One Day (2011) is a tragic romantic film set primarily across three cities in three countries: Edinburgh, London and Paris. Though I hope to fill in the other cities at some point in the future, for now, I want to share all the One Day filming locations in Edinburgh that I researched on my recent trip there in June 2019.
One Day (directed by Lone Scherfig) documents the lives of Emma (played by Anne Hathaway) and Dexter (Jim Sturgess) over 18 years, but only on one day of the year – July 15th, St Swithun’s Day. They meet in Edinburgh on the day of their graduation and their lives take many different directions during the film.
There aren’t many One Day locations in Edinburgh but the ones that do exist are definitely worth visiting and show off the best of Edinburgh Old Town and other great attractions in the city. Let’s take a look at all the One Day filming locations in Edinburgh!
One Day Filming Locations in Edinburgh
1. Arthur’s Seat, EH8 8AZ
One Day begins with a few establishing shots of Edinburgh to really set the scene before the action kicks in. The first is of Arthur’s Seat – a small but imposing hill to the Southeast of Edinburgh City Centre. You can look over the whole of Edinburgh and beyond from here and I wholeheartedly recommend you commit to the short hike if you’re visiting Edinburgh any time soon!
Of course, Arthur’s Seat appears later in the film, too. Dexter visits Arthur’s Seat with his daughter Jasmine. It prompts him to remember the first night he spent with Emma and their own walk up Arthur’s Seat. So it’s a pretty prolific and important filming location in One Day!
Arthur’s Seat also makes an appearance in T2 Trainspotting (2017) and you can read my detailed guide to the Trainspotting and T2 Trainspotting film locations in Scotland here.
2. Calton Hill, EH7 5AA
The second establishing shot of Edinburgh in One Day is Calton Hill and it’s iconic Dugald Stewart Monument. Edinburgh is a city of numerous hills and amazing viewpoints and Calton Hill is one of the best. So it’s no wonder it was chosen to feature as a One Day film location!
3. North Bridge over Edinburgh Waverley Station
Here, we finally see our four graduates in cap and gowns walking through the streets of Edinburgh in the wee hours of the morning. First, they walk over North Bridge towards Edinburgh Old Town away from Princes Street above Edinburgh Waverley Station.
4. Victoria Terrace, EH1 2PW
Next, we take a bit of a jump to Victoria Terrace and watch the Graduates walk towards the Royal Mile. Victoria Terrace and Victoria Street are a couple of the best streets in Edinburgh and you must pay them a visit if you’re taking a trip to Edinburgh in the future.
Victoria Terrace also makes an appearance in Filth (2013) and you can read my detailed guide to the Filth filming locations in Edinburgh and Glasgow here.
5. Warriston’s Close, EH1 1LW
There’s a bit of film trickery going on as I think we’re meant to believe the Graduates walk along Victoria Terrace and then take the steps down Warriston’s Close concurrently. However, Warriston’s close is on the other side of the Royal Mile so that’s impossible! I do feel like such a smug, smartypants when I spot jump cuts like that, though. It doesn’t happen very often!
6. The Balmoral Hotel Clock, 1 Princes Street, EH2 2EQ
One of the final establishing shots in the opening sequence is of the Balmoral Hotel. Specifically, the Balmoral’s clock that can be seen above Edinburgh Waverley Station. It’s around 6:00 in the morning so the Graduates have clearly been partying all night!
Fun fact: Since 1902, the clock has always been exactly three minutes fast. Why? In the hope that poor timekeepers will be able to catch their trains! However, the clock is reverted to the correct time on December 31st every year so that Hogmanay (Scottish New Year) can be celebrated at precisely the right time.
7. Parliament Square, EH1 1RF
The first proper scene (you know, with actual dialogue!) takes place in Parliament Square, right next to St Giles Cathedral on the Royal Mile. It’s here that Emma’s friend goes off with Dexter’s friend and our protagonists are left talking to each other and they walk off through the columned arches before heading back to Emma’s apartment.
8. 26-29 Moray Place, EH3 6BH
Jumping ahead to the last few scenes of One Day, we finally see what happened at the end of Emma and Dexter’s very first day together! After walking up Arthur’s Seat, they decide to head to Dexter’s flat and unexpectedly run into his parents waiting for him on the street.
Dexter, being the posh boy he is, lives on an extremely lovely street called Moray Place. I personally visited Moray Place (as I did for all of the One Day filming locations on this list!) and I think the bit that was in the film is near 26-29 Moray Place. Thankfully, Dexter chases after Emma and asks for her phone number. After all, you regret the things you don’t do more than the things you do!
But the question is… Is this scene from the first night of their meeting a continuation of the scenes we saw at the beginning… Or is it an alternative ending?? I’ll let you think about that one while you walk around all of the One Day locations in Edinburgh!
Those are all the One Day filming locations in Edinburgh! Have you visited any Edinburgh locations? Or watched the film? Let me know in the comments below!