Best ghost tours and murder-mystery experiences in Edinburgh
- Rowena McIntosh
- 9 October 2015
Our picks for the best and scariest city tours for Halloween or year round
Back in 1828 when Burke and Hare were on a killing spree they probably never considered the grisly history of the city’s inhabitants would one day be big business. There’s murder, witch hunts, torture and plague victims to be found on these Edinburgh Ghost Tours, both above and below the ground.
Best for adults
Mercat Tours: Most Hidden and Haunted
Mercat Cross, High Street
Unsavoury tales of Edinburgh’s ancestors not fit for childrens’ ears. Explore the closes of the Old Town before descending into Blair Street Underground Vaults where there’s the opportunity to walk alone in the dark vaults.
Price: £15 (£13)
Age restrictions: Adults only
Best for getting a scare
The Cadies and Witchery Tours: Murder & Mystery Tour
The Witchery, 352 Castlehill, The Royal Mile
A light-hearted look at Edinburgh’s dark past led by deceased tour guides. Expect stories of witchcraft, grave-robbing, plague and torture with a few ghosts jumping out along the way.
Price: Adult £10, children £7.50
Age restrictions: Ages 5 and up
Best for avoiding the Scottish weather
Ghost Bus Tours
All aboard the ghost bus for a morbid journey exploring murder, torture and executions in Auld Reekie taking in Edinburgh Castle, the New Town, Grassmarket, Greyfriar's Kirk, the Old Town, Holyrood Palace and the Royal Mile. Like the city the bus harbours a few dark passengers.
Price: Adult £16 (£14), children £12, family £45
Age restrictions: Not suitable for young children
Best for dark comedy
City of Edinburgh Tour: Evening Ghost Tours
Old Police Box, next to Tron Kirk, 124 High Street, The Royal Mile
Offering the oldest underground Ghost tour City of Edinburgh Tours was founded by David Nish, a published historian and professional stand-up comic, so you’re guaranteed some dark comedy as you visit the Royal Mile closes, Greyfriars Kirkyard and the underground vaults.
Price: Adults £10 (£9), children £6.
Age restrictions: Not suitable for children under five.
Best for bloody history
Auld Reekie Tours: Ghost and Torture Tour
Outside the Tron Kirk, 122 High Street, The Royal Mile
Walk the old wynds and closes with a costumed guide to hear tales of witch burnings and the plague then descend into the 1700’s underground network of vaults to hear more bloody history before a visit to the torture museum.
Price: £10 (£8)
Age restrictions: Children up to age 15 must be accompanied by adults
Best for storytelling
City of the Dead: Haunted Graveyard Tour
Tour sign outside St Giles Cathedral, The Royal Mile
Visit Edinburgh’s Covenanter’s Prison and the Black Mausoleum in Greyfriars Cemetery, lair of the world famous Mackenzie Poltergeist. Walks are written by historical author and award winning novelist J A Henderson.
Price: Adult £10 (£8), children £6
Age restrictions: Not suitable for children under 12
Best for special effects
31 Market Street
A theatrical spectacular with eleven actor led shows, sets, special effects and two underground rides. Witness the autopsy of Burke and Hare's victim in Dr Knox’s Anatomy Theatre, visit the lair of cannibal Sawney Bean and traverse the mirror maze.
Price: £11.25-£16.95 (£10.80-£15.95)
Age restrictions: recommended for ages 8 and above but it is up to the discretion of the accompanying adult.
Best for seeing the subterranean city
The Real Mary King’s Close
2 High Street, The Royal Mile
Visit the warren of 17th century underground streets and spaces. The close is famed for ghostly sightings and unexplained happenings, which are recounted by a guide based on a one time resident or regular of Mary King’s Close.
Price: Adult £13.95 (£12.50), children £8.25
Age restrictions: None