure you spend at least a few days exploring to ensure you can fit in this list of stunning photo spots.

Here are the most Instagrammable places in Edinburgh!

Instagram spots in Edinburgh | Dean village Edinburgh

Dean Village, Edinburgh

Every time I have visited Edinburgh, I have made my way around on foot. But, I will warn you now, it will be ‘leg day’ whether you choose it or not. 

The Castle in Edinburgh Old Town is built on a cliff. So, whether you’re hiking up the Royal Mile slowly, or having a work out up Granny’s Green Steps, you’ll need a good pair of walking shoes.

I had my own car in Scotland so was able to drive. I love the fact that parking is free before 8am and after 6pm pretty much anywhere in the city. So, it was perfect for sunrise/sunset shooting! 

But, if you’re not driving and your feet are tired, there is Uber that works here or support local and go with Edinburgh City Cabs.

If you’d rather go a bit greener, you can take the buses and trams that head around the city. Why not look into an Edinburgh City Pass that gets you a FREE airport transfer, Hop on Hop off bus transport and entrance to the cities main attractions?!  

There are also a wealth of amazing tours of Edinburgh including walking tours, ghost hunting, or going under the city streets in the old cave systems too! Click here to see all tours of Edinburgh.

Instagram Spots in Edinburgh

Edinburgh Castle

Top tips for Photography in Edinburgh

  • Unfortunately, Scotland does see a lot of rain! But, I think the Edinburgh stone glistens during this time and transforms the city to look even more moody, mysterious and amazing. However, just in case, make sure to protect your camera equipment. Check out this camera rain cover.
  • On that note, make sure you get travel insurance to protect your gear. I always use World Nomad’s for their reliable policies.
  • Edinburgh is one of the busiest cities in the UK, especially in the summer during the Fringe Festival. So, if you want to beat the crowds, getting up early is key to getting clean shots. Places are packed at sunset. I know getting up for a 5am sunrise isn’t fun, but it’s worth it and you can always take a nap later!
  • Most of these spots are in the Old Town, so plan your route and be strategic if you want to get around a few places with good lighting. Maybe concentrate on the Royal Mile and Castle one morning, then the new city like Stockbridge and Dean Village another. 
  • If you’re thinking of being in the shots, Edinburgh has a lot of dark, greyish stone and green landscapes. So, wear bright colours like yellow, red, or white to stand out and contrast with the buildings. 
Writers Museum Edinburgh Makars Court

For example, the courtyards have neo-gothic architecture! So, bright colours are a win

18+ Instagram Spots in Edinburgh

1.Calton Hill Viewpoint

This is without a doubt the best photo spots in the whole of Edinburgh. From here, you can get a birds eye view of the city and see some of the main sites!

This hill point started with the Athenian acropolis initiated in 1816, after Napoleon’s defeat at Waterloo. 

Ever since, there have been multiple monuments built onto the hill including Nelson’s Monument, The Collective Gallery, The Old Observatory House and the City Observatory. 

The Athenian Acropolis, Calton Hill, Edinburgh

The Athenian Acropolis/National Monument, Calton Hill, Edinburgh

As you make your way around the hill you can see well beyond over to Edinburgh Castle, Prince’s Street, Holyrood Palace, Salisbury Crag’s and Arthurs’ Seat. 

The best time to visit here is at sunset, but it will be crammed by this point! So, I would go early to beat the crowds if you’re after empty shots. Or, just find your place and get creative with angles, or a good zoom lens.  

Most people bring some tinnies or a few bottles up here. So, ditch the thought of sky bars and save your cash, this is the best bar view you’ll get in whole of Edinburgh ;)

Read more about things to see & do at this amazing viewpoint here

Calton Hill Edinburgh | Instagram spots in Edinburgh

Calton Hill makes you feel on top of the world! (don’t worry there was flat ground an inch under me)

Calton Hill Viewpoint Edinburgh

The views from Calton Hill are some of the best in the whole city!

2.   The Vennel Steps

If you want an epic view of Castle the Vennel Steps is the Instagram location in Edinburgh for you!

