Join this small group walking tour and discover the Royal Mile following in the historic footsteps of royalty, rogues & residents
This small group walking tour will follow the route of Edinburgh’s ancient Royal Mile. You’ll discover its unique history, stories of its colourful characters and its hidden secrets.
The Royal Mile is a highlight for any visitor coming to Edinburgh and it has plenty of unexpected and overlooked features and history to surprise locals too.
Our route follows the geographic ‘backbone’ of the Old Town from the top at Edinburgh Castle to the bottom at the Palace of Holyrood Palace. This was the historic royal processional route of Scotland’s past monarchs. For over 1,000 years the Royal Mile has been at the heart of Edinburgh’s Old Town. In that time it has witnessed many of Scotland’s historic key events.
Our walk along the 5 sections of this ancient street will take us through time, to see the remnants of the impact some of these events had on the Old Town which are still visible today. Along the way you’ll hear the fascinating, but totally genuine, well-researched tales of the people who once lived and died here. Find out what it was really like to live in the Old Town centuries ago, for both rich and poor. You’ll discover the quirkier side of Old Town living too.
On this walking tour of Edinburgh’s Royal Mile we will explore several of the most authentic, interesting and atmospheric closes (alleys), courtyards and historic sites and buildings. Each of them has their own unique history, stories and charm.
There are surprisingly peaceful courtyards and hidden gardens only a few feet from the bustling road of the Royal Mile. Every inch of the ancient cobbled street has something of interest, easily unnoticed if you don’t know where to look.
Age guidance for this tour is 8+ years.
Tour Route and Itinerary
- This small group tour starts by Edinburgh Castle Esplanade at the top of the North Wynd steps on Castlehill. This is the uppermost part of the Royal Mile. Here you’ll discover the elemental forces which created the dramatic landscape of the Old Town, before finding out about the castle’s history and seeing remnants of its violent past. (Please note we do not visit or go inside Edinburgh Castle)
- Our tour takes us along the length of the Royal Mile which is made up of 5 different sections. It will take you into atmospheric closes (alleys), courtyards and wynds. Each close has its own individual character, history and unexpected tales to be told.
- We’ll see the historic centre of the Old Town with St Giles Cathedral representing its spiritual core for almost 1,000 years. Nearby is the Mercat Cross and several buildings and markers with links to the city’s law and order, both past and present.
- We’ll continue our walk along the lower half of the Royal Mile called the Canongate, an area that was once completely separate from the old town of Edinburgh. You’ll find out about its ancient origins, discover its historic buildings and closes, to reveal hidden delights and engaging histories. You’ll hear stories that could rival any work of fiction and discover places and people who played a crucial role in Scotland’s past and more recently in Scotland’s present – with the building of the new Scottish Parliament.
- This tour finishes at the bottom of the Royal Mile on the Abbey Strand outside the gates of the Palace of Holyrood House and the ruins of Holyrood Abbey. This is an area which once gave sanctuary to many people.
- Maximum of 10 people on this small group tour, so it’s engaging and enjoyable for everyone.
- Please note that during this tour we do not visit inside Edinburgh Castle or the Palace of Holyrood House.
- Make sure to wear comfortable footwear, as our route covers over 1 mile along the Royal Mile, as well as through closes and courtyards. We’ll encounter slopes, steps, cobblestones and uneven ground.
- Remember to come prepared for our ever-changing Scottish weather conditions. Tours take place outside and will go ahead whatever the weather. Check the forecast and dress accordingly!
- This walking tour is unsuitable for those with mobility restrictions due to the terrain we will encounter. If you’d like a mobility-friendly tour, please contact Edinburgh Unwrapped and Elspeth will be delighted to organise one for you.
- For your safety and well-being, this tour will follow current Covid-19 government guidelines. Edinburgh Unwrapped has had its risk assessments and protocols verified as part of the VisitScotland ‘Good to Go’ tourism scheme.