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Old Town Historical and Underground Tour

  • Led by either the holder of a PhD in Scottish history or a guide with decades of experience
  • Relaxed pace: Take the opportunity to ask questions
  • Offers an insight into Scottish history glossed over by many tours
Old Town Historical and Underground Tour
From US$12.98
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  • Overview
  • What to Expect
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Old Town Historical and Underground Tour
Get an in-depth perspective on Edinburgh on this guided tour that goes deeper than most. Usually led by a guide with a PhD in Scottish history, this tour offers a journey through Edinburgh’s medieval Old Town from the main thoroughfares to the hidden closes (alleyways) and courtyards. Your guide shares tales of dramatic events in the neighborhood's history, as well as those of the writers, philosophers, and inventors who called the area home.
What to Expect

The tour begins outside our ticket office in the epicentre of the Royal Mile where your guide will welcome you and provide a general introduction to Edinburgh and its history. Be sure to ask about the story behind our ticket office which was a former police box! Then your guide will lead you onto South Bridge where you will spend the next half hour underground travelling through our section of underground street. Hear how and why South Bridge was constructed and examine the eighteenth-century bridge arches and stonework from the former houses along the former street. Get a very real sense as to what it was like for an ordinary person to live in this age-old metropolis.  

Next, the tour returns above ground to Royal Mile and you will journey through the “lower” half of the Old Town towards Holyrood Palace, visiting its half hidden yet beguiling closes wynds and courts. Get to know the incredible occurrences which shaped the city’s development such as devastating fires, collapsing stone buildings and bloody sieges. Learn who was the real-life inspiration for the fictional characters Robinson Crusoe, Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Ebenezer Scrooge and Sherlock Holmes. 

For the final portion of the tour, travel around the stunning Canongate Kirkyard. This beautiful almost 400-year-old church has extensive royal connections, not just with the twelfth-century Scottish monarch David I but also the House of Stuart and even the modern House of Windsor. Amongst those buried inside the graveyard is Adam Smith the intellectual godfather of capitalism as well as literary muses for Robert Burns – Scotland’s national bard. The tour ends outside Canongate Kirkyard on the Royal Mile, but your guide will happily lead you back to the ticket office where the tour began.

Write a ReviewReviews (14)

1 - 5 of 14 reviews

Reviewed 3 days ago
Fallen through time

Our tour started out stepping back in time to explore the streets of Edinburgh,with our guide Major Weir. Winding through alleys, streets and graveyard. In awe of the architecture basking in civil twilight. Moments to pause and take in your surroundings. At each of these...More

Thank tarokitty64
Remmy F, Guest Relations Manager at City of Edinburgh Tours, responded to this reviewResponded yesterday

Beautifully said! Thank you very much for this lovely review.

Reviewed 1 week ago
Great way to learn more about Edinburgh's history ...and get scared shitless in the meantime

Lady Primrose had a wonderful way of conveying the history of Edinburgh. Her enthusiasm and humor made the tour what it should be: fun and educational. Loved the stories and anecdotes about the old town, but the part in the vaults was also really worth...More

Thank hsinnaeve
Remmy F, Guest Relations Manager at City of Edinburgh Tours, responded to this reviewResponded 1 week ago

Thank you so much for your review, we are glad you enjoyed the tour with Lady Primrose.

Reviewed 22 June 2018
Exiting and educational

Went on tour with Spanish family.the guide was Maggie Dickson who was very entertaining and great knowledge of the city. Although this tour was not in Spanish she had no problem giving time for translation. Telling many stories of the gruesome and cruel days in...More

Thank charlieben222
Reviewed 18 May 2018 via mobile
Terrible waste of an hour

Our guide “Major Weir” certainly tried his best, but the tour nor the guide had any substance. The underground highlight was a small underground chamber and guide was trying to stretch and fill the hour. You will see more of the underground trying to find...More

Thank Jaap N
Reviewed 23 April 2018
Gory history lesson from Sawney Bean

Sawney Bean was our host for the tour of the historical sites and the underground vaults on 21st April 2018. What a character with his tri-corn hat, red velvet coat and britches. One passing little boy asked him "Are you a pirate?" Sawney Bean gave...More

Thank NorthwestGirl
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