Edinburgh is the most haunted city in the world, and ghosts are some of the key attractions. Graveyards, bus tours, hired actors and vaults all play their part, but which ghost tours in Edinburgh are the best?

I have a confession to make. I have not been on every ghost tour in Edinburgh. All told, there are over a dozen with various quality of reviews. Some only take you to the graveyards, while others promise underground wonders. While there are plenty of “crypts,” nothing is technically underground. They are simply under buildings or the South Bridge. Then there’s the Ghost Bus which I’ve been reluctant to try myself due to hearing some rather bad reviews of it. If you’re looking for something to do at night in Edinburgh, I’d say a ghost tour is an absolute must!

Mercat Ghost Tours in Edinburgh

Out of the heap, one company stands out. Mercat has five main tours to choose from and includes some very real haunted places in town. If you’re traveling with your family, they have Ghosts, Gore and Grime – A Kid-friendly Tour; and if you only in Edinburgh during the day, The Ghostly Underground Tour is perfect for you. However, their best tours all run at night.

Among other things, Mercat stands out because they own the largest group of rooms in the South Bridge Vaults. Built in 1788, South Bridge bridged connected the Royal Mile to the Old College, spanning the valley which now has Cowgate Road at the bottom. The bridge has 19 arches and 120 rooms, which were filled with businesses at the time of its construction. Over the years, the bridge….well, I’m not going to spoil the tours. You’ll just have to take one to find how this beautiful structure turned into the haunted edifice it is today.

Mercat Ghost Tours

Evening of Ghosts and Ghouls Tour

The first tour of the night is an Evening of Ghosts and Ghouls, and it lasts the longest. The tour starts with a short walk through some of the more sinister closes (medieval streets) in Edinburgh’s old town and then moves into the South Bridge Vaults. The highlight of this tour and my favorite part is the ghost stories and whiskey at the end. Everyone sits in a candlelit cellar with their whiskey, draft beer or Coke and the guide goes into some of the creepier things that have happened in the vaults. If you prefer a more casual tour or have a lot of questions, this is the one.

Mercat Ghost Tours

  • Meeting Location: Mercat Cross (behind St Giles Cathedral)
  • Tour times: 19:00, 20:00 and 21:00 daily
  • Tour length: 2 hours
  • Prices: Adult – £16, Concession – £14, Children – £9
    (On April 1, 2018, all prices go up £1 for this tour)
  • Additional Expenses: Optional souvenir guidebook – £5

Doomed, Dead and Buried Tour

This was a much more thorough tour than I was expecting, even though it’s shorter than the first. Starting off with a similar format to the Evening of Ghosts and Ghouls, instead of whiskey and stories at the end, the tour continues down High Street for more stories around the town and finishes in the Canongait Kirk Graveyard. This tour has a bit more walking (mostly downhill) and the weather could be a factor. It was actually raining softly during my tour, but not hard enough to worry about. If you’re looking for a more comprehensive tour and don’t mind a bit more exercise, pick this one.

Skeleton in the Crypts

  • Meeting Location: Mercat Cross (behind St Giles Cathedral)
  • Tour times: 19:30 and 20:30 daily
  • Tour length: 1:45 hours
  • Prices: Adult – £16, Concession – £14, Children – £9
  • Additional Expenses: Optional souvenir guidebook – £5

Hidden and Haunted Tour

For the final tour of the evening, Mercat Tours really get into the nitty-gritty. This is a tour for 18+ and for good reason. There’s no relaxing dram of whiskey or walk along the Royal Mile at the end. Instead, it goes straight to the worst of Edinburgh’s gruesome stories. Without any hired actors or screaming tour guides, you’ll learn about some truly terrifying facts, including what has really happened in the vaults. Sure, ghosts might challenge your reality, but that doesn’t disprove some very real events which have transpired in the past. This was my favorite tour of the three. For the record, I believe in ghosts. Do you?

Finding the Best Ghost Tours in Edinburgh with Mercat Tours 1

  • Meeting Location: Mercat Cross (behind St Giles Cathedral)
  • Tour times: 21:30 and 22:00 daily
  • Tour length: 1 hour
  • Prices: Adult – £13, Concession – £11
  • Additional Expenses: Optional souvenir guidebook – £5

Most Hidden and Haunted, and the Vigil Tours

Two tours that are no longer offered were perhaps the scariest. The Most Hidden and Haunted was the same as the Hidden and Haunted but with 15 extra minutes at the end to explore the vaults on your own. While nothing was guaranteed to happen, it would be untrue to say that nothing ever did. The Vigil which happened every Friday the 13th was a chance to spend 5 hours at night in the vaults with an ESP expert.

In 2002, Mercat Tours were part of the Guinness World Record for “Most systematic scientific study into haunted locations.” While only the most materialistic individuals could debate the veracity of the stories, Mercat has recently moved back toward its original purpose, delving into the history of Edinburgh and relying on fact more than fancy to entertain those on the tours.

Booking with Mercat Tours

As one of the most popular tours in Edinburgh, they do get booked up in advance, especially in the summer months. “Walk-ins” are accepted if you show up before the tour starts at Mercat Cross, but I’d highly recommend booking online to avoid disappointment. As far as tours go in Edinburgh, I would consider Mercat Ghost Tours and Mary King’s Close as the top options, particularly for their uniqueness to Edinburgh.

South Bridge Vaults

If you’re traveling with children, consider the Ghosts, Gore and Grime tour. Although only the Hidden and Haunted Tour is 18+, the others do cover some rather terrifying facts. Of course, it depends on the kid, but the look of horror on a young girl’s face during my last tour…well, aren’t we all there to be scared?

