The Old Town and New Town – Discover the Best of Both Worlds
This tour discovers the highlights, high points and hidden secrets of both halves of Edinburgh’s split architectural personality of the Old Town and New Town – Jekyll and Hyde in stone. Both areas are UNESCO world heritage sites and on this tour you’ll discover the best of both worlds.
Dominated by the ancient castle on its rock, since medieval times the defensive walled Old Town has perched high on the narrow, steep ridge and clung to the slopes that plunge dramatically to the valleys below. In wonderful contrast in scale and architecture are the planned wide streets, generous gardens and elegance of the New Town residences dating from the 18th century.
We’ll explore the old town’s original ‘fishbone’ street layout of narrow and quaint closes, wynds and courtyards leading off the spine formed by the Royal Mile which survives largely unaltered today. Tucked away within its ancient confines, we’ll find concealed historic delights, unexpected surprises and plenty of stories about the real people who lived, worked and died here.
From the old town we’ll walk over to the New Town and include the top of Calton Hill for a wonderful panoramic view of the contrasts in the city and wider landscape. On our tour of the New Town you’ll see where it all began over 250 years ago, find out why it became so important and influential throughout Europe, discover some of its architectural highlights and hear the stories of its planner, architects, builders and residents.
- Our tour starts at the Mercat Cross, site of ancient trade, official proclamations, punishment and execution in the heart of the Old Town beside St Giles Cathedral on the Royal Mile. I’ll tell you some of its highlights and startling history.
- From here we’ll discover some of the most authentic historic closes and buildings to get a real flavour of what life was like living in this ancient city through different time periods.
- Find out about some of Old Edinburgh’s influential inhabitants who shaped history, the past movers and shakers, whose influence is still felt here and worldwide today.
- Calton Hill is included in this tour as a location with stunning panoramic views to see and explain the landscape of the city and further afield. You’ll hear more about Calton Hill’s origins and about the historic monuments on its summit.
- You’ll discover St Andrew Square and the origin of the New Town with stories of its planning, construction, neo-classical architecture and its success. We’ll continue our walk through the New Town to see some architectural highlights, monuments and hidden gems, uncovering stories of the people who lived here, writers, philosophers, scientists and those that influenced both history, as well as those who were the inspiration for fictional characters.
- Our tour finishes once again in the Old Town in front of Edinburgh Castle, taking a different route from the New Town to see more of both areas.
What You Can Expect
- A warm Scottish welcome from me as your personal tour guide.
- Your own private tour.
- As a qualified and experienced guide you can trust my historic information and researched stories as being accurate and authentic.
- A comfortably-paced, enjoyable and informative tour.
- There are no admission fees on this tour, all buildings are free to enter. We do not enter Edinburgh Castle.
Unfortunately due to the terrain of the Old Town and the walk up Calton Hill, this walking tour is unsuitable for those with mobility restrictions as we will encounter slopes, cobblestones, steps and uneven terrain. If you would like a customised tour to meet your requirements, please fill in the enquiry form with your details and I’ll be delighted to help.
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.