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9 City Tour Ideas in Scotland

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Visiting a new city can be a very fun and exciting experience where you can venture off and do your own thing, but with so many tours on offer providing lots of history and interesting facts, it’s hard to decide which one to choose. Explore Scotland’s cities with these great tours – from ghost tours in Edinburgh and Stirling, to photography tours in Dundee, and much more!

1. Delve into Scotland’s ghoulish past

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If our regular Halloween tours aren’t spooky enough for you then we dare you to join us for our adults only late-night tours; Haunted Halloween and Haunted Halloween – The Midnight Hour. ⁠ Be one of the last in the Blair Street Underground Vaults hearing stories too dark to be on our other tours. #mercattours⁠ ___________________⠀⁠ .⠀⁠ .⠀⁠ .⠀⁠ #edinburgh #scotland #royalmile #edinburghunderground #ghosttour #blairstreetvaults #storytelling #spooky #dark #tourguide #guide #halloween ⁠ .⠀⁠ .⠀⁠ .⠀#thisisedinburgh #edinburghhighlights #discoveredinburgh #hiddenedinburgh #visitedinburgh#visitscotland #discoverscotland #historicscotland #gothic #goth #explore #discover ⁠

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What comes to mind when you think of spooky and haunted places? Ghosts, dark alleyways, abandoned buildings? If all those things are up your street then why not visit and discover Scotland’s dark and historic past by going on a ghost tour? Edinburgh is notorious for giving people the heebie jeebies when it comes to its spooky past. Mercat Tours offer a wide range of ghost tours where visitors can experience the city’s dark side. If you’re looking to go on a day tour, be sure to go on the Ghostly Underground tour, giving you exclusive access to Edinburgh’s most haunted vaults or if you prefer to explore the city after dark, then the Hidden & Haunted tour is a must! This strictly adults only tour will give you an insight into some of the most gruesome stories which would make a perfect plot line for an upcoming horror film. If you’re on a budget, there really is no stopping you, with City Explorers offering a spine-chilling free ghost tour. If that’s not enough to spook you out, then the City of the Dead Tours have a few tricks up their sleeve that will give you a real fright! Delve into some of Edinburgh’s most haunted and legendary underground vaults where you can hear the fascinating stories of the people who once lived here, or if you’re looking for something a bit more light-hearted, take the Graveyard tour as you chuckle along to some of the weirdest and wildest stories. Make sure to pick a wee memento from the gift shop!  It’s not just Edinburgh that is infamous for its ghostly past, Stirling also plays a big part in shaping the country’s dark and historic times. Enjoy an evening full of fun and fright while learning more about Stirling’s colourful legacy of myths and legends!

2. Have a good old boogie

Put on your dancing shoes where the streets of Glasgow are your dancefloor! If you have the guts to sing and dance to your heart’s content then Silent Adventures is just what you need. From birthday parties to hen nights and stag do’s, there are lots of excuses to get your friends together for an unforgettable day out!

3. Get a flavour of a city by going on a whisky tour

Whisky lovers will certainly be in high spirits when they visit The Scotch Whisky Experience in Edinburgh. Book yourself a place on one of the many tours that the attraction has to offer, from the Gold Tour where you will have the chance to compare and contrast four regional single malts, to The Taste of Scotland Tour where you can taste some of the finest whiskies, and make sure you tuck into the very best Scottish cuisine at the award-winning Amber Restaurant. Let the knowledgeable guides take you through the history and whisky process with a small dram waiting for you at the end of your chosen tour. Head up north to Glen Ord Distillery, just north of Inverness. Make sure to sample the attraction’s very own Singleton of Glen Ord whisky which can only be bought at the distillery so why not grab a bottle if you’re a fan?! Of course, no distillery visit would be complete without going on a tour! From the classic Glen Ord Distillery Tour where you can learn about all the different processes when it comes to making their very own Scotch malt whisky, or why not go on the Glen Ord Grain to Glass Tour where you can take a deeper look into the inner workings of the modern dram making?. At the end of the tour, you can taste six of their malts – Singleton of Glen Ord, 12, 15 and 18 year old, Teaninich, Clynelish and Talisker – all of which have malted barley supplied by Glen Ord.

4. Hop on a bus to see the sights

There is no better way to explore the city than by hopping on a bus. With frequent services and many routes to choose from, there has never been an easier way to get from A to B. Take the City Sightseeing bus around Edinburgh or Glasgow as you soak up the city’s character and heritage. Want to stop off at an attraction that takes your fancy? No problem! With many designated pickup and drop-off points around both cities, you have the freedom to pick and choose what you want to do for your perfect city break! Looking for something a bit more luxurious and ‘out there’? Take a tour around Dundee and the surrounding area with Henry the luxury vintage bus. With the bus taking up to 8 passengers, this two hour tour will be a fun and exciting day out, delving into the history of Dundee and getting to mingle with your fellow passengers. There is even the option to pick where you want to be dropped off once the tour has finished.

5. Get snappy

Feel like your Instagram is lacking good pictures? Make your followers jealous by filling their feed with epic photographs as you embark on the Dundee Photography Tour. Start off in Dundee city centre where you will pass by iconic buildings, such as the Caird Hall, DC Thomson’s headquarters, McManus Galleries, the City Churches and the Dundee Contemporary Arts Centre, which will all help keep you on top of your photography skills. Meet Dundee’s most famous residents too, including Oor Wullie, Desperate Dan and Mini the Minx, and make sure you snap away as you immerse yourself in Dundee’s wynds and lanes to capture hidden works of art in the most unlikely places!

