The best walking and underground ghost tours in Edinburgh: 10 terrifying tours that will scare you
In a list of spooky cities, Edinburgh would rightfully rank at the top. It is considered one of the most haunted cities in the world. Its main attractions have been around for several centuries, and during this time, many eerie events have occurred here. The old part of the city witnessed a lot of religious persecution in the 17th century, and the infamous Edinburgh Vaults appeared in the 18th. The city is home to ancient cemeteries and burial grounds, and on top of all this, there are historical sites with a dark past. Today, it is possible to explore these horrifying pages of history during walking and underground tours of Edinburgh.
Travelers who dare to visit should prepare themselves for possibly seeing or hearing the restless souls that dwell here. People who have witnessed unexplained things have spoken of voices, children's screams, sudden temperature changes, strange shadows, and other frightening phenomena. Whether you believe in the supernatural or not, Edinburgh's dark side will make you feel out of place.
If you want to get a closer look at the creepy and unexplained things that happen in the city, learn about Edinburgh's mystical history, and fill your trip with thrills, join one of the best Edinburgh haunted tours.
1. Edinburgh dungeon
Scotland holds many bloodthirsty pages in its history. The Edinburgh Dungeon will tell you about some of them, such as kidnappers and murderers Burke and Hare, and legendary warriors like William Wallace. But be prepared: going on ghost walking tours is not something to do in Edinburgh unless you're confident in your courage. In the dungeon, you'll meet actors and see terrifying special effects that create a mysterious and terrifying atmosphere in the rooms. There are rides for the most daring ones. Visitors can get sentenced in the 17th-century "Courtroom" and then head to Greyfriars Kirk to try to find victims (dead or alive) of the town's anatomy schools. One of the most chilling parts of this tour includes the Drop Dead attraction, during which you'll have to walk down a 30-meter descent reminiscent of the sensations of a convict who loses the solid ground beneath his feet during an execution on the gallows. Then you will get to the cannibal cave and torture chamber, where you will see what unimaginable agonies witches and wizards were subjected to. This experience is not for the faint-hearted, but it will leave you with plenty of impressions.
2. Dark History
The horror of this tour in Edinburgh is not in the creepy ghosts that you can see; there are no actors in scary costumes that pop out from around the corner and scare you with bloody makeup. The most nightmarish part is that everything you'll hear from the tour guide happens. It was all part of Edinburgh's sinister history. They don't call it the "Jekyll and Hyde City" for nothing. By day, it looks like a respectable metropolis, surprising with beautiful architecture. But when the sun dips below the horizon, Edinburgh has a different story to tell. You'll hear tales of famous gruesome murders, cannibals, beheadings and hangings, witch persecutions, and plague epidemics. Tour visitors will take a guided walk along Edinburgh's Royal Mile and learn how ghost legends are born. They will visit one of the city's most famous buildings and the place that Walter Scott recognized as "Hard Midlothian" and learn about some of the personalities who were sentenced to bars or executed there. You'll also discover the secret of St. Giles Cathedral, after which you'll visit another execution site, Mercat Cross, and wander among the graves at Canongate Kirk.
3. Night Terror Tour
Edinburgh's mysterious side hides in its 18th-century slums, alleyways, and vaults. On this 75-minute tour, you'll follow dark cobbled streets, underground hiding places, and a haunted cemetery. You'll be accompanied by a guide in period costume with whom you can delve into the city's dark history and explore its tales of crime, murder, and ghosts. The night tour will tell you about the folklore and secrets that hide in the ancient cemeteries and underground vaults of the South Bridge. All the mysterious legends and scary stories you'll hear are based on true events. Most of Edinburgh's haunted tours start from the Royal Mile, which was once the heart of the city's slums and rife with crime and intrigue. You'll then take in the eerie atmosphere of the haunted old cemetery and examine some of its creepy tombstones. Next, you'll have to descend into the infamous 18th-century underground vaults, where you'll see the remains of an old street and buildings. Listen out for unexplained noises and rustles and look out for anything here: on Edinburgh tours, ghosts are more likely to be found in these tunnels underground.
4. A ghostly tour of Edinburgh's underground vaults for two people
Behind Edinburgh's picturesque scenery and beautiful architecture, there are horrifying incidents and dark stories to discover on the best ghost tours. On this ghost tour, which you can share with a friend or loved one, you'll enjoy an atmospheric stroll through the cobbled streets of the Old Town. But it will seem very different from what it used to be. A ghostly tour reveals Edinburgh through the prism of ancient alleyways and haunted underground vaults. The starting point of the tour is the Victorian Mercat Cross, where you'll meet your eerie cloaked guide, who will be working hard to scare the hell out of you with chilling tales. And you can be sure he'll succeed. He'll lead you through the alleys of the Old Town on your way to the Royal Mile, and then you'll descend into the underground vaults on Blair Street. These vaults for businesses and stores were once the scene of rampant crime and have acquired many ghosts and spirits. The impressions will be so many that every time you walk the beautiful streets in daylight in the future, the gloomy dungeons will pop up in front of your eyes again and again.
