Tours & activities in Edinburgh

Edinburgh’s dark history tour

Prepare yourself for the bone-chilling truth of Edinburgh's dark history.

ABOUT THE Edinburgh’s dark history tour

Discover the dark underbelly of Edinburgh's haunting past on a captivating 2-hour walking tour. Uncover the city's grim secrets as you delve into tales of grave robbing, body snatching, serial killers, and witch burnings. Your journey into Edinburgh's chilling history will lead you to the shadowy corners where legends of murder, monsters, and mayhem were born. Step foot in the eerie Old Calton Burial Ground or the spine-chilling Canongate Kirkyard, two of the city's most notorious cemeteries. We never cancel; tours run rain, hail or shine.


Commence your Edinburgh Dark History Tour at 130 High Street, where the darkness awaits, and conclude your spine-tingling adventure on the Royal Mile, near the starting point or at the hauntingly beautiful Canongate Kirkyard. 


Shrouded in darkness, the streets of Edinburgh held the constant threat of death throughout the centuries. Accusations of witchcraft could result in a horrifying death by burning at the stake, while others schemed to profit by selling your body to medical schools. Beware the lurking dangers of cannibals and vampires that plagued the city. From the infamous Burke and Hare, the notorious serial killers, to the eerie Calton Hill, where the witch trials unfolded (now offering breathtaking views of Edinburgh), your knowledgeable local guide will reveal the chilling and authentic tales of Edinburgh's nocturnal existence.


Yet, even in death, your safety was not guaranteed. Edinburgh residents resorted to extraordinary measures to protect their final resting places, employing cages to ward off grave robbers and body snatchers. Those who could not afford such precautions relied on the love of family members who stood guard over their graves until their bodies were of no use to science. As you embark on this walking tour, you will witness the haunting beauty of Calton Cemetery and Canongate Kirkyard, where mausoleums and caged graves still stand as a testament to the city's troubled past.

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The Edinburgh's dark history 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
Inclusions & exclusions
What’s included
  • Local English-speaking guide
What’s not included
  • Gratuities for the guide (optional)
Additional Information
  • Unfortunately, we do not advise guests in wheelchairs to join this 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
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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.

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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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