Camera Obscura & World of Illusions is a tourist attraction located in Outlook Tower on the Castlehill section of the Royal Mile close to Edinburgh Castle. The original attraction was founded by entrepreneur Maria Theresa Short in 1835 and was exhibited on Calton Hill. Outlook Tower has been a museum since the late 1890s and is currently home to many interactive exhibits, including the original Camera Obscura.
In the early 18th century, the Edinburgh instrument maker Thomas Short leased some land on Calton Hill to display his instruments to the public. As his lease stipulated female relatives of Thomas could not inherit the building and its contents, his wife and children did not inherit it when he died in 1788. In 1827, Maria Theresa Short returned to Edinburgh from the West Indies claiming to be Thomas Short’s daughter and attempted to claim his "Great Telescope" for her inheritance. Despite strong competition from other parties, she received the telescope and set up "Short's Popular Observatory" in 1835, housed in a wooden and stone building next to the National Monument on Calton Hill. She exhibited many scientific instruments and kept her Observatory open till 9pm each evening.
|Monday||9:00 AM – 9:00 PM|
|Tuesday||9:00 AM – 9:00 PM|
|Wednesday||9:00 AM – 9:00 PM|
|Thursday||9:00 AM – 9:00 PM|
|Friday||9:00 AM – 9:00 PM|
|Saturday||9:00 AM – 9:00 PM|
|Sunday||9:00 AM – 9:00 PM|
G. Lee | Feb 22, 2018
Camera Obscura was more enjoyable than I expected and would give it credit for. Best to go with someone to share the experience. The staff interacts with the public from time to time to help make the experience more enjoyable. For example, the image of cards, look at and relax, not look too intently, the 3D image of three sharks is discerned. When I saw it, I yelled I out "I see it" it disappeared. Walking through the Vortex tunnel, I constantly felt I'm losing my balance. I didn't care for walking through the hall of mirrors. The steps leading out to the gift shop will play a note of music as your feet lands on each step.
Kimberlie Hutson | Mar 1, 2018
This was so much fun. Andrew was our guide for the main camera at the top and he was enthusiastic and information. The views from the top were incredible. We spent about an hour wondering down through the rest of the attractions and every single floor was lots of fun. Plenty to play with and lots of photo opportunities. I'm glad we went on a snowy Tue in Feb as I'd imagine it wouldn't be as much fun when it gets too busy.
Alistair Thompson | Feb 21, 2018
Great fun. Camera Obscura is a museum over several floors dedicated to visual illusion and other curiosities, with a camera obscura at the top of the building providing views over Edinburgh city. The museum operates a "ticket valid all day" system if you want to break up your visit. For kids and adults alike there are many interactive displays and tricks which will entertain you for a few hours if you experience them fully, which range from holographic displays to a mirror maze. Take your camera. My partner and I were giggling all the way round, it was great fun. Staff are very friendly and attentive, with high levels of customer service. This was clearly a venue for school trips, and was busy the day we attended; so please be aware that the exhibits can get busy. Still great fun however. One or two exhibits may not be suitable (scary/disorientating) for younger children (I'd estimate 4-9), but these can easily be avoided. Great fun and highly recommended.
Lukáš Ševčík | Feb 12, 2018
This place is amazing. We spent there two hours and we really enjoyed our time there. We had fun and discovered many things. I can recommend this place for family with children. Everyone will find something new, you also get some information about Edinburgh and little bit of hostory. This is really place which you have to visit if you are in Edinburgh. Thanks to all staff, everyone was friendly and helpful.
Ridwan Dalvi | Feb 18, 2018
This place is definitely going to give you a good feeling if you are interested in experiencing different types of optical illusions. There are also many mirror illusions as well as some microscopes which can magnify the objects to a greater extent. One of the things I liked was the theatrical show where some practical experiment involving Physics were demonstrated. Good to visit atleast once.
David Win | Mar 15, 2018
A really great attraction which will keep adults and kids alike entertained for a good couple of hours. Visitors will have smiles aplenty during that time! I'm not going to give too much else away, because the place is full of surprises which I wouldn't want to spoil! It's so good it has become very popular and as such, very busy in the peak tourist months. I heard recently that they started opening in the evenings, which might be less crowded I'd guess.
Cassandra Davis | Mar 20, 2018
Camera Obscura was amazing! 6 floors full of optical illusions and a brilliant 15 minute show that's included in the price of your ticket. The show is really interesting and funny. The illusions on each floor are all optical illusions but there's so many different interactive things to do you won't get bored. The mirror maze and the vortex tunnel were the most fun!
Soph Nemeth | Mar 14, 2018
When we were walking towards the Castle of Edinburgh, we stopped by because of those funny mirrors on the street. So we started to wondering what place it is, and it was an amazingly spent time! The staff are incredibly friendly, chatty and cheerful(which is rare!!) and all the 5 floors were exciting full with great equipments, it is indeed a great activity, everything was working properly, the gift shop is really fun too, the price is absolutely okay! And after you have a stamp you are free to go out and back in! Absolutely recommend!!
Leanne Patrick | Apr 18, 2018
Lovely accommodating staff, really helpful with younger child's additional needs. Gave us plenty of information on what to expect and which areas would be busy or chaotic seeming. A sensory haven for autistic and sensory loving children, great fun for older kids and adults too. Would happily go back. I would also add that it's a lot more interesting and entertaining than I gathered from looking at the photos and website.