A cute tidbit is that ‘Vennel’ is an Old Scottish word which means ‘little secret’, if you were interested where the name comes from. 

The Vennel Steps, nicknamed Miss Jean Brodie Steps, is a hidden alleyway that is tucked away between two buildings. There is also the remains of the Flodden Wall here set up in 1513 to protect the city. 

The Vennel, Edinburgh

The Vennel, Edinburgh

But, the spot you will want to see is at the top of the stairs. This provides one of the best viewpoints of the castle and makes a fab Instagram spot! 

It does get busy during the day, so if you want the best lighting and to not have to wait for people to wheeze up the steps. I’d go earlier rather than later. 

At the bottom of the alley, you can explore Grassmarket which has its own set of amazing buildings and boutique shops. 

Read my full guide on how to find this location

The Vennel Steps, Edinburgh | Instagram spots in Edinburgh

The Vennel Steps, Edinburgh

3.   Circus Lane 

By far one of the prettiest streets in Edinburgh is Circus Lane that is tucked away near Stockbridge and behind St. Stephen’s Street. You can see the clocktower from St Stephen’s Church just above it!

Originally, this street used to be a service street for coaches and horses for the wealthy. If you wander around you can definitely see the evidence of stables!

You’ll only need around 15-20 minutes to walk through and capture a few snaps. But, if you’re a photographer, you could spend an hour taking all the unique angles!

It’s one of the most famous streets for photography here in Edinburgh and it’s no secret. So, you will find a lot of tourists and photographers here. 

Early morning is the best to get this place empty. However, I visited just before sunset in May (around 9/10pm) and it was empty too. 

Read my guide on how to find this pretty lane here

Instagrammable Places in Edinburgh | Circus Lane

Circus Lane, Edinburgh

4.  Dean Village

If you’re looking to score a few photo spots in one sitting, Dean Village is easily accessible from Circus Lane. 

This is one of my favourite photo spots in Edinburgh and it looks like you’ve been transported away from the Gothic Old Town and entered into something from a fairytale!

Dean Village used to be a former village and a milling area over 800 years ago. It actually used to be called the “Water of Leith Village” before taking on the new name.The Dean Bridge was built by Thomas Telford in the 1880s and this is a great view from above. It gradually fell into decline until the 1970s when they started to rebuild.  

Read why you must visit this gorgeous village here

Instagram spots in Edinburgh | Dean village Edinburgh

Dean Village, Edinburgh

Now, it’s part of the main city, but hasn’t lost its quaint charm. As you descend down to the river, it’s hard to believe that you’re still in the capital. 

One of the best photo spots can be accessed from the Water of Leith over the river on the metal bridge. I set up my tripod here or you can head down onto the river banks to take your shot.

If you’re here for some time, it’s well worth exploring the area to see the old Mews houses and quaint streets. Or, start your Water of Leith hike! 

Dean Village | Instagram spots in Edinburgh

Dean Village

5.  The School of Divinity

The School of Divinity is located at New College and forms part of the University of Edinburgh. 

The New College was established in 1843 and opened a few years later as part of the Free Church of Scotland.

Today, If you were interested, this school is one of the top 20 universities where you can study theology, divinity and religion.  

The building is in a neo-gothic style and has such a dramatic presence! It looks like you’ve been transported to Hogwarts. Perfect for your Instagram feed.

You may not be allowed to enter the courtyard during school time, so I would visit either before or after lessons. 

You’ll need a wide angle lens to capture all of the background, or set up your tripod as far back as you can! 

School of Divinity | Instagram spots in Edinburgh

School of Divinity, New College, University of Edinburgh

6. Bakehouse Close / The Outlander Print Shop film location

If you have some time spare, you must check out the hidden courtyards, alleys, wynds and steps that fall off the Royal Mile. Some of these secrets are epic photos! 

Bakehouse Close is one of the finest examples of a historic courtyard on the Royal Mile and is a popular spot with photographers.

But, in the last few years it has a significant meaning to those who love the TV show Outlander! This is the very spot where Claire reunites with Jamie in his print shop. 

bakehouse close edinburgh outlander print shop a malcolm

Bakehouse Close Edinburgh

Although the shop will not be there, the alleyway and the steps will be. So, you can recreate all the scenes in this episode until the cows come home.

