Visit Camera Obscura and World of Illusions in Edinburgh: tickets, prices, timetables

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Carlos Laforet Coll
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Summary
  • History of Camera Obscura & World of Illusions
  • What to see and do at Camera Obscura & World of Illusions?
  • - Camera Obscura
  • - World of Illusions
  • - Rooftop
  • How do I get to Camera Obscura & World of Illusions?
  • - By car
  • - By bus
  • - By train
  • Schedules and Prices of Camera Obscura & World of Illusions
  • - SCHEDULE
  • - RATES
  • GOOD TO KNOW

Are you passing through Edinburgh during your stay in Scotland? Then be sure to visit Camera Obscura & World of Illusions, one of the city's most popular tourist attractions!

The capital of Scotland, Edinburgh is full of activities and visits of all kinds. Among its many castles and museums, you'll be spoilt for choice when it comes to choosing an activity during your stay. However, one of them stands out from the others by its originality: Camera Obscura & World of Illusions.


A veritable museum of illusion, this place has been attracting hundreds of thousands of visitors every year since it opened. If you want to know more about this unusual place that has fascinated for more than 160 years, follow the guide to visit Camera Obscura & World of Illusions!

Also read: 11 must-do things to do in Edinburgh

History of Camera Obscura & World of Illusions

It all began when Thomas Short, an instrument maker in Edinburgh, died in 1788. The man left behind many instruments that were exhibited in a small building in Calton Hill during his lifetime. His lease stated that no woman could inherit the building or its contents, so it was left as such for several years after his death.


In 1827, Theresa Short, daughter of Thomas Short, returned from the West Indies and claimed her inheritance, which she called the "Great Telescope". Despite many setbacks and the opposition of other parties interested in acquiring this object, she won her case. She inherited the site before settling next to the Calton Hill monument: it was here that she created the Short People's Observatory.

A few years later, in 1851, the observatory was destroyed by the authorities. Theresa Short then decided to settle in Castlehill, before buying a town house. A year later, she erected Short's Observatory, Museum of Science and Art. A new place housing many instruments, but also illusions and mysteries, including Camera Obscura.

In 1892, the museum was renamed Outlook Tower by Patrick Geddes, who transformed it into a museum and centre for urban studies. His goal? To demonstrate, but also to popularize its philosophy and planning. After his death, the museum returned to the University of Edinburgh who renamed it Camera Obscura & World of Illusions.

Today and since that day, Camera Obscura & World of Illusions is a symbol of the Scottish city in its own right.

What to see and do at Camera Obscura & World of Illusions?

If you wish to visit Camera Obscura & World of Illusions, there are three main parts to this museum :

Camera Obscura

This is a totally unusual guided tour of Edinburgh! Based on an ancient Victorian technique (historical version of virtual reality), this attraction plunges you into another world. Images of the city scroll across the table, almost giving the impression of being able to touch passers-by with your fingertips.


Because of its realism, Camera Obscura is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

World of Illusions

World of Illusions is a real museum of illusion! On the program, five floors hosting more than 100 illusions. It is divided into four main parts:

  • Magic Gallery: here, the subject is at the heart of electricity. This section brings together many optical illusions, but also plasma balls and a large number of other experiments, each one more incredible than the last.
  • Light Fantastic: this is the largest gallery. It is also the most impressive! It gathers many illusions and activities, as well as tours related to light and shadow.
  • Eye Spy Edinburgh: this is where you will find Camera Obscura and other objects such as thermal imaging cameras or the Eye Spy Edinburgh.
  • Bewilderworld: If you like to deceive your senses, Bewilderworld is for you! Between its maze of mirrors and its seemingly endless corridors, you won't know what's real and what isn't anymore.

Rooftop

Finally, visiting Camera Obscura & World of Illusions is also a visit to... its rooftops! From up there, you can enjoy a superb view of the city. Moreover, telescopes and binoculars are available to observe the surroundings.

How do I get to Camera Obscura & World of Illusions?

By car

The car is an option to visit Camera Obscura & World of Illusions. However, due to the lack of parking nearby, it is also not recommended. The nearest car park is a 10 minute walk away. This is Castle Terrace NCP, which offers a reduced rate if you visit Camera Obscura & World of Illusions. Count £10 (compared to £19.50 normal rate).


The address of Camera Obscura & World of Illusions is Castlehill, Royal Mile, Edinburgh EH1 2ND, United Kingdom.

By bus

Buses 2, 41 and 47 run to the museum. Get off at the George IV Bridge stop, just a three minute walk from the Camera Obscura & World of Illusions.

In addition, the City Sightseeing Tour bus stops at Royal Mile, less than a minute from the Camera Obscura & World of Illusions Museum.

By train

Trains from all over Scotland can be taken to Edinburgh Waverley Station. Once at the station it is a 10 minute walk to the Camera Obscura & World of Illusions.

Schedules and Prices of Camera Obscura & World of Illusions

SCHEDULE

You can visit Camera Obscura & World of Illusions every day at the following times:

  • July and August: open daily from 9:00 am to 10:00 pm.
  • September and October: Monday to Friday + Sunday from 9:30 am to 8 pm and Saturday from 9:30 am to 9 pm.
  • November to March: Monday to Thursday from 9.30 am to 7 pm, Friday and Sunday from 9.30 am to 8 pm and Saturday from 9.30 am to 9 pm.
  • April to June: Monday to Friday + Sunday from 9:30 to 20:00 and Saturday from 9:30 to 21:00 except during the Easter holidays when it is possible to visit Camera Obscura & World of Illusions every day from 9:00 to 22:00.

Attention: Camera Obscura & World of Illusions is not open on December 25th and January 1st.

RATES

  • Adults: £16
  • Over 65 and students: £14
  • Children from 5 to 15 years old: £12
  • Free for children under 5 years old
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