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Canongate Kirkyard

Canongate Kirkyard: Our most recommended tours and activities

Edinburgh: The Dark Side Walking Tour

1. Edinburgh: The Dark Side Walking Tour

Meet some of Edinburgh's most infamous characters on a guided, ghost-themed walking tour through the dark side of the city center. Learn about figures like Burke and Hare. Hear tales of witch burning, grave robbing, body snatching, and mysterious murders. Be greeted by your local guide on the Royal Mile, where plundered tombs, funeral pyres, and mass graves from thousands of years ago are concealed. Get goosebumps as the past is brought to life by your guide. Venture to gruesome burial sites such as the Canongate Kirkyard. Prepare to be spooked by spine-chilling tales of real-life cannibals and vampires as the true history of Edinburgh is recreated before your eyes. End your tour at the Whitefoord House mansion.  

Edinburgh: Dark History - Old Town & Canongate Walking Tour

2. Edinburgh: Dark History - Old Town & Canongate Walking Tour

Ah, Edinburgh! They don't call it "The Jekyll & Hyde City" for nothing. During the day, a respectable figure, with its astonishing architecture and wondrous history. But when the sun sets, it tells an entirely different story... Hear all about the darker history of Edinburgh: murderers, thieves, cannibals, hangings and decapitations, witches, the Plague and streams of human waste. Learn about the most notorious citizens of Edinburgh and how ghost stories are born. This is not a ghost tour: we don't need costumes or people jumping from behind the corners, Edinburgh's Dark History itself is enough to make your skin crawl. And oh, how we love to share it with our visitors...

Edinburgh: Underground Vaults & Graveyard Evening Tour

3. Edinburgh: Underground Vaults & Graveyard Evening Tour

Descend into the Blair Street Underground Vaults and hear the eerie history that lurks within on an evening walking tour in Edinburgh. Follow your guide through the narrow streets to the Canongate Graveyard. Delve into the terror of Edinburgh’s past as your guide leads you through the ancient city towards the vaults. Submerge yourself in darkness in the unsettling Blair Street Underground Vaults and uncover the troubling tales of torture and murder. Walk the dim streets to the Canongate graveyard and arrive at the resting place of the city’s most famous figures, including Adam Smith, the father of economics; David Rizzio, lover of Mary Queen of Scots; and James Douglas, the 3rd Marquess of Queensberry and infamous cannibal of the Canongate. Hear about their lives and the mark they left on the city, as well as the ghosts that haunt Edinburgh to this day. Don't miss a word your guide says with your radio receiver in hand.

Edinburgh: Dark Secrets of the Old Town Ghost Walking Tour

4. Edinburgh: Dark Secrets of the Old Town Ghost Walking Tour

Discover Scotland’s mythical sites and Scottish faeries as you walk around the city of Edinburgh. Pass by graveyards, aged houses, and the sites where witches and warlocks were burnt on this sinister yet insightful walking tour. Learn about the black market for corpses in the 19th century and the serial killers William Burke and William Hare. Hear how they sold corpses for dissection at anatomy lectures. Visit the Old Calton Cemetery and Canongate Kirkyard. Enjoy pleasant views across Edinburgh whilst your guide talks about a particularly dark chapter in the city’s history, the burning of witches and warlocks. Be astounded by the number of people burned for witchcraft and what spells and beliefs caused this. Unearth the past as your guide explains about the doctors who cured those with the Black Death, a bubonic plague pandemic in the 1300s. Walk past houses where people lived in the 17th-century and explore the mystery and mysticism that surrounds Edinburgh.

Edinburgh: Outlander Walking Tour

5. Edinburgh: Outlander Walking Tour

The year is 1745 and the Jacobite rising has reached the city gates of Edinburgh. Bonnie Prince Charlie is met by a cheering crowd of 20,000 strong. Amid the chaos of rebellion are Claire and Jamie, the Outlander characters entwined in a story that spans centuries. On this 2-hour walking tour your guide will trace the real events that inspired Diana Gabaldon’s acclaimed novels. The story captures the spirit of the Jacobite rebellion in Edinburgh: The Redcoats, the Highlanders and the smell of gunpowder in the air. Your expert guide will take you deep into the Old Town, to the places where history was made: Tolbooth Jail, Canongate Kirkyard and the World’s End Tavern. If Edinburgh is the setting for the second Outlander novel, you’ll be going behind the scenes!

