The Vennel Stairs - Top Photo Spots Edinburgh

Our Top Photo Spots in Edinburgh

Edinburgh is a photographer’s dream. One step out of any of our hostels puts you in the heart of the ancient Old Town. With towering buildings, narrow closes, and monuments galore, each street reveals a glimpse into what life must have been like in Auld Reekie. If Old Town didn’t have enough picture-perfect moments, a venture down the hill into the Georgian New Town, Princes Street Gardens and Dean Village will be sure not to disappoint. There are more than enough spots to fill up your film reel in our city, but what are our Top 10 Photo Spots in Edinburgh and how do you find them?

1 Calton Hill

The quintessential Edinburgh image and ultimate photo spot. Nothing screams Edinburgh like a sunset shot overlooking our city from the smallest of Edinburgh’s extinct volcanoes, Calton Hill. Head up in the evening to join the crowds of revellers enjoying the view as the sun sets behind Princes Street and Edinburgh Castle. While you’re up there make sure to check out “Edinburgh’s Shame” (aka the National Monument) and see if you can spot the Forth Bridges just on the horizon.

To get to Calton Hill, walk towards North Bridge (either up or down the Mile depending on which of our hostels you’re staying at) and cross over into the New Town. Then turn right at the end onto Waterloo Place and follow the signs to the top!

2 Victoria Street

Perhaps one of Edinburgh’s most recognizable thoroughfares, be sure to come equipped with both camera and wand in hand to get your shot on Victoria Street – which is rumoured to have inspired JK Rowling’s Diagon Alley! Multicoloured shopfronts line the cobblestone pavement that links the Grassmarket to George IV Bridge and many an influencer can be seen posing here for their ultimate Edinburgh photoshoot. For the best photographic results head there on an Open Streets Day (the first Sunday of the month) where the streets are closed to traffic and many of Edinburgh’s roads become pedestrianized.

To get there from Castle Rock head right out the door, then turn right at Upper Bow and head down the staircase. From Royal Mile and High Street head up the Royal Mile and left at the second set of traffic lights (George IV Bridge), then immediately right onto Victoria Street.

3 Dean Village

Dean Village is a tranquil slice of the country within the New Town of Edinburgh. As you venture down Bells Brae road towards the river, you may find it hard to believe such a serene place can exist so close to our bustling city centre. After you’ve taken your photos of the red brick Well Court and the quaint clusters of bright yellow houses; follow the path from Dean Village along the Water of Leith Walkway to the suburb of Stockbridge. Make sure you keep your wits about you, as this suburb offers some of the best brunch spots in town (we recommend The Pantry in particular). As you meander down the river look out for St Bernard’s Well – an eighteenth-century spring that allegedly sources water with healing powers. The entire walk should take you around 30 minutes but is a welcome relief from the crowded streets of the city. 

To get there from Royal Mile and High Street you’ll need to head up the Royal Mile and right onto North Bridge. From there follow Princes Street left until you reach the end. Then follow the signs for Queensferry Street and turn left down Bells Brae towards the river. From Castle Rock head down Johnston Terrace and turn right on Castle Terrace, then right on Lothian and eventually down the same Queensferry Street towards Dean Village.

4 Circus Lane

If you’re done with brunch in Stockbridge and thinking of heading back to town then be on the lookout for this small avenue that has become an Instagram star: Circus Lane. A cute single row of houses with the beautiful St Stephen’s Church looming over it is the perfect spot to make your friends jealous and only a 5-minute walk from Stockbridge.

To get there leave Stockbridge on Kerr Street and head towards the New Town. You’ll find it as the third street on the left. But be warned, it’s very easy to miss! Often you’ll have to backtrack to find the small pathway between buildings that makes up its entrance, but the search is well worth it.

5 Scott Monument

The Scott Monument holds the record for being the second-largest monument dedicated to an author in the world – and it is surely one of the world’s most spectacular. Often likened to an alien space rocket, you’ll easily spot its monolithic structure immediately upon arrival. For images that show the pure size of it, your best bet is a photo from St David Street, but you can also get great shots of it from Princes Street Gardens and even in the Old Town at Advocate’s Close. For just £8 you can climb the 287 steps to the top for some stunning shots of the city from above and have one of the top photo spots in the city.

To get there head towards the New Town and onto Princes Street. We’re sure you’ll be able to spot it as soon as you step foot onto Edinburgh’s premium shopping avenue.

6 Edinburgh Castle Esplanade

The Castle is Edinburgh’s top tourist attraction and it’s easy to see why. Located slap bang in the middle of the Old Town, it overlooks all of Edinburgh and is a true sight to behold. Unfortunately, the castle is often very busy and quite expensive, so we’re more inclined to save our Pounds and take photos from the esplanade heading up towards the castle itself. From here you get great shots of the city, a great pic of the outside of the castle (best at night when all lit up) and you can do it all for free!

To get there head out of High Street and Royal Mile Backpackers onto the Royal Mile, then go uphill until the very top. From Castle Rock simply cross the street to the staircase and you’ll be at the castle in a matter of minutes.

7 Ross Fountain

The Ross Fountain was bought by Mr Daniel Ross for the city of Edinburgh in 1869 and installed a year after his death in the beautiful Princes Street Gardens underneath the imposing Edinburgh Castle. Once bronze, the fountain is now a turquoise and gold masterpiece that is often crowded in the summer months. From here you can get one of the best angles of the castle as well as an ice cream on a warm summer’s day.

To get there head towards the New Town either along the Mound or North Bridge and turn left on Princes Street. When you pass the Mound take the path left into Princes Street Gardens and follow it until the far corner of the beautifully kept area. All the paths lead towards the fountain where you’ll see many people trying to get that perfect angle.

8 The Vennel Stairs

The Grassmarket is a great spot to see the castle from, but it’s just a tad too low to see the beauty of our fortress. Luckily, just off the Grassmarket you’ll find the Vennel Stairs – a long staircase that connects the bustling Grassmarket with the quieter Lauriston Place. What’s special about this spot? Well get about 50 stairs up and turn around and you’ll see! An almost completely uninterrupted view of the castle flanked by typical Edinburgh architecture makes for one of the best spots in the city to get a selfie or your new profile pic.

To get there head down the Grassmarket towards West Port and turn left just after Mary’s Milk Bar (surely the best ice cream in Edinburgh.)

9 Leith

A suburb full of character and mystery for many years, Leith is fast becoming the trendiest places in Edinburgh. Check out The Shore for some great pics of the harbour and stop by Teuchter’s Landing for a feast at one of Edinburgh’s most unusual bars.

To get there get on the 35, 22, 1 or 16 bus from various parts of the Old and New Town or have a leisurely 45-minute walk along Leith Walk to see some of the interesting bars and restaurants in the suburb.

10 Johnston Terrace

Castle Rock - Johnston Terrace - Best Photo Spots in Edinburgh

A cheeky entry, but we can’t fault the view from just outside our Castle Rock Hostel on Johnston Terrace. With great castle views, it’s hard to take a bad photo from just outside their door and surely this is one of the best photo spots in Edinburgh. Next time you’re in town book a room at our largest hostel and see this view for yourself!

We’ve looked high and low for the best photo spots in Edinburgh, but we’re sure there’s plenty more we haven’t found yet. So if you have any suggestions let us know!

Check out our hostel’s Instagram pages for their top photo spots in Edinburgh.

@CastleRockHostel

@HighStreetHostel

@RoyalMileBackpackers

 

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