See Scotland’s famous faces rendered in paint, pencil, marble, bronze, and on film, in this vast Venetian Gothic-style building. Famous Scots and well-known figures from throughout history, from Mary, Queen of Scots and Bonnie Prince Charles to Tilda Swinton and Sean Connery, are all immortalized here in various forms.
The Scottish National Portrait Gallery can be explored independently. Visitors make their own way through the many galleries, which range from intimate exhibition spaces to the grand Great Hall, where an elaborate painted frieze by William Hole depicts famous figures from Scottish history.
Free guided tours are available on select dates. These often focus on a particular theme or exhibit. Some tours can be booked in advance while others are on a drop-in basis. Special exhibitions occasionally require a separate admission ticket. Workshops, including life drawing and family-oriented classes, are also held at the museum.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The Scottish National Portrait Gallery is a must for art lovers.
- Free Wi-Fi is available at the museum.
- The gallery has a café and a shop selling jewelry, crafts, ceramics, prints, and souvenirs.
- The gallery is wheelchair accessible.
How to Get There
The Scottish National Portrait Gallery is situated on Queen Street in central Edinburgh. The nearest train station is Edinburgh Waverley. From there, take the Princes Street exit, cross the street and walk through St. Andrew Square, before turning left onto Queen Street. Bus routes 10, 11, 12, 16, 26, and 44 all stop near the gallery.
When to Get There
The Scottish National Portrait Gallery is busiest on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. Go midweek or in the morning on the weekend to escape the crowds.
Scottish National Galleries
The Scottish National Portrait Gallery is one of three National Galleries of Scotland, all of which are located in Edinburgh. The Scottish National Gallery, which focuses on Scottish art from the Renaissance through to the early 20th century, is just a 10-minute walk away on the Mound. The Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, which is devoted to 20th- and 21st-century works, is a 30-minute walk away. A gallery bus travels between the three locations and drops off (but does not pick up) passengers at the National Portrait Gallery.