Edinburgh is a filmmaker's dream, a city of stunning architecture, wide open spaces, dramatic changes in light and majestorial presence. If Edinburgh were a leading lady she would be Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly or perhaps Anne Hathaway...
It's been the perfect backdrop and setting for a diverse range of film and tv productions from One Day, to Burke and Hare, to Trainspotting, Case Histories, Rebus and Hallam Foe.
We've done our best to arrange a walking tour which includes many of the main locations within Edinburgh's rich filmic legacy. This isn't an exhaustive list of all the films shot and locations used in Edinburgh.
The points below don’t need to be followed in exact order, just dip in and out and visit the many shops, attractions, restaurants and bars along the way...
Begin with a bracing walk up Edinburgh’s 350 million-year-extinct volcano for one of the best views of the city you’re about to explore. An easy 30-minute amble up any of the various paths of rock and grass will reward you with glorious summit views sweeping 360º across the city.
Give it a romantic twist like One Day characters Em and Dex with a cosy blanket and gourmet picnic basket from one of Edinburgh’s delicious delis, such as Cranachan & Crowdie or DemiJohn, and don’t forget your camera for that magical picture.
Make your way to Calton Hill, at the end of Princes Street for the other starting location. If missing out Calton hill continue on to Broughton St and Broughton Place.
Location For: A Woman in Winter, Death Defying Acts, Trouble Sleeping, One Day, North and South, Gideon’s Daughter, Feel the Force, Low Winter Sun, Rebus, Reichenbach Falls, Starting Over, Single Father.
Calton Hill and Arthur's Seat form two of the Seven Hills on which the city of Edinburgh is built. Calton Hill, located at the east end of Princes Street on the edge of the New Town, is the site of many striking monuments including the National Monument, Nelson's Monument, the Dugald Stewart Monument and the Robert Burns Monument.
The view of Edinburgh from Calton Hill is breathtaking; the panorama enfolds out across Old and New Towns to Fife and the Bridges. It's the best place to take in the city's range and many moods. Many productions have used Calton Hill for the establishing shot of the city, which is part of the reason it is such an iconic view.
Continue onto Broughton Place where scenes from Chariots of Fire and The Illusionist were created, then head up towards West Register Street.
Visit Real Foods; selection of whole foods, seeds/nuts and herbal teas; Artisan Roast, coffee for the connoisseur; and Treacle Bar, great vibe, service, food and drink, on Broughton Road if you have time.
West Register Street
The location for a BBC remake of The 39 Steps, based on the classic novel by Scottish author John Buchan, and set in the build up to the First World War, starring Rupert Penry Jones (Burn Up, Spooks) as Richard Hannay. Restaurant scenes for Chariots of Fire were filmed in the restaurant of the Café Royale.
Princes Street, Princes Street Gardens, Balmoral Hotel and Scott Monument
Next up, and just around the corner, is Edinburgh’s most famous shopping street, Princes Street. Packed with high street favourites, this was the setting for the famous opening scene of the internationally acclaimed film Trainspotting, which saw Renton being chased by store detectives along its east end down to Calton Road.
Across the road, you will see the Balmoral Hotel, (built in 1902 and now owned by Rocco Forte) one of Edinburgh's landmarks and setting of the clocktower scenes in Hallam Foe. The clock tower was also the home of the baddy in Shoebox Zoo.
The Scott Monument played host to Cloud Atlas, whilst the film Death Defying Acts actually re-constructed part of the Monument to complete its work. When you’ve finished shopping and recreating Renton's famous sprint, turn up Waverley Bridge and take a walk in Princes Street gardens.
Cockburn Street and Warriston Steps
Warriston Steps, which link Cockburn Street to the High Street is one of the many locations in Edinburgh used as the setting for 2011’s One Day, starring Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess. Near the top of Cockburn Street, take a walk down Fleshmarket Close, the name taken by Ian Rankin for one of his novels, starring John Rebus, down to Market Street.
Stop off at either the Jinglin Geordie (no 22, used to slake the thirst of many a Scotsman hack and sub, when the Scotsman Hotel building hosted the newspaper) or the Halfway House, (no 24) for refreshments on the way.