I found that at all times of the day, there were tour groups or Outlander fans capturing the moment. So, to avoid crowds come early, or patiently wait your turn. 

Despite it being an Outlander location, it is still a very photoworthy spot and one worth capturing. 

If you’re a fan, make sure you read my guide on how to find the Outlander Print Shop here

bakehouse close edinburgh outlander print shop a malcolm

The iconic Outlander Print Shop shot

7. The Writers Museum / Makar’s Court

At the top of the Royal Mile is another hidden courtyard through Lady Stairs Close called Makar’s Court. Which is almost a temple to some of the great Scottish writers and poets through time. 

It’s an evolving national literary monument and in fact, the world Makar means ‘‘one who fashions, constructs, produces, prepares, etc.’ 

Inside Makar’s court you’ll find the Writers Museum which is FREE entry and celebrates the lives of the famous writers Robert Burns, Sir Walter Scott and Robert Louis Stevenson.

But, as well as it being a museum its is drop dead gorgeous and worth stopping by for a few snaps. 

Many locals use this close to avoid the crowds of tourists, so it can get busy during the rush hour or school run. Best to go early to avoid crowds!

Writers Museum | Instagram spots in Edinburgh

The Writer’s Museum at Makar’s Court

8. The Old Stockbridge Market Archway

It took me an embarrassing amount of time to find this exact location, until in my desperation I stopped a local to ask for directions! 

That’s because the new Stockbridge market is nowhere near the old one, where this archway can be found. So, Google Maps was as useful as a chocolate tea pot. 

Stockbridge Market Arch location

Stockbridge Market Arch location is on St Stephens Place

Learn from my mistake. Make sure you save the fact that The Old Stockbridge Market Archway is located in on the St Stephen’s Place.

It was active from 1823 to 1906 and the archway with its old oil lamp was built by Archibald Scott in 1825. It makes the ideal photo spot. 

Today, Stockbridge market runs every Sunday and brings in all the independent traders selling foodie items! It’s definitely worth stopping by if you’re about. Click here to see more. 

The Old Stockbridge Market Arch, Edinburgh | Instagram spots in Edinburgh

The Old Stockbridge Market Arch, Edinburgh

9. Craigmillar Castle

There are some amazing castles in the city of Edinburgh and in the wider districts too. So, if you feel that Edinburgh Castle is too expensive, busy and touristy, I have another castle nearby that might be just up your street.

Craigmillar Castle can be found in Holyrood Park and is something out of a fairytale. With its winding iconic Yew trees at the entrance way, you could get lost in here for hours. 

Unlike Edinburgh Castle, you won’t find big displays or the crown jewels. But, you will find views for miles and endless labyrinths of staircases and rooms to explore without all the selfie sticks and crowds. 

This castle used to be a hideaway for the Stewart Royal Family away from the city. It’s famous as Mary Queen of Scots stayed here for a while and legend has it, this is where she plotted the murder of her husband David Rizzio.

For Outlander Fans, this will also be recognisable as Ardsmuir Prison in series 3. Where Jamie, or Mac Dubh, is held prisoner at the behest of Lord James Grey.

Read more about this fairytale castle here

castle outlander

Craigmillar Castle

10. Salisbury Crags

An iconic sight in Edinburgh is the Salisbury Crags which is a cliff face that looks down on the city of Edinburgh. It’s part of the wider Holyrood Park and is ideal for hiking if you’re planning on climbing Arthur’s Seat. 

It’s hard to believe that this area was formed over 340 million years ago! But, it still stands today and makes an iconic photo location! 

You could honestly spend hours within the park exploring its lochs, hill tops, abandoned churches and viewpoints. So, make sure you take some time to check it all out. 

Salisbury Crags Edinburgh

The view of the Crags from Calton Hill!

Salisbury Crags, Edinburgh

Salisbury Crags, Edinburgh

11. Arthur’s Seat 

Did you know that Edinburgh has an extinct Volcano that you can climb? Yep, that’s right. Arthur’s Seat gets its name from the legendary King Arthur and is often thought to be a possible location of Camelot! 

