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Old and New Towns walking tour

From narrow medieval alleys to broad Georgian boulevards, on this half-day guided walk you can explore Edinburgh’s history through its streets and buildings. The tour begins in the cramped closes and wynds (alleyways and small lanes) of Old Town before moving on to the vibrant shops of Grassmarket and ending with the neoclassical elegance of New Town.

Running between Edinburgh Castle and Holyrood Palace, the Royal Mile has been the bustling artery of Old Town for hundreds of years. Your guide will lead you along the central thoroughfare and down the narrow alleys, telling some of the stories that the area has accumulated over the centuries. You can hear about the history, architecture and culture of the city, as well as some of the many ghost stories associated with the area.

Your tour continues on to Grassmarket, just south of Edinburgh Castle. Now home to a variety of local artisans, it began life as a marketplace for cattle and horses, as well as the site of public executions.

From here, you’ll walk to Greyfriars Kirk. This 16th-century church is most commonly associated with Greyfriars Bobby, the little dog who is said to have sat devotedly at the graveside of his dead master, John Gray, in the churchyard for 14 years. You can admire his statue and explore the churchyard itself, a ramshackle assortment of historic tombs and gravestones.

The Old Town’s haphazard streets provide a sharp contrast to the New Town. Built in the 18th century, much of new Edinburgh’s architecture is neoclassical or Georgian in style. Here, you can find some of the city’s most prestigious shopping areas and artisan producers, independent boutiques and galleries.

At the end of the tour your guide can either walk you back to your hotel, or accompany you to somewhere central in town.

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Experience it for yourself

You can enjoy this activity as part of the suggested tours below, or we can weave it into a trip shaped entirely around you.