Best Edinburgh ghost tours: top underground and haunted walking tours to do in 2023 (2023)

There’s Greyfriars Kirkyard, located in the old town, which witnessed countless religious persecutions in the 17th century, and Edinburgh’s Royal Mile bears over 400 years of history. Perhaps one of the most ghostly places is the Edinburgh Vaults. When the city expanded in the 18th century, many inhabitants were forced to seek refuge underneath it in the vaults. Living underground is (unsurprisingly) bad for your health, and when people began to die, the infamous Burke and Hare would visit to claim their corpses.

If you dare to visit these spooky Edinburgh locations, prepare to potentially see or hear from the restless souls that inhabit them. There have been reports of voices, children screaming, moving shadows, sudden drops in temperature, and more unexplained phenomena.

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As well as scary stories and potential sightings, our hand-selected Edinburgh ghost tours are jam-packed with history. You’ll visit some of the most famous and historic sites in the world, and come away with plenty of knowledge about the city’s dark past - because if you’re going to spend money on a tour, you want it to be worthwhile.

The RadioTimes.com team knows you’ll want to get the most out of experiences; that’s why we do plenty of digging to find the best ones. We’ve put together guides to the best London walking tours and Cambridge punting tours, too.

These tours aren’t for the faint-hearted, but if you’ve made it this far, you’re probably not afraid of things that go bump in the night. So for a truly terrifying evening, step right this way, please…

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  • Best Edinburgh ghost tours to visit in 2023
  • Best way to travel to Edinburgh

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Best Edinburgh ghost tours at a glance:

Best Edinburgh ghost tours to visit in 2023

Edinburgh - Dark History

Best Edinburgh ghost tours: top underground and haunted walking tours to do in 2023 (1)

This tour isn’t built on speculation and there are no ghostly stories of apparent happenings - everything you hear is from Edinburgh’s sinister history. You’ll listen to stories of murderers, thieves, cannibals, decapitations, witches, and the plague.

Buy Edinburgh - Dark History from £14 at Viator

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For the best London bus tours (spooky or otherwise), take a look at our best list.

Fright Night Tour

Best Edinburgh ghost tours: top underground and haunted walking tours to do in 2023 (2)

Who said you can only get spooked at Halloween? This Fright Night Tour focuses on the 18th century slums, wynds and vaults of Edinburgh, with a special trip to a graveyard. The 75-minute tour covers everything from historical and ghoulish tales to folklore and mysteries.

Buy Fright Night Tour from £18 at Viator

For more spooky activities, take a look at the best escape rooms and the best UK zombie experiences.

Ghostly Edinburgh Underground Vault Tour for Two

Best Edinburgh ghost tours: top underground and haunted walking tours to do in 2023 (3)

Behind the picturesque scenery of Edinburgh’s old town is a dark and gloomy history. As you explore the old town and Royal Mile, you’ll hear stories of unsettled ghosts, rampant crime and diabolical conditions from a seasoned ghost tour guide. Once you’ve explored the spooky happenings above ground, you’ll head down into the famously haunted Blair Street Underground Vaults.

Buy Ghostly Edinburgh Underground Vault Tour for Two for £40 at Virgin Experience Days

Ghost Bus Tour of Edinburgh

Best Edinburgh ghost tours: top underground and haunted walking tours to do in 2023 (4)

Looking for something that goes bump in the night? Oh, our bad, that was just a speed bump. This next ghost tour is one with a twist: it’s on a bus. From your seat on a vintage double-decker bus, you’ll hear chilling tales while looking at historic sites like Greyfriars Kirk, Edinburgh Castle, Grassmarket and the Royal Mile. It beats listening to a podcast on public transport, that’s for sure!

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Buy Ghost Bus Tour of Edinburgh from £21 at Viator

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Edinburgh Darkside Walking Tour: Mysteries, Murder and Legends

Best Edinburgh ghost tours: top underground and haunted walking tours to do in 2023 (5)

Think you know a lot about Edinburgh’s ghastly history? Think again. This walking tour uncovers stories of witch trials, pagan rituals and executions, and you’ll visit the sites where these gruesome happenings took place. The evening tour also takes you to either the famous Old Calton Burial Ground or the Canongate Kirkyard cemetery.

