Directions could even be beamed on to pavements after dark under plans being considered by city chiefs to improve the tourist experience of the Old and New Towns.
Inspired by pedestrian mapping concept Legible London, the project would see new signs and maps installed to highlight often overlooked attractions such as the closes of the Old Town and A-listed buildings of the New Town.
A new report suggests the Capital should adopt street navigation techniques used in other major cities
Edinburgh World Heritage, the body funded by Historic Scotland and Edinburgh City Council to protect and promote the Unesco site, said many visitors tend not to stray from the main routes. Director Adam Wilkinson said: “We have this extraordinary city with all these places to see and with incredible depth of culture, however invariably people get stuck on the Royal Mile.
“It’s about offering pedestrian navigation. QR codes are one way and with the new £10.7 million broadband investment there is great opportunity. There are also ideas about conventional fingerposts, although we would like to find something unique to Edinburgh.”
Ciara Glen, an intern at the organisation, carried out a study on how other cities direct visitors around historic site.
It found that Bordeaux gave visitors an insight into landmark buildings, monuments and streets using their smartphones to scan QR codes, while the Legible London project features huge on-street maps.
In Montreal, directions to galleries and theatres are projected on to the streets by spotlights at night and Miami built on its art deco past when designing colourful signs harking back to the 1930s.
The move comes after the city was criticised by Professor Charles McKean, former chair of Edinburgh World Heritage.
He said: “If you are curious about something here, there is nothing to tell you what it is.”
The local authority intends to adopt and fund some of the measures next year when it renews its advertising and street furniture contracts.
Ian Perry, the city’s planning leader, said: “Over 75 per cent of people say they visit Edinburgh because of its natural heritage, but we feel we need to enhance visitor experience by marking out the Unesco site and its highlights more distinctively.”