Amidst the streets and buildings of Edinburgh city awaits a world that is quite unlike any other. A world filled with bewilderment, tricks of the light and sound, and potentially even a little magic. Welcome to Camera Obscura and World of Illusions, Edinburgh! This fun attraction has been packed full of cool optical illusions since 1853 and is the 5th most visited paid attraction in Edinburgh, according to Tripadvisor.
Explore five fascinating, magical illusions and fantasy floors, with over 100 exhibits to enjoy! Camera Obscura and World of Illusions is an attraction ideal for the whole family, and adults and children alike can look forward to an immersive and mind-melting experience. There are many opportunities to take photos throughout the World of Illusions & Camera Obscura, so remember to bring a camera.
If you’re looking for attractions while in ‘Auld Reekie’, then Camera Obscura and World of Illusions are absolute must-sees. Here are some of the critical details to know when visiting Camera Obscura Edinburgh and the top attractions to keep an eye out for!
In This Post
Details to Know
Camera Obscura and World of Illusions is great fun, with many things to look forward to. Make sure to bring your camera for photos and use the free Wi-Fi as you explore the unique interactive exhibits. Here are the essential details to know while you’re visiting this attraction.
How To Get There
Camera Obscura and World of Illusions are located right on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh, in the heart of the bustling city. The attraction is easily reached by foot, with a quick stroll up the Royal Mile, specifically Ramsey Lane or Johnstone Terrace right before you reach Edinburgh Castle.
Camera Obscura is open daily throughout the year, from early until late. Opening times depend on seasonality, but the attraction is generally available from 9:00 to 22:00. Visitors generally spend an hour and a half to two hours at this Edinburgh attraction.
The best times for visitors are mornings and evenings when the attraction is the least busy. You can savour the stunning rooftop views best when the attraction is quiet.
Camera Obscura and World of Illusions are remarkably inexpensive for what you’ll see. Adult tickets cost £22.95, student tickets (ID required) cost £20.95, children’s tickets (5 – 15) cost £17.95, and senior tickets cost £20.95.
Ticket pricing for this tourist attraction can vary year upon year. It’s advised to purchase your tickets online for a ticket discount.
Top Attractions at Camera Obscura, Edinburgh
From dizzying mirror mazes that will send you spinning to mind-bending light tricks that will have you questioning what’s real, Camera Obscura is one of the most thrilling experiences you can enjoy while in Edinburgh. Each of Camera Obscura and World of Illusion’s five floors has a unique and exciting set of attractions, and we’ll be taking you through each one so you can experience everything.
So, once you’ve scored your tickets and entered the World of Illusions at Camera Obscura, here are the must-see sights and sounds to test your mind against!
The first floor of Camera Obscura and World of Illusions is a doozy on the old noggin. Discover the scintillating and mind-boggling Bewilderworld, home to the most popular, largest, and most amusing illusions in the entire building! As you enter into this bewildering section of Camera Obscura, Edinburgh, don’t be fooled by these attractions:
As you enter Bewilderworld’s magical mirror maze, don’t be surprised if you immediately become lost. This confusing magical maze will have you bumping and spinning into mirrors, even though you swore there was a way forward just a second ago.
But keep hope; with perseverance and outstretched arms, you are able to find the exit after what feels like traversing miles and miles in a mirror world.
When you thought the bewilderment would end, you arrive at the Vortex Tunnel! This tunnel seems simple to cross at first, but the spinning vortex of colour that surrounds you is far more potent than you might think. Some guests have described the experience as being drunk, with each step disorientating your perspective further.
Keep your balance, take one step at a time, and you’ll eventually manage to reach the end. But the fun doesn’t end just there.
Once you’ve navigated the Mirror Maze and regained your balance from the Vortex Tunnel, the Chaotic Pendulum awaits. This fluorescent pendulum is an unpredictable spinning pendulum that embodies the chaotic nature of the universe. There’s something beautiful about watching it move and spin, without any set pattern or cycle.
The Chaotic Pendulum is a fun experience to cap off the first floor of Camera Obscura and World of Illusions. That’s right — this is only the first real floor of the building; there are four more to enjoy as you ascend the stairs.
Eye Spy Edinburgh
Each floor of Camera Obscura and World of Illusions is uniquely different from the last, giving you fresh and fun things to do as you climb to the very top floor. Eye Spy Edinburgh is Camera Obscura to the maximum, with multiple interactive exhibitions that show off the city of Edinburgh as you’ve never seen it before.
Take a walk through time and see the city of Edinburgh as it was when Camera Obscura opened in the 1850s and how it has evolved through time through the lens of 3D maps, pictures, and more! The fascinating history of this attraction is laid out for you to see and learn little about cameras, microscopes, and how they’ve grown in use.
