Tours & activities in Edinburgh

Edinburgh Dark Side Tour

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


This tour is running again! Book with confidence as we offer a 100% refund policy if you need to cancel your tour prior to departure.

Private tour option also available. For more info please send an email to

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 on 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 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.

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The Edinburgh Dark Side Tour starts on 130 High Street (The Royal Mile), on the corner with Stevenlaw's Close

  • 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


6:30 PM
6:30 PM
Inclusions & exclusions
What’s included
  • Local English-speaking guide
Additional Information
  • Unfortunately, we 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 caused
  • All minors must be accompanied by an adult in order to join the tour
  • Our business is connecting great guides and smart travelers, and we're proud that so many local guides employ us to welcome travelers like you on their journey through some of the world's best cities. No two tours are alike, and the sites, stories, and length of the tour will vary depending on what your freelance guide decides is best. That's why the tours we promote never get stale or feel scripted, and why both independent guides and savvy travelers prefer SANDEMANs
The Edinburgh Dark Side Tour starts on 130 High Street (The Royal Mile), on the corner with Stevenlaw's Close Open in Google Maps
Tour start Tour starts here
End start Tour usually ends here
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What is a Select Tour?


Select Tours focus on a particular area or district of a city, a certain aspect of its history or culture, or take you outside the city on a day trip. Select Tours are perfect for those who have enjoyed an introduction to the city and wish to delve deeper into the stories the city has to offer. These tours often venture further afield and make use of local public transport.

As with the Free Tour, Select Tours are provided by local freelance guides in partnership with SANDEMANs NEW Europe, who bring their personal flair and expert knowledge to these specifically themed tours. Select tours have a fixed ticket price - we recommend purchasing your ticket in advance, either during a Free Tour or online.

Delve deeper with themed select tours

  • Expert local guides
  • Theme specific tours
  • Location specific tours
  • Full-day and half-day tours on offer
  • Affordable prices


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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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