top of page

Victorian Edinburgh walking tour

Find out what life in Edinburgh's Victorian slums was like for the people who history forgot on this unique exploration of Edinburgh's Victorian history.

2017 Tripadvisor Certificate of Excellence for Historic Edinburgh Tours
2018 Tripadvisor Certificate of Excellence winners - Historic Edinburgh Tours

As of 28/05/2023,  321 of our 326 Tripadvisor reviews awarded us five-stars! 


Life in Edinburgh's Victorian slums will be vividly brought to life through excellent storytelling and extensive use of archive images and eyewitness stories.  Inequality, sectarianism and extreme poverty will be laid bare before you.  This is our most emotionally challenging tour.  But you'll also see how the positive sides of human nature sometimes break through the unfairness.  It's not all doom-and-gloom, but it will help you see Edinburgh'shistory in a very different light.


Prices start at £85 for a single-person private tour


Free cancellation up to 24 hours in advance


Lowest price guarantee


This tour is rated '5-star' on Tripadvisor

Please note;  This tour regularly sells out.   We suggest booking as soon as possible!

You can view our tour terms and conditions here.


£85 total price for a tour for 1 person
£110 for 2 people

£140 for 3-5 people

£160 for 6-10 people

There is no charge for under 16-year-olds

This tour has been rated five-stars on Tripadvisor.  Robert will lead this tour, he is a multi-award-winning Edinburgh tour guide.

"We had an excellent time and learned so much during Robert’s Slum Life in Victorian Edinburgh tour! We also asked a range of unrelated questions along the way, all of which Robert readily answered and had interesting responses to. Great storytelling and high energy, and he knows a lot about less discussed parts of Edinburgh’s history. Highly recommend. Thanks, Robert!"

Isabella B, Tripadvisor review, October 2022



eet inside the entry to Greyfriars Kirkyard, next to Greyfriars Bobby's Bar.


2-hour duration (approx).


Finishes near to the John Knox House on the Royal Mile.


Private tours start at 10am and 2pm. 


Moderate gradients throughout, steeper climb to/from Calton Hill, uneven paving, steps.


Tickets are sent via email.  Your guide will check your details at the start of the tour - don't worry if you didn't bring your tickets.


Here are five of the places we can visit on your private tour. There are more! How long we spend on each story and how much walking we do is up to you!


Greyfriars Kirkyard;

Your tour starts in Greyfriars Kirkyard.  Find out why it's the best or worst graveyard to start a tour like this.


The Poorhouse;

You'll see the remaining section of one of our Poorhouses and discover how this place was run and why it was such an infamous place.


The Grassmarket;

We've selected some fascinating images of the Grassmarket as it looked in Victorian times.  You'll learn about life in the lodging houses and why these could be fun places.  We will also show you why your guide has been carrying some rope with him on your tour...


North Bridge;

Edinburgh's Victorian history could be said to be "A tale of two cities".  Find out about the sharp divide between the 'haves' and the 'have nots'.


The site of the worst slums;

You'll explore two of the very worst Victorian streets.  Your guide will share quotes and eyewitness accounts, and you'll see what changes were made.  We'll even give you a story about Edinburgh's football heritage!


Discover a side of Edinburgh's history most locals aren't even aware of!

This is one of the most unique Edinburgh history tours. So few locals know the stories of the Victorian Old Town slums - we know we were the same!  

Picture-perfect photo opportunities

Your tour route offers some of the most famous 'Old Edinburgh' views.  The subject matter may be 'Victorian', but a cracking wee photo of the Castle isn't to be missed!

Your guide has 47 years experience of Edinburgh!

Let our passionate and knowledgeable local Edinburgh show you around his city.  Please note that Robert doesn't wear a kilt for this tour (but can if you request it!)

Walk in the footsteps of totally unknown people (!)

We use eyewitness accounts to bring to life the stories of the people who lived in the long-lost slums.  We might not have many of the names of the people we talk about, these have been lost to history, but this tour ensures their stories and lives are remembered.

Explore today's city and also see how it once looked!

There's a well-known saying that "a picture tells a thousand words". We believe it.   We think you get two cities on this tour - today's Edinburgh and the long-lost city of more than a hundred years ago!

Sustainable tourism

We are proud to be members of the City of Edinburgh Cemetery Guide Scheme.  Your tour guide will explain how our groups will move around the burial grounds, staying on paths and how you could donate to the Council for the upkeep of these significant locations.


2018 Tripadvisor Certificate of Excellence winners - Historic Edinburgh Tours

Certificate of Excellence award winner 2017 and 2018.


Tripadvisor Traveller's Choice award winner 2020 and 2023.

five star rated tour of Edinburgh

As of December 15, 2022, 99.6% of our reviews have been five stars.


We've been leading Edinburgh tours for ten years.


"Robert had obviously done a great deal of research into the subject and was able to put this across in an informative and interesting way linking the people and places. I would recommend this tour for anyone interested in Victorian Edinburgh."

Jim S, Tripadvisor review, September 2021

"My husband and I did this tour with Robert last night. It was RIVETING!! Robert's knowledge is extensive, and his manner is thoroughly engaging. The subject matter is hard, but we learned an enormous amount about this side of Edinburgh's history. Robert's preparation is obviously extensive and it shows .. I cannot recommend his tours highly enough."

Allie G, Tripadvisor review, September 2019


Greyfriars Kirkyard meeting place

Your guide will meet you just inside this gateway to Greyfriars Kirkyard, next to Greyfriars Bobby's Bar at the top of Candlemaker Row.

Google Maps shows only an approximate location. 


Q: A member of my group has special mobility requirements.

A: Edinburgh’s Old Town is formed around a ‘Crag and Tail’ geological formation which means it does have some quite steep gradients up and down, but the city is for everyone to enjoy, it might just mean making some alterations to the route. We enjoy altering our private tours to ensure accessibility is achieved.


If you contact us before you book, we can suggest some possible alternatives and can also discuss which of our other tours might be best suited to you.

Q: What happens if it rains?

A: Don't worry, we will be there! As the great Scottish comedian Billy Connolly says, there's never the wrong weather, just the wrong clothing!

Q: What happens if we are running late?

A: Since we now only do private tours, your guide is only there for you. Sometimes things happen and you know you will be running late. Within reason, and with some warning, we can try to accommodate this.


Your guide may be happy to meet you at a slightly later time, but please let him know what is happening, as soon as you can. You can text him on 07590026077. We've had times when guests have been on delayed trains and Robert waited in a local cafe. Please, where possible, don't make him wait outside in the rain!


If you are running late and haven't contacted Robert, he is authorised to leave twenty minutes after your agreed start time. No refund will be given after this point.

Q: Are there toilets?

A: We strongly recommend that you 'pay a visit' before your tour as there are limited opportunities to use public toilets en route.


We recommend visiting the Museum of Scotland (just across the road from our usual Greyfriars Kirkyard starting point). The toilets are on the ground floor. The Museum of Scotland is a free-to-visit attraction and is well worth a visit. It also has two excellent cafeterias.


Greyfriars Bobby's Bar, right next to Greyfriars Kirkyard, has an excellent range of food and drink and has toilets for customers to use.

Q: Are your private tours 'child-friendly'?

A: Our tours are usually what we would describe as more 'adult' tours, however, your guide is a qualified primary school teacher and knows how to pitch our stories appropriately. He can also provide appropriate alternatives. If you let us know well in advance, we can offer more flexibility.


We do require that children under 16 attend with an adult.

bottom of page