From the Trainspotting gang's old stomping grounds to romantic moments on Arthur's Seat, discover Edinburgh through a new lens this spring
Whether it's the winding lanes and closes of medieval Old Town, or the wide stately boulevards of the city's northern neighbourhoods, beautiful Edinburgh has played a starring role in many films over the years. So why not transport yourself onto the silver screen and explore these locations for yourself?
Despite Glasgow standing in for Edinburgh for most of Danny Boyle's Trainspotting, the city's famous high street is the setting for the film's famous opening sequence, which follows Renton (Ewan McGregor) and Spud (Ewen Bremner) hurtling down Princes Street, having just shoplifted to feed their heroin addiction. It's perhaps not the most flattering introduction to Edinburgh, but certainly one of the most memorable.
Sunshine on Leith – The Mound
National Gallery of Scotland / credit: Chris Watt
The happy-go-lucky Proclaimers musical Sunshine on Leith (dubbed 'McMamma Mia') culminates in a rousing song-and-dance number set to 'I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles)', just outside the Scottish National Gallery on the Mound. Sunshine and song not guaranteed upon your visit, but incredible views certainly are.
Lone Scherfig's romantic weeper One Day opens and closes in Edinburgh, with Dexter Mayhew (Jim Sturgess) and Emma Morley (Anne Hathaway) climbing Arthur's Seat and looking out over the cityscape after a complicated romantic encounter that will ripple out over the rest of their lives. Hankies at the ready.
Wanda (Elizabeth Olsen) and Vision (Paul Bettany)'s romantic moment on the crest of the equally-romantic Cockburn Street is rudely interrupted by the arrival of Thanos' henchmen, and the subsequent superhero clash leaves the street a bit worse for wear. Alas the shop that promises to 'deep-fry your kebab' is actually a jewellery store in real life, but never fear: some sort of artery-clogging meal is certainly not in short supply in Scotland.
The charismatic young teacher Miss Jean Brodie (Maggie Smith) leads her 'Brodie set' to the historic Grassmarket, whilst delivering a rather misguided lecture about Mussolini and Mary, Queen of Scots. Luckily for you, the many lovely shops and pubs that line this historic square can be explored and admired sans Brodie's questionable pedagogical methods.
The Wachowskis and Tom Twyker's sprawling fantasy film spans the extremes of time and space, but one quiet moment takes place atop the blackened spires of the famous Scott Monument, as troubled composer Robert Frobisher (Ben Whishaw) enjoys one last cigarette and evades his lover, Rufus Sixsmith (James D'Arcy), before taking his own life.
Craigmillar Castle is transformed into a medieval village in Netflix's action drama Outlaw King, starring Chris Pine as the legendary Scottish king. But even without the fancy set dressing, this ruined castle – which housed many prominent Scottish nobles back in the day, including Mary, Queen of Scots herself – makes for an atmospheric day trip outside the city centre.
The Illusionist (L'Illusionniste) – Salisbury Craigs
The beautifully rendered and endlessly charming animated feature The Illusionist follows the story of a down-on-his-luck magician and a young girl named Alice, who move to Edinburgh so that the magician can perform his magic at a theatre there. In one scene, Alice spends a day walking through the streets and finds herself facing the dramatic cliffs of Salisbury Craigs, the city unfolding before her gaze with a magic all of its own.
This splendid building on Princes Street has housed its fair share of celebrities, from Laurel and Hardy to JK Rowling. It accommodates a guest of quite a different stripe in Hallam Foe, wherein the eponymous protagonist (Jamie Bell), beds down in its famous clock tower in order to spy on its administrator (Sophie Myles), who bears a striking resemblance to his deceased mother. We'd very much recommend actually booking a room over this option.
Let LNER whisk you away on your next city break this spring. With on-board loos, free wifi and a wide selection of delicious food and drink, start your holiday on the right foot by travelling in both comfort and style. Book directly from the LNER website to avoid booking fees, and if you've found a ticket at a cheaper price, have the price matched and the difference refunded through their Price Promise. And if you're planning on taking the whole crew along with you, save 25% off your LNER Advance tickets for groups of three to nine.
Also keep a look-out for the fabulous new Azuma trains, which will begin making journeys on the London to Leeds line from Wednesday 15 May, with further roll-outs along the line to come in the next few months. The Azuma fleet has been built using Japanese bullet train technology, and boasts an extra 7cm of leg room in Standard class, more overhead and under-seat luggage space, a power socket for every seat and improved wi-fi. Those travelling First Class will be able to enjoy even wider reclining seats with generous table space, as well as a complimentary two-course meal for lunch and dinner, and a breakfast menu in the mornings. But don't just take our word for it – try it out for yourself by entering LNER's competition to win four first class tickets.