Edinburgh Culture & history

Our most recommended Edinburgh Culture & history

Edinburgh: Loch Ness, Glencoe & the Scottish Highlands Tour

1. Edinburgh: Loch Ness, Glencoe & the Scottish Highlands Tour

Head for the Highlands, whether in search of the Loch Ness Monster or just a scenic day trip from Edinburgh. After pickup, relax on the bus and listen to the guide’s entertaining commentary. Visit Kilmahog for an introduction to the famous Highland Cows and a cup of coffee. Discover what a ‘hairy coo’ really is. Next, travel up the road to Glencoe and enjoy a 10-minute photo stop in front of the unforgettable Highland views. Have lunch in the Fort William area, where your guide can advise you on where to eat. If you're interested in the mysteries of the kilt, you can even get a ‘wee’ kilt introduction here. Then be whisked to Loch Ness itself. Customize your experience at Loch Ness. Choose to visit the majestic Urquhart Castle, and hop on a boat in search of ‘Nessie’, as the locals call it. Or simply hang out on the pier and grab a coffee with gorgeous views. On the way home, make a short snack stop in Pitlochry, a beautiful village in the heart of the country, before returning to Edinburgh.

Edinburgh Vaults: Ghost Tour

2. Edinburgh Vaults: Ghost Tour

Wander through Edinburgh's Old Town and explore the infamous Edinburgh Vaults on a bone-chilling guided tour that uncovers the city's torturous past and a haunted present. Take to Edinburgh's historic streets and listen as your guide tells you tales of the city's dark and gruesome history as you are led along the Royal Mile on cobblestone streets. Hear stories of murder, hangings, and even witchcraft.  Venture below ground and enter the city vaults, one of Edinburgh's most haunted sites. Hear stories of stomach-churning medieval torture devices, for those with a strong enough constitution to learn about times gone by.  Discover why the vaults have often been regarded as one of the scariest places on earth by paranormal experts. Get to know the history of the site and the ghosts that frequent it.

Edinburgh: Edinburgh Castle Guided Tour w/ Fast-Track Entry

3. Edinburgh: Edinburgh Castle Guided Tour w/ Fast-Track Entry

Begin your tour by the statue of Adam Smith on the Royal Mile. Walk towards Edinburgh Castle as your guide sets the scene, explaining the significance of the Castle and mentioning some of the key characters who have helped shape it. Once inside, let your guide walk you through the Castle complex. Hear their in-depth knowledge of the Castle's main buildings and attractions, including the Argyle Battery and One O'clock Gun, the Hospital Square and Western Panorama. See the Castle dungeons and military prison, the Black Banquet and Thomas Randolph's daring castle raid. Encounter St Margret's Chapel, Mons Meg, the Crown Square, and The Honors of Scotland. After the tour, enjoy some time at your leisure to explore the castle museums (not accessible during the tour).

Edinburgh: Real Mary King's Close Guided Tour

4. Edinburgh: Real Mary King's Close Guided Tour

Step down into Edinburgh’s hidden history at The Real Mary King’s Close, voted Scotland’s Best Heritage Tourism Experience. Discover over 400 years of history and learn about the intriguing stories of Edinburgh’s past residents.  From the deadly plague epidemic to a famous royal visitor, there is a myriad of tales just waiting to be told. Journey through time and find out why the Close, once open to the skies and bustling with trade, came to be underground.  An experience rooted in social history, this 1-hour character-guided tour also includes an immersive walk-through of the city’s uniquely preserved streets and spaces, all located underneath Edinburgh’s famous Royal Mile. Expect a truly unique glimpse into the city’s past. 

Edinburgh Vaults: Ghost Tour with Greyfriars Kirkyard

5. Edinburgh Vaults: Ghost Tour with Greyfriars Kirkyard

Take to the historic streets of Edinburgh's Old Town, visit the Greyfriars Kirkyard graveyard, and explore the infamous Edinburgh Vaults on a bone-chilling guided tour that uncovers the city's torturous past and a haunted present. Listen as your guide tells you tales of the city's dark and gruesome history as you are led along the Royal Mile on cobblestone streets. Hear stories of murder, hangings, and even witchcraft.  Stop at what is regarded as the most haunted graveyard in the world at Greyfriars Kirkyard and discover the legend of Greyfriars Bobby. Venture below ground and enter the city vaults where medieval torture exhibitions await those with a strong enough stomach to learn how these devices were used in times gone by.  Experience why the vaults have often been regarded as one of the scariest places on earth by paranormal experts. Get to know the history of the site and the ghosts that frequent it.

Edinburgh: Skip-the-Line Walking Tour of Edinburgh Castle

6. Edinburgh: Skip-the-Line Walking Tour of Edinburgh Castle

Discover the home of Mary Queen of Scots on this guided walking tour of Edinburgh Castle. Admire the 16th-century Great Hall where parties and feast took place. Learn about the bloody history of the kings and queens who lived in this castle.  Meet your guide and walk to Edinburgh Castle which dominates the city skyline from its seat on the extinct volcano of Castle Rock. Stroll on the castle's promenade and hear about the the origins and sieges of the castle. View where the Royal Military Tattoo is performed. Enter the castle and make your way to the three museums and two prisons. Go to the National Monument to the fallen of Scotland and a canine cemetery. See the oldest building in the city at the Chapel of Saint Margaret. Be captivated by the grandeur of the Great Hall and a Royal Palace. After the tour you will have time to explore all of the buildings inside the castle until its closure.

