Posted: 12/4/2023 | December 4th, 2023
I never get tired of visiting Edinburgh. I love the enchanting cobblestone streets, the world-class whisky bars, the plethora of free museums, and arty vibe of the city (it’s the inspiration for many, many writers).
It has been Scotland’s capital since the 15th century and has a history that stretches back millennia (humans have been in the area since 8500 BCE). There’s an epic medieval castle, an ancient volcano, the historic Old Town, and the New Town (both of which are UNESCO World Heritage sites).
One of the best ways to soak it all up is by taking a walking tour. While ghost tours are some of the most popular here (Edinburgh is supposedly one of the most haunted cities in the world), there are many other tours to experience, from bike tours to food tours to pub crawls.
Here’s my list of the best walking tours in Edinburgh to help you plan your trip, save money, and make the most out of your stay!
Best Overall Tour
This family-owned company specializes in a variety of tours of the vaults under the city (a labyrinth of tunnels that were first used as storage and workshop space for businesses in the early 17th century), and it’s the only company to offer vault tours during the day. Adult-only tours include the infamous Canongate graveyard and there are even vault tours designed for kids.
Tours start at 20 GBP.
Best Free Tour
City Explorers runs four different free walking tours daily. Start with the classic Edinburgh Free Tour, on which you’ll see and learn about the main sights, including Edinburgh Castle, the Royal Mile, and St Giles’ Cathedral. There’s also a free ghost tour, a free Harry Potter tour, and a free New Town tour as well. Just remember to tip your guide at the end!
While those two are my top recommendations for tours in Edinburgh, here are a few more options to help you make the most of your time here:
1. Secret Food Tours
Food is an important part of every culture. Scotland has all manner of interesting culinary delights, and the best way to learn more about them (while sampling a bunch) is by taking a food tour. Secret Food Tours offers the best one in Edinburgh. On their three-hour classic tour of Edinburgh’s Old Town, you’ll try delicacies like haggis, creamy Scottish cheese, neeps, and tatties (and learn what those even are), as well as enjoy traditional Scottish tea.
If you want to try more local spirits, you can take the Secret Whisky, Gin, & Beyond tour, which includes seven tastings of locally brewed and distilled liquors.
Prices start at 69 EUR.
2. A Wee Pedal Bike Tour
To cover more ground and get out of town a bit, take a bike tour. A Wee Pedal has several different offerings, so you can see more of Edinburgh and its surrounding countryside on two wheels. The most popular tour is the 20-mile loop tour, which circumnavigates the entire city. There’s also a 12-mile version that goes out to the rugged coastline for a more off-the-beaten-path adventure.
While rides are taken at a meandering, comfortable pace, you can also rent an e-bike for an extra 15 GBP if you’re not up for the challenge. You can also book special private tours, including one that ends at a brewery (tasting included), and a mountain bike tour.
Prices start at 65 GBP.
3. City of the Dead Tours
If you’re looking to get genuinely creeped out, take a tour with City of the Dead. They offer several tours that go through the underground vaults. City of the Dead is also the only tour company with access to the ominously named Black Mausoleum and Covenanter’s Prison, some of the most haunted places in the world. These spots are favorites of the Mackenzie Poltergeist, considered one of the world’s best-documented supernatural entities, with hundreds of supposed encounters. It’s one of my favorite tours in the city!
Prices start at 19 GBP.
4. Mountebank Tours
One of TripAdvisor’s Top 10 Things to Do in the UK, the Mountebank Comedy Walk, run by Daniel Downie, an award-winning stand-up comedian, is undoubtedly the most hilarious way to see Auld Reekie (an old nickname for the city). On this tour you’ll laugh and learn not only about Edinburgh but all things Scottish, from culture to history to some famous (and infamous) people. And if you’re lucky, Daniel’s adorable dog Bonnie Prince might even join you.
Prices start at 22 GBP.
5. See Your City
One of the biggest walking tour companies in the UK, See Your City offers several fun tours in Edinburgh. Their best (and most popular) is the Harry Potter walking tour, on which you’ll visit the places that inspired JK Rowling as she penned her famous series (and the café where she did so). You’ll even get sorted into your Hogwarts house and get to test your book and movie knowledge in a quiz to earn points. It’s a super fun tour and a must for Harry Potter fans.
Prices start at 16 GBP.
Edinburgh is a fascinating place. It’s bursting with history and there are tons of walking tours on offer, allowing you to deepen your experience and connect with a local guide who can answer all your questions. Pick one (or several) from the list above and you won’t go wrong!
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Book Your Trip to Edinburgh: Logistical Tips and Tricks
Book Your Flight
Use Skyscanner to find a cheap flight. They are my favorite search engine because they search websites and airlines around the globe so you always know no stone is left unturned.
Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld as they have the biggest inventory and best deals. If you want to stay somewhere other than a hostel, use Booking.com as they consistently return the cheapest rates for guesthouses and cheap hotels.
Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance protects you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:
Looking for the Best Companies to Save Money With?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel. I list all the ones I use to save money when I’m on the road. They will save you money when you travel too.
Want More Information on Edinburgh?
Be sure to visit our robust destination guide on Edinburgh for even more planning tips!