Camera Obscura and World of Illusions

Camera Obscura and World of Illusions, Edinburgh: Hours, Address, Camera Obscura and World of Illusions Reviews: 4.5/5

Camera Obscura and World of Illusions

Camera Obscura and World of Illusions
4.5
Science Museums • Observation Decks & Towers
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8:00 AM - 10:00 PM
Monday
8:00 AM - 10:00 PM
Tuesday
8:00 AM - 10:00 PM
Wednesday
8:00 AM - 10:00 PM
Thursday
8:00 AM - 10:00 PM
Friday
8:00 AM - 10:00 PM
Saturday
8:00 AM - 10:00 PM
Sunday
8:00 AM - 10:00 PM
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About
Experience and take part in over 100 illusions as well as a breath of fresh air on our magnificent Rooftop Terrace, which offers the most spectacular 360 degree views of Edinburgh. At Camera Obscura & World of Illusions, experience five floors of interactive hands-on optical illusions, tricks and fun things to do including vortex tunnel, mirror maze and shrinking room. Fully safe and have all the necessary health and safety guidelines in place to make your visit the most enjoyable ever! Get involved, play, touch everything. Great fun for all ages and nationalities, whatever the weather. 'Best family attraction in Britain’, The Telegraph. 'Five Stars, outstanding, world class', VisitScotland. Scotland’s oldest purpose-built attraction, established in 1835. Free Wi-Fi. Allow about 2 hours. Please note the attraction is located in a listed 17th Century building over 5 floors without a lift. Open every day, open late on holidays.
Suggested duration
1-2 hours
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The area
Address
Neighborhood: Old Town
Few Edinburghers live in the Old Town, but its labyrinth of dank alleys and steep streets suggests this was not always the case. Today, it’s mostly visitors, tartan-flavored souvenir shops, and pipers that you’ll find on its cobbled streets. This is the place to get a feel for Auld Reekie (Old Smelly), as the town was once nicknamed, and stroll the Royal Mile, the thoroughfare that links the castle with the royal palace – two of Edinburgh’s great set-piece attractions. But there’s lots more exploring to do here down dozens of little alleys, or wynds, while at night the city’s busiest clubs erupt along the Cowgate which is closed to traffic for this purpose.
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2,078 within 3 miles
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456 within 6 miles
Detailed Reviews: Reviews order informed by descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as cleanliness, atmosphere, general tips and location information.
Popular mentions

4.5
15,216 reviews
Excellent
10,090
Very good
3,820
Average
947
Poor
247
Terrible
114

bigtourist
England, UK50 contributions
Couples
My partner and I booked it as the forecast was looking wet. We didn’t know what to expect at all, but we had a great time. There’s plenty to look at and interact with, including a light tunnel and a mirror maze.

You then get up to the top where you get, what I’d probably one of the best views of the city, it was really amazing. One of the staff then talked us through a projection of the city and we learnt some facts we weren’t aware of.

We booked a slot for 9:30am and it was fairly quiet but as we were leaving (around 11am) there was a huge queue and people being turned away as they hadn’t booked a slot so make sure you book, the site is easy to navigate and simple to book.

