Things to do in
Edinburgh Old Town

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Our most recommended things to do in Edinburgh Old Town

Edinburgh: Underground Vaults Tour

1. Edinburgh: Underground Vaults Tour

This vaults tour takes you beneath the streets of Edinburgh's Old Town into a dimly lit space that many considered to be haunted. Your tour visits the vaults of the South Bridge that date back to the 1700s. These are the same vaults mentioned on Most Haunted Live as one of the scariest places on earth. Learn how the vaults have been used over the years, and the living conditions endured by the poor and homeless residents who frequented them. The darker side of Edinburgh's history will unfold as you wander through the candle-lit underground area. From your guide, you'll hear about the Burke and Hare murders and the persecution of witches. Discover the characters who stalked the streets of Edinburgh, and the paranormal stories associated with the vaults. The Haunted Vaults tour option will cover more paranormal and ghost stories. Step into the torture exhibition and explore how and why these items were used.

Edinburgh Castle: Skip-the-Line Guided Tour in English

2. Edinburgh Castle: Skip-the-Line Guided Tour in English

The tour begins by the statue of Adam Smith on the Royal Mile. Walk towards Edinburgh Castle as your guide sets the scene, explaining the significance of the Castle and mentioning some of the key characters who have helped shape it. As you reach the Castle complex your guide will share skip-the-line passes, giving you direct access to Scotland's most visited paid attraction.  Once inside your guide will walk you through the Castle complex sharing their in-depth knowledge of all the Castle's main buildings and attractions, including, but not limited to, the Argyle Battery and One O'clock Gun, the Hospital Square and Western Panorama, the Castle dungeons and military prison, the Black Banquet and Thomas Randolph's daring castle raid, St Margret's Chapel, Mons Meg, the Crown Square and The Honors of Scotland. Please note that whilst the tour guide will walk you around the castle grounds and take you through the 3,000 yeas worth of castle history, they cannot take you into any of the castle museums. When the tour ends, you will be left to explore the various castle buildings and museums at your own leisure - hopefully with more knowledge than if you had simply arrived on your own!

Edinburgh: Harry Potter Magical Guided Walking Tour

3. Edinburgh: Harry Potter Magical Guided Walking Tour

Enjoy a Harry Potter-themed walking tour across Edinburgh. See the city where JK Rowling found inspiration for Hogwarts, her famous characters, and discover the place where she wrote the books. Have your Harry Potter trivia tested with an audio-visual quiz, and earn points for your house. Find out which Hogwarts House you’re in, and whether you’re a pure-blood, a muggle, or a squib. Visit the Grave of Tom Riddle in Greyfriars Kirkyard, and pass JK Rowling’s golden handprints outside City Chambers. See all this and more on a magical guided tour.

Edinburgh: Late-Night Underground Vaults Terror Tour

4. Edinburgh: Late-Night Underground Vaults Terror Tour

Join this late-night tour of Edinburgh to discover the city’s darkest and most frightening experience as you hear ghost stories of the city told above and below the ground of the Royal Mile. After walking through the famous wynds and closes of the Royal Mile, learning about the horrific living conditions and listening to stories of murderers who roamed the streets, you will be taken to the haunted underground vaults. Torture exhibits await for those with a strong enough stomach to learn how these devices were used in times gone by. Go to the home of “The Watcher” ghost, see the infamous stone circle vault, and discover why you should never step inside!

Edinburgh: History of Whisky with Tasting and Storytelling

5. Edinburgh: History of Whisky with Tasting and Storytelling

This tour meets on the iconic Royal Mile and you'll have a short walk to one of the supplier's outstanding whisky venues Over the next two hours, drink 4 outstanding single malt scotch whiskys taken from the 4 major whisky producing regions of Scotland. These whiskys will range from the relatively delicate and subtle flavors of the Lowlands to the bold and robust tastes from Islay. You will also be given tasting cards giving notes on each of the whiskys that you sample. During the tour, experience some traditional storytelling and explore the significance of whisky to the Scottish identity. The entire upper floor of the venue reserved, so there is plenty of space and privacy to conduct the story orientated evening.

Edinburgh: 24-Hour Hop-on Hop-off Panoramic Bus Ticket

6. Edinburgh: 24-Hour Hop-on Hop-off Panoramic Bus Ticket

Explore Edinburgh at your own pace with a hop-on and hop-off open-top bus tour. Enjoy the onboard commentary that describes the history behind the city. Stop at locations like St Andrew Square, Johnstone Terrace, the Royal Mile. See sights like Edinburgh Castle and Grassmarket. Board the bus and begin your city adventure. Compare Edinburgh's Old Town, where families lived in cramped conditions and rubbish was thrown out of the windows, to the elegant Georgian New Town, with its 3 main streets and square at either end. Hear about the hangings that took place in the Grassmarket as you marvel at the impenetrable Castle Rock above you, and hear about historic attempts to capture Edinburgh Castle. Drive along the Royal Mile, which joins Edinburgh Castle to the Palace of Holyroodhouse. Use the 24-hour ticket to hop on and off as you please. With great visitor attractions, museums, galleries, and restaurants to suit every taste and budget, Edinburgh's got it all! Buses run every 30 minutes, making the following loop: Tour Stops: 1. St Andrew Square - Northside 2. Lothian Road - Waldorf Astoria 3. Grassmarket 4. Lauriston Place 5. Johnstone Terrace - Edinburgh Castle, The Scottish Whiskey Experience 6. Lawnmarket - Gladstone's End, The Real Mary King's Close 7. Chambers Street - National Museum of Scotland 8. St Mary's Street West 9. Canongate - John Knox House 10. Royal Mile - Scottish Parliament, Palace of Holyrood House 11. Dynamic Earth 12. Regent Road - Burns Monument

