Architectural Walking Tour in Edinburgh

Old Town

Hidden Castles

Edinburgh Old Town tour for the seekers of romantic bonnie Scotland

Edinburgh Old Town tour, just south of Princes Street. With your expert guide you will discover how the city was first built up on the rocky volcanic landscape,  find the look-alikes of medieval Baronial castles around the Royal Mile, and hear how Victorian architects revived the unique Scots national architectural style within the Old Town. 

On your way, learn how the oldest existing buildings in Edinburgh inspired the new generation of  architects, producing such outstanding contemporary architecture as the National Museum and the famous Scottish Parliament. 

English | Mandarin | French | Spanish | Italian | Russian | Lithuanian | Hindi | Bengali | Urdu

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Highlights

  • Scottish Parliament
  • Cockburn Street
  • Royal Mile
  • St Giles Cathedral
  • National Museum of Scotland
  • Gladstone's Land
  • Riddle's Court
  • Acheson House
  • Sugarhouse Close
  • Victoria Terrace
  • Fishmarket Close
  • John Knox House

OLD TOWN

2.5h | £27pp

HIDDEN CASTLES

A tour for the seekers of romantic bonnie Scotland

“Things I would have never noticed without the trained eye of my guide”

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Edinburgh Old Town Tour Details

Availability: Edinburgh Old Town tours run all year. Check the calendar for available times.

Group size: Public tours run with small groups of up to 8 people. Custom group sizes apply to private tours.

Duration: 2.5 hours

Price: £27pp. Private tours from £108. Custom pricing for groups.

Distance covered: 4km

Meet: 6 Waterloo Place, outside of Rabbie’s Cafe. 

Finish: Scottish Parliament, bottom of Royal Mile.

Weather contingency: Tours run rain or shine!

Languages: Public tours in English. Private tours with an instant confirmation are available in French and Mandarin. Contact us to check guide availability for Edinburgh Old Town tours in Spanish, Italian, Russian, Lithuanian, Hindi, Bengali, Urdu. 

William, Texas
I am a retired city planner and enjoyed the background of the old and new Edinburgh. I got to see back alleys and closes and learned the history of efforts to save the old town from destruction. Things I would never have noticed without the trained eye of my guide.
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Andrew, Melbourne
This walking tour was a good survey of all the elements of Scottish architecture and the significant buildings explaining the story and history of the city. I felt like I learned on this tour and understood the layout of the city better. Do this earlier in your trip and it will help you get around for the rest of your stay.
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Elisabeth, Newcastle
Even though I have been to Edinburgh several times and know a bit about the architecture and urban planning there, I saw the city in a new light through the excellent commentary and images Agustina shared.
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Ben, Lancaster
Had an amazing couple of hours with Olga, discovering all the hidden secrets of Edinburgh's architecture on the Old Town walk. She was one of the best guides we've ever had on a walk, and we could have happily carried on all day. Worth every penny for architecture lovers, and even those with a vague interest (like myself!).
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Rosalind, Dunbar
It was fascinating to learn about all the influences on Edinburgh’s architecture, from brochs and baronial castles to Le Corbusier. My friend and I are both local but without much knowledge of architecture, so the tour of the Old Town shed new light on familiar places. Entertaining and informative - would highly recommend.
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Glenn, London
Our tour guide was extremely knowledgeable and a joy to spend time with. She explained the historical context of how Edinburgh was developed, showed us examples of the Scottish Baronial style as well as a sample of high quality contemporary buildings and pointed out architectural features. It was a great way to be introduced to Edinburgh.
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Magdalena, Zurich
It was a pleasure to see Edinburgh through the eyes of a guide who can explain the details of the architectural history of the city.
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Margaret, Sydney
The tour guide really improved my understanding of the higgledy piggledy Old Town, and made subsequent explorations of this non grid town very easy. Lots of hidden courtyards and alleyways.
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Hidden Castles of Edinburgh Old Town

Royal Burgh of Edinburgh

 

The Old Town is the most popular attraction in Edinburgh. It contains the oldest buildings in the city and is steeped in fascinating and complex history. Hence, one can truly feel the medieval spirit of the burgh on the walking tour amongst the countless turrets and gables. 

Established as a royal burgh in 1125, Edinburgh has developed from a fortress into a market town of half-timbered houses. However, these were later superseded by less fire prone stone buildings, some of which have survived since 15th century.

Igneous rock under Royal Mile provided perfect solid foundation for the tall tenements that grew in height and density as a result of enclosing the city with defensive walls. 

Where are the hidden castles?

This Edinburgh Old Town tour will start near Waverley Bridge with a jaw-dropping sight of the dense Old town tenements perched on the slopes of the Royal Mile. We will walk through the elegant serpentine Cockburn street, under the multitude of crow stepped gables and turrets. Here, the group will learn how the political alliances influenced Scottish Baronial architecture.  

Royal Mile and its closes

While on the Royal Mile, your guide will narrate the story of the city’s landmark and the oldest building on the street – St Giles Cathedral. Around the corner, you will discover the national museum inspired by Corbusian geometries and Iron Age Pictish structures. 

Canongate and Scottish Parliament

Next, to seek out the oldest remaining tenements and houses, you will explore a sequence of atmospheric alleys, courtyards and terraces,

The walk will take you down the Royal Mile into Canongate, previously a separate burgh built up with nobles’ mansions, where we will admire some elegant contemporary student housing. 

At last, you will savour the story of the controversial postmodern Arts & Crafts building – the Scottish Parliament.

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Keep exploring Edinburgh through architecture

NEW TOWN

2h | £27pp 

The Model City: a tour for the admirers of scholarly classical beauty

DEAN VILLAGE

2h | £20pp

Heritage Valley: a tour for those eager to explore off the beaten path

PICTURESQUE FANTASY

Half Day | Lunch Stop | £57pp

An Old Town tour for true explorers. Discover the mysterious creatures lurking overhead and wander the multitude of atmospheric closes, gardens and courtyards around Royal Mile.

ATHENS OF THE NORTH

Half Day | Lunch Stop | £57pp

A New Town tour for modern Georgians. Soak in the spirit of the Scottish Enlightenment and roam beyond the first New Town and into the crescents and lanes of its slopes.