Tours & activities in Edinburgh

Edinburgh Dark Side Tour

No ghost stories - Edinburgh's true history is scary enough!

ABOUT THE Edinburgh Dark Side Tour

Edinburgh has a long and dark history that includes acts like grave robbing, body snatching, serial killers and witch burning. On this 2-hour Dark Side walking tour you will see Edinburgh's shady and wild side as you hear real-life tales of witches, body-snatchers and cannibals. 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. 


Your Edinburgh Dark History tour meets outside Frankie and Benny’s at 130 High Street and finishes on the Royal Mile near the start point or at Canongate Kirkyard.


Chilling murders

Living in Edinburgh over the past centuries meant looking out for death on every corner. You might be accused of being a witch and being burnt at the stake, or someone might kill you so that they get paid for donating your body to the medical school. There was even the threat of cannibals and vampires to look out for. From the serial killers Burke and Hare, to Calton Hill where the witch burnings took place (today offering some of the best views over Edinburgh), on this 2-hour walking tour, your expert local guide will tell you the grim, scary but most importantly, true stories of life after dark in old Edinburgh.

Even your body wasn’t safe

Your problems didn’t stop once you were dead though, because even your body wasn’t safe. Some Edinburghers took to having cages buried put over their final resting place, so that their graves weren’t robbed or their bodies weren’t snatched. For those who couldn’t afford this luxury, they would have to hope a family member loved them enough to stand watch over their grave, until their corpse was no longer useful to science. During this walking tour, you’ll visit the Calton Cemetery and the Canongate Kirkyard, and see the mausoleums and caged-in graves that still exist today.


6:30 PM
6:30 PM
Inclusions & exclusions
What’s included
  • Local English-speaking guide
Additional Information
  • The independent guides who employ us to market their tours have your best interests in mind; while the tour usually includes the sites & stories mentioned and lasts about 2 hours, your tour may vary depending on what your guide thinks is best for your group
  • Due to the old streets and uneven terrain, accessing parts of Edinburgh by wheelchair can sometimes be challenging. We unfortunately do not advise guests in wheelchairs to join the Dark Side Tour due to the narrow stairways and steep hills. We apologise for any inconvenience or disappointment caused
Meeting point
Image for meeting point

Your Edinburgh Dark Side Tour starts in front of Frankie & Benny's on 130 High Street by Tron Kirk


  • Hear about Burke and Hare – the infamous West Port murderers
  • Visit the site of the witch burnings, today offering great views over Edinburgh
  • Learn about Edinburgh’s real-life cannibals and vampires
  • Hear about the murder of Mary Queen of Scot’s husband
  • See the efforts to stave off bodysnatchers at Canongate Kirkyard and Calton Cemetery
  • Discover the mystery of the 17 doll coffins at Arthur’s Seat
Tour start Tour starts here
End start Tour usually ends here
Tour usually covers

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Delve deeper with themed select tours


Rain or shine, all of our tours run as scheduled. Book your place online to guarantee your spot!

Where the famous FREE Tour gives you a good overview of the city, the themed select tours give you a more in-depth look at some of the most fascinating periods or neighbourhoods of Edinburgh.

We believe in supporting local communities and are committed to giving a voice to some of Edinburgh's best local freelance tour guides, who passionately share the city's history and culture with their own unique and always-entertaining style.

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Participation in tours promoted by SANDEMANs NEW Europe is strictly on a voluntary basis. Neither SANDEMANs NEW Europe, nor the self-employed freelance guides who are the providers of the tours promoted by SANDEMANs NEW Europe, will be held responsible in any way for injuries to body or property incurred during tours. The tour guides reserve the right to deny participation in any tour, to any person, for any reason. Thank you for your understanding.

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