6. Immerse yourself in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter

Not only is Edinburgh renowned for its rich history and heritage but it is also known as the birthplace of Harry Potter. Embrace your inner wizard while embarking on this magical tour of Edinburgh, taking in the sights which inspired JK Rowling to include in her books. Head to the Elephant House where the origins of Harry Potter first started, pay your respects at the grave of Lord Voldemort and Tom Riddle in Greyfriars Kirkyard and most importantly learn about all the witches and wizards from Edinburgh’s medieval era – all completely free of charge!

7. Get outdoors and see some extravagant street art

Scotland is bursting with an array of talent especially when it comes to street art. Explore the nooks and crannies of the city streets as you marvel at some of the incredible artwork on public display. Glasgow and Dundee are two cities which take great pride in showcasing the talent of Scottish artists. If you happen to be out and about in Glasgow, why not enjoy a day of delving into the city’s rich art culture with its very own Mural Trail?  See unique and vibrant artworks including Glasgow’s most famous residents, such as comedy legend Billy Connolly, and if that’s not enough to fill your boots, make sure to head east for the Open Close Dundee Street Art Trail, which adds a splash of colour to some of the city’s most overlooked areas. Or if you’re looking for something more central, then the City Centre trail is perfect for you. The tour, which takes place on the first Saturday of every month, allows you to discover and learn more about the history and background of all the 19 pieces of artwork dotted across the city. Looking for something more off the beaten track? Stobswell is a great alternative if you want to take things at an easier pace. If you feel as though you have only really scratched the surface in terms of Scottish street art then art enthusiasts will be delighted to know that there is even the opportunity to visit a street art festival! Aberdeen takes centre-stage with its annual Nuart Festival, showcasing the very best of urban street art. The festival also provides street art tours where a friendly guide will be on hand to take you through some of the new pieces that have been added to the city’s most hidden gems. Edinburgh is a great city destination to soak up the very best of its fascinating history and heritage but it’s not the only thing that is worth shouting out about, the city also offers an eclectic mix of urban street art. The Dundas Street Art Walking Tour is a great way of examining artwork from well-established artists to new, up and coming ones, and you will also get the chance to visit some of the finest art galleries and museums too.

8. Indulge in some foodie delights

There really is nothing more appetising than going on a good food tour and what better way to experience this than Edinburgh’s Eat Walk tours. With its wide selection of cafés and restaurants to choose from, the capital is certainly a foodie lover’s paradise. Work up an appetite as you sample some of the very best of Edinburgh’s local food and drink on Edinburgh Old and New Town Tour where a friendly guide will be keen to show you their favourite picks for you to try out and let your taste buds be blown away. Feel like you want to push the boat out a bit? Cure your hunger by going on The Canongate Brunch Tour as you sample some foodie delights along Edinburgh’s Royal Mile. Fancy something a bit different? Go on a foodie expedition with Red Bus Bistro as you tour around the length and breadth of Edinburgh and Glasgow, stopping off at some of the tastiest hotspots while sampling delicious home-cooked cuisine. To finish it off, wash it down with your favourite tipple. Choose from the bistro’s wide selection of malt whiskies, have a glass of bubbly or taste one of their signature gin pots.

9. These cities are made for walking

Embrace the great Scottish outdoors in all of its glory! Walking tours help to bring a breath of fresh air to the city’s unique character, rich history and fascinating culture, and with most tours free of charge, there has never been a better excuse to get out and learn something new.

Wander through the streets of the capital with Edinburgh Up Close where you will have the opportunity to discover two of its unique areas: the Old Town, dominated by a medieval fortress, and the urban New Town. Let the friendly tour guide lead the way as you learn about the significant importance of some of the city’s most renowned buildings. Step back in time and follow in the footsteps of Anne Lister, a 19th century landowning diarist. Take a wander through the Old and New Town, enjoying quotes from Anne’s diary and letters from her visit to the capital in 1828. Fancy a wee dram? Enjoy one of Anne’s favourite tipples by sampling a selection of whiskies at a local bar or venue.

It’s not just Edinburgh that is leading the way when it comes to walking tours – the regeneration of Dundee over the years has helped to put the city on the map after being recognised by the United Nations as a UNESCO City of Design. Established in 2016, Dark Dundee offers 15 tours dedicated to Dundee’s dark past. Make sure to keep your wits about you as you enter The Vaults in which you will see a darker side to Dundee, or for something a bit more cheerful make sure to go on the Dundee Scavenger Hunt! Have oodles of fun with your family and friends as you are split into teams to hunt for hidden objects and areas of Dundee’s past and culture. Have a day of culture at Edinburgh and Glasgow’s Invisible Cities tours where you will discover the cities historical landmarks in great detail, making the cities what they are today.

We hope that we have given you enough inspiration for you to decide which tours take your fancy for your next city break to Scotland. Want to make the most out of the cold, winter months? Take a look at some of the amazing things you can do in winter. Still have annual leave to take off? Start planning a memorable trip by taking a look at our 7 weekend getaway ideas for further inspiration or embrace city and rural life both at the same time by experiencing Gaelic culture in Glasgow.