Vicky | Apr 8, 2018
Lots of fun to be had, spread over 6 floors and while that's a lot of steps each floor is lots of fun. I did think it was expensive but it's open from 9am until 9pm and you can come and go as you please once you have tickets so worth going. All ages will have something to see and do. The staff were friendly and helpful, the facilities were clean and there is also a gift shop that was packed with fun stuff.
Brian Membry | Apr 9, 2018
I've been to Edinburgh many times before but have never visited Camera Obscura as I've often thought of it as a bit of a gimmick tourist trap. I was clearly wrong. From the first part of the fantastic views from the roof terrace, then leading onto the actual camera Obscura which was fascinating. Then off to the many floors of different items that can distort, trick or wonder the mind. Well worth visiting, great for all ages. Worth going early to miss the crowds and make sure you leave a good couple of hours to see it all. You get an open ticket to return later that day, which we took advantage of.
Tarek Alkhalil | Apr 9, 2018
An absolute must-see for kids. We visited CO last year and my two kids just loved it and were engaged and interested during the whole visit. We're definitely visiting CO again this year. If I may recommend having on site short workshops for the 10+ age group where they can assemble a basic camera maybe.. but probably space is too limited. Thank you so much for the unforgetable experience.
Paul M | May 21, 2018
Best attraction in Edinburgh. Really friendly staff and great attractions. Kids will love it and can easily spend several hours here. They stamp your hand and you can come and go as you please the whole day. Great when you need a seat or toilets! Superb views of the castle and a great gift shop with lots of quirky stuff. Highly recommend
Nicola Stretch | Jun 4, 2018
Loved it! Brilliant place to go - entertainment for all ages. The interactive activities are amazing and the rooftop view is extremely impressive. Would definitely go again and would highly recommend. My hubby, my boys (8 & 9 yrs) and me thoroughly enjoyed the entire experience. Thank you!
Craig | May 12, 2018
Great place for young and old to enjoy the fun it has to offer. From funny mirrors to the magnificent views from the roof terrace. Prices are a little steep, but will worth every penny, especially when you can come and go all day if you like... Staff are friendly and helpful, especially the girls who do the roof top tour, will worth making time for this bit.
Montvydas Klumbys | Jun 6, 2018
If you are looking for inspiration, magic or illusions this place is a perfect place to go. There are around 5 floors or various illusions including mirror room, observation tower, 3D (Google Cardboard like) images etc. The price to get in should be around £15 (£13 with a student card) however it's worth it for what you get. I would also recommend going during a work day as the place gets quite busy. Also go during the day, while sun is still up as then the observation tower will be open with the oldest camera illusion within the building.
superkupa Nemo | May 17, 2018
A must-visit place for all parents with children 5-15 yrs old. It's hard to qualify the place as a museum as it also a splendid occasion to learn about science and stay entertained at the same time. Kids would love that for sure! On top of that - people who work there are really committed to their work and Edinburgh as well what makes it even more pleasant. As a negative I count lack of lifts, but that's partly understandable due to building walls' limits. Highly recommended.
Justin Tiu | Jul 11, 2018
Took in this tourist site with the expectation it would be entertaining for the kiddies. Little did I know that the adults would end up having an even better time. The timelessness of this illusions here make it a worthwhile stop, for any busy travel itinerary in Edinburgh. We especially enjoyed the camera obscura show, mirror maze and vortex tunnel. Highly recommend this stop in Old Town.
Steven Green | Aug 12, 2018
I was pleasantly surprised by this. Expecting a tourist trap after the big queues and crowds of the castle. Includes many floors of visual amusement. The top floor contains the camera obscure which is basically the inside of a real camera where mirrors and lenses on the roof project a real image onto a large circular disc in the middle. As well as the guide showing us historical locations around Edinburgh there was a bit of fun picking up people on the royal mile with white cards. The entrance mechanism is good as it allowed people in at a rate so it was not crowded inside and was able to look at the exhibits including such things as swapping heads, getting disoriented on a rotating bridge, classic optical illusions and much more.
Zarin Rupawalla | Jul 29, 2018
It's a lovely place. They do a show every 30 minutes, which is included in the entrance ticket. Do visit the show, it's a nice experience. It only lasts 15 minutes. The exhibits are also all fun. The mirror maze is scary, we were moving in circles for quite some time, but yeah, that's what it's meant to do! The entry ticket costs £15 per person. The shop is okay, not so great. It mostly has stuff for kids. Overall, a really good experience.
Al Kemist | Jul 31, 2018
I really enjoyed this place. Edinburgh castle was not open yet so we decided to kill some time here. The kids really enjoyed it because the displays are really hands on. The show led by Laura was very entertaining. A word of warning, if you have young children with you keep them close by when entering the mirror maze. My child managed to run straight into a mirror, which could have ended badly.
Rúna á Steinamørk | Jul 29, 2018
My husband and I went here after we'd heard so much about it. It was a really fun experience and I would recommend it. It does take some time to get through all the things but in my opinion it was worth it. The staff were all very funny and nice.
Kate Isobel Green | Aug 4, 2018
I really like it here; they have lots of interactive activities, fun for all ages, cool things to do. Every floor is different, we had a lot of fun exploring all of them and I would recommend to people and also probably come back again. However, its 6 flights of stairs and there is no wheelchair access :(. As someone who is chronically ill with heart problems and fatigue (very close to needing a wheelchair anyway) it was a really hard struggle going up all the stairs,, especially for the show on the top floor. Other than me being completely worn out I loved it.
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