Edinburgh is a beautiful, memorable city, brimming with Gothic elegance and refined culture. But beneath the austere and noble façade, it’s saturated with terrifying ghosts, violent poltergeists and gruesome hauntings — if you believe the rumors.
Edinburgh wears its reputation as one of Europe’s most haunted cities proudly, and there’s much to discover within its hallowed city walls for any hobbyist or professional paranormal investigators. If it’s on your bucket list to see a ghost within your lifetime, the Scottish capital is certainly a great place to kick off the hunt!
But where do you start? Edinburgh is used to ghost-hunting tourists, and the number of spooky attractions on show are enough to bamboozle any would-be ghost hunter. Fear not! This guide will not feature the clichéd, tacky tourist traps. If it’s a bucket list trip, you’re expecting a bucket list experience, right? Peek at some other BUCKiTDREAMERs who’ve taken the spine-tingling plunge, and get ready to visit some of the city’s most genuinely terrifying nooks and crannies as we take you through all you need to know about ghost hunting in Edinburgh!
Descend Through Time at Real Mary King’s Close Start off light by visiting Mary King’s Close, located on the Royal Mile. Edinburgh’s architecture is fascinating. As the hilly city developed over the years to become more evenly leveled, buildings were built on top of the older original buildings. The result is a spooky, abandoned city lying beneath the city, a maze of streets and buildings that haven’t been used since the 17th century. The narrow laneways jutting out of the main street of the Royal Mile are called “closes.” The Mile acts as the spine, and the closes are like ribs jutting out of it. Most of these fascinating closes are inaccessible to the public, but Mary King’s Close is fully explorational. The tour features actors dressed in the clothes of the time, regaling you with local horror stories, but the real interest lies in the unsettling labyrinth of chambers, tombs and paths that are — no doubt — brimming with unsettled scores and ancient energy.
Toast with Ghosts at The Banshee Labyrinth When the City Council of Edinburgh decided to outfit its citizens with a tram, much of the city had to be upturned to lay the tracks. However, work on the project had to be halted many times over as the construction crews kept on discovering human remains. There are many secrets that lie underneath Edinburgh’s cobbled streets, and you can get closer to these secrets by visiting the Banshee Labyrinth, which claims to be Edinburgh’s most haunted pub. The bar is built amongst Edinburgh’s sprawling underground caverns, and rumors of paranormal activities abound. The place takes its name from the bloodcurdling scream reportedly heard by an unfortunate construction worker, who received a call a few hours later about the untimely death of a family member.
Brave a Historic Tour at Edinburgh Castle Buckets of blood have been spilled at the site of the magnificent Edinburgh Castle, which predates Christianity. Many battles, feuds and wars have been raged there in some form or another, and they’ve got the ghosts to prove it. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of reported poltergeist sightings in the castle, from headless drumming ghosts to disgruntled French prisoners, and staff at the site routinely experience unexplainable happenings, such as sudden temperature drops and someone or something that has a fondness for tugging on people’s clothes.
Dare to Take a Night Walk Through Greyfriars Kirkyard This gothic-looking graveyard, located in Edinburgh’s Old Town, is possibly the most haunted spot in the city, which is certainly saying something. Dating back to the 16th century, Greyfriars Kirkyard has seen a lot of paranormal activity throughout the years, but its most famous spectral resident is the aptly named George ‘Bloody’ Mackenzie, who carried out a campaign of violent persecution against the city’s Presbyterian Covenanters for their failure to accept the royally decreed Catholicism. Mackenzie’s big black tomb looms large over the Kirkyard, and taking a special night tour through the graves will give you access to the Covenanter’s Prison, a usually locked area at the back of the site that is positively brimming with paranormal happenings. A word of warning to all would-be ghost hunters: Mackenzie’s ghost is said to be as violent in death as he was in life. Enter at your own risk.
Edinburgh stands tall as Europe’s most haunted city. It’s a great place to visit for anyone interested in spooky happenings. Its medieval buildings are drenched in atmosphere and gothic splendor, and there are enough bizarre excursions here to keep a hardened ghost hunter busy for days. There’s more to Edinburgh than the ghosts, though, so if you’re planning a bucket list trip, check out The Gothic Splendor of Edinburgh and Burns Night: What Exactly Is Haggis and Should You Try It in a Skirt? to make the most of your Scottish adventure!