Buy Edinburgh Darkside Walking Tour: Mysteries, Murder and Legends from £21.71 at Viator

Hidden and Haunted Edinburgh Tour for Two

Best Edinburgh ghost tours: top underground and haunted walking tours to do in 2023 (6)

To hear truly gruesome and terrifying stories, this tour from Virgin Experience Days is the one for you - because if you were faint-hearted, you wouldn’t be looking for haunted tours! The Blair Street Underground Vaults are home to some of the darkest stories and with this experience, you’ll hear about the characters who once lived there and which souls still haunt the vaults today.

Buy Hidden and Haunted Edinburgh Tour for Two for £40 at Virgin Experience Days

This haunted tour for two is a unique experience to spend with your loved one. For more date night activities, check out the best Valentine's Day ideas and gifts.

The World Famous Underground Ghost Tour

Best Edinburgh ghost tours: top underground and haunted walking tours to do in 2023 (7)

(Video) Zak Challenges Spirit in Edinburgh Vaults | Ghost Adventures | Travel Channel

This ghost tour is world famous for a reason: a seasoned tour guide will take you around Greyfriars Kirkyard and the old town, as well as through the underground vaults and wynds to uncover ghost stories. You’ll stop at various haunted locations throughout the tour to potentially hear and see paranormal activity.

Buy The World Famous Underground Ghost Tour from £16 at Viator

Extreme Paranormal Underground Ghost Tour in Edinburgh

Best Edinburgh ghost tours: top underground and haunted walking tours to do in 2023 (8)

With a late departure time of 9:15pm and a 15-person limit per group, this 90-minute walking tour is perfect for paranormal fans as everything will seem more intense and vivid. You’ll hear gruesome stories of torture, murder and body snatching, and visit the underground vaults. Although some of the above tours are suitable for the whole family, this one, unsurprisingly, isn’t.

Buy Extreme Paranormal Underground Ghost Tour in Edinburgh from £20 at Viator

Phew! After all that ghost hunting, you'll probably want to book yourself in for some R&R. We have the best London spa experiences for you.

Private Edinburgh Dark History Tour - Auld Reekie After Hours

Best Edinburgh ghost tours: top underground and haunted walking tours to do in 2023 (9)

If there’s something specific you’d like to hear about, then this private tour is perfect for you. All tours have customisable content, duration and routes, so the guide can focus on aspects of Edinburgh’s creepy history that you’re most interested in.

Buy Private Edinburgh Dark History Tour - Auld Reekie After Hours from £18.75 at Viator

Best way to travel to Edinburgh

Whether you're travelling to Edinburgh from London, Manchester, Newcastle or another UK city, you'll want your trip to the Scottish capital to be relatively straightforward and painless (with as few changes as possible, please!). We've put together a guide on how to travel to Edinburgh, and if you're planning on staying a night or two in the historic city, we've also hand-picked some accommodation.

What is the easiest way to get to Edinburgh?

If you're travelling to Edinburgh from a nearby city, such as Liverpool, Glasgow or Newcastle, the easiest way to get to the Scottish capital is by train.

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Edinburgh has two mainline train stations: Edinburgh Waverley, which is in the city centre, and Haymarket Station, which is in the West End. For these ghost tours, we recommend travelling to Edinburgh Waverley.

The TransPennine Express connects northern locations like Manchester, Preston, Leeds, York and Newcastle to Edinburgh, with the LNER also providing services from Newcastle, York, Leeds and Aberdeen. If you're travelling from somewhere else in Scotland, Scotrail is your best bet as it operates a full schedule of trains throughout Scotland. For more southern cities, such as Birmingham and Coventry, Virgin Rail will get you to Edinburgh.

If possible, it's best to book an 'off-peak' ticket to save a few pennies. 'Off-peak' is any time outside of the busiest travelling times, so commuting hours and weekends. Plus, a Railcard is a guaranteed way to save a third on the price of a train fare. For more money saving tips when travelling by train (and the RadioTimes.com team have them in abundance!) check out our how to get cheap train tickets guide.

Buy a Railcard at Trainline

What is the best way to get from London to Edinburgh?

One of the RadioTimes.com team travelled from London Victoria to Edinburgh Bus Station when they visited the Fringe Festival last summer. It took 12 hours and was pretty uncomfortable. However, it was incredibly cheap, so it's worth bearing in mind that if you're on a tight budget, Megabus and National Express offer coach rides to Edinburgh.

