- Edinburgh’s Camera Obscura and World of Illusions is in the same six-storey building Maria Short bought in 1853. Because this special building is listed, it’s impossible to add a lift. But we’ll do everything we can to help.
- View our access guide provided by AccessAble here.
- Due to the nature of the listed building, it is not possible to take a wheelchair around the building. The exhibition floors are too narrow for wheelchairs to move around, especially in the event of fire evacuation. However, it is possible to arrive in a wheelchair if you can manage stairs with assistance of a companion and wheelchairs can be left in the foyer. There are two steps into the building from the entrance just beside the courtyard.
- We welcome one carer free per paying visitor. Please bring along your carer status ID. Please note that we do not have staff resources to physically support you during your visit.
- Our new one-way system makes using our staircases less crowded and a handrail is easily accessible. There are 98 steps in total to reach the top of the building, covering 5 floors. It is a 2 floor climb to each exhibition level going up and down.
- We can gladly offer you one of our walking stick stools to borrow from reception so you can rest between floors. If this would be useful, please let us know ahead of time and we can reserve one for your visit.
Carers supporting visitors with disabilities go free. We welcome one carer per paying visitor. Carer is a ticket option on our website when booking, so this can all be done in advance of your visit to secure your entry time slot.
You will be asked to present ID on arrival to us if you select carer as a ticket type, for carer entry we would accept any of the following:
1. Bus Pass (showing plus 1 / companion)
We are a stairs-only attraction. There are just under 100 steps to reach the top of our building, to experience the Rooftop Terrace and Camera Obscura.
A hand rail is available on one side of the stair case only.
Seating is available on each floor and walking stick chairs are provided on request.
- Camera Obscura is fun at any age – from toddler to teenager to grandparents. Young babies are welcome and will love the sights and sounds of our World of Illusions. Our attractions are not suitable for pushchairs but you can borrow one of our brilliant baby carriers – there’s no charge. Baby carriers are cleaned and sanitised after each use. If you would like to reserve one in advance please contact us. The minimum weight required for use is 3.5kg (8lbs) and 53cm (21 inches) in height. The maximum weight is 14.5kg (32 lbs).
- We have baby changing facilities in our male and female toilets. The hand dryers in the toilets are quite loud so please be aware if you are using these facilities.
- We have a buggy park in our foyer where you can leave your buggy for the duration of your visit.
- Children aged 12 and under need to be accompanied by an adult during their visit. An adult qualifies as anyone aged 16 and over.
- We proudly support breastfeeding on our premises as part of the Breastfeeding Friendly Scotland scheme. Whilst we do not have a dedicated, discreet feeding area we do have benches on every level you are welcome to use. Our staff will be happy to direct you to a seating area and to provide water on request while you feed your infant.
- Pregnant women are welcome to enjoy the attraction at their own pace, there is no time limit to your visit. Be aware that we only have stairs to access six floors, but seating is available on each floor. Unexpected mirrors, patterns and moving images may cause motion sickness.
Autistic spectrum, ADHD and other neurodiverse visitors
- Our range of sensory exhibits and freedom to go at your own pace make our World of Illusions a great place to visit.
- During weekends and school holidays we are generally busy throughout the day. If you would prefer to visit at a quieter time we would recommend booking either first thing in the morning or later in the evening, as we tend to be quieter then (though quieter times cannot be guaranteed).
- Due to our staggered entry times there may be small queues upon your arrival. If you find this unmanageable please approach a staff member who will grant you priority entry.
- With our one way route you won't miss a thing, but it's easy to skip sections or exhibits if you wish. The attraction is split over five floors, so if one area gets too noisy, there’s always another section to move on to.
- Towards the end of your visit the Vortex Tunnel can be overwhelming. It is possible to walk around this exhibit rather than through it. This exhibit involves walking along a metal bridge with a spinning tunnel of light around it.
- We have ear defenders which you are welcome to borrow, please ask at the front desk on arrival. These are sanitised after each use. We also have sensory backpacks, read more about these here.
- If you need to change the time or day of your visit at short notice, just let us know and we will do our best to accommodate you.
- We do not have a dedicated quiet space, but our open air rooftop terrace is half way through your visit, which can provide a welcome break from the enclosed exhibit space, Scottish weather permitting!
- To help familiarise yourself with the types of exhibit ahead of your visit, you can find an interactive building plan and an introduction video on our Attractions page in the Ground Floor section.
- Any further queries? Call us on 0131 226 3709. We’ll talk you through any concerns. If you’re still unsure, come along and see how it goes. We’ll refund your ticket price in full if things don’t go to plan.