Edinburgh: Ghostly Underground Vaults Tour

7. Edinburgh: Ghostly Underground Vaults Tour

Explore Edinburgh's ghostly past on a guided tour through the streets of the Old Town and its underground vaults. Listen as your cloaked guide tells you tales of the city's dark and grim past as you are led along the Royal Mile. If you dare, step into the narrow alleyways, which are only a few feet wide. Make your way to the South Bridge, and head underneath, where Edinburgh's Vaults are located. Once storage areas for businesses and shops in the area, the vaults were taken over in the late 1700s and turned into living spaces. Eventually, the area became home to slums and the city's red-light district. As you walk through these now-vacant rooms, you will hear tales of the deplorable living conditions, as well as of the crime that once raged through the vaults. When you emerge from the underground, consider yourself lucky that it isn't in the dead of night.

Edinburgh: Palace of Holyroodhouse Ticket

8. Edinburgh: Palace of Holyroodhouse Ticket

Wander the opulent state rooms and lavish gardens of the Palace of Holyroodhouse, Her Majesty The Queen’s official Scottish residence, located at the end of Edinburgh’s Royal Mile. Once inside the baroque palace, learn about its close associations with Scotland's history via a complimentary multimedia guide (available in 9 languages). Visit the State Apartments to see the changing tastes of successive monarchs. Marvel at fine plasterwork ceilings and Brussels tapestries, along with paintings and other artworks in rooms still used by the Queen and Royal Family for official ceremonies. Go to the Throne Room to see where lunch was served to the Knights and Ladies of the Order of the Thistle when a new knight was installed. Discover where the Queen holds her private audiences in the Morning Drawing Room. Continue to the Great Gallery, where Scottish residents named in the New Year’s Honours List or Queen's Birthday Honours List receive their award at an Investiture ceremony. Admire Jacob de Wet's portraits of real and legendary kings of Scotland in the Great Gallery, the largest room in the palace. Learn about dramatic events from Scotland’s history in Mary Queen of Scots' historic chambers, where she witnessed the brutal murder of her secretary, Rizzio, by her jealous husband, Lord Darnley. At the end of your multimedia tour, enjoy a refreshing drink or light lunch (own expense) at the Café at the Palace.

Edinburgh: Scenic Bike Tour

9. Edinburgh: Scenic Bike Tour

Escape the crowds and busy streets of Edinburgh city center and get panoramic views of the coast and countryside on a 3 to 4-hour guided bike tour. Cycle from the Old Town towards the New Scottish Parliament building and Dynamic Earth visitor attraction at the end of the Royal Mile. Pass the royal Palace of Holyroodhouse and get breathtaking views of the ruins of St. Anthony’s Chapel. Next, make your way up the extinct volcano of Arthur’s Seat, and continue on foot from Dunsapie Loch to get magnificent views from the summit. Cycle back down towards Salisbury Crags and get wonderful views of Edinburgh Castle and the Old Town. Continue to Duddingston Loch to discover the secret oasis of Dr. Neil’s Garden at Duddingston Manse. Bike back towards the city center on the Innocent Railway Path. Pedal through Meadows Park and the Grassmarket to arrive back in the Old Town.

Edinburgh: Old Town and Underground Ghost Tour

10. Edinburgh: Old Town and Underground Ghost Tour

Join an early afternoon ghost tour in Edinburgh and enjoy a walk with a professional local guide dressed in full period costume. See historic landmarks in the old town on this 1-hour tour as your guide tells you about Edinburgh’s dark past. Head down into the city’s underground vaults, located below the historic South Bridge, just off Edinburgh’s famous Royal Mile. The vaults are known to be some of the most haunted in the world and many a ghost has been spotted lurking around by visitors and guides. Experience an afternoon filled with ghosts, torture, death, and horror in Scotland’s historic capital.

Frequently asked questions about Edinburgh Old Town

Other Sightseeing Options in Edinburgh Old Town

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What people are saying about Edinburgh Old Town

Overall rating

4.6 / 5

based on 32,567 reviews

Our tour of Edinburgh castle with Luca was a highlight of our trip! He provided an interesting and informative tour that was a lot of fun. My daughter and I agree that seeing the castle would not have been the same without our guide, so we are glad we decided to book this tour.

Fantastic, interesting tour guided by Fraser. He was very knowledgeable and entertaining, it was a really fun trip and well worth the time and money to kick off a day in Edinburgh city centre.

Fella was good at guiding and I learnt some interesting stuff. Got a bit stressed out by the energy/feeling of one vaults in particular but that's very much not his or the tours fault.

A great insight to the vaults history. Our guide, Megan was brilliant. She was both information and funny, entertaining us with various tales.

Ula was a superb guide. So welcoming, knowledgeable and enthusiastic! Thoroughly enjoyed our tour. Would highly recommend!