The Scottish capital is a place of staggering beauty; mooching around the cobbled streets and gazing at the craggy castle, you’ll feel as if you’ve stumbled onto a film set.
The medieval Old Town and 18th-century neoclassical New Town were awarded World Heritage status in 1996, but on top of all the history seeping from the stonework, there are parks galore and the city is a stone’s throw from the beach.
There’s also a vibrant cultural scene, with royal palaces, cutting-edge art and the odd festival you might have heard of. Add in gourmet restaurants and cosy pubs, and this is perfect city break territory.
A city of two compact but hilly halves, Edinburgh is split into the medieval Old Town, huddled below the craggy castle, and the Georgian New Town with its gracious crescents and elegant terraces.
Princes Street, the city’s main shopping street and busiest street, and the green slither of Princes Street Gardens, divide the two.
The so-called ‘Royal Mile’, Edinburgh’s tourist central, is a 1-mile-long thoroughfare through the Old Town, linking Edinburgh Castle and Holyrood Palace at either end. It’s actually a succession of streets – Castlehill, the Lawnmarket, the High Street, the Canongate and Abbey Strand.
Off to the northeast of the city lies the smartly revamped docklands at Leith, Edinburgh’s foodie hotspot.
Our selection of the best Viator tours of this destination, plus helpful tickets and transfers
Old Town Walking Tour History and Tales in Edinburgh
This walking tour is designed to give you a broad understanding of Edinburgh, it's history and culture. The tour runs for around two hours taking in many of the sites of the Old Town which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We strive to be informative yet entertaining on this tour, delivering an overview of Edinburgh with the passion it deserves.
Ah, Edinburgh! They don't call it "The Jekyll & Hyde City" for nothing. During the day, a respectable figure, with its astonishing architecture and wondrous history. But when the sun sets, it tells an entirely different story...
Hear all about the darker history of Edinburgh: murderers, thieves, cannibals, hangings and decapitations, witches, the Plague and streams of human waste. Learn about the most notorious citizens of Edinburgh and how ghost stories are born.
This is not a ghost tour: we don't need costumes or people jumping from behind the corners, Edinburgh's Dark History itself is enough to make your skin crawl. And oh, how we love to share it with our visitors...
Led by either the holder of a PhD in Scottish history or a guide with decades of experience providing historic tours in Scotland’s capital, this 90-minute tour is a fascinating journey through Edinburgh’s celebrated Old Town. Revel in the majesty of the famous Royal Mile with its stunning architecture, but also visit the secluded closes and courts lying just off the High Street and discover their dramatic stories. Find out about the world famous poets, novelists, philosophers and inventors who called this neighbourhood home but also the notorious thieves, murderers and bodysnatchers who stalked the streets after dark. The tour includes a trip through Canongate Kirkyard and a visit to our underground vaults below South Bridge, where you will find out how it came to be and who used to live there.
City Sightseeing Edinburgh Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour
Explore the historic and vibrant city of Edinburgh in your own time, with an award-winning unlimited 24 hour hop-on hop-off bus tour. From the open-top deck you’ll have a fantastic 360 degree view of the spectacular surroundings, which are a blend of stunning natural beauty, and wonderfully historic architecture. This Scottish sightseeing adventure will take you to all of Edinburgh's key points of interest, including Waverley Bridge, Grassmarket, Johnston Terrace, Old Town, Canongate, Palace of Holyroodhouse, Our Dynamic Earth and much more! There's also an informative audio tour commentary on the double-decker bus, so you can make sense of the fabulous sights you're experiencing. With access to 13 stops around the city, and the ability to hop on and off the bus as much as you please within the given time period, you can truly immerse yourself into the culture of this charming destination.
Visit the infamous hidden and supposedly haunted vaults beneath the South Bridge in Edinburgh Old Town. Hear tales of how the poor and unfortunate lived in these former slums. Explore these dimly lit vaults by candlelight, once the haunt of criminals, body snatchers and witches alike, said by some to now be occupied by a few of the spirits of these inhabitants long since dead.
Each vault has stories of crime, disease, death and lots more... with which your guide shall enlighten you in all the gory details! You will see a genuine witchcraft temple, recently used by a Wiccan coven and you will enter their former temple. Join us to learn why it is no longer safe for them to practice their craft in that vault.
DARE you step inside the infamous stone circle?
We’ve got the best seats in town! This tour is the number one way to explore Scotland’s Capital.
Hop on and hop off as much as you like to truly take in the sights of our city tour, including Edinburgh Castle, The Royal Mile (or as we locals call it, The High Street!), Dynamic Earth, The National Museum, Greyfriars’s Bobby, Grassmarket and so many more!
