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Tours & Trails

EdinburghWorld Heritage is a charity with the role of protecting, conserving and promoting the World Heritage Site. Their website has some excellent heritage trails and an app to download. You can also join the Friends of EWH and get to see inside Acheson House.

ParliamentHouse Hotel (15 Calton Hill, Edinburgh EH1 3BJ) has a great heritage trail on their website.

PatrickGeddes Heritage Trail - Patrick Geddes led the renewal of the Old Town slums yet he is not nearly as well known in Edinburgh as he ought to be. Follow in his footsteps by downloading a trail at their website.

Scottish Natural Heritage produce a guide 'Get out and about in Edinburgh & Lothians' which is downloadable from their website. 

OpenStreetMap is your friend! It will show you paths and routes that the Google car can't squeeze into.

Create your own trail! Search out police boxes, shoe scrapers or graffiti (or whatever you're interested in).

Self guided walks are a great way of discovering an area if you have time but, if you would prefer to go on an organised tour, these are among the best:

GreenYonder Tours specialise in showing Edinburgh in a green light, tours take in beautiful historic sites, wildlife gardens and many green spaces not normally open to the public. Tour founder, Jean Bareham has written a lovely book 'Hidden Gardens of the Royal Mile' which gives a flavour of what is on offer. 

Sandeman'sFree Tours - the Guides are freelance volunteers so, if you enjoy the 2 and half hour tour, do tip!

Sign up!


Make sure you never miss out on an exciting opportunity to see behind the scenes or learn more about Edinburgh by joining these organisations:
OldEdinburgh Club - as well as an October-March lecture programme covering a wide variety of topics relating to Edinburgh's history and development (to which non-members are welcome to attend), during the summer months, members can sign up for guided visits and walks, often to places not normally open to the public. Membership is open to all, including those living abroad.
EdinburghArchitectural Heritage Society of Scotland - a lively programme of architecture-related talks and lectures are organised as well as a variety of excursions to historic properties, gardens and places of architectural interest.
Edinburgh Secret Society -  The Edinburgh Secret Society organizes events for those of a curious disposition. These include verbal, theatrical and experimental presentations intended to inform, entertain and bewilder. The Society is run by Peter Lamont and Richard Wiseman, and the only way of finding out about the activities is to join the Society by entering your email address into the box on the website. 

Patrick GeddesGardening Club - Help with their aims of “Greening the Old Town” and you will get access to gardens rarely seen by the public – and you'll feel great knowing you have done something to help.

RCAHMS - The Royal Commission on the Ancient and Historical Monuments of Scotland hosts a series of free lunchtime lectures, presented by experts in the field of architecture, archaeology and industry.

SecretScreeningssign up to be the first to hear about site specific screenings of movies.

SecretCinema - Secret Cinema is a growing community of all that love cinema, and experiencing the unknown. Secret Audience. Secret film. Secret locations. Secret worlds. The time is now to change how we watch films. Tell No One.

EdinburghFortean Society - Charles Fort is the father of the study of the strange and bizarre, hence the Edinburgh Fortean Society.  The Society meets on a regular basis, on the second Tuesday of every month at 7.30pm. All are welcome, and it's only £1!

Scotland's Gardens - a registered charity created in 1931, it coordinates the opening of beautiful private gardens and raises money for charity. Some gardens are open at set times during the year, others by arrangement with the owner. 

Time it right!

DoorsOpen Day - Doors Open Day, held on the last weekend of September is organised by the Cockburn Association. From heritage landmarks to the city’s newest architecture, Doors Open Day offers free access to properties that are either not usually open to the public or would normally charge an entry fee. 
EdinburghFestival Fringe – during August, arts events are held in just about every conceivable venue from private flats, to shop basements. It is a great oppportunity to visit buildings that are normally closed to the public. St Columba's by the Castle Church Hall is magically transformed into Venue 4, as it has been since the early 1950s and the south-facing Terrace Garden has a fab view of the Grassmarket rooftops - 
HiddenDoor Festival – Held in May, the Hidden Door Festival aims to deliver the arts to the general public through events held in offbeat or non-traditional venues. It's a great opportunity to see behind the doors of places you've walked past on a daily basis and often wondered what goes on there...

After hours

Six different artists installed bespoke artworks on the security shutters at these Leith Walk premises at part of Leith Late.
  • Bernie Reid - Fair Trade Coffee Shop, 30 - 31 Albert Place
  • Fraser Gray - Word of Mouth Cafe, 3A Albert Street
  • Jamie Johnson - Gamesmaster, 287 Leith Walk
  • Skint Richie - Origano, 277 Leith Walk
  • David Lemm - Paradigm Shift, 267b Leith Walk
  • Liana Moran - Inner (City) Sanctum, 240 Leith Walk
Portobello Light Box Gallery (Bellfield Street) - a former telephone box which has been adopted by the community to use as a gallery. Illuminated at night.  

Be Quick!

Street Art doesn't stay around long. If you hear about new work appearing, don't hang about. Canadian artist Victor Fraser has beautified many Edinburgh places with his chalk artworks but they don't last long!

Read on!

Looking Up in Edinburgh by Jane Peyton

Hidden Gardens of the Royal Mile by Jean Bareham,.
Inside Edinburgh by David Torrance,
The Writing on the Walls by Elizabeth Berry (available from The Cockburn Association)

And most importantly...

Look up...

...and notice the Moorish statue at Mid Common Close thought to relate to a time when former resident Andrew Gray, avoided being sentenced to death (for rioting) in 1633 by fleeing to Morocco where he made his fortune.
for rioting 

Look down...

...and spot a Carriage Stance plaque. “CS3” indicating a stance for three horse carriages.

Go in...

...alleys like Bakehouse Close and feel like you're stepping back in time. Wander down Morningside's Eden Lane and admire the cobbles.


...the unnoticed such as the memorial bench in St Andrew's Square dedicated to Rene Lavener “who liked to sit down” or the very faint but still visible “NOTICE No nuisance allowed. Police regulations strictly enforced” sign on Atholl Crescent Lane.

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