Staff were all very friendly, helpful and knowledgeable. Would definitely recommend, and it’s not just for children, adults can have fun too!
Written April 7, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
Hello, thank you so much for taking the time to leave us a review. We are glad that both of you enjoyed your visit and that it exceeded your expectations. The Vortex Tunnel and the Mirror Maze are two of our most popular exhibits and it’s good to hear that they were some of your favourites too. We’ll make sure that we pass your kind comments along to the team, too—they’ll be thrilled to hear how much you enjoyed your time with us. We would love to welcome you back soon!
Written April 9, 2022
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Ibrahim G
Huddersfield, UK59 contributions
Well, where do I start. I thought this looked an interesting place and to be honest it had the advantage of being right next to the castle (our first venue) on our whistle stop tour of Edinburgh.
I was pleased I had booked in advance (turn up at the time on the ticket), plenty of people were being turned away as they limit the number of bodies they have in the building. This is a really good idea for the enjoyment of the people inside as you wouldn't be able to interact the attractions they have.
You are able to leave any bags you have with you (at your own risk) in a small side room which was really useful for us.
There is a one-way system in operation so don't be surprised the floors don't follow in order.
The different illusions they have are great and were nice and interactive and easily used by myself and autistic son.
I think my favourite two were at the end but I will not say too much about it as to not spoil the "fun", Vortex tunnel - you may need a sick bag but an interesting effect on your body. Mirror corridor - don't walk too fast through it or as my son did you may just walk into yourself.
We didn't really visit the shop, so can't make a comment, as it would have involved carting extra items around which we were not set up to do,
Great place to visit though and if in Edinburgh again I would go again with the rest of the family
Written August 7, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
Hello Ibrahim and thank you for taking the time to leave a review. We're delighted you had such a wonderful visit to Camera Obscura and felt we have an organised and enjoyable experience. Our head-spinning Vortex Tunnel and Mirror Maze are highlights for lots of our visitors so it's great to hear you loved them too! Before your next visit, please read our Accessibility page on our website as we can offer assistance to visitors on the autistic spectrum if it's needed. We have free ear-defenders to borrow and can give priority entry if needed, and we can also help you locate a quieter space if a visitor is getting overwhelmed. Thank you for sharing your photo, we hope the rest of your trip to Edinburgh was just as great as your visit with us. We would love to welcome you back for another visit soon!
Written August 8, 2022
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Touran P
Sunderland, UK1,019 contributions
Friends
I visited here with my Mam on our trip to Edinburgh and had a decent experience. We arrived at around 2:30pm which was a busy time to visit, since it was half term. In hindsight, we should have pre-booked our tickets on here but then we wouldn’t have received our NHS discount. After about 30 minutes of queuing, we got inside to be told that the 15 minute camera show had been fully booked as they only run it until 4pm because it relies on sunlight. We were offered a ticket that would run until the next morning so that we could see the show, which was nice. Staff were very friendly and gave us our NHS discount which brought the ticket down to £14.85 each. They also let us store our backpacks in their cupboard as we’d just arrived in Edinburgh.

The museum itself is over 6 floors with no lift so there are a lot of steps to climb. Each floor had a different theme and there was plenty to do and take part in. My favourite part was the mirror maze and the vortex tunnel. It was very busy with kids however. On the top floor is the camera show but there’s also a viewing platform where you can see all of Edinburgh from a height. We spent around 2.5 hours there. We returned the next day at 10am but had to wait for the 11am camera show so we had another wander around when it was a lot quieter (I would recommend a morning visit). The show was interesting, there wasn’t a lot of sun that day so we couldn’t see much of the people and city in the mirror reflection, but it was ok.

Overall, we had a decent time but we felt that £16.50 (full price ticket) was expensive for what it was. Great fun for kids though.
Written February 23, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
Hello Touran, thank you for visiting us and taking the time to leave this review. It's wonderful to hear that you and your mam had a good experience with us. As you mention, we can be rather busy during the school holidays, and so we would recommend coming to visit in the morning when it can be quieter. Our Camera Obscura shows can sell out on busier days so it is better to come as early as you can if you want to experience it. It is good to hear you took advantage of our Readmission Ticket to come back the next day and see our show. Even if the weather was grey, we hope your guide in your Camera Obscura show kept you entertained! Though we do not have a lift in the building, there are seating areas on every floor to catch your breath, something all the staff have to do on most days! Thank you again for your review and, we hope you enjoyed the rest of your visit to Edinburgh.
Written March 2, 2020
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

AimeeRivendell
Belfast, UK30 contributions
Family
What an amazing treat! We enjoyed every one of the artefacts, pictures, and hand-on wee thingies! We also loved the camera obscura presentation by Charlotte (NOT Margaret), she was entertaining and lively, and it was so cool to see how something created so long ago still works and keeps people’s attention!

The one thing that freaked us out, though, are the cameras you can operate that the museum keeps on the Royal Mile, you can zoom in live on random people waking down the street so much so that you can even see the apps they are using on their phones! (Not joking!) Although it says it is not being recorded, it made us extremely uncomfortable. Creepy.

