Family days out near me: Castlehill, Edinburgh - prepare to have your senses scrambled at Camera Obscura & World of Illusions

There’s a mysterious 17th century building in the shadow of Edinburgh Castle where nothing is quite as it seems.

By Julie Douglas
Thursday, 5th May 2022, 7:00 am

Home to the city’s oldest purpose-built visitor attraction, its rooftop terrace also offers an unbeatable vantage point, with a blockbuster panorama of the Capital’s famous sights.

Name: Camera Obscura & World of Illusions

Description: The Camera Obscura – a giant, working pinhole camera – is the centre-piece of more than 100 mind-bending exhibits, using sound, light, mirrors and electricity to scramble the senses.

A chance to peer through the lens of time and see Edinburgh as it has been seen for more than 160 years at the Camera Obscura, one of the few working pinhole cameras of its kind in the UK

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    Location: Castlehill, The Royal Mile, Edinburgh, EH1 2ND.There’s no parking on the Royal Mile, the nearest car park being Castle Terrace NCP, which offers a discount to Camera Obscura visitors via the ParkPass app.Buses to and from all directions stop on George IV Bridge, three minutes’ walk away. Hop on bus numbers 23, 27 41, 42 and 67.Waverley train station is ten minutes’ walk away

    Suitable for: The attraction is recommended for all ages, from toddlers to teenagers to grandparents. The sights and sounds can also be fascinating for babies.

    Entry costs: Adults, £18.95; students, £16.95; senior (65+), £16.95; child (5–15 years), £14.95; under-fives and carers supporting visitors with disabilities go free.

    Opening hours: The attraction is open seven days a week, morning, afternoon and evening. Hours vary, depending on seasons and holidays, so it’s best check the website. Tours take around two hours.

    Infinity Box 2 at Camera Obscura & World of Illusions

    What they say:

    “With five floors and over 100 interactive, hands-on exhibits, we have something fun to entertain all ages. Tour Edinburgh’s streets without moving. Test your brain against mind-bending illusions. Take spectacular city-scape photographs from our rooftop terrace.“Situated just a stone’s throw from Edinburgh Castle, at the top of Edinburgh’s historic Royal Mile, come and discover the first ever purpose built visitor attraction in Edinburgh and see history and modern marvels together under one roof.”

    What visitors say:

    “My grandchildren loved it and interesting for adults too. Although there were a lot of people there, the way it was organised meant it didn’t feel crowded.”“One of the best experiences we've had for a long time, that kept going from room to room. My favorite part was the room of mirrors which had us all in hysterics whilst trying to get out.”“Our experience here was absolutely brilliant, enjoyed every minute of it. I would say that it's enjoyable for all age groups from about 4 year old and upwards. So much to see and do.”

    Look out for: The attraction is located in a six-storey listed building without a lift.Advice is available on the website for visitors with health conditions that could be affected by light and electricity.

    Facilities: There’s no cafe, but visitors are eligible for discounts at several nearby eateries. There’s toilets and a shop selling quirky gifts.