Location For: Case Histories
Turn right on Market Steet and in the distance you will see the modern spires of the City of Edinburgh Council's Waverley Court headquarters, opened in 2007. Follow the road down to the entrance of the building, which was used for the filming of the police office based scenes in Case Histories, as private investigator Jackson Brodie solves mysteries in Edinburgh. The TV show was filmed inside Waverley Court at the weekends to capture the fabulous views west towards North Bridge.
Old Fishmarket Close
From Waverley Court, turn left up Cranston Street and head up the Royal Mile, setting for Clive Barker’s paranormal ghostfest Book of Blood. The boutiques, shops and restaurants of Jeffrey Street and St Mary's Street are worth a look on your way, including designer homewares from Moleta Munro and gifts with a difference from Present.
Passing over North Bridge, which intersects the High Street, further up on your left, you will see Old Fishmarket Close. This old fish and poultry market welcomed Simon Pegg and Andy Serkis for the 2010 film Burke and Hare, telling the grisly tale of the business activities of Edinburgh’s notorious serial killing duo.
As you continue up Edinburgh’s most famous street, fans of TV series Garrow’s Law might recognise Parliament Square as one of the locations in Series 3.
Angels with Bagpipes, across from Parliament Square, is excellent for food...Stop for refreshments at the 'hidden away', Jolly Judge (7 James Court) or Ensign Ewart (closest pub to the Castle). Camera Obscura is well worth a visit on your way, a hit with children and adults alike, with its illusions, panaromic views and history of Edinburgh.
Follow the Royal Mile up to Edinburgh Castle, the location for scenes from many productions, including The Adventures of Greyfriars Bobby, Filth and Rebus. Retrace your steps back onto the Royal Mile and turn right onto George IV Bridge. Follow this elevated street, constructed between 1829 and 1832, past Victoria Street on your right.
Head towards the far end of the bridge until you come to one of Edinburgh’s most famous and most loved statues, Greyfriars Bobby. The story of the wee Skye Terrier who mourned his master’s passing by remaining loyally at his graveside has been retold countless times and was the subject of a Disney film in 1961 and a remake in 2005. You can visit Greyfriars Kirkyard, site of his master’s grave, which is tucked behind the statue, down the side of Bobby’s Bar.
Head down Candlemaker Row and to your right stop off at Merchant Street which sits underneath George IV Bridge. Productions have used Merchant Street for the darkness under the arch, and Burke and Hare used it because they could run coaches along George IV Bridge above while also showing action below.
Victoria St and Victoria Terrace
Take some time to enjoy the picturesque wynd and the quirky shops on offer at both street and mezzanine level. Used by several productions for its towering, Old Town structures and the pretty boutiques and restaurants therein. Products range from cheese (Mellis), roast pork and smoothies to leather and fine fashions (Totty Rocks, Red Door Gallery). A good restaurant recommendation is the Grainstore, which is identified by pretty flowers in window boxes on the first floor.
Retrace your steps back down to the West Bow towards the Grassmarket area of the city. Home to a wide array of shops, bars and restaurants, the Grassmarket is famous as the former site of the city’s gallows and weekly cattle markets. Armstrong's vintage clothes emporium is a highlight, here. This area was recently used as a location for the BBC series Pramface starring Angus Deayton. Take King Stables Road out of the Grassmarket and follow it all the way to Lothian Road and down to the Caledonian Waldorf Astoria Hotel.
The Caledonian, A Waldorf Astoria Hotel
Location for several films and TV shows, the Caledonian Waldorf Astoria (renamed from the Caledonian Hilton), is one of Edinburgh’s finest hotels and a good spot to end the tour, or to pause if you intend to continue on the extended tour. Take the weight off your feet with a refreshing drink in the bar, which has a selection of more than 250 whiskies, or take afternoon tea in the Pompadour Restaurant having seen some of Edinburgh’s finest filming sites.
To extend your Edinburgh filmic tour we continue on into the New Town. Cross over onto Queensferry Street and take Alva Street onto William Street.
This is is a popular filming location and with its Georgian frontage shops it is easily put back in time.
Retrace your steps along Alva Street and make your way through to Charlotte Square, a UNESCO World Heritage Site of architecture in the Classical Georgian style. Popular restaurants, cafes and bars here are Bread and Olives,the West Room, Sygn and La Petit Folie.
Charlotte Square and Randolph Place
Location for 2008's New Town, visit the Georgian House and admire the architecture which forms the north side of the square, also the location for the First Minister's official residence, Bute House.