Al the rest of the experience is brilliant and well worth every penny! Well done, Camera Obscura!
Written July 5, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
Hi Aimee, thanks for taking the time to leave a review. We're delighted you had an amazing visit and enjoyed our mind-boggling illusions and interactive exhibits! Our Camera Obscura show is a highlight for lots of our visitors so it's great to hear you loved it too, and we will pass on your kind words to our fantastic guide Charlotte. While our ViewCams can zoom in pretty close on people in public on the Royal Mile, they are restricted from viewing any private spaces such as through windows into homes, and we can assure you it's not being recorded. Thanks again for visiting and leaving such a lovely review, we hope to see you again soon!
Written July 6, 2022
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Simplecreature
Aberdeen, UK28 contributions
Love to visit CO, have been a few times. Can feel a little too busy at peak times making it hard to see everything but as long as the kids see their favourite exhibits they are happy. Highlights of this trip -a little Easter Egg hunt for the kids, and a great demo of the actual Camera Obscura on a clear day.
Downsides -felt too full, too busy and having bought a season ticket for Landmark in Carrbridge (with it's own mini version of the centre in the Bamboozleum) which was advertised with reduced price entry to the Camera Obscura, we found the discount wasn't available anymore. Only a month had passed between buying the season ticket and visiting Camera Obscura -I thought the discount should have been honoured.
Written April 19, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
Hello, thank you for your high recommendation. We're delighted you would rate us one of the best kids attractions in Edinburgh and that our Easter trail was a highlight for your children. We do get busy during the Easter holidays, but would like to reassure you that we are still operating timed entry and reduced capacity to allow visitors more space to enjoy their visit. We will be sure to investigate your comment on discounts available and make sure all communications on current offers and promotions are up-to-date. Thank you for visiting and we hope to welcome you back for another visit in the future.
Written April 21, 2022
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

ElloWorld
Yarm, UK32 contributions
Couples
We secured a last minute booking for entry a few hours before our train home.
Obviously, we were disappointed that the demonstration of the camera obscura was cancelled due to COVID restrictions, but needs must in these strange times and we were aware of this before booking, as it is mentioned in prominent view on the website.
The rest of the building was open however and we were very pleasantly surprised at how many of the illusions and exhibits remained open. There was an easy-to-follow one way system in place, which led you to the third floor and then up and around the rest of the building, following the exhibits.
The rooftop views are spectacular all around and the illusions and interactive exhibits all the way down are mind boggling.
Despite the amount of hands on stuff on display, there were plenty of sanitiser stands and we passed staff who were disinfecting surfaces on every single floor, so their cleaning regime is clearly very good.
I would also recommend going earlier in the day if you wish to avoid crowds and make social distancing that bit easier for yourself: we managed to sneak a 9:15 booking on the day, but prior to that we had been hard pressed to get bookings for 2 people after 12pm.
There is a locked cupboard where staff will le you deposit bags or luggage and there are toilets, but these are located right at the start, so use them first or lose them. There are no catering facilities in the building itself, but you’re pretty spoilt for choice in the area around.
We spent about 2hrs here, which was the perfect amount of time to enjoy some mind bending nonsense on a Sunday morning.

We’ll be back soon and can’t wait to see the camera demonstrations back up and running.
Written October 13, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
Hello there, thank you for the marvellous five-review! We appreciate the in-depth detail of your review, and it's fantastic to hear you had a wonderful time exploring our wacky World of Illusions. As you mention, our Camera Obscura is currently closed given the current restrictions, and we finish installing the new ventilation system. We're grateful to receive positive feedback on our additional COVID-19. The views of Edinburgh from our Rooftop Terrace are spectacular. Hopefully, you captured plenty of photos on your visit. Thank you for visiting, and we can't wait to welcome you back in the future.
Written October 15, 2020
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