The hill top almost has a lion-like appearance and is located around 250 metres above sea level. 

Although this is nowhere near a Munro bagging affair, you’ll still be pretty lost for breath as you climb up to the peak!

Whether this view will be worth it entirely depends on the weather really. If it’s a sunny day, the view will be bonny. But, if it’s a wee bit cloudy or rainy, you may be disappointed for photos.

However, I think that despite the photos, it’s an awesome climb! It can get really windy up here at the peak as you’re by the coast, so be careful.

Arthur's Seat Edinburgh

Told you, the view is a little disappointing on a rainy day!

12. Victoria Street and the West Bow

If you’re a fan of Harry Potter then you have to make a visit to this colourful street in Grass Market a priority.

Although J.K. Rowling has never made a statement, this cobbled area is thought to be an inspiration for Diagon Alley. Even the side streets of the West Bow and Candle Maker Row were apparently inspiration for the books. 

Despite the references, the curved cobbled road and colourful buildings stacked on top of each other makes a smashing photo location. Just avoid the crowds and go early!

This magical street is also just a stones throw away from The Elephant House where J.K. used to type away at her early manuscripts. 

Someday this is the birthplace of Harry Potter and it has become so popular you’ll be queuing a while to enter.

13. Princes Street Gardens

If you’re looking for a pretty place to chill in the city, The Princes Street Gardens is ideal. 

If it’s a sunny day, you’ll find plenty of office workers on lunch, people having picnics, reading books or sleeping in the shade.

The best part about these gardens is the fact that the park has a dramatic view of Edinburgh Castle from here. From this angle you can see just how high the cliff face is!

So, you can get some spectacular views from the Ross Fountain that has had a new lick of paint. 

Make sure you take some time exploring as there are lots of gems here including the Scott Monument and the quaint old gardeners cottage.

Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh

Princes Street Gardens, Edinburgh

14. The Royal Mile

The Royal Mile, which is the length of a Scottish mile by the way, is a must visit in Edinburgh. It’s made up of Castlehill, Lawnmarket, High Street and Canongate.

For the last 500 years it has been a processional route for the Royal families of Scotland and the United Kingdom. 

Each part of the mile has something unique to offer and hundreds of photo spots including St Giles Cathedral, The photogenic streets, The Castle, hidden courtyards, old buildings like Moubray House and even the old red telephone boxes! 

Although the Royal Mile will only take you 15-20 minutes to walk completely (if you’re walking down lol). It could take you all day to explore the area with all the shops, museums, hidden alleys and restaurants along the strip. 

Notable sights are the Witchery by the Castle, the Signet Library, Camera Obscura, Scottish Parliament, Museum of Edinburgh, Scotch Whisky Experience and Canongate Kirkyard.

Royal Mile Edinburgh

Royal Mile during the Fringe Festival – spot the cone on the statue ;)

15.  Edinburgh Castle 

Another photogenic spot is the famous Edinburgh castle where the whole city first began on top of iron age Castle Hill. 

As one of the oldest fortifications in all of Europe, it has had a long history of serving as an ancient royal residence, a military garrison and a fortified prison. It also holds the title as the most besieged castle in all of Britain. 

Today, the castle is one of the most popular attractions in the city and is a huge museum where you can see the Honours of Scotland, The most powerful canon Mons Meg, watch the one o’ clock gun, enter St. Margaret’s chapel and enter the Great Hall and museums. 

Its huge and you will find crowds throughout the day. So, I would buy tickets in advance to beat the masses of tourists!

If you didn’t want to enter the castle and spend money on a ticket, the best photo spot is outside of the Castle at the entrance square. During the summer this square is where they hold the Edinburgh Tattoo. 

I would come early to avoid crowds or wait until evening for a quiet spot after the castle has closed. 

Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle

16. Canon Gate / Tolbooth Tavern

Canon Gate is hands down my favourite part of Edinburgh as the whole area is filled with beautiful historic buildings and ends with Holyrood Palace! 

All the buildings here are made with greyish stone and it really feels like you’ve stepped back in time a few centuries.

