With a wealth of places to experience Scottish and international art and even its own art college, the Scottish capital is certainly a place of pilgrimage for the culture vultures among us. Galleries, street art murals and a designated art festival in the city offer plenty to satisfy an arty craving.
Read also: A Book Lover’s Guide to Edinburgh’s Literary Landmarks
As an example of Edinburgh’s ever-growing cultural landscape, the Edinburgh Art Festival alongside the Edinburgh International Festival, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and the Edinburgh International Book Festival has become an August institution in the busy festival calendar. A full month of exhibitions, events and all things visual art makes the festival one of the biggest of its kind in the United Kingdom. Most of the exhibitions are free to visit with some events being ticketed. Check out the programme here.
Besides the Edinburgh Art Festival, there is plenty of art to discover at any time of the year, so below our list of favourites places to admire Scottish and international art in Edinburgh.
What first comes to mind when thinking about where to experience visual art in Edinburgh, are the National Galleries. Offering a great introduction to Scottish art as well as having international pieces on show, parts of the galleries are free to enter while others charge a small fee.
Whereas the Scottish National Gallery and its impressive neoclassical home on Princes Street (The Mound, EH2 2EL) are naturally a must-see in every Edinburgh itinerary, the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art (75 Belford Road, EH4 3DR) with its focus on more contemporary art is a bit more off the beaten track, but still well worth a visit.
The Scottish National Portrait Gallery – just opposite our Royal Garden Apartments – is located in a stunningly beautiful neo-gothic palace purposefully built just for the portrait gallery. Explore a wealth of portraits and find out how the personalities behind them shaped Scottish history.
Another free Edinburgh attraction, the 6-storey City Art Centre is home to a number of collections of Scottish and international art and also hosts different exhibitions throughout the year.
Why not go and find the 1822 oil panting “The Entry of George IV into Edinburgh” by John Wilson Ewbank, which is part of Edinburgh’s 101 Objects? The beautiful painting shows the staged celebrations of the former monarch riding into Edinburgh with the impressive city scape in the background.
Address: 2 Market Street, EH1 1DE
Across the road from the City Art Centre, The Fruitmarket Gallery’s changing exhibitions shine a spotlight on contemporary art and are usually free to visit. Also grab a delicious bite to eat from the Milk Café inside the gallery with their cakes being to die for (After seeing all this art in Edinburgh you will most definitely deserve a treat!).
Address: 45 Market Street, EH1 1DF
Murals in Leith
Lovingly called The Peoples Republic of Leith by the locals, the North of Edinburgh holds a few surprises for people interested in art in the form of murals. The Mural Project is an art initiative set up by LeithLate, who also run the Annual LeithLate festival, and showcases the recent and historic murals one can find in the Leith area. Click to enlarge the map of the Leith murals below.
A bit further afield and only open during the warmer months of the year, Jupiter Art Land offers an immersive experience of art. Wander through a gardenlike landscape with weird and wonderful artworks and sculptures for grown-up and little kids to explore and admire.
Address: Bonnington House Steadings, Wilkieston, EH27 8BB
Small but nice, this quirky gallery has artwork and prints from local artists on show and for sale. Located on picturesque Victoria Street, this gallery’s exterior is probably one of the most photographed in Edinburgh but it’s definitely worth a look inside, too. Great for picking up a unique present or gift to take home.
Address: 42 Victoria Street, EH1 2JW
Stay With Us
Our apartments are a great place to stay when exploring art in Edinburgh. With nearly all art galleries in walking distance, base yourself at Fountain Court for a home from home experience. Book now.
Blog image of the Scottish National Gallery by © Keith Hunter