From there it's downhill to Moray Place, built during the second phase of the New Town development, from the late 1700s until the mid 1800s. This grand Georgian circus (officially a 'prodigious duodecagon'), owned originally by the Earl of Moray, has played host to a number of films including One Day, Driving Lessons, North and South, Jude and Murder Rooms.
St Bernard's Bridge at Saunders Street
Continue down through the wonderful Doune Terrace, admiring the views north west on the way and take Gloucester Street to the main bridge over the Water of Leith, which flows all the way down to the Port of Leith. This bridge was originally called 'stock brig', the name is Scots from Anglic stocc brycg, meaning a timber bridge.
The suburb of Stockbridge continues on from here and its high street of Raeburn Place contains many good shops and restaurants. Vintage shopping through high quality charity shops is popular here. Also of interest is Anthony Gormley's 6 Times modern art exhibit which features statues placed in the Water of Leith.
It's worthwhile taking a break from your tour to visit Hectors, the Stockbridge Tap, the Edinburgh Wine Merchants, Maxi's Cafe and also one of the finest butchers in Edinburgh, George Bower. Armstrong's, the fish shop across the road, is also excellent.
If not visiting Stockbridge, take Saunders Street, on your left up to the adjacent bridge over the Water of Leith, St Bernard's Bridge, location for Rebus and Low Winter Sun.
St Bernard's Crescent
If not visiting Raeburn Place, cross the bridge, past the Spanish restaurant Rafaels and take Leslie Place onto St Bernard's Crescent, built in 1924 and featured in Mary Reilly and Great Expectations amongst others. View its grand Grecian Doric pillars and glorious three storey centrepiece.
St Bernard's Well
Location For: Reichenbach Falls
Make your way back down to the Water of Leith, which runs through the centre of Edinburgh. Cross over the river and follow the river bank path south to St Bernard's Well, scene for Reichenbach Falls. St Bernard's Well was constructed in 1789, as a spa, to a design by celebrated Edinburgh landscape painter Alexander Nasymth. The template was the Temple of Vesta at Tivoli in Italy and the waters were claimed to be medicinal with the 'odious twang of hydrogen gas'. At the centre of an open pillared dome stands a marble statue of Hygieia, Goddess of Health.
The prime time to visit St. Bernard's Well is an hour or so after heavy rainfall, when rainwater from the Pentlands cascades through the channels under the Dean Bridge. The New Town gardens wrap around the Water of Leith consistent with neo-classical idea of having a country in the city.
St Stephen's Place and St Stephen's Street
Retrace your steps back up to the bridge leading into Stockbridge, the 'stock brig'. Take St Stephen's Street, which also contains some unique boutiques and restaurants. St Stephen's Place, scene for North and South, contains the former archway for the old Stockbridge Market.
St Stephen's Church
Location For: New Town
Continuing along St Stephen's St, St Stephen's Church at the bottom of Howe Street was one of the locations for 2008's New Town. St Stephen's was built in 1827-28 for a cost of £18,975 and uses Baroque and Grecian styling.
Move east via St Stephen Street, past the St Vincent, a small, homely bar with pool table, up Howe Street, past the Ruam Siam restaurant and A Room in the Town. Iglu restaurant, just off Howe Street, on Jamaica Street, is well known for its wild, local and organic ingredients. Continue on up to Heriot Row, one of the city’s most striking streets (completed in 1808), which has a open southern view on to Queen Street Gardens. This street can be seen in both New Town Killers and Shallow Grave. The eastern side of Heriot Row enjoys a grand two story elevation whilst the west side was increased to three stories in 1864.
Abercromby Place is an extension to Heriot Row and has been the location for a number of films including Festival and Low Winter Sun. The old fashioned, chimney gabled tenement at no 1, is worth a look.
Location For: Shallow Grave
Take Nelson Street onto Drummond Place towards Scotland Street (begun in 1823 as 'Caledonia Street'). This was the location for the exterior flat scenes for Danny Boyle's 1994 flick Shallow Grave. The internal scenes were filmed using a set. Continue on down London Street to explore the lower end of Broughton Street, Crombies, (butcher) the Olive Branch, Barony Bar and the New Town Deli.
Forever Edinburgh: Relive your favourite movie moments as we stroll through the streets of Edinburgh enjoying some of the UK’s best film locations.