Camera Obscura recognises the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower scheme. Visitors can borrow a lanyard / sticker or wear their own to let our team know they might need support, help or a little extra time.
Hard of hearing or Deaf
- Our exhibits are mostly visual, so visitors with limited hearing can enjoy almost all the fun.
- We have a hearing loop at our reception, in the Camera Obscura and in our shop. Please set your device to the ‘T’ setting.
- If you are concerned you will not be able to experience all of our exhibits, please contact us in advance to discuss your requirements and reserve discounted tickets at 10% off your ticket price.
- A transcript of our Camera Obscura show is available and can also be downloaded here.
- BSL (British Sign Language) users can make contact by using the free Contact Scotland BSL service
- Some of our visual illusions have interactive, hands-on aspects to stimulate the other senses. If you are concerned you will not be able to experience all of our exhibits, please contact us in advance to discuss your requirements and reserve discounted tickets at 10% off your ticket price.
- Be aware that some exhibits need darkness to work properly. Our kick-along stools can also present a trip hazard.
- Some exhibits at our attraction have low levels of lighting. If you have any concerns, please speak to a member of staff.
- Some illusion exhibits require equal vision in both eyes to achieve the desired effect, like magic eye or stereoscope pictures.
- Although we don’t have a lift, our brightly lit stairwell with contrasting handrail can make our six-storey tower accessible.
- We welcome guide dogs into our attraction.
- Please be aware due to the nature of the listed building, the rooftop has some uneven surfaces. We have highlighted these where possible, but always take care when moving around on the rooftop.
Vertigo & Motion Sickness
Photosensitivity or epilepsy
We have several exhibits that use light, all of which are outside of the parameters that would usually cause a seizure. However, please note that these effects are highly dependent on the individual. For more information, please get in touch ahead of your visit and we can advise accordingly.
- The first room in our Magic Gallery on the fifth floor is the Electric Room, which contains several electrifying exhibits. The exhibits bring electricity right to your fingertips and can spark a tiny shock. Any risk to individuals with a pacemaker is low, and research is based on very specific circumstances and older models of pacemakers, however as a precautionary measure we would ask visitors to follow the advice below.
- Any visitors with a pacemaker should not touch any of the electric exhibits in the first room on the fifth floor and should remain 1m distance from the electric exhibits at all times. Visitor should proceed straight through the first room to the adjoining room. If you feel unwell at any point, please find the nearest member of staff and seek medical advice.
- Alternatively, visitors are welcome to enter the fifth floor via the exit barrier on the other side of the staircase, where you can access the rest of the floor without having to go through the small section of electric exhibits in room one.
- If you have any questions or concerns, please ask a member of staff who will be happy to advise or take you through the exit barrier themselves.
We have created a special sensory map of our building, highlighting any areas which may require additional care. You can view the map here.
- We have introduced Sensory Backpacks for children with sensory needs. The items in our backpacks include ear defenders, sunglasses, a torch, an activities sheet and a variety of sensory toys.
- You can reserve a backpack by phoning 0131 226 3709 or emailing email@example.com before your visit. The backpacks can be collected from our Front Desk on arrival and can be borrowed free of charge for the duration of your visit.
- We kindly ask you return the backpack and its contents to our Front Desk at the end of your visit. If you like any of the items in our bags, most are available to purchase from our Gift Shop.
- Toilets are available on the first floor and the fourth floor both with baby changing facilities. We stock sanitary products through local social enterprise Hey Girls in our visitor toilets. These are available free of charge, please help yourself.
- The ladies’ toilets on the 1st floor are cubicles whilst the 1st floor gents are cubicles and urinals.
- There is a single unisex toilet on the 4th floor, just over half way through your visit on the way down from the rooftop.This has additional space and privacy.
- The nearest Changing Places facilities are at Waverley Train Station and the National Museum of Scotland. View the map and find out more at Changing Places.
- There is no on-site parking. There are limited disabled parking spaces available on Johnston Terrace.
- To find the nearest on street parking, and disabled parking spaces you can use the Edinburgh City Council map here.
- There is a multi-storey car park on Castle Terrace, NCP Edinburgh Castle Terrace with 5 disabled parking spaces, which is approximately a 7-minute walk away. Please note you do not need to take the steep Castle Wynd North steps to get to us, just carry on up Johnston Terrace and at the roundabout turn left past The Hub onto Castlehill where you will find us a little further up on the right at the corner of Ramsay Lane.