The Canongate goes all the way back to the times of David I in 1143 AD who authorised for the Holyrood Abbey to be built. So, the entire burgh of Canongate was controlled by the Abbey. It finally got its name from the canons that used to make their way through up to the castle. 

One of the spots that photographers may be interested in is the iconic Old Canongate Tolbooth where people used to collect a toll for people passing through. Nowadays the Tolbooth is no longer there but you can visit the Tolbooth Tavern underneath it.

This pub is a beautiful picture spot and the best place to capture it is from the close directly opposite.

Tolbooth Tavern, Canongate Edinburgh | Instagram spots in Edinburgh

Tolbooth Tavern, Canongate Edinburgh

17. The Queen’s Residence at Holyrood Palace & Abbey

If you make your way a bit further to the end of Canongate, you’ll find Holyrood Palace which is the Queen’s Residence in Edinburgh. 

This palace served as a principal residence of Scottish Royalty since the 16th century and today is the official residence of the British Monarch in Scotland, Queen Elizabeth II. 

The inner courtyard, beautiful room displays, manicured gardens outside would be your best bet for beautiful photo spots!

But, the best spot is the ruined Augustinian Holyrood Abbey that was founded in the 12th century.  Although most fell into decay, you can still capture the beautiful cloisters that once stood. 

It’s not a cheap place to visit, but the displays are well worth the money. If you didn’t want to enter, you can catch a glimpse of the palace from Holyrood Park and Calton Hill! 

Holyrood Abbey Cloisters

Holyrood Abbey Cloisters

Holyrood Palace Edinburgh

Holyrood Palace

18. Tweeddale Court 

The final hidden courtyard, that I feel is one of Edinburgh’s best kept secrets, is Tweeddale Court. Hidden away along the Royal Mile, you can enter through the alleyway into a gorgeous close with historical buildings. 

Tweeddale Court gets its present name from the 1st Marquess and 2nd Earl of Tweeddale, John Hay. He was a senior advisor to King Charles II and was appointed as the Lord President of the Scottish Council. His house can be found at the end of the street. 

Tweeddale Court Outlander

Tweeddale Court 

An interesting fact about this close is that it was the location of the murder scene. William Begbie was found here with a knife in his heart in 1806 and was missing some £4,000’s for a bank in Leith. No one was ever caught and supposedly his ghost haunts those who enter at night.

It’s also home to Edinburgh’s smallest listed building of a Sudan Chair House. A Sudan was a chair that transported the wealthy on the backs of the poor.  Not an envious job to have.

You’ll only really see locals here who want to escape the crowds so it’s perfect for photography. The composition of the buildings are just perfect together.

Did you know this is another Outlander location? Read more about this secret hidden court here

Tweeddale Court Outlander

Tweeddale Court Gate

Use this helpful map to find Instagram spots in Edinburgh! 

Instagrammable Cafés and Restaurants in Edinburgh 

So, that’s all the Instagram spots in Edinburgh but what about food?

Everyone loves a pretty restaurant, whether it’s the decor, the artisan food or the views the area provides. So, you’ll be glad to know that Edinburgh is full of them! 

We’ve already spoke about The Elephant House and if you’re after a classic pub The World’s End is a rustic favourite that you can read about here (don’t blame me for the queues though!).

But, if you’re looking specifically for photoworthy ones, I’ve hand picked some of my favourite Instagrammable cafés in Edinburgh here;

Instagram spots in Edinburgh

The Signet Library Afternoon Tea

I first heard about The Signet Library after I was looking for Outlander film locations in the city. Then, when I found out that their restaurant, The Colonnades, prepared one of the finest afternoon teas in the city, I just had to book!

The Signet is home to the Society of Writers to Her Majesty’s Signet. It’s an association of Scottish lawyers and one of the oldest professional bodies in the world. It’s now over 500 years old.

The Signet was the royal seal of old Scottish kings and queens and only the Writers of the Signet were authorised to use it.

signet library afternoon tea signet library outlander location

Signet Library Edinburgh

Their luxury fine dining restaurant prepares an incredible afternoon tea with an artistic flare and, if you’re lucky, you can sit in one of the alcoves with some of the oldest books in the library. 

