Edinburgh, Scotland: A Photography Guide To One Of Europe’s Best Cities
According to a recent study, London is the number one location for Americans visiting Europe in 2023.
This is the city of red buses, telephone boxes, museums, galleries, war rooms, fish n’ chips – or “fries” for the more sophisticated among us – palaces, cockney accents, and tea. Everything and anything that seems quintessentially British, you’ll find it in London.
But before you start frantically booking London as your next vacation destination, we would urge you to reconsider. While London is a beautiful city, full of culture and history, there’s another European city that we would argue is even better.
Edinburgh, Scotland, is one of the best cities in Europe. Especially for the photographers amongst us, this place can offer everything from gorgeous gothic architecture, stunning greenery, and, of course, a lot of clansmen in kilts!
Let’s be honest, part of the reason we photographers love going on vacation is because of all the Insta-worthy pictures we can get – let alone the opportunity to make a whole new Instagram photo book!
So if you’re contemplating either London or Edinburgh, here are a few things you can do and snap in Edinburgh that should hopefully make the decision easier for you.
Walking The Royal Mile – But Not Really
You know those pictures of European streets that you see on the internet, the ones that look just like Diagon Alley from Harry Potter? Well, welcome to Edinburgh.
JK Rowling wrote Harry Potter in this city, and you can tell, because the Royal Mile seems to be one of her biggest inspirations. It’s long – approximately 1.81km, so a little longer than a mile – but perfect for photographers to stroll up and capture the magic.
Becoming A Nineteenth-Century Grave Robber
Near the top of the Royal Mile, you’ll find St. Giles Cathedral, founded all the way back in 1124. To the left of this building, however, is a bridge that takes you to a large and eerie graveyard. This was the place where grave robbers like Burke and Hare would dig up bodies to sell to the local doctors.
Even to this day, the atmosphere of this graveyard is palpable, with strange alleyways and darkened corners that can easily make the hairs on the back of your neck stand on end. Oh, and they're perfect photographer material, too!
Climbing The Volcano
We wrote a blog a few months ago, looking at why London is one of the most photogenic vacation spots, but for all its merits, London doesn’t have everything that Edinburgh has. For starters, where’s the volcano? Every city should have a volcano!
No? Just Edinburgh? Ah, well that’s another reason why you should pick this spot over anywhere else. In the heart of Holyrood Park is a huge extinct volcano, which erupted approximately 340 million years ago. Every day, tourists climb all the way to the top and snap some amazing pictures of the city below.
Relaxing In Princes Street Gardens
Speaking of natural beauty, one of the best things to photograph in Edinburgh isn’t a building or a castle, it’s the greenery. For instance, just alongside Prince’s Street – the second most popular Edinburgh street after the Royal Mile – is a beautiful 37 acre garden, where hundreds of tourists visit to take a break from the bustling city streets and recuperate for a bit.
And what a place to recuperate in! At times, it feels like this garden doesn’t even exist in a city. It’s in its own little world, a bubble where you can snap some amazing natural pics and get some real variety into your vacation portfolio before you upload it to a photo book maker.
Absorbing History In Edinburgh Castle
When you’re in the garden, we suggest you also take the time to look up. What you’ll see is yet another extinct volcano, with a huge, 11th century castle built right on top of it. The best thing is, this castle is open to all the public to explore, learn a bit of Scottish history, and yet again, get some fabulous views of the city you have been walking in.
Try to get there at around 12:00 PM. That way, you’ll be there for when they light the cannons – which happens every day at 1:00 PM. From gorgeous plantlife in a huge garden, to a cannon being shot on an extinct volcano. Beat that, London!
Feeling The Blues In The Jazz Bar
If you’re a bit of a night owl, then Edinburgh has you covered. You’ll find most of the great nightlife spots in New Town, but a few Old Town spots are definitely worth a mention.
One of these is known as The Jazz Bar, which is known for putting on some incredible 1920's-esque shows! It’s a fun, glittery, smokey, atmospheric place that only costs £10 to enter. That's what we call a bargain!
Getting Completely And Utterly Lost
We’ve mentioned just a few things you can do and snap in Edinburgh, but there are millions more. In fact, that’s the point we’re going to finish up with. The best thing about Edinburgh is that it’s a city where you can get completely and utterly lost, and yet still come across something that takes your breath away.
As a photographer, you can simply wander through the streets and explore. Take some wrong turns, venture through an alleyway or two. You can find the city not on your terms, but the city’s terms. That way, you can really experience what it has to offer.