There is, of course, an LNER train service from London to Edinburgh which takes approximately five hours. But if you'd prefer to do something a little more special, why not opt for a trip on the Caledonian Sleeper? The Caledonian Sleeper is an overnight service which operates between Euston and Edinburgh, so you can go to sleep in London and wake up in Edinburgh!

Buy Caledonian Sleeper tickets at Trainline

Best places to stay in Edinburgh

If you're travelling from London (or from somewhere equally as far afield) to Edinburgh, then you'll probably want to make a few days of it.

Wowcher is fantastic for finding the best discounts and offers on top Edinburgh accommodation, including four and five star hotels. Plus, a lot of the deals include added perks like afternoon tea, Prosecco and chocolates (an upgrade on the one chocolate on the pillow!). Take a look at some of our suggestions below:

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FAQs

Which is the best Underground Tour in Edinburgh? ›

The Top Underground Tour Picks in Edinburgh:
  • The Real Mary King's Close: The Real Mary King's Close – Edinburgh Underground Tours. ...
  • Mercat Ghost & History Tours: Mercat Ghost and History Tours – Underground Tours Edinburgh. ...
  • UNDERGROUND CITY OF THE DEAD: Edinburgh underground Tours: City of the Dead.

What is the Underground City in Edinburgh? ›

Descend into a section of Edinburgh's legendary Underground City, where a population once lived in utter misery. Forgotten for centuries and only recently unsealed, this part of the vaults is known as Damnation Alley.

How long is the Edinburgh 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 1-hour 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.

Does Edinburgh have catacombs? ›

Normally, these would be used as passageways and cemeteries and were a way of showing respect for the dead. In Edinburgh we do not have anything like that (that we know of anyway) but instead we do have the South Bridge Underground Vaults that can be compared to a catacomb like structure.

What is the best way to explore Edinburgh? ›

Buying a hop-on-hop-off ticket for one of the bus tours is by far one of the best ways to see the city - and get around it. The brightly coloured tour buses all depart from St Andrews Square northside.

Where is the most dramatic scenery in Scotland? ›

Here are just a few of the most beautiful places in Scotland we think you'll love!
  1. 01 Dunnottar Castle, Aberdeenshire. ...
  2. 02 Bow Fiddle Rock, Moray. ...
  3. 03 Isle of Iona. ...
  4. 04 Traigh Hornais Clachan Sands, North Uist. ...
  5. 05 Bealach Na Ba, Wester Ross. ...
  6. 06 Loch Ken, Galloway Forest Park. ...
  7. 07 Glenfinnan, Fort William.

What's the difference between Edinburgh Old Town and New Town? ›

The New Town

This area of the city is visibly different from the Old Town. The New Town's buildings are typical of the Georgian era and neo-classical architecture. The New Town's street names took inspiration from the current monarch, King George III. This inspired the likes of George Street and Hanover Street.

Can you see underground Edinburgh without a tour? ›

Underground Vault Tours

There are a few tour companies in Edinburgh that provide guided tours of the underground vaults. You can't explore the Edinburgh vaults without a tour guide.

How many days in Edinburgh is enough? ›

For first time visitors, we recommend spending at least two or three days in Edinburgh, which will give you enough time to explore the city centre and see the main sites.

Can you go underground in Edinburgh? ›

The Edinburgh Vaults, one of the city's most fascinating sights, can only be accessed on a tour. This one focuses exclusively on the vaults, an underground warren below South Bridge in Edinburgh's Old Town.

Is the walk to Edinburgh Castle hard? ›

There are 2 options to climb to the top. One being by using the steps which can be quite exhausting but there is always the road which has a path. Takes about 10/15 minutes at a slow pace. It isn't very steep.

Was Harry Potter Filmed in Edinburgh Castle? ›

Despite the connection between Edinburgh and the Harry Potter series, none of the filming for the movies took place in Edinburgh. However, you can find Harry Potter filming locations in Scotland, including the Hogwarts Express steam train.

What is the pubic triangle Edinburgh? ›

There is an intersection in Edinburgh where three roads meet, forming the city's 'pubic triangle'. A small stretch lit by the bright neon signs on the venues' blacked-out windows, the area is home to the capital's strip clubs – Burke and Hare, Baby Dolls and the Western Bar.

