Private Old Edinburgh Tour

City Tour
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This tour is provided by

Historic Edinburgh Tours

Historic Edinburgh Tours was formed in 2013 with the intention of providing high-quality walking tours around the Old Town of Edinburgh. We research, write, plan and resource our tours ourselves and pride ourselves on a high degree of professionalism. Taking people around our home city is a great honour for us! It fills us with pride when people come from around the world to see Edinburgh!

 

  • 2 hours approx
  • Private Tour
  • Edinburgh, Scotland

Edinburgh has been Scotland’s capital city for hundreds of years. If something important happened in Scotland, Edinburgh was often at the centre of it. If something important happened in Edinburgh, it was usually of significance to the rest of the country.

This guided walking tour takes you in and around the Old Town part of Edinburgh’s UNESCO World Heritage Site. Each story we tell is about a famous historical character. Each of these stories is shared in a location which played a part in that person’s life. You are walking in the footsteps of royals and rogues, murdered and murderers. From Greyfriars Kirkyard to the Grassmarket, the West Bow, the Royal Mile and some of the closes and wynds of the Old Town, this tour gives you a great appreciation of Edinburgh and her fascinating story.

Meeting Point

Greyfriars Kirkyard

Walking Difficulty

Gradients and steps

Language

English

Prices

Group size 1-4: £40

Group size 5-8: £60

Itinerary

Remember, this is your private tour of Edinburgh – you can choose when it starts! We’ve also got some flexibility with distances and elevations on this Old Town walking tour. Please get in touch if you’d like to discuss these alternatives. Robert, your local tour guide, wants to give you a tour that is interesting and accessible for you.In this Edinburgh walking tour, all your locations will take place within Edinburgh’s Old Town. We’ve outlined all the story possibilities for your tour. We may not cover them all, it depends on where your interests lie. Remember, this is YOUR tour and we’ve got opportunities to accommodate the things you are interested in!

Story 1 – Greyfriars Bobby, the faithful wee Skye Terrier.

You’ll find just how vital Greyfriars is to Scotland’s history and you’ll get a chance to discover the different stories behind the legend of the famous wee churchyard dog, Greyfriars Bobby!

Story 2 – Walking on ancient streets

Throughout this walking tour of Edinburgh you’ll be following in the footsteps of some of Scottish history’s most famous (and infamous) characters. We’ll learn how little has changd by comparing what we see on Candlemaker Row, with a map dating from 1647! You’ll also get a chance to see the Greyfriars Bobby statue – Scotland’s most photographed statue.

Story 3 – The wedding that caused overcrowding

Aww bless, it’s ‘Royal Wedding’ time when we stop in the historic Grassmarket.! We’ve got a few stories we can share here – it’s really your choice as it’s your private Edinburgh tour. We’ll look at the wedding of Margaret Tudor and King James IV. There’s some really interesting gossip to be shared about this tale! Their marriage really impacted upon Edinburgh, as you’ll discover when we talk about the Battle of Flodden. We can also look at the Porteous Riots and the hanging of Margaret DIckson – the famous ‘half-hangit Maggie’ story. Robert will work to your tastes and interests!

Story 4 – The West Bow

If we could travel back in time and visit one street, then the West Bow would be where we set our time machine to visit. Robert will point out some of the oldest buildings on this pretty street and may share some tales of the West Bow during Bonnie Prince Charlie’s Jacobite Occupation of 1745.

Story 5 – Mary, Queen of Scots – a Palace and a Welcome

You’ll be following in the footsteps of Mary, Queen of Scots. She’s one of Scotland’s most famous historic characters. We love pointing out places that aren’t there any more and you’ll learn about the palace of Mary de Guise (mother of Mary, Queen of Scots). Lots happened on this part of the famous Royal Mile and we’ll reveal how the Bowhead would have looked hundreds of years ago. This section of Castlehill and the Lawnmarket was incredibly atmospheric and we’ve got the archive images and photographs to prove it!

Story 7 – A King and a posh pad!

Although we love helping you imagine how the Old Town’s streets once looked, occasionally we don’t need to. Sometimes we’ve got buildings which just ooze history. We’ll take you Riddle’s Court, an often-missed little side street and show you 16th-century Edinburgh’s equivalent of Mayfair or Park Lane on a Monopoly board. We’re talking about a building so exquisite and refined that the King came here to party. Not that it did it’s murdered owner much good…

Story 8 – A Kirk or a Cathedral? And a Parliament or a Prison?

We’ll look at a famous building which still exists – the fabulous exterior of St Giles’ and then we’ll explore the long-lost Tolbooth, once a parliament and then a prison. This gives us a chance to meet a man who knew this place far more intimately than he’d have liked. Deacon William Brodie, a classic ‘Old Edinburgh’ character, was imprisoned and then hanged here. Deacon Brodie’s hanging is darky comic in places…and comes with far more possibilities than you might imagine!

Story 9 – The Royal Mile

In the 1950s, a historian said that two-thirds of Scotland’s history took place along the Royal Mile. The ‘Mile is Edinburgh’s most famous street and many important events happened. In quick succession you’ll hear about the last night in Edinburgh of Mary, Queen of Scots and of the proclamation which took place here in 1745 when Prince Charles Edward Stewart (‘Bonnie Prince Charlie’)was in town with his Jacobite Army. Robert, your Edinburgh guide, can tailor this Royal Mile/High Street part of the tour to what interests you. If you’re an Outlander fan, we can investigate places linked to the Jacobite Rebellion (including the place where Flora MacDonald went to school) and if you like gory stories…well, trust us, we’ve got that covered too! If you like Robert Burns, we’ve got a few stories about him to share as well. It’s your choice. Each of these stories takes place right in the places these people would have known hundreds of years before.

Story 10 – Close encounters of the not-so-pleasant kind (eew…)

No Old Town tour would be complete without a visit to a traditional Close. We’ll pick one with you and then we’ll find out how people lived in the Old Town. We LOVE telling the stories here. There’s plenty of yukky moments to keep everyone interested. And we have props to help. Oh yes! We’ll also share what happened to poor Samuel Johnson, the writer of the first English dictionary when he spent some time in the Old Town.

Stories 11 – The Cowgate and Irish immigration into Edinburgh.

We actually offer a tour which looks exclusively at the lives of Edinburgh’s Victorian poor because we find this social history incredibly interesting. We’ll take you into the areas which were once the sites of the some of the poorest slums in Scotland.

Story 12 – Burke and Hare and Dr Robert Knox

Williams Burke and Hare have been the central characters in many films and documentaries. They even take the lead in a comedy film! You’ll find out the reality of the resurrectionists, Edinburgh’s famed anatomists Doctor Monro and Doctor Knox and of the murderers Burke and Hare. It’s a truly enthralling story! Charles Darwin also makes an appearance in this tale.Robert can also take this opportunity to discuss the kilt he’s wearing and answer any (yes…) questions you may have about this ‘traditional’ Scottish garment.

Story 13 – Mary, Queen of Scots and the murder of Henry, Lord Darnley.

Your Old Edinburgh walking tour finishes with a bang, almost literally! We’ll get to visit the site of Kirk o’Fields, the place where King Henry, Mary’s second husband, spent his final night on earth. If we’re fortunate we’ll also get to see the Old College of Edinburgh University – a fine structure and one worthy of a snapshot or two!The Old Town has many incredible stories. It was the main part of the capital city of Scotland for hundreds of years. If something significant happened in Edinburgh, it tended to impact upon the whole kingdom. We’ve gone into some detail with these notes, but the full stories are even more fascinating. This tour holds an average five-star rating and is the most popular of our Edinburgh tours.

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