Athens of the North

Half-Day Guided Walking Tour of Edinburgh New Town

Athens of the North

New Town walking tour for modern Georgians

If symmetry, uniformity and simplicity is your idea of ultimate beauty, this New Town walking tour for you. Wonder at the Scottish Enlightenment as you roam with us through the grand crescents undamaged by insensitive Victorian and 20th century interventions. Grasp the origins of typical Georgian details on a stroll in the elegantly uniform sandstone streets lined with the graceful cast ironwork of the street lamps. 

Take a glimpse inside the most magnificent banking hall in Europe and soak in the neoclassical ornaments under the starlit dome designed to impress the bank’s patrons. En route, discover the charming mews lanes crouching behind the grandiose crescents.

While enjoying your lunch in exquisite surroundings of a former bank, discuss the influences of the 18th century Grand Tours that gave birth to Neoclassicism and Greek Revival in Britain. 

English | Russian | Lithuanian

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Highlights

  • Private Queen Street Gardens
  • Telling Hall at the Royal Bank of Scotland
  • Moray Circus
  • Register House
  • St Stephen's Church
  • The Lodge of Edinburgh
  • Royal College of Physicians
  • Lunch in a former Victorian bank
  • Charlotte Square
  • City Chambers
  • Thistle Court
  • Circus Lane
  • St Andrews Church
  • Royal Circus*

EXTENDED ARCHITECTURE TOUR OF NEW TOWN

ATHENS OF THE NORTH

Half Day | Lunch Stop | £57pp

A tour for modern Georgians. Soak in the spirit of the Scottish Enlightenment and roam beyond the first New Town.

“I can’t think of a better way to spend 5 hours in Edinburgh.”

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New Town Walking Tour Details

Availability: New Town walking tours run all year. Check the calendar for available times.

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

Duration: 4.5 – 5 hours

Price: £57pp*. Private tours from £228. Custom pricing for groups. Meal price not included. 

Restaurant: Contini on George street, set in a former bank. 

Distance covered: 4,5km

Meet: City Chambers, 253 High St.

Finish: Royal Circus

Weather contingency: Tours run rain or shine!

Languages: Public tours in English. Contact us to check guide availability for private New Town walking tours in Russian and Lithuanian.

*Minimum booking: Tours will depart with a payment for minimum 2 people.  

Hilary, New York
We have visited Chicago and took many Architectural Foundation tours there, and Cobble Tales ranks at the same if not higher level. We were able to learn about the city's architecture in tandem with its history. The tour guide took us down narrow paths that we would never have known existed to allow us to learn of the older and more modern architecture of the city.
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John, Edinburgh
The guided tour was an interesting mix of local history and architecture. From the get go, Olga was engaging, friendly and very knowledgeable, pointing out notable buildings, the architectural styles, telling us about the residents and some historical facts. On this walking tour we were also fortunate to get entry into Queen Street gardens. I enjoyed seeing buildings that I had never noticed before and learning about buildings in a new way, I am now noticing more of the city and seeing other things.
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Lynn, Edinburgh
This is a really interesting and informative tour of the New Town and architecture of the Georgian period. Olga, our Edinburgh tour guide, is an architect herself and has clearly done a lot of research. One of the highlights was access to the locked Queen Street Gardens! We've done architectural tours in a number of cities and this ranks among the top!
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Joris, Tours
I've had other architecture tours across Europe in the past, and this one really ranks at the top. Our guide connected the dots in the New town quarter and progressively uncovered the whole picture of the area and the history behind it. I felt like we took a seamless journey that eventually made it easy to understand this lesser known part of Edinburgh.
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Johane, Amsterdam
Thanks to Olga for this fantastic guided tour of New town. She is very friendly and highly knowledgeable. Probably the best walking tour I did in Edinburgh.
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Athens of the North

City Chambers - the promise of the New Town

 

On this in-depth New Town walking tour, we will explore the first New Town and beyond:  into the monumental crescents and picturesque lanes on its elegantly built-up slopes. 

We will start our walk in the dignified courtyard of City Chambers, which was one of the first improvements to the city brought by Lord Provost George Drummond. 

While crossing the North Bridge we will appreciate the elegant dome of Robert Adam’s Register House, that was to set the tone for the further development of the splendid New Town. 

The First New Town

Dundas house, the only villa in the New Town, will reveal an exquisite later extension with a starlit dome, serving as a banking hall. 

On our way to the Queen street’s private gardens, we will discover the Royal College of Physicians, and the unusual ensemble at Thistle Court.  

The group will pick up the principles of Georgian Neoclassical planning through discussing James Craig’s famous masterplan on George Street, while appreciating the views down to the river Forth.

Having soaked in the charms of Robert Adam’s palatial facades at Charlotte square, we will break for a meal in a lavish setting of a  former Victorian bank. Here, we will undoubtedly discuss the Grand Tours that influenced Georgian ideas on beauty.

 

Greek Revival in Moray estate

 

Built on the slopes, Lord Moray’s development in Greek Revival style will impress even those who travel to far less humble cities than Edinburgh, only to be outplayed by Playfair’s Royal Circus. 

Exploration of the second New Town will allow glimpses into the picturesque mews lanes and uniform residential streets, all worth bringing a good camera. 

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