BrattyNat
Ellesmere, UK91 contributions
Friends
Had a great time at Camera Obscura last week, we didn’t pre-book and were able to walk straight in about an hour before sunset. By the time we got upto the roof the sun was starting to go down which provided an amazing backdrop to a great view above the rooftops - the huge Nikon binoculars up there are insane! James was a great, engaging guide in the camera room at the top.
The mirror maze was seriously confusing, turns out I can’t tell a reflection from real life..! Lots of photo opportunities over all of the floors. The vortex tunnel played games with my brain for a little while after I left - so strange!
Written March 30, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
Hi there, thank you so much for taking the time to leave us a review. We are glad that you had a mind-blowing visit. The Camera Obscura show is certainly our most unique exhibit and it’s great that you enjoyed seeing it and its demonstration. We’ll make sure that we pass your kind comments along to James and the team, too—they’ll be thrilled to hear how much you enjoyed your time with us! Thanks for sharing those great pictures with us, we would love to welcome you back soon.
Written April 2, 2022
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Chalaina B
3 contributions
Couples
One of the most enjoyable things we have done in Edinburgh, there was so much to see and interact with. Staff were very friendly, especially the young man conducting the camera obscura film at the top of the building. Excellent views across the city and don’t have to pay extra for the use of binoculars/telescopes which is rare for tourist attractions!
Only slight downside was I think the gift shop was a little pricey but is the norm for museums/galleries!
Written July 6, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
Hi Chalaina, thank you so much for your 5 star review of your visit. You are our 10,000 5-star review on TripAdvisor! We are delighted to hear how much you enjoyed our attraction, your photos look like you had an amazing time. We will be sure to pass along your kind words to our team. As a special thank you for being our 10,000 5-star review, we would love to offer you a complimentary family entry ticket to visit us again in the future. Please contact us directly to arrange. Thanks again, and we hope to see you soon.
Written July 7, 2022
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Jemma E
Edinburgh, UK30 contributions
Family
Really enjoyed our trip here as a family of four- 2 adults and two kids (6mnth and 2.5 years). The venue had something for everyone, with exhibits split between 4 floors. Our toddler really enjoyed the interactive displays, but did also find some of the exhibits too scary and wanted to be carried. Baby enjoyed the moving lights. I really enjoyed mirror maze! One of the negatives is that baby changing facilities are on ground floor and there’s no lift. In part, this is because the building is so old and unique, which is part of it’s charm!! Buggy’s must be left on ground floor so remember to bring a sling ! On the day we went, it was overcast weather- so we were offered a discount on ticket or to come back another day. Staff very friendly and nice, and especially enjoyed the camera obscura tour on top floor- very entertaining and enjoyable. We couldn’t have spent a whole day here, but would recommend giving yourselves a few hours to enjoy leisurely look around!
Written March 7, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
Hi Jemma, thank you so much for your great review. We are delighted to hear how much you and your family enjoyed your visit, we work hard to offer something that all ages can enjoy. Due to the age and historical nature of our building we do only have stairs, but there is seating on every level. Baby carries are also available free of charge at our front desk, and our team would be more than happy to help when you request. Thank you for visiting and we hope you’ll visit us again for more mind-bogging fun with the family.
Written March 23, 2020
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Alison D
Sleaford, UK79 contributions
Friends
Ever since I’d seen a tv programme about the Camera Obscura I wanted to visit. Knowing it used old fashioned technology for it’s fabulous 360 views of the city, I didnt expect all the additional modern attractions, which were both fun and educational about light, colour, electricity, optical illusions, and more. Having said that, the entrance fee demanded more than just a quick visit, but we spent a happy 2 hours plus there for £18 which I thought was okay value. Great photography opportunities from the top, if you have the weather.
Written November 26, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.
Hello Alison, thank you so much for the review. It’s great to hear how you heard about Camera Obscura and that you enjoyed yourself when you came to visit us for yourself. We are glad that it exceeded your expectations and that the 5 floors of exhibitions provided lots of entertainment. Thanks once again for visiting and we look forward to seeing you again.
Written December 6, 2021
This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

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Frequently Asked Questions about Camera Obscura and World of Illusions

Camera Obscura and World of Illusions is open:
  • Sun - Sat 8:00 AM - 10:00 PM
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We recommend booking Camera Obscura and World of Illusions tours ahead of time to secure your spot. If you book with Tripadvisor, you can cancel up to 24 hours before your tour starts for a full refund. See all 12 Camera Obscura and World of Illusions tours on Tripadvisor