Mercat Tours have been showing people Edinburgh’s most interesting sites for 35 years. Their award-winning, 5-star rated walking tours are a great way to get to know the city. They also have exclusive access to the Blair Street Underground Vaults!
For transparency reasons, I must mention that I do work here. However, I’m not obligated to write this blog and genuinely think the tours are great. As part of my induction training I got to go on almost all of them. So with that said here are my favourites!
Why is Doomed, Dead, & Buried my favourite Mercat ghost tour? Because of the Canongate Kirkyard of course! Several notable figures with intriguing stories buried here including Adam Smith, David Riccio (assistant and friend of Mary Queen of Scots), and an ex-lover of Robert Burns. However, aside from the incredible history there are also some much darker tales to be told and when better to hear them than in the dead of night, with only a cloaked figure and torch light to guide you?
Unfortunately, due to CV-19 this tour isn’t running at the moment but it’s definitely one of my favourites. After a visit to the dark and mysterious 18th-century Blair Street Underground Vaults, you’ll join your storyteller and the rest of the tour group in Mercat’s Megget’s Cellar. There you’ll have a dram of whisky (or a soft-drink if you’d prefer) and hear some more gruesome stories, including that of the notorious serial killers Burke and Hare. Mercat Tours even have a death mask of Burke’s face taken after his death, creepy but fascinating!
There’s so much to see on this tour and you’ll learn a lot. As an Outlander fan, I especially enjoyed hearing about Bonnie Prince Charlie, it seems he was just as obnoxious in real life as he was in the series. There was also a lot of focus on the life of Mary Queen of Scots. I finished the tour not only with a lot more appreciation for all that Mary Queen of Scots went through, but also for Edinburgh as a whole.
Even if you’re already from Scotland the tour is very eye-opening and entertaining.
The Historic Underground tour is brilliant. There is so much history to be discovered in the centuries old Blair Street Underground Vaults – from an abandoned tavern and illegal whisky distilling, to people living there. The stories will truly fascinate you and you can even see some of the artefacts that continue to be uncovered to this day! Some of my favourites are the old shoes which you can see in the discovery room and oyster shells, which were a common bar snack back in the “Auld Reekie” days.
This is a seasonal tour and oh my goodness, I love it! The tour, which usually runs in February, is an anti-valentines tour. Telling hilarious stories from Edinburgh’s past, including that of a local tree-lover, it’s a brilliant gals day out. This tour also finishes in Mercat’s Megget’s Cellar with some champagne and chocolate hearts, perfect.
Overall, there’s a lot of tours to choose from. If you live in Edinburgh I’d recommend trying a tour at least once, you can view all Mercat has to offer here. The team have taken a lot of care to have CV-19 procedures in place and to make sure everyone is safe on tour. 😊