Your ticket is valid for 24 hours, allowing you to squeeze in as many sights as possible from the best seats in town!
Our friendly informative team is here to ensure you have the best experience of Edinburgh during your time on board, and beyond!
JK Rowling' s Harry Potter Walking Tour in Edinburgh
Join this 2-hour walking tour to explore the magical places that all Harry Potter fans should see in Edinburgh. With your guide, walk the streets that inspired J.K. Rowling and learn about the dark history of witches and wizards of Edinburgh.
Prepare to be scared silly on a 1-hour ghost bus tour around Edinburgh’s ghoulish haunts. Under the guidance of a creepy onboard conductor, cruise around Edinburgh’s most terrifying and impressive sights, such as Greyfriars Kirk, Edinburgh Castle and the Royal Mile. Ride in a double-decker 'Routemaster' vintage bus and feel your hairs stand on end as you hear shocking tales of grisly executions, unspeakable tortures and grim grave robbers. Discover the city’s sinister side and steel yourself for some frights on board.
Edinburgh Darkside Walking Tour: Mysteries, Murder and Legends
See Edinburgh’s shady side. The gruesome and the glorious. The ghostly and the ghastly. This 2-hour tour is a wickedly entertaining walk on the wild and dark side of the Scottish capital. Explore the spots where murders, monsters and mayhem have become things of legend, and visit Old Calton Burial Ground or Canongate Kirkyard, two of Edinburgh’s most chilling cemeteries. Throughout the tour, hear real-life tales of witches, body-snatchers, vampires, cannibals and more from your entertaining guide.
This guided walk with our unique guides, Stuart Usher or his son, Richard Usher, will entertain and enthral you. Also we are delighted to introduce two new guides; Dr Alison Duncan and David Forsyth, who are both professional historians and Edinburgh experts.
We limit the tour to 12 guests so everyone is involved (unlike those many tours of 30, 40 or even more!)
Stuart's family has historic connections with Edinburgh (Stuart's great-great Uncle, Andrew Usher, donated the magnificent Usher Hall to the city . Andrew was also known as the 'father of the scotch whisky blending industry').
Their deep knowledge of the cultural, historical and architectural aspects of the city means they have a unique perspective on our wonderful capital.
Your guides will show you the cultural treasures of Edinburgh, the secrets of its past and its famous characters, and are rightly renowned for their entertaining and witty commentary.
JK Rowling’s Edinburgh & the Writing of Harry Potter 4¼hrs
JK Rowling... she’s sold a few books - what?!
✒ On this tour, we dive deep into her history. Learn to use failure as a springboard, be inspired, stay committed & conquer the world. Discover the events that moved her & the cafes which fueled her. Experience how, through a caffeine-charged imagination, a penniless single mother put a dent in the Muggle-verse.
◘ Learn the entire genesis of Potter, from lightning striking on a Manchester train to becoming a pillar of British culture & shaping generations.
◘ Reviewers say it’s a good introduction to our Hogwartian old town, discover fabulous gothic scenes off the Muggle track, the stonework of Rowling's imagination.
◘ There’s magic, I never got my letter so I’m giving you yours.
✒ Darker than an Azkaban prison cell, more brilliant than all the gold in Gringotts, 4+ hours long for those with double the love. Stand on the shoulders of Rowling, Nimbus-charge your originality & drive; fill that aching Potter-shaped hole inside ϟ
The Royal Mile Walking Tour offer a glimpse of the history, characters and events that have shaped Edinburgh's Past. Starting at the top of the Royal Mile in the Lawnmarket it follows the Royal Mile downhill to the Palace of Holyroodhouse and Scottish Parliament. You might learn a little, laugh a little or maybe even both on this informative, interesting and friendly small group (maximum of 8 people) 2 hour walking tour.
Treasures of Edinburgh: Ghosts, Myths & Legends Private Tour
To truly experience a city, you must deep dive into its culture, and there's no better cultural tradition to explore in Edinburgh than through its ghost tales, myths and legends.
On this private tour, get a cultural awakening as you learn more about ghosts, myths and legends and why it's such a unique part of the city's character. Learn from its history to the present influence that still lingers in Edinburgh as you visit the Robert Fergusson statue, Canongate Kirkyard and more. Thanks to this cultural experience, you'll be able to see Edinburgh from a different perspective - the way the locals live it every day!
Withlocals Treasures of Edinburgh Tour™ is one of Withlocals' signature tours available in major cities worldwide. We work with passionate local guides who earn a fair fee. We support local economies by only offering local products and preventing over-tourism with only small non-intrusive groups. Our tours are carbon-neutral and away from the standard tourist routes.