Was Harry Potter filmed at Edinburgh? ›

Edinburgh was not actually used as a filming location for any of the Harry Potter movies; however, it was the city where J.K. Rowling wrote many of the Harry Potter books and she has lived here since 1993. There are many locations across the city that will be of interest to Harry Potter fans.

What is the best month to visit Edinburgh? ›

The best time to visit Edinburgh is June through August when the average high temperatures rise to a balmy 65 degrees Fahrenheit.

What should you not miss in Scotland? ›

  • Enjoy the beaches and views at Eigg. Eigg offers a golden beaches to lie on. ...
  • Celebrate Hogmanay. ...
  • Take up active sports in the Cairngorm mountains. ...
  • Stay in Gearrannan village. ...
  • Visit Melrose Abbey. ...
  • Take a walk through the streets of Tobermory. ...
  • Visit Scottish Parliament. ...
  • Take a road trip to Glen Coe.

What is the number one attraction in Scotland? ›

Edinburgh Castle is a true icon of Scotland and has dominated the skyline of the capital for centuries. Unusually, it's set atop an extinct volcano. It takes the title of Scotland's most-visited paid-for attraction, and is, of course, one of the most popular tourist sites in Scotland.

What is the most magical place in Scotland? ›

10 magical places
  1. Glencoe National Nature Reserve. Featured Place: Glencoe National Nature Reserve. ...
  2. Culzean Castle & Country Park. Featured Place: Culzean Castle. ...
  3. Mingulay, Berneray & Pabbay. ...
  4. The Hermitage. ...
  5. Craigievar Castle. ...
  6. St Abb's Head National Nature Reserve. ...
  7. Culloden. ...
  8. Glenfinnan Monument.

Where is the prettiest village in Scotland? ›

The prettiest villages in Scotland
  • Shieldaig in Torridon, Highlands. ...
  • Anstruther, Kingdom of Fife. ...
  • Tobermory, Isle of Mull. ...
  • Cullen, Moray. ...
  • Lochcarron, Highlands. ...
  • Crovie, Aberdeenshire. ...
  • Dean Village, Edinburgh. ...
  • Kippford, Dumfries and Galloway.

Which city is more beautiful Glasgow or Edinburgh? ›

Edinburgh is known for being pretty and Glasgow is famous for being fun. It might be a bit reductive but essentially Edinburgh is famous for being pretty and Glasgow is known for being fun. The same might be said of their people.

Where should I stay in Edinburgh for the first time? ›

The best areas to stay in Edinburgh for first-timers are the neighborhoods around Old Town, New Town, Newington, West End, Bruntsfield and Morningside, Leith, Broughton and Calton Hill, Stockbridge and Dean Village.

What is not to miss in Edinburgh? ›

  • See inside Edinburgh Castle. Building, Ruins. ...
  • Walk the Royal Mile. Historical Landmark. ...
  • Meet Greyfriars Bobby. Bridge, Building, Memorial. ...
  • Scale Arthur's Seat. Park. ...
  • Get ice cream at the Grassmarket. Historical Landmark, Architectural Landmark. ...
  • Walk up Calton Hill. ...
  • Explore the Palace of Holyroodhouse. ...
  • See the Scottish Parliament.
Aug 19, 2020

Is Edinburgh a walkable city? ›

The city ranked highly across the board, topping the global chart as the most beautiful and the most walkable city in the world. Edinburgh is also much loved as a great place for a stroll through nature and has heaps of new exciting things to do.

What is the best area to stay in Edinburgh? ›

The 7 Best Neighborhoods in Edinburgh for Tourists
  1. Old Town. On a hill above New Town and centered on the Royal Mile – Edinburgh's most famous historic street – Old Town is the most atmospheric part of the city. ...
  2. New Town. ...
  3. Stockbridge. ...
  4. Leith. ...
  5. Dean Village. ...
  6. Southside, Newington, & Prestonfield. ...
  7. Bruntsfield & Morningside.
Jan 15, 2023

What is the famous street in Edinburgh? ›

The Royal Mile is Edinburgh's most famous street. It connects Edinburgh Castle (to the west) with the Palace of Holyroodhouse (to the east).

