Forget old monuments and castles, Edinburgh is renowned for its part in the iconic adaptation of Irvine Welsh’s novel-turned-cult-film, Trainspotting. Shot amidst the winding streets of Scotland’s capital as well as in its second city, Glasgow, the film highlights some of Edinburgh’s best sights. Despite centring around drug culture and poverty, both the original and its sequel manage to showcase the city’s spellbinding monuments and landscape scene after scene. Take the ultimate tour and go Trainspotting in the city where it all began with our ultimate guide to some of the film’s most iconic locations.
Head east of the castle and visit the park where Mark and Spud took a jog. Smack bang in the city centre, this 650 acre hilly area is a slice of the Highlands and is home to Edinburgh’s highest point. Take in the panoramic views that are featured throughout the film and climb to the top of Arthur’s Seat located in the middle of the park. Stand on top of the ledge and look out over the cliffs of Salisbury Crags to the west, spectacular views of Edinburgh and Leith and make out Firth of Forth in the distance. The park should be your first stop on your tour of Trainspotting film locations in Edinburgh.
You’ll notice this next location in the scene where Simon and Mark decide to ask for funding to start up their business. You can see great views of the building from Holyrood Park or get up close and personal with a free tour of the inside. Built in 1999, the structure is made from steel, oak and granite and was inspired by its natural surroundings. Easy enough to find, the building sits at the foot of the famous Royal Mile in front of the park’s entrance and Salisbury Crags.
In one of the opening scenes of T2 Trainspotting, the former church building is the location of Spud’s recovery group meeting. Designed by William Henry Playfair, the building is one of the most iconic structures in Stockbridge. Finished in 1828, the church features a 162 foot tower with the largest clock pendulum in Europe and is frequently used as a performance space given its impressive acoustics. Have a wander round or see it during a Fringe Festival show, either way this is a key location in the filming of Britain’s much loved cult movie.
Featured in one of the most iconic scenes in the original film and then popping up again in a reflection scene with Spud in T2 Trainspotting, the back street under Regent bridge is an unmissable stop on the tour. The bridge built in the 19th century is neoclassical in style and sits just a short walk from the back entrance of Waverly Station. A fully functioning road bridge, this is the point where the A1 enters the New Town and so can be quite busy with traffic so chose your visiting hours wisely!
Located in the Islington area of the city, the airport is featured in the film when Mark decided to return from Amsterdam after struggling to keep his life afloat. The drama unfolds on the tram platform as we watch him leave the airport and head towards Princes Street in an effort to reunite with old friends and family.
The location of the iconic dance floor flashback scene and toilet encounter, The Cav has since been transformed into new venue, ATIK. Once the site for the Cavendish Ballroom in the 40s, the nightclub has had a place in the hearts of locals for generations. The large space with three rooms on two floors and six bars is a favourite spot for a night on the town and despite changing hands, still has remnants of the old club featured in the films. From its infamous toilets that were splashed across the front of promotional posters for the sequel to its retro flashing dancefloor, the building has played a big part in the filming of the cult movies.
After the dramatic encounter in the Cav’s toilets, the streets of the Old Town facilitate Renton’s escape. In the film, the cameras show him sprinting through some of the city’s tourist attractions such as Fleshmarket Close, Cockburn Street and Parliament Square. The bustling area is not only an iconic location in the film but also in real life. Full of centuries old buildings, the home of the Royal Mile and Edinburgh Castle is visited by millions of tourist all year round and is the heart of the city.
Simon and Mark get taught a lesson and are dropped over the Forth Road Bridge to the middle of nowhere by Mr. Doyle in nothing but their birthday suit. The bridge is featured again when the pair trek across it as they make their way back home. One of the world’s most significant suspension bridges, Forth Road spans the Firth of Forth connecting Edinburgh at Queensferry to Fife at North Queensferry. Opened in 1964, the bridge was the longest of its kind outside of America at the time of its inception and remains the fourth longest bridge in the world at 2.5 kilometres long.
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Flights to Edinburgh
- Lucy Norris