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Edinburgh, Scotland is defined by eye-catching gothic architecture that stands in stark contrast against the surrounding green landscape. Some come to explore the culture, taste the booze or venture into the vast outdoor activities accessible from downtown, but others come for another type of thrill. The city has been marked by tragedy in centuries gone by, from Viking raids, murders, to even a time when people were snatched off the street to be used in anatomy demonstrations.

An intricate network of underground vaults, that once served as home to the poor, remains one of the most disturbing sites that many tour operators delve into. Thanks to the wealth of grim tales and frightening locations, there’s quite the selection of spooky tours ripe for the picking. If you’re not afraid of the dark, read on.

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Tales of Edinburgh Private Tour: Ghosts, Graveyards and Legends Tales of Edinburgh Private Tour: Ghosts, Graveyards & Legends
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Tales of Edinburgh Private Tour: Ghosts, Graveyards & Legends

Tales of Edinburgh Private Tour: Ghosts, Graveyards and Legends

Aside from strolling down iconic roads to examine age-old universities and buildings, you’ll get a glimpse into sites that inspired Harry Potter, and other significant writings. The Writers Museum offers some particularly interesting trivia, but this adventure goes further beyond fictional stories. Greyfriars’ Kirkyard which houses the haunted Black Mausoleum, presents eerily, especially after listening to stories of body snatching.

The World Famous Underground Ghost Tour The World Famous Underground Ghost Tour
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The World Famous Underground Ghost Tour

The World Famous Underground Ghost Tour

Follow a creepily outfitted host down the narrow and hidden alleys that interweave through Edinburgh’s old, spirit haunted streets. Venture underground briefly, to the vaults that house secrets galore. Like the latter mentioned, guests will discover more than supposed ghosts, but the dark tales of past murders.

Edinburgh Darkside Walking Tour: Mysteries, Murder and Legends Edinburgh Darkside Walking Tour: Mysteries, Murder and Legends
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Edinburgh Darkside Walking Tour: Mysteries, Murder and Legends

Edinburgh Darkside Walking Tour: Mysteries, Murder and Legends

It’s hard to imagine Edinburgh’s gritty past, as the city is seen as an enriching tourist destination these days, versus a place with a diabolical past. During this walk through the towering architecture, you’ll visit execution sites. If it’s already too sinister for you, turn back now, because things get even more spine chilling as guides detail more previous events, while exploring Old Calton Burial Ground or Canongate Kirkyard cemetery.

Ghostly Underground Vaults Tour in Edinburgh Ghostly Underground Vaults Tour in Edinburgh
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Ghostly Underground Vaults Tour in Edinburgh

Ghostly Underground Vaults Tour in Edinburgh

As promised, this experience delivers a full hour and a half of underground exploration, at the ever blood-curdling Blair Street Vaults. Hundreds of years ago, less fortunate folks were tortured and, gulp, eliminated, in these dim, cavernous tunnels. The guide gets into character to provide the full experience for guests who eat up mysteriously focused adventures.

Old Town Evening Tour, Including Blair Street Underground & Dram of Whisky at Megget's Cellar Edinburgh Old Town Evening Tour, Including Blair Street Underground and Dram of Whisky at Megget's Cellar
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Edinburgh Old Town Evening Tour, Including Blair Street Underground and Dram of Whisky at Megget's Cellar

Old Town Evening Tour, Including Blair Street Underground & Dram of Whisky at Megget's Cellar

Customers are captivated by the authenticity and passion guides put into their performances. Theatrics add to the excitement of traversing the underground, centuries-old vaults beneath Blair Street. Scenes of the 1600s come to life via vivid storytelling, which continues to the cellar style tavern, where guests enjoy real scotch whiskey.

City of the Dead's Double Dead Tour City of the Dead's Double Dead Tour
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City of the Dead's Double Dead Tour

City of the Dead's Double Dead Tour

Tying together two of the most prominent types of spooky sites in Edinburgh, goblin and ghoul lovers will travel to both eerie cemeteries and dark vaults under the city. An added bonus is the trek into the Covenanter’s Prison, which is an exclusive site available to this tour group alone. Like our other tours, get ready for some scarily convincing explanations of the dark happenings in Edinburgh.

Edinburgh's Myths & Legends by Night Private Tour Edinburgh's Myths & Legends by Night Private Tour
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Edinburgh's Myths & Legends by Night Private Tour

Edinburgh's Myths & Legends by Night Private Tour

Both myth and factual accounts float through the web of tales surrounding Edinburgh. Your local guide, who knows more than a thing or two about the history, will help set those events apart with the perfect meld of both historical accounts and chilling flare. Guests will wind about hidden nooks while discovering riveting details.

Haunted Vaults Walking Tour in Edinburgh Haunted Vaults walking tour in Edinburgh
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Haunted Vaults walking tour in Edinburgh

Haunted Vaults Walking Tour in Edinburgh

Focusing on the incredible history of the vaults alone, this tour is fun and quite affordable. Guides reminisce about the sad living conditions of those who called the dark fortress home. So if you’re looking for something simple and low cost, this is a fantastic option.

Underground City of the Dead Tour Underground City of the Dead Tour
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Underground City of the Dead Tour

Underground City of the Dead Tour

Also going underground, this excursion explores the haunted history of “Damnation Alley”, and the host does a darn good job at inducing a serious case of goosebumps. While some tours may go further into the vaults, the affordability and detailed nature of this particular trek earn it a place on our list.

Murder and Mystery Walking Tour of Edinburgh Murder and Mystery Walking Tour of Edinburgh
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Murder and Mystery Walking Tour of Edinburgh

Murder and Mystery Walking Tour of Edinburgh

Like a burst of fresh air into a musty room, theatrics, humor and clever costumes add a vibrant touch to the gloom of Edinburgh’s past. They do a great job at keeping it factual while adding jokes here and there—it’s a welcoming touch. A handful of surprises await along the nighttime stroll, so prepare for the unexpected. Being lower in price than most, this tour is a solid pick.

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