What are the rough areas of Edinburgh? ›

Here are the eight worst Edinburgh areas for crime:
  • Market Street.
  • Leith Street.
  • The Cowgate.
  • Dean Village.
  • Tollcross.
  • Wester Hailes.
  • The Old Town.
  • Craigmillar.
Aug 14, 2022

Is it easy to get around Edinburgh without a car? ›

By bus. Edinburgh's extensive bus routes cover the entire city and its outskirts, and are well regarded by residents and visitors alike. Most festival venues are either on or nearby at least one main bus route, and the Night Bus services will help you get to your accommodation even in the wee small hours.

Why is Mary King's Close underground? ›

Mary King's Close and its surrounding streets were not always underground. In the 1600s, they were open to the skies and filled with residents and market traders. Mary King was a prominent merchant who traded in fabric and the close was named after her.

Can you walk around the grounds of Edinburgh Castle for free? ›

Edinburgh Castle

Entry to the castle is not free, but you can walk up to it and take in the fantastic views. Edinburgh Castle tickets are cheaper if you buy online (£18 per adult) but paying at the gate will cost £21.

Can you see the northern lights in Edinburgh? ›

But the truth is that Scotland is far north enough to offer a decent chance to see the aurora borealis, and has plenty of locations where the skies are dark enough for the lights to shine. They've even been seen in Edinburgh in recent times.

What is the best day trip from Edinburgh? ›

Best day trips and places to visit near Edinburgh
  1. The Kelpies. ...
  2. The East Lothian beaches. ...
  3. Linlithgow. ...
  4. Cairngorms National Park. ...
  5. Loch Ness. ...
  6. North Berwick. ...
  7. The Pentlands. ...
  8. Roslin.
May 28, 2022

Is Edinburgh the most beautiful city in the world? ›

Overall, Edinburgh, Scotland was named the best city in the world. “The city ranked highly across the board, topping the global chart as the most beautiful and the most walkable city in the world,” says Gleason.

Is Mary Kings Close the same as the vaults? ›

Mary Kings close is mainly a tour around some vaults below ground with some storytelling, then it finishes up in a street (or close) that latterly had buildings constructed over the top. That last segment in the close is all too brief yet intersting.

What is the scenic route to Edinburgh? ›

It is signposted as a scenic route to Edinburgh from the motorway. The A701 is popular with motorcyclists and passes close to the edge of the Devil's Beef Tub.

What is buried under the mound Edinburgh? ›

The world's largest electric blanket is under The Mound

Another completely YES REALLY fact for you - an "Electric Blanket" was installed under the surface of the roadway of The Mound in 1959 to keep the road clear of snow and ice as it was impossible to get up in poor weather conditions.

Is Mary King's Close worth it? ›

If there's one tour in Edinburgh I'd recommend above all others, it would be the Real Mary King's Close Tour. This tour has a little of everything – history, architecture, culture, and even a ghost story.

Why is Edinburgh so dark? ›

The city is also affectionately named by the Scottish as “Auld Reekie” (Reekie meaning “Smoky”), referring to the pollution from coal and wood fires that left dark smoky trails from chimneys through the Edinburgh skies.

What is under the Royal Mile Edinburgh? ›

Deep beneath Edinburgh's Royal Mile sits a dark secret. Once rife with the plague, a narrow alleyway is buried underground in Edinburgh's City Chambers. Mary King's Close was located in the center of Edinburgh's Old Town during the 17th century.

What is underneath Edinburgh Castle? ›

Buried 49 feet below ground at St Andrew Square, is a railway tunnel 1000 yards long and 24 feet in width and height. It was closed to passengers in 1868, just 21 years after it had opened. However, it has since had a colourful history. During WWII it became Edinburgh's biggest bomb shelter.

How long does it take to walk the 7 hills of Edinburgh? ›

This route takes in around 27km with over 700m of climbing and for a standard walker would take between 5-6 hours (and then plenty of time to recover afterwards!). The beauty of 'The Seven' is that the route you take is entirely of your own choice.

Where is the most picturesque place in Scotland? ›

Isle of Skye

The majestic, yet rugged Isle of Skye recently topped the Rough Guides list as the most beautiful place to visit in Scotland, in the (now) most beautiful country.

Videos

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2. Ghost Hunters: Ghost Caught on Camera at Haunted Hospital (Season 1) | A&E
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4. Real Mary King's Close in Edinburgh, Scotland
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