If you are an Outlander fan this is the perfect spot as they filmed the Governor’s Mansion in Jamaica here in series 3! You can even have a Ginger Ale like they did in the series. 

Afternoon tea times:

  • Monday to Friday from 1pm – 5pm 
  • Closed on Saturdays
  • Sundays from 11am – 5pm.

Read my full review of this afternoon tea experience here

signet library afternoon tea signet library outlander location

A Signet Library afternoon tea is a must for Outlander fans!

The Balmoral’s Palm Court 

The Balmoral is an iconic hotel in the city and you can enjoy a spectacular afternoon tea in their stunning Palm Court.

The location of the afternoon tea is head to toe luxurious and you’d better come hungry as you’ll have a lot of food in store.

You will be lulled by the sound of a live harpist while sipping on organic tea and enjoying savoury and sweet treats! Then, you can help yourself from the trolley and they even give you a tea caddy to take home.

Afternoon tea is £35 per person but the value for money is outstanding. You can read my full review here.

The Balmoral Palm Court Edinburgh

The Balmoral Palm Court Edinburgh

The Secret Garden restaurant in The Witchery by the Castle 

If you’re looking for a real treat and a restaurant with unique character, then you must go to the Witchery by the Castle.

Placed on Castle hill, right next door to Edinburgh castle, the building takes its name from the hundreds of women accused as witches and burned at the stake on the order of James VI. He is said to have executed more than any other monarch.

You’ll often find this is a popular celebrity haunt as it is a designer hotel as well as a restaurant. 

The Secret Garden is decorated in a Gothic style with horns, chandeliers, velvet seats and brocades. It’s got an atmosphere like no other.

In the evening, you’ll find that the place is romantically lit by candles and has a spooky feel to it. But, if you want a bargain, make sure you go for their lunch menu. They usually have a set menu offer. 

I wrote about my experience in the Witchery by the Castle here or book a room for the night in their Gothic abode.

The Witchery by the Castle

The Witchery by the Castle

Where to stay in Edinburgh?

There are a wealth of places to stay in Edinburgh and, if you’re not tired to snapping photos, are also extremely Instagram worthy. 

If you’re looking on the luxury end you can stay at the Balmoral, The Malmaison Edinburgh, The Waldorf Astoria, The Glass House, Prestonfield House or Nira Caledonia.

Mid-range you have the Haymarket Hub Hotel, The Cairn Hotel, Old Waverley Hotel, and Grass Market Hotel.

For budget, there is the Grosvenor Hotel, Thistle Hotel, Brooks Hotel and Haymarket Hotel.  

The best hostels are CoDe Hostel, Castle Rock, Kick-Ass Grass Market, The West End Hostel and St Christophers Edinburgh.

Hotels in Edinburgh

There are so many hotels in Edinburgh to choose from!

Looking for more things to do in Edinburgh? 

Edinburgh isn’t one of the most popular cities in UK for no reason. There is so much history, views, attractions, beaches, canals, castles and culinary delights to enjoy here! 

Whether you want to try haggis, try a dram of whisky, drink Irn-Bru, eat a battered Mars Bar or gorge on Scottish Tablet. You’ll have endless choices.

I have a whole bucket list that I have made for this lively city which will make sure you cover the very best of Edinburgh and first time Scottish experiences;

Click here to read my ultimate list of things to do in Edinburgh

The Vennel Edinburgh | Instagram spots in Edinburgh

The Vennel Steps

Like it? Pin it!

Instagram spots in Edinburgh | Instagrammable places in Edinburgh
Instagram spots in Edinburgh | Instagrammable places in Edinburgh
Instagram spots in Edinburgh | Instagrammable places in Edinburgh

This post may contain affiliate links. What this means is, if you purchase anything after clicking on that link, I gain a small commission at no further cost to you. This helps keep my site free for all to use. You rock! Thank you for your understanding.
Did you like this post or have any feedback? Please let me know in the comments section below! Or, if you have any further questions, feel free to ask. Be sure to subscribe to my mailing list by popping your email in the form below and follow me on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Bloglovin’!