Celebrating Scotland’s Year of Young People, Edinburgh’s family-led five-star history and ghost tour company has revealed its top 5 gory and historical tours of Edinburgh for children aged 5 and over this summer.
With its award-winning team of professional storytellers, Mercat Tours specialises in walking tours that show visitors a side of Edinburgh others don’t see – an informative and fun way for children to spend some of the school holidays learning about Scotland’s historical capital and ghostly stories.
From Gory stories to Royal treasures, Mercat’s top five tours for children age 5+ are:
1. Gory Stories (Includes a special gift to take home)
This daytime tour will take families to some of the city’s most horrible haunts, including a visit to Mercat Tours’ famous Blair Street Underground Vaults. A Mercat tour guide will take the group to the places where history lives. Children will learn all about the creepy characters lurking in the past and the hideous real history of how people lived in 19th century Edinburgh – including witch trials, body snatching and a gruesome past of torture. They will discover the meaning of ‘gardyloo’ and hope they never hear it, grimace at the tales of Scottish witches and find out what treasure could be found buried in a 19th century graveyard. They’ll even hear what school children once packed in their school bags on one eventful day.
Time: 11am on Saturdays and Sundays throughout the summer.
Price range from £8 per child
With exclusive access to the Blair Street Underground Vaults, families on this short walking tour will learn about the largest system of underground caverns in Edinburgh. Built in the 18th century beneath South Bridge, Mercat Tours is the only walking tour company with access. Mercat’s expert guide will lead the group deep into the Blair Street Underground Vaults to explore their history – including how they became home to the city’s most destitute inhabitants. The tour takes 1 hour and 15 minutes, with time at the end in Mercat’s Discovery Room – complete with 3D model and artefacts.
Time: Available daily at various times.
Prices range from £8 per child
Mercat guides will tell the story of Scotland through the capital city and the National Museum of Scotland. Those joining the tour will explore key locations and stories hidden around Royal Mile in Edinburgh’s Old Town, followed by an exclusive tour of the National Museum highlighting iconic objects that have shaped our country. The tour is an opportunity to discover the nation’s treasures stored in the National Museum of Scotland and hear how they all have shaped our past, present and future. The tour concludes with tea and a freshly baked scone in the Museum Brasserie.
Time: 10am & 2pm, Thursday to Saturday
Price: £25 per person
With the summer holidays hot on the heels of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s Wedding, Mercat’s Treasures of the Old Town Tour is a perfect way to introduce children, especially those showing a new fascination with everything Royal, to the hidden treasures of the Royal Mile and the royal history of this ancient seat of power. An expert Mercat tour guide will reveal a path to the Palace of Holyroodhouse that escapes the notice of history books and bus tours. Those joining the tour will learn about the rebellious Jacobites led by a proud Bonnie Prince Charlie and ‘meet’ the sickly poet Robert Fergusson (an inspiration to renowned Robert Burns. They will also discover romance and intrigue everywhere – in the architecture, literature, crime and politics, on the very doorstep of the Queen’s Palace. Participants can explore the Palace in their own time - discovering 14 magnificent state apartments, as well as the romantic ruins of the 12th century Holyrood Abbey. The palace was the setting for many dramatic episodes in the short reign of Mary, Queen of Scots – and Her Majesty The Queen still makes use of the State Apartments for royal ceremonies.
Time: 10am daily
Price: Price £8 per child or £15 to include entry to the palace
With Mercat’s exclusive access to Edinburgh’s most haunted vaults, this tour is perfect for those children who will enjoy the ghostly past. The true history of the Blair Street Underground Vaults is creepy enough, so there’s no manufactured frights and make-believe. The skill is in Mercat’s storytelling: the vaults witnessed the deeds of mischief-makers and murderers, vagrants, and torturers.. A cloaked guide will lead the tour through the shadowy closes of Edinburgh’s Old Town. These are dark streets, untouched by daylight and filled with a strange silence - their damp walls carrying only the faintest echo of the crowds left behind on the high street.
Time: Daily at various times.
Price: Prices range from £8 per child to £13 an adult.