Camera Obscura and World of Illusions

In a nutshell

One of Edinburgh's premier hands-on family attractions, with six floors of interactive optical illusion fun.


Castlehill, The Royal Mile, Edinburgh EH1 2ND

Contact details

Tel: 0131 2263709

Activity type

Historical Sites, Indoor Activities, Science and Technology

Suitable for

Ages 5 - 12, All ages, Schools and Groups, Teenagers, Under 5s

Price guide


(based on family of 4)

Camera Obscura and World of Illusions details...

Six fantastic floors of family fun. The Camera Obscura is an interesting and amusing way to see Edinburgh and learn about its history. Since 1853 this unique attraction has captivated visitors from all over the world, and is a ’must’ on any visit to Edinburgh. Step into the mysterious Victorian rooftop chamber and see the viewing table, with live moving images of Edinburgh projected onto it through a giant periscope. Visitors from all over the world who are used to modern technology, such as digital imaging are astounded that an apparatus, consisting of mirror, lenses and daylight can produce this unbelievable panorama. Experiencing the Camera Obscura is like stepping back in time!

Climb on to the rooftop, an unrivalled vantage point, overlooking both Edinburgh’s Old and New Towns and Edinburgh Castle too. From the location at the top of the Royal Mile you will enjoy the finest all-round views of the city and it’s surroundings. Free powerful telescopes let you see the city in close-up detail, or you can look out further, into the countryside beyond the city. Remember to take your camera too!

Head back inside and enter a dizzying world of optical illusions. Have lots of fun with big lenses, wobbly mirrors, shadow walls and giant kaleidoscopes. Hold lightning in your hand, spot the hidden magic eye pictures, try picking up magic disappearing sweets, swap heads, noses or faces with a friend and lots more!

The Camera Obscura holds one of the largest hologram exhibitions in Europe. Here you will find a wide range of captivating holograms or 3D pictures, watch them appear, disappear and change before your eyes. Use the amazing Morph Machine to transform your face into a baby, or into that of someone with you, or even into an ape! Spot the changes that have taken place in Edinburgh by comparing Victorian and current day views, looking at 3D pictures of old Edinburgh and beyond.  3D pictures, where you perceive depth as well as height and width, were very popular in the 19th Century still amaze today.

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Coronavirus Notice

National lockdown once again…Let’s Go with the Children is here to help and support families with ideas and information during this period. When we can start planning family outings, the Let’s Go Team will be inspiring you with ideas and inspirations but until then, stay safe and well.