  • Location: Mercat Cross (behind St Giles Cathedral)
  • Phone: (+44) 0131 225 5445
  • Email: i[email protected]
  • Website: Mercat Tours
  • Best time of year to visit: Jan-Dec. These tours are great to fill your evening when other activities are closed.

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Further Reading

Looking for other attractions in my favorite city in the world? Here are some more articles you might like.

Here’s some extra reading to save hundreds on your next vacation or stage of your journey.

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Author Skye Class

Hi, I'm Skye. Writer, photographer, adventurer, foodie, teacher, masseur, friend, dreamer, etc. I think "normal" sucks. Let's aim for extraordinary. SkyeTravels seeks to find the good around the world, focusing on adventures, food and wellness. Be inspired. Be yourself.


  1. I had no idea there were so many ghost tours in Edinburgh. I Like to visit most haunted places in all over the work. I found your article is informative. Keep sharing.

  2. I never knew Edinburgh is a ghost town and there are so many tours around it. These ghost tours will be really interesting; full of stories but equally confusing to choose too. Night ghost tours will add some more spice to it.. I am going to check out for sure. Thanks for sharing

    • You’re welcome. Edinburgh is probably more famous for its history and castles, but the creepier side is also really interesting.

  3. I can’t remember which ghost tour we took in Edinburugh, but I do remember that it was a blast! A fabulous way to learn about the history of the city too considering it has such a haunted past! Mercat Tours sounds like a great company to choose – I think I like the sound of the hidden and haunted tour the most too. I really love that they’re not into cheesy gimmicks, but letting the history of the city be haunted enough to speak for itself!

  4. So first of all, we LOVED Edinburgh! It was probably the one of the top things we did in our tour of England, Scotland, & Wales last year. So we debated on whether to take the Ghost tours or the Mary Close tour. No offense to Edinburgh but being from New Orleans, their version of haunted to us is kind of tame and cute. However, I would 100% agree that they do well in the creepy & morbid! So I guess that is why we chose the Mary Close tour.
    With that said, I do think that we would want to try the Mercat tours when we return (& we will cause it is such an awesome place!) As for which of the 3…I know the Doomed & Buried sounds gruesome enough which is how we perceived Edinburgh. While the Hidden & Haunted seems like what you expect in a haunted tour in other parts of the world. May have to sign up for all 3.

    • That would be a really hard choice between the three tours. Glad you went on Mary King’s Close though, although that one doesn’t get into the scarier side of things too much. As with any tour, the guide is also extremely important, and a lot of the guides on the Mercat tours have actually witnessed… But yeah, Edinburgh is my favorite city in the world, and I hope you can make it back someday.

  5. I had no idea there were so many ghost tours in Edinburgh! I currently reading the Outlander series, so this is right up my alley:)

    • Ooh, for Outlander you’ll have to get to Doune Castle and the Callanish Stones on the Isle of Lewis. Yeah, Scotland is quite a magical country altogether.

  6. Have never been on a ghost tour. But this sounds really fascinating. An eerie and spooky experience. Edinburgh must indeed be the perfect setting for these nocturnal tours. Would love to be scared out of our wits on this kind of a tour. I especially liked the part where everyone sits together with a drink and the eerie stories flow.

    • Yeah, the graveyard tours are where they try to jump out at you and scare you, but Mercat is such a deeper level of fright, knowing what was occurring in the past. I actually asked about one of the things that happened in the vaults on my last tour, and the guide said they couldn’t talk about it except on the 18+ tour, as it was literally so terrifying. The young girl on my tour was already scared enough.

  7. This is quite interesting! I have heard somewhat about the ghost tours but never knew there were so many options to get scared :). So this goes on my list for Scotland. Do they also have haunted houses where one could stay?

    • That’s a really good question. I haven’t heard of any specifically, but then again I think it would be impossible not to have any haunted houses to sleep at, or at least some hotel rooms that are haunted. I’m sure I’ve heard some stories about that in the past.

  8. We love a good ghost tour and did one around Edinburgh about 5 years ago, it may have been one of these, it was really good fun. Mary King’s Close is definitely worth a visit too, very creepy when they turned the lights off.

    • I don’t think I’ve had the lights turned off on me in Mary King’s Close, even though I’ve done that tour several times. Of course, having the lights turned off in the vaults would be considerably scarier.

  9. Anuradha Goyal Reply

    I have heard of Loch Ness Monster, but never the fact that Edinburgh is a ghost or haunted town. I somehow feel these ghost tours are tourism products as ghosts sell well. Having said that, I must confess that I do believe certain places are haunted and you can feel some nervous energy.

    • I know there’s a lot of skepticism when it comes to this subject, but there are actually places they’ve had to close down because too many people were leaving with mysterious bruises, scratch marks and the like. There certainly are some ghost tours which make it more of a tourist attraction, which is why I prefer Mercat. They’re more about the history, and just happen to visit some truly haunted locations.

  10. Passed through Edinburgh the summer of 2014 to and from Guthrie Castle where my daughter got married. So just breezed through the major landmarks. I didn’t know that it is the most haunted city in the world. Mercat Tours and its South Bridge Vaults would be something to try out when I return.

    • I’d never heard of Guthrie Castle (although I went to nearby Glamis Castle). What an incredible place to get married! I don’t know that the ghost tour would have tied in totally with that occasion, but it’s totally worth visiting when you return. When do you think you will be back?

  11. Wow so many ghost tours to choose from, sounds like Edinburgh has quite a scary and haunted past and those dungeons look really scary to me.

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