Although called the New Town, this area of Edinburgh is actually just over 250 years old. Now a UNESCO World Heritage site, with its Georgian classical architecture it’s no wonder it has been called ‘The Athens of the North’. Originally it was designed and built for Edinburgh’s wealthy citizens as grand and spacious townhouses and residences. This was in sharp contrast to the often cramped, dark and unsanitary conditions they had left behind in the Old Town.
Today the New Town incorporates main shopping streets, galleries and desirable homes. Our walk will take us along some of the elegant streets, squares and gardens to see magnificent buildings and hear about the people linked with them. Throughout the tour we’ll discover more about the history of Edinburgh, the planning, architecture and construction of the New Town and find out about its builders and stonemasons who went on to other global achievements. There are surprising, true stories connected with its prosperous, powerful and famous inhabitants, and we’ll uncover science, medicine and murder too.
Even in the New Town there are still lesser-known quiet corners and streets tucked away. Our tour ends with spectacular and panoramic views over the expanded New Town from Calton Hill.
- Our tour starts at Charlotte Square which was the magnificent architectural finale completing the first phase of the New Town and is still a prestigious address today.
- You’ll find out about Edinburgh’s famous writers, doctors, philosophers and inventors as we pass by their former homes and workplaces along our route. We’ll discuss their links to the city and some of their amazing work. More than one writer has created characters based on real Edinburgh people – you’ll learn who.
- We’ll enjoy a stroll through Princes Street Gardens and you’ll hear about its origins and historic uses through time, right up to present day. Nearby we’ll find out unexpected connections with 19th century grave-robbers.
- We’ll pass by sculptures – from a great physicist who influences our lives to this day, to a well-loved animal, forward-thinking doctors and a Royal visitor. Two historic monuments tower high above the rest in the New Town, the Scott Monument and the Melville Monument which you’ll learn more about during our tour.
- As we walk we’ll stop to look inside some of the beautiful and elegant historic buildings where we’ll discover stunning artwork, hidden gems and unexpected architectural features. All the buildings are free to enter.
- We’ll explore wide streets and quieter narrow lanes and find out where the planned New Town started.
- Throughout our tour there will be scenic views and unexpected vistas. Our tour finishes at Calton Hill, where there are unsurpassed panoramic views over Edinburgh, the New Town and beyond. Here you’ll discover the stories behind the prominent monuments and buildings, as well as the prehistoric forces that shaped the landscape.
What to expect
- A warm and friendly Scottish welcome from me as your local private tour guide.
- Your own personal tour.
- A tour that gives you great historical information about the New Town, well-researched stories, and a wealth of interesting, entertaining and surprising facts.
- A professionally qualified guide whose knowledge and facts you can trust.
- A comfortably-paced, enjoyable and informative tour.
- We will not be entering any buildings that require an admission fee.
What to Bring
- Comfortable footwear
- Waterproof jacket and layered clothing. This is Scotland so we’re not always guaranteed sunshine on your tour. Sometimes it’s more like 4 seasons in one day! Please come prepared for our wonderful, ever-changing Scottish weather.
- A small bottle of water in case you get thirsty.
Due to the length of this walking tour and the slopes and steps encountered along the route and at Calton Hill, unfortunately this tour will be unsuitable for those with mobility restrictions. However if you would like this tour customised to meet your requirements, please fill out the enquiry form and I will be delighted to help.