Private tour: History and Murder in Edinburgh's Old Town

6. Private tour: History and Murder in Edinburgh's Old Town

Discover the history and legends of Edinburgh and Scotland in World Heritage Old Town District for a 2h private guided tour.

Edinburgh's Royal Mile: A Self-Guided Audio Tour

7. Edinburgh's Royal Mile: A Self-Guided Audio Tour

Embark on a tour of Edinburgh's famous Royal Mile with an audio tour available on your smartphone. Enjoy 14 stories narrated by radio actor James Bryce in his charming Scottish lilt and see highlights, including the Lawnmarket and Mercat Cross. After installing your app, begin at the top of Castlehill next to the Witches Well and hear about Edinburgh Castle’s early days, when a series of infamous witch burnings took place here. Amble down all four sections of the Royal Mile: Castlehill, Lawnmarket, the High Street, and the old burgh of Canongate. Stroll around St. Giles Cathedral, home to the Old Tolbooth, the Heart of Midlothian mosaic, and a statue of Charles II. As you travel the length of the Royal Mile to the Palace of Holyroodhouse, see the former residence of the gentleman robber, Deacon Brodie, the inspiration behind Robert Louis Stevenson’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Hear about historical figures, such as John Knox and Mary Queen of Scots, and listen to tales about the barbaric punishments of the 1600s. Uncover the deeds that took place in the shadows of the Mercat Cross and see Netherbow Port, once the main gate between Edinburgh and Canongate.

Edinburgh: City Introduction in-App Guide & Audio

8. Edinburgh: City Introduction in-App Guide & Audio

Walk through a beautiful route of the city, discover hidden gems and visit 10+ of the most important attractions and spots. Learn some introductory information about each place and interesting stories about the city in general. Download the ‘World City Trail ‘app from the store and login. Read the instructions and head to the starting location. Unlock photos of the exterior and the interior of the location. Listen or read some information regarding the attraction and continue walking to the next checkpoint. Note what you liked and did not like and create your bucket list for the next days! Start your walk any time, without a schedule. Pause it for lunch, have a drink, visit an attraction of your choice, and continue later or even another day. With the maps feature, you will never get lost. Start your tour at the imposing Scott Monument! Visit the Royal Scottish Academy with its dreamlike architecture. Photograph Edinburgh Castle in its imposing form and marvel at the dreamy The Hub. The Grassmarket will amaze you, it is one of the busiest places in Edinburgh. Then Greyfriars Kirkyard awaits, don't forget to take pictures, famous for the story of Greyfriars faithful dog Bobby! St Giles' Cathedral will leave you speechless with its magnificent architecture. Admire Canongate Kirk, which is said to be miraculous and has a huge history. Learn about the Burns Monument built for the country's greatest artist and national symbol, while the icing on the cake of this unique tour will be Calton Hill(where the tour ends), a spot that is always busy and enchanting, with amazing views.

Other Sightseeing Options in Canongate Kirkyard

Want to discover all there is to do in Canongate Kirkyard? Click here for a full list.

What people are saying about Canongate Kirkyard

Overall rating

4.7 / 5

based on 1,178 reviews

This was a really fun and interesting tour through the dark streets of Edinburgh, Tommy was our guide and he was fantastic. He was fun and energetic, as mush as you can be when talking about the morbid history of murders and plague victims. I highly recommend this tour for anyone visiting Edinburgh!

Sarah was amazing, and her enthusiasm made the tour so much more interesting. She was so funny we forgot hoe cold it was outside. Great experience overall!

Amazing experience. The tour guide (Melanie) was amazing. She really immersed us in the stories of Edinburgh. Really liked it!

sabella was absolutely amazing, full of fun and spooky facts. she really entertained and took care of us.

such an amazing tour with scott. such a highlight of my scotland trip