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Every city has some dark tales to tell, and Scotland’s capital is no exception. With its hidden closes, underground vaults and eerie graveyards, such as Greyfriars Kirkyard, Edinburgh is teeming with nefarious deeds and bloody histories – there have been reports that some of the dead in this city don’t disappear. So, if you’re looking for tours of Edinburgh’s ghoulish underbelly, read on.
If being six feet (or more) underground is not your cup of tea, then you might want to skip this tour. However, if you fancy visiting the infamous Niddry Street underground vaults – once home to the destitute, prostitutes, criminals, witches and a hell-fire club – then this one-hour experience will stimulate your senses. You’ll also visit Greyfriars Kirkyard, home of the famous Greyfriars Bobby, where the corpses below will come to life in your imagination. Or is it more than just your imagination?
For those whose feet need a rest, this tour allows you to experience a ghost tour from a seat on a double-decker vintage bus. With a local guide, you’ll visit Edinburgh’s eeriest locations, such as Greyfriars Kirkyard, Edinburgh Castle, Grassmarket and the Royal Mile, and hear accounts of strange occurrences witnessed there – including executions and unimaginable torture and murder. Just don’t be surprised if a ghost hijacks your bus during the ride.
Highly rated by participants, this two-hour tour is gruesomely informative. You’ll meet your guide on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile, the main thoroughfare of the Old Town, and then set off on foot. Along the tour, you’ll climb Calton Hill, the site of witch trials and pagan rituals, and also visit the Old Calton Burial Ground or Canongate Kirkyard, where you’ll learn about body-snatching, vampires and some of the infamous people interred there. If there was any question that Edinburgh is home to unusual activity, this tour confirms it.
If you’re unable to travel to Edinburgh or just prefer to keep a screen between you and the undead, then this hour-long virtual tour is a great way to discover Scotland’s dark side without leaving your sofa. Your guide will take you from Ayrshire to Edinburgh, sharing stories of cannibals, witches and ghosts. Hear all about the local folklore surrounding Alexander “Sawney” Bean, virtually wander through Edinburgh’s Old Town, and check out the haunted Deacon Brodie’s Tavern, named after the man who inspired Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1886). This online experience is perfect for anyone who loves history and haunted tales – but not for those who scare easily.
This article is an updated version of a story created by Deborah Chu.