Did you know that Edinburgh is considered to be one of the most haunted cities in the UK? The ancient, narrow streets of the city’s old town are the source of spooky folklore, myths and stories of ghosts and paranormal activity.
The city’s rich history and reports of strange and unnatural activity have generated great interest for ghost hunters and intrepid paranormal societies from all over the world. Now, as autumn is just around the corner, this is the perfect time to jump on one of the top five spooky tours and explore haunted Edinburgh for yourself.
1. City of the Dead
City of the Dead offer three spine-chilling tours. The Underground City of the Dead Ghost Tour takes you into the depths of Edinburgh’s legendary underground city. Here you will walk through the dark tunnels, often referred to as Damnation Alley, that are stalked by a malevolent presence known as the South Bridge Entity. Back in the day, this now underground city was a place where many lived in times of hardness and poverty. Additionally, it was ripe with the plague making it a fairly miserable place to live.
The City of the Dead Haunted Graveyard Tour gives you access to Edinburgh’s Covenanter’s Prison and the Black Mausoleum, which is haunted by the famous Mackenzie Poltergeist. Hundreds of people actually claim they have encountered a meeting the poltergeist on this tour! This tour is a phenomenon and according to their website it combines “the weirdest history with the wildest stories and wickedest humour around”.
The third hair-raising tour, the Double Dead Walk, takes you to South Bridge Vaults and Covenanter’s Prison in Greyfriars Kirkyard, two of the most haunted places around. All the tours are written and researched by the historical and award winning novelist J. A. Henderson. Tours are taken by costumed guides whose ability to tell stories in a theatrical way through improvisation and entertainment make each one special and unique.
2. Ghost Bus Tour
Take a macabre theatrical journey around the city and experience the darker side of Edinburgh with Ghost Bus Tours. The classic 1960 Routemaster Bus will take you on a journey to all the famous sites like Edinburgh Castle, the New Town, Grassmarket, Greyfriar's Kirk, Old Town, Holyrood Palace and the Royal Mile. You will be in for a dramatic and supernatural evening.
The stories are humorously told by a creepy conductor and provides a quirky and sinister insight into the murders, madness and executions that have taken place throughout the history in the Scottish capital. The city’s hair-raising past will certainly give you a surreal experience when you hear about the city’s frightful history, from Burke and Hare, to the Great Scottish Witch Hunts of the 16th and 17th centuries. Watch out for a few dark passengers though, as the bus was previously used for funerals.
3. Real Mary King’s Close
©The Real Mary Kings Close
Join a tour at The Real Mary King’s Close, buried deep beneath Edinburgh’s Royal Mile. This warren of underground closes was once part of the city’s most vibrant streets. These hidden closes have been the source of myths and legends for years and now visitors can learn the real truth about Edinburgh life between the 17th and 19th century, not to mention some of the most dramatic episodes from the city’s past.
Although the residents who once used to live here have long since passed away, they are certainly not forgotten. Their story is told through a character guide who plays a one time resident of the Close. This atmospheric and dark attraction is home to the infamous ghost of Annie, a lonely young girl whose family are thought to have died in the plague. Whilst this tour focuses on real social history, this underground time capsule is regarded as one the most haunted places in Scotland.
4. Auld Reekie Tours
Edinburgh is nicknamed Auld Reekie due to the smoke from coal fires that curled into the winter air creating a spooky mist over the city. Auld Reekie simply translates to ‘old smokie’. Today, the smoke has disappeared from the city along with the coal fires. However, the spookiness is far from gone in Edinburgh. In earlier days, it was illegal to be homeless forcing the less fortunate to move underground creating a warren of underground streets and cellars. With no water, no light and poor hygiene, the living conditions here were extremely poor.
Join Auld Reekie Tours to see and feel for yourself how these streets now are haunted by their previous residents. There are four possible tours to choose from. The Original Underground Tour takes you beneath the streets of Edinburgh and reveals the dark and unpleasant history of the city. In the Ghost & Torture Tour, walk along the cobbled streets as you listen to frightening stories and visit a torture exhibition. The Vaults & Graveyard Tour leads you into the famous Greyfriars Kirkyard and the Underground South Bridge Vaults, two of the most hair-rising locations in Edinburgh. The last tour option takes you to Auld Reekie’s Stone Circle Vault where the darkest and most blood-curdling stories are told. A walk in these ancient tunnels will guarantee to get your blood pumping as you hear the water dripping and feel the presence of the unfortunate people who used to live here.
5. Underground Vaults
Mercat Tours offer several historic walks and ghost tours. With a strong focus on telling a good story, this is a great way to discover the fascinating history of Edinburgh. See the famous haunted Blair Street Underground while guides tell horrifying but real stories of gruesome punishment and unsettled spirits. See and feel how the poor souls of the past still haunt the city of Edinburgh.
The only way to experience the underground vaults is through joining a tour. Book in advance as tours can sell out very quickly. This especially applies if you want a spooky vacation in the Scottish capital during Halloween.
The Radisson Blu Hotel, Edinburgh is located in the heart of the city on the Royal Mile. This means that you will be living directly above the underground streets and close to many of these spooky attractions, so it is the perfect base for a special autumn break to remember.