Private Old Edinburgh Tour - Walk in the footsteps of Royals and Rogues!
Welcome to Historic Edinburgh Tours! We will take you on a fascinating journey through the historic streets of the Old Town. You'll get to explore the very places where some of Scotland's most famous (and infamous) characters once walked and lived. From Mary, Queen of Scots to Bonnie Prince Charlie, Deacon Brodie and more, this is an unmissable opportunity to discover Edinburgh's rich history.
Robert, your local guide, will come dressed in a kilt for your private tour. He will also carry a book of archive images. Robert will show you the city's iconic landmarks while sharing fascinating insights into its past. With our archive images, you'll be able to see how Edinburgh has changed over the years - and even compare it to its present-day counterpart. This is an experience not to be missed for history buffs and tourists alike!
Make the most of your time in Edinburgh. Spend a couple of hours strolling through the streets of Edinburgh's Old Town. Hear about Edinburgh's history, characters and events that shaped this wonderful city. The Royal Mile leads down from Edinburgh Castle to the Palace of Holyroodhouse. If you have a special interest let us know we can tailor for you. Harry Potter, Outlander or the Jacobite's or a mix of everything, history, architecture and people from the past.
This private guided walk with our unique guides (Stuart Usher or his son Richard, or Professional Historians Dr Alison Duncan or David Forsyth), will both entertain and enthral your group. Your party (up to 12 people) will be the only visitors on the walk. Stuart Usher's family have historic connections with Edinburgh (his great-great Uncle, Andrew Usher, donated the magnificent Usher Hall to the city, where the tour normally starts) and his deep knowledge of the city's cultural, historical and architectural aspects means he has a unique perspective.
You can book a morning tour (9.30am to 1.00pm), an afternoon tour (2.00pm to 5.30pm) or our full-day tour (9.30am to 4.30pm)
You can have flexibility on itinerary should you choose, e.g. if you have special interests in certain aspects of Edinburgh, and we can even arrange a starting point to suit you (e.g. your hotel) as long as it is in the city-centre.
For most of the year Edinburgh is laid-back, low-key and calm, but come the summer season (which kicks off in July with the Jazz and Blues Festival) the city’s alter ego emerges. It’s as if the capital comes off its medication and goes a little wild as festival frenzy takes hold. This can be a positive or negative depending on your perspective.
Hotel prices soar, restaurants are fully booked and the crowds are crushing, but the flip side is the city sizzles. The Hogmanay celebrations over New Year are also classed as peak season.
Getting there and away
The airport is eight miles west of the city centre. The airport bus into town is very straightforward, quick and cheap, departing from outside the terminal building and dropping you around half an hour later at Haymarket station or in the centre of town near Waverley, the main train station. There are also plenty of taxis, taking around 25 minutes to the city centre.
One of the beauties of Edinburgh is that it’s easy to get around on foot – as long as you’re relatively fit. It’s not flat and those cobbles can cause problems, but it’s compact and exploring the alleys and backstreets gives you a real sense of history. There’s also a good bus network and taxis are plentiful if you’d rather hitch a ride, but the never-ending tram-works mean driving can be stressful.
Where to stay
Old Town, New Town or wild card Leith? First-time visitors who want to be in the thick of things should opt for the medieval Old Town or Georgian New Town.
The Old Town is more touristy, chaotic and crowded but has a real buzz. The elegant, leafy New Town is quieter and has more of a local feel.
However, nowhere is exactly far away. Leith is worth throwing into the mix, with its batch of boutique hotels, gastropubs and Michelin-starred eateries on the sleek waterfront – and just a short taxi ride from town.
Where to eat or drink
The gentrified docklands down in Leith are a real foodie enclave with no fewer than four Michelin-starred restaurants, along with gastropubs, seafood restaurants and bars lining the shore.
The chic neighbourhood ‘villages’ of Stockbridge and Bruntsfield, meanwhile, have plenty of cute eateries and bars away from the crowds.
For raucous nightlife, head to the bars along George Street and the Royal Mile.
Where to shop
You’ll find all the high-street staples along Princes Street, higher-end boutiques on George Street and designer labels off St Andrew Square.
The Royal Mile has plenty of tartan tat, but you can also browse specialist whisky shops, Scottish cashmere emporiums and kilt-makers here, while nearby Grassmarket has vintage chic and homespun Scottish labels.
Head to Southside’s Bruntsfield village and William Street in the West End to mooch around independent boutiques.
Magnificent mountain scenery slashed by silvery lochs and peppered with brooding castles: all laden with rich Scottish heritage, history and tradition. Drive the NC500 road trip, or ride on the spectacular West Highland Line.