Edinburgh is full of history, and the best way to discover the many aspects of the city is with a tour led by a local guide.
In Edinburgh, there’s something to be discovered down every narrow alley. From its literary history and gory ghost walks to wild Highland adventures, these guided tours are some of the best ways to peel back the layers of Scotland’s capital and discover its secrets.
Looming broodily over the city centre, Edinburgh Castle is impossible to ignore. Fulfil your curiosity on this in-depth tour of the city’s most prominent landmark. Start by skipping the ticket lines and listening to tales of kings, queens, soldiers and prisoners who all walked the same stones over the centuries. Witness the Stone of Destiny and the Great Hall before taking in panoramic views of Edinburgh’s Old and New Towns. Meeting point: Frankie & Benny’s, 130 High Street, Edinburgh.
Wander the same streets that inspired JK Rowling on this fun and budget-friendly Harry Potter walking tour. Starting on Chambers Street, you’ll see the café where the Scottish author conjured up her beloved characters and stories. Pass the real-life Diagon Alley and peer through the gate at the castle-like private school said to be the inspiration for Hogwarts. Be sorted into a Hogwarts house and earn points for your Potter-verse knowledge in a round of trivia. Meeting point: William Chambers Monument, 45 Chambers Street, Edinburgh.
Edinburgh is a compact city; therefore, you can see many of its major attractions by bike in just a couple of hours. This scenic bike tour covers the historic centre, taking a detour alongside some picturesque and wild countryside. Passing the regal Palace of Holyroodhouse (Holyrood Palace), you’ll end up at the foot of Arthur’s Seat – highland wilderness in the heart of the city. Soak up the village atmosphere pedalling through Duddingston, home to Edinburgh’s oldest pub. Head back to the centre along the traffic-free old railway lines to experience a part of Edinburgh many have long forgotten. Meeting point: 29 Blackfriars Street, Edinburgh.
Under the well-trodden pavements and narrow alleys of Old Town lurks evidence of Edinburgh’s grim and gruesome history – uncover it all on this sinister walking tour. Follow a cloaked guide through the streets where you’ll hear about witch trials, body snatchers and the shadowy figures of Edinburgh’s past. Then descend below ground to the haunted vaults, built as merchant’s storage spaces and then used as housing for poor families in the 1700s. Meeting point: Mercat Cross, High Street, Edinburgh.
Scottish cuisine isn’t all deep-fried Mars bars and sheep innards. See for yourself on this guided food walk of the city centre. You’ll discover the savoury joys of haggis and sample local delicacies such as handmade cheese and posh pastries with afternoon tea. There’s also a chance for a tipple of whisky and Edinburgh gin to top things off. Meeting point: St Giles’ Cathedral (at the West Parliament Square side, opposite the French Consulate), Royal Mile, Edinburgh.
You can’t visit Scotland’s capital without sampling a dram or two. Dedicate a couple of hours to the pure study of whisky with a local expert on this guided whisky walk. Strolling through Old Town, hear the regal history of the drink that dates back to King James IV and how it went from the streets of Edinburgh to an international sensation. Finish things off by sampling four whiskies in a candlelit cellar. Meeting point: Mercat Cross, High Street, Edinburgh.
Follow in the footsteps of royalty, soldiers and rebellious Jacobites on a historic guided walk of the Royal Mile. Edinburgh’s oldest and most characterful street stretches from the castle at the top of the hill to Holyrood Palace. On this guided stroll, you’ll pass some of the oldest buildings in Edinburgh and learn the deep history of this ancient thoroughfare. End at the palace for stories of royalty who use this residence to this day. Meeting point: Mercat Cross, High Street, Edinburgh.
Discover the gory secrets of Greyfriars Kirkyard on a paranormal-themed evening tour. Learn about Edinburgh’s darkest historical characters and discover why the Mackenzie Poltergeist is one of the most recorded paranormal entities in the country. Uncover the dark side of this centuries-old graveyard with a specialist guide who will tell tales of infamous body snatchers and secret societies. Meeting point: Tree of the Dead on the Royal Mile Besides St Giles’ Cathedral, Edinburgh.