Ah, February. The weather is drizzly, the nights are dark, the evenings are cold. It might not appeal to a lot of people, but as fans of all things ghostly and ghoulish, we understand one thing: it’s the perfect atmosphere for a ghost tour.
Plenty of UK cities host ghost tours, but why is Edinburgh the most famous? Well, it’s not called The Jekyll and Hyde City for nothing – Edinburgh is home to some of the most haunted places in the world. Its landmarks have been around for centuries, and certainly have seen some dark things over the years.
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 at a glance:
- Edinburgh – Dark History, from £14
- The World Famous Underground Ghost Tour, from £16
- Fright Night Tour, from £18
- Private Edinburgh Dark History Tour – Auld Reekie After Hours, from £18.75
- Extreme Paranormal Underground Ghost Tour in Edinburgh, from £20
- Ghost Bus Tour of Edinburgh, from £21
- Edinburgh Darkside Walking Tour: Mysteries, Murder and Legends, from £21.71
- Ghostly Edinburgh Underground Vault Tour for Two, £40
- Hidden and Haunted Edinburgh Tour for Two, £40
Edinburgh – Dark History
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.
For the best London bus tours (spooky or otherwise), take a look at our best list.
Fright Night Tour
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.
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Ghostly Edinburgh Underground Vault Tour for Two
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.
Ghost Bus Tour of Edinburgh
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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Edinburgh Darkside Walking Tour: Mysteries, Murder and Legends
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.
Hidden and Haunted Edinburgh Tour for Two
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.
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
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.
Extreme Paranormal Underground Ghost Tour in Edinburgh
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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!
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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