Eye Spy Edinburgh also has some contemporary exhibits for you to see, including live cameras all over Edinburgh that let you peek into the city’s ongoings. But before you start feeling too much like Big Brother, lighten the mood with Eye Spy Edinburgh’s heat maps and bendy mirrors that are sure to entertain and make you laugh.
Ascending one more level brings you Light Fantastic, a level filled with fun and interactive exhibitions unique to the World of Illusion Museum, Edinburgh. These light and sound-based illusions will mess with your brain in the best way possible and entertain friends and family with the latest 3D trickery.
The first highlight to look forward to at Light Fantastic is the Kaleido Tunnel — a tunnel filled with lights and reflections. See yourself and others from all angles and lighting as you enter this delightful kaleidoscope.
From the Kaleido Tunnel, you can interact with several spectacular holograms and plasma tubes that pop into existence as you approach. The next highlight of Light Fantastic is undoubtedly the Light Harp.
Light Harp & Colour Shadow Wall
Play with and control colour and sound with the Colour Shadow Wall and the Light Harp. At the Colour Shadow Wall, you can see multiple reflections of yourself in many colours. And if you consider yourself a musical savant, use light to create beautiful harmonics on the Light Harp.
When you play a tune, you can watch the notes light up with each tap of the lights.
The Ames Room
If you want your perspective to be altered even more, then the Ames Room is just the ticket! As you enter, you’ll immediately see yourself, but not quite the same — you’ll be larger or smaller depending on where you’re looking in the room, which can lead to some hilarious family photos to take home with you.
Speaking of photos, there’s the Severed Head right after the Ames Room. This is one of those practical optical illusions that looks like you’re right out of a horror movie, and your head’s been served for dinner. Make sure to grab a pic for the memories.
The Magic Gallery is on the fourth floor of Camera Obscura and World of Illusions in Edinburgh and houses some of the most thrilling interactive exhibits. Among the fantastic experiences on offer are the Magic Gallery Plasma Tubes and Globes.
If you’ve ever seen or touched those electrifying globes that shoot lightning at your fingertips when you touch them, then you’ll be very familiar with the Plasma Tube and Globe at the Magic Gallery. Live out your superpower fantasy in real life, with possibly some hair-raising effects! Please don’t be afraid if you feel a slight shock; the current in the Plasma interactive exhibits is very small.
There are plenty more wonderful things to look forward to at the Magic Gallery, including the opportunity to catch your shadow, shake hands with a spectral double, or even walk on water! How do these tantalising tricks work? We’ll leave you to find out during your next visit.
The final floor of Camera Obscura and World of Illusions has no tricks or deceptions but is the most magical part of the entire experience. From the rooftop terrace of the Museum of Illusions, you’re treated to drop-dead stunning rooftop views of Edinburgh. This 360° panorama is the highlight of the tour and has a number of free-to-use high-power telescopes that grant a beautiful view of the city.
Take a look at attractions like the Royal Mile, Edinburgh Castle, Old Town, and Holyrood Palace from a unique vantage point that paints the city as you’ve never seen it before. If you can reach the magnificent rooftop terrace as the afternoon sun sets, you’ll be treated to a sky painted pink and purple. If you want memorable pictures of Edinburgh, then taking them from this outlook tower is your best opportunity.
See the Camera Obscura Show
That’s right! All the amazing things you can see at the Camera Obscura are distilled into a fantastic show you can attend. Picture this:
- A dark room.
- A large table in its centre.
- A single beam of light projects the city of Edinburgh onto it.
The day and night shows are distinctly different. The day offers a look at the historic landmarks around Edinburgh and a rich, detailed tour of Camera Obscura. The night tour (or when the weather is bad) is unique, with projections showcasing the city’s best landmarks.
If you want to learn more about Edinburgh, Camera Obscura and World of Illusions is the ideal way to do so — and get some fresh air while you’re at it.
Visit the Gift Shop
If you’ve fallen in love with Camera Obscura and World of Illusions as we have, then make sure to stop by their gift shop to take home a memorable memento with you. The keepsakes you can purchase from Camera Obscura’s gift shop are just as unique as the interactive experiences of the attraction itself and make for incredible presents for holidays and birthdays.
Pick up a game or gift for yourself or your children from the gift shop. You won’t regret it!
More Scottish Museums to Visit
- Black Watch Museum
- Edinburgh Writers Museum
- Glasgow Science Centre
- Highland Folk Museum
- Museum of Childhood
- Museum of Edinburgh
- Museum of the Isles
- Museum on the Mound
- National Mining Museum
- National Museum of Flight
- National War Museum
- People’s Palace
- Riverside Museum
- Royal Yacht Britannia
- Scottish Maritime Museum
- Shetland Museum & Archives
- St Mungo Museum of Religious Life and Art
- Surgeons’ Hall Museum
- V&A Dundee