Edinburgh Walking Tours 2020
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Edinburgh may not be a large city, but its wealth of history and gorgeous architect well outstrip its physical size. In this article we've outlined some of the city's finest waking tours. We've chosen to start with Mercat Tours, a local operator with decades of experience in telling Edinburgh's stories to people of all ages and backgrounds.
- January Discount | Use code JAN5 (all caps) at checkout and get 5% off any of the following walking tours for any date in 2020. Code valid when booking through CityXplora.
Walking Tours By Mercat:
The city's most notable walking tour operator, Mercat Tours, runs daily tours from sun up till sundown, with themes ranging from the historical to the paranormal. Join them on a night time descent into the subterranean Blair Street Vaults or uncover the secrets of the Royal Mile and Edinburgh Castle.
- Where? Most Mercat walking tours start at Mercat Cross on Parliament Square | View Location.
1) Historic Underground:
- Pricing: Adults from £14.00.
The remnants of ages past are often found locked up in the earth beneath our feet, in ancient rocks, fields and foundations. In many cases you can't truly appreciate the physical heritage of a place until you literally get under its skin. This certainly holds true of Edinburgh, a city built up over thousands of years around the defensible slopes of an extinct volcano.
On Mercat's Historic Underground Tour you'll descend through the layers of time as you venture through the famous Blair Street Underground Vaults. The Blair Street Vaults comprise a vast network of passages and rooms that were once an integral part of the civic life of the Scottish capital. They were store rooms, hidden gathering places, businesses and even homes - all preserved just as they were before being sealed away in the 18th century.
More interesting than the vaults themselves are the stories they hold, which your professional guide will bring vividly to life. Tours conclude with entry to the Mercat 'Discovery Room'. This area features 3D models of historical Edinburgh and 19th century artefact displays.
2) Hidden & Haunted:
- Pricing: Adults from £14.00.
Mercat's popular Hidden & Haunted walking tour is for those aged 18+ only as it covers tales of bloody plots, treason and torture (without sparing any details). During the summer months it runs every night at 21:00, 21:30 and 22:00, with 22:00 departures limited to Fridays and Saturdays during the winter months. Booking online is recommend as spaces tend to fill up quickly, especially during the high season and Halloween.
3) Ghosts & Ghouls:
- Pricing: Adults from £18.00.
Mercat's Ghosts & Ghouls tour is suitable for most ages, and it departs every night at 19:00, 20:00 and 21:00. You'll descend into the Blair Street Underground Vaults with a professional narrator-guide who'll recount true tales of witchcraft, torture and restless spirits. For those who wish it there's even a complimentary dram of whisky waiting in Mercat's candlelit cellar bar.
4) Secrets of the Royal Mile & Edinburgh Castle:
- Pricing: Adults from £30.00.
If you've ever stood at the extremities of the Royal Mile, started up at the city's Gothic spires and pondered the events that transpired on the cobbles beneath your feet, then this tour is one to consider. In the company of an expert historian-guide you'll explore the narrow, medieval streets (wynds), closes and courtyards of Edinburgh's Old Town.
Some of Scotland's most important historical events played out (at least partly) on these very pavements, from the turmoil of the Reformation and the Wars of the Three Kingdoms, to the Jacobite rebellions and the Scottish Enlightenment. You'll hear stories of war and intrigue, culture and politics, as well as tales of famous locals from every era.
This walking tour typically lasts 1 hour 30 minutes, but you can choose to add an extra guided tour of Edinburgh, in which case it lasts 2 hours 15 minutes. Don't worry about queuing at the Castle, Mercat tour groups sail right past the ticket booths.
5) Doomed, Dead & Buried:
- Pricing: Adults from £17.00.
One of Mercat's newer walks, the Doomed, Dead & Buried tour can be enjoyed by the entire family. It not only includes a descent into the Blair Street Vaults but also a stroll around the Canongate Graveyard. Departures are at 19:30 and 20:30 during summer months, and 19:30 during winter.