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There are 4 types of free walking tours available in Edinburgh, Scotland, one of Old Town, one covering the New Town, a Harry Potter-themed tour, as well as a ghost tour.

In this post, we let you know about your options, provide schedules, and explain what you will see on each tour.


Every traveler should have Edinburgh on the top of their bucket list.

The city's rich past, royal legacy, and elegant medieval streets will make you wish you never had to leave.

The well-known spots are also close together, which makes it a perfect city to explore on foot.

Is Edinburgh a walkable city?

Edinburgh is indeed a walkable city, with key attractions like the Scott Monument, Victoria Street, and Greyfriars Bobby accessible by foot.

Its high street and engaging local culture make strolling around a delightful experience.

How long is a free Edinburgh walking tour?

A free walking tour of Edinburgh typically lasts about 2 to 3 hours.

It covers amazing highlights, including historical sites and a variety of daily tours that provide a glimpse into the terrifying past of old Edinburgh.

Can you visit the Edinburgh Vaults without a tour?

While the Edinburgh Vaults are best explored through guided private tours to understand their role in Edinburgh's history and hear ghostly tales, some parts may be accessible without a tour.

A guided visit, however, enhances the experience with stories of horror, witchcraft, and the finest parts of the town's underground.


The tours listed below are run through us. More tours are available in the following sections.

Searching Availability...

This model of "free" tours is tours that are free to take. There's no need to pay at the end, but you can if you want.

Many people like to take these tours in Edinburgh, including private tours and school groups.

They're popular because you pay what you like. If you enjoyed a walk around Harry Potter's universe or Edinburgh's finest part of town, you decide what to give. If you can't pay, that's okay too.

Engaging locals adds to the experience by offering understanding and insights.

You can pay what you think the walk was worth at the tour's end, even nothing.

Many people like the tours because of the fun stories like William Wallace and Robert Louis Stevenson, and they even cover topics like horror and copper in the history of the city.

According to reviews on TripAdvisor, most people give €5 to €20 per adult to the tour guide when they like the tour.

You can find these tours at the meeting point or check online. Some tours even use yellow umbrellas to make it more fun.

Whether it's Edinburgh nightlife or a normal business day, these free tours are a great way to see the town with real people who love to tell amazing stories.

Free Walking Tours Edinburgh

These free tours are usually well-reviewed, as good as any other walking tour in Edinburgh.

In Edinburgh, the selection of free tours includes:

Due to their affordable nature, pay-what-you-wish tours tend to attract more backpackers and families, many looking for a budget-friendly alternative.

Some companies can have groups of 30 or more participants while others have lower caps, and this is more of a concern in the busy season.

However, according to online reviews, only occasional complaints are registered about group sizes being too big.

NOTE: If you are considering purchasing a tourist attraction discount pass, then note that the Edinburgh City Pass includes several walking tours absolutely free.

The Edinburgh City Pass bundles together 23 tours and attractions into one discounted ticket or gives you discounted entry.


This section provides information about each of the pay-what-you-like Edinburgh tours which cover the older parts of the city, including historical details to show how Edinburgh became such a notable location.


You can expect to see the following sites during these tours:

  • Royal Mile
  • Grassmarket
  • Edinburgh Castle
  • Canongate Church
  • Mercat Cross
  • Scottish Parliament
  • Queen’s Palace
  • And more!

If you want to learn more about these locations, please consider taking our GPS-led audio tour one of the pay-what-you-wish walking tours listed below.

We offer a 2-hour guided walk daily at 10:00 a.m. and again at 11:00 a.m. Book this tour here.

GPS-Enabled Audio Tour

We also offer an audio tour