5. Edinburgh ghost bus tour
The distinctive feature of this ghost tour of Edinburgh is that it is conducted on a bus. But don't expect this to be a ride akin to listening to a podcast on public transportation. This tour will explore some of the scariest stories and visit places with a horrifying past. And your transportation to get around the city will match the theme. A vintage double-decker bus with authentic finishing will take you to the most "ghostly" places in the city in the evening. Accompanying you on this spooky adventure will be a creepy guide who never runs out of scary stories with a comedic touch and tales of famous executions and murders. During the tour, visitors will learn about the historical and spiritual background of the city's various landmarks: Edinburgh Castle, the Old Town, the Royal Mile, the ancient cemetery and Greyfriars Church, the seat of the British monarchs, Holyrood Palace, and the historic Grassmarket Square in the city center. All guides are trained actors, which gives the tour a more theatrical atmosphere. This is a great choice if you want to go on interesting ghost tours in Edinburgh but aren't in the mood for hiking.
6. Darkside walking tour
If you think you already know all about Edinburgh's dark side, this tour will prove that there are many more terrifying secrets. It will reveal the horrific monsters, maddening incidents, and murders that have marred the capital. Climbing up Calton Hill, you'll enjoy panoramic views of the city and visit the sites of witch trials and bloody executions. Calton Hill continues to be a special place for many; for example, it is the site of pagan rituals like Edinburgh's Beltaine Fire Festival. Then you'll be put to the ultimate test of courage as you walk through the old cemeteries of Old Calton and Canongate Courtyard, which tell mystical tales of body snatching, vampires, and secret burials. You'll learn about David Hume and his legendary deal with the devil and the story of Burke and Hare, who committed murders to sell corpses for medical experiments. In between stops, you'll learn about the legends of ghosts that can be encountered on tours of Edinburgh and the monsters that live in the city's myths and legends. And if you're lucky, you'll encounter one of the many ghosts that dwell amongst graves or in creepy narrow alleyways.
7. Hidden and ghostly Edinburgh tour for two people
If you are looking for the best Edinburgh haunted tours, you don't belong to the category of small-minded people. But this tour will make you doubt your courage. You'll get to explore the underground vaults of Blair Street, which hold some of the city's darkest stories and characters who once lived there. And their spirits may still be dwelling there today. This candlelit tour, filled with horrifying stories, would be a great way to spend an evening in Edinburgh, unless, of course, you and your partner love spooky adventures. A dark-cloaked guide will take you through the atmospheric corners of the Old Town, and then you'll all descend underground. The Blair Street Vaults hide many tales of treason and conspiracies that culminated in bloody torture, the horrific conditions in which people lived here, and many tragic deaths and murders. It's no surprise, then, that Edinburgh tour guides include these places as some of the most haunted in the city. "Hidden and Haunted" is one of the most atmospheric Edinburgh tours you can use to add a thrill to your romantic weekend getaway.
8. World-famous underground ghost tour
Among the mystical walking tours in Edinburgh, this ghost tour is world-famous. It best showcases the sinister and terrifying side of the city. The guided evening walk through Edinburgh's underground vaults, alleyways, and secluded squares of the Old Town takes place in the evening for a more atmospheric experience and lasts 75 minutes. The tour starts on the Royal Mile, where you will meet your guide and explore hidden alleyways and gateways. The guide will tell you about the times when crime and gruesome murders thrived here. The next stop on our itinerary is Greyfriars Cemetery, which is considered one of the most haunted cemeteries in the world. You can see unusual tombstones here and learn interesting stories about those to whom they belong, hear legends about poltergeists and the famous dog who lived at the grave of his master for 14 years and then was buried near the cemetery gate. The tour concludes with a visit to the underground vault. Walking through its dark chambers, you will discover the most terrifying events of its 400-year history, including legends of ghosts, tales of torture, murders, witchcraft rituals, and unexplained events that took place here and in the city. Be warned: many visitors to the vaults have reported strange sounds and sensations.
9. Extreme tour of paranormal underground hauntings in Edinburgh
One of the most unusual underground tours in Edinburgh, during which you can encounter ghosts, starts quite late - after 9 pm and lasts for an hour and a half. This event is not for the faint of heart. Edinburgh's bloody past has allowed it to acquire a lot of legends and myths about ghosts and unsettled souls that roam its streets and underground vaults. During this tour, you will be able to visit the most "popular" places among the ghosts. While most of the previous tours are suitable for the whole family, on this tour, it is better not to take the younger members of the family. The tour involves no more than 15 people in one group, and they are accompanied by a guide in the guise of a historical character. The itinerary includes stops in the Old Town, Greyfriars Cemetery, and the vaults of the South Bridge. This tour is great for those who love ghost stories, mysterious events, and macabre tales, and the late start adds to its atmospheric nature. Plus, rest assured that your guide will be a master storyteller whose heart-wrenching tales of Edinburgh's darker side will probably give you goosebumps.
10. A private tour of Edinburgh's dark history
If you want to learn about an event or a specific story of Edinburgh's dark past, you can do so on private ghost tours. Epidemics, plague, ghosts, witch trials, executions, and gruesome murders - let's face it, there are plenty of scary events in Scotland's history. If you want to learn more about something that is told on regular group tours, you can book a private tour with customizable content. You'll be able to discuss before you start the itinerary, the topics to emphasize, choose the places you'd like to visit and focus on the aspects that interest you most. For example, you can start at the former execution site near St. Giles Cathedral, explore the most mysterious corners of the Royal Mile, and discuss with your guide the gruesome events that took place here. On this private tour, you will learn the stories of the unfortunate souls forced to wander here even after their deaths, and perhaps even meet one of them.