The Edinburgh Dungeon Entrance Ticket

7. The Edinburgh Dungeon Entrance Ticket

Live and breathe Edinburgh’s darkest history, if you dare. The Edinburgh Dungeon is an award-winning, 70-minute interactive and immersive walk-through experience covering 1000 years of Edinburgh and Scottish history through 11 live actor shows, theatrical sets, special effects, and a thrilling ride. Visitors will come face to face with the most notorious rogues from the city’s dark past. Meet Agnes Finnie, Edinburgh's baddest witch! Enter the Witch Pricker’s interrogation chamber where you’ll come face to face with Agnes Finnie – accused of witchcraft in 1645. She’s mad, she’s bad, she’s not to be messed with! Well done! You’ve found Sawney Bean’s Family. Unfortunately, it’s been a while since they last ate and you look delicious… It’s the 16th century and you find yourself creeping through the Bean clan’s foul-smelling lair to discover the leftovers of lost travelers.

From Edinburgh: Loch Ness, Glencoe, Highlands & Ben Nevis

8. From Edinburgh: Loch Ness, Glencoe, Highlands & Ben Nevis

Depart Edinburgh on an air-conditioned luxury coach (max 57 seats). Pass Stirling Castle and hear your tour guide tell tales of William Wallace and Robert the Bruce and the bloody battles fought out on these lands. First, arrive at Callander town, nestled at the foot of the Trossachs. Next, drive through Loch Lomond and the Trossachs National Park. Your Scottish guide will tell you about Rob Roy MacGregor, the infamous Highlander. Follow in the footsteps of James Bond ("Skyfall") and Harry Potter ("Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban") as you travel to the stunning Highland valley of Glencoe. Hear the eerie story of the Clan MacDonald massacre of 1692. Travel through Fort William, home to Ben Nevis, which at 4,409 feet is the highest mountain of the British Isles. Arrive on the south bank of Loch Ness in the charming village of Fort Augustus, where lots of cafes, shops, and restaurants offer a relaxing lunch. Stroll along the banks of the Caledonian Canal, then experience Loch Ness on an optional 1-hour boat cruise. Try to catch a glimpse of "Nessie," the legendary Loch Ness Monster. Admire the impressive Commando Memorial at Spean Bridge with views of the Nevis Range. Enter the Cairngorms National Park and discover "Monarch of the Glen" country. Drive along Loch Laggan before the roads climb above the Grampian Mountains. Travel over the Pass of Drumochter, linking the northern and southern Central Highlands. Experience the majesty of a mountain pass created by glacial activity during successive Ice Ages. Finally, stop briefly in the beautiful Victorian town of Pitlochry before heading back to Edinburgh city center, arriving at approximately 8:30 PM.

Edinburgh: Ghostly Underground Vaults Tour

9. Edinburgh: Ghostly Underground Vaults Tour

Explore Edinburgh's ghostly past on a guided tour through the streets of the Old Town and its underground vaults. Listen as your cloaked guide tells you tales of the city's dark and grim past as you are led along the Royal Mile. If you dare, step into the narrow alleyways, which are only a few feet wide. Make your way to the South Bridge, and head underneath, where Edinburgh's Vaults are located. Once storage areas for businesses and shops in the area, the vaults were taken over in the late 1700s and turned into living spaces. Eventually, the area became home to slums and the city's red-light district. As you walk through these now-vacant rooms, you will hear tales of the deplorable living conditions, as well as of the crime that once raged through the vaults. When you emerge from the underground, consider yourself lucky that it isn't in the dead of night.

Edinburgh: Palace of Holyroodhouse Ticket

10. Edinburgh: Palace of Holyroodhouse Ticket

Wander the opulent state rooms and lavish gardens of the Palace of Holyroodhouse, His Majesty The King's official Scottish residence, located at the end of Edinburgh’s Royal Mile. Once inside the baroque palace, learn about its close associations with Scotland's history via a complimentary multimedia guide (available in 9 languages). Visit the State Apartments to see the changing tastes of successive monarchs. Marvel at fine plasterwork ceilings and Brussels tapestries, along with paintings and other artworks in rooms still used by the King and Royal Family for official ceremonies. Go to the Throne Room to see where lunch was served to the Knights and Ladies of the Order of the Thistle when a new knight was installed. Discover where the King holds his private audiences in the Morning Drawing Room. Continue to the Great Gallery, where Scottish residents named in the New Year’s Honours List or Kings Birthday Honours List receive their award at an Investiture ceremony. Admire Jacob de Wet's portraits of real and legendary kings of Scotland in the Great Gallery, the largest room in the palace. Learn about dramatic events from Scotland’s history in Mary Queen of Scots' historic chambers, where she witnessed the brutal murder of her secretary, Rizzio, by her jealous husband, Lord Darnley. At the end of your multimedia tour, enjoy a refreshing drink or light lunch (own expense) at the Café at the Palace.

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What people are saying about Edinburgh

Overall rating

4.6 / 5

based on 12,976 reviews

The whole experience from the start of the journey to the end was fantastically rewarding and worth spending every penny. This was all possible not just because of the natural beauty but our undoubtedly the best tour guide so far Paul and our bus driver Adam. Paul is a jolly person with great humour and his passion for Scottish history and The landscapes were mesmerising and the history attached made it more intriguingly beautiful

It was simply fantastic. A great start to my trip and a great look into the area's rich and creepy history. The tour guide was extremely charismatic and witty and really amplified the experience. Would definitely do it again.

Great trip to have a glimpse of Scottish highlands in one day. Breathtaking scenery, entertaining local guide who shared good bits of Scottish history. The 12-hour bus tour went by quickly and we loved Scott's playlist

I recommend, I'd go once again. Tour guide Jim provided excellent service, he shared so many facts about Scotland. I really enjoyed the trip.

It was a wonderful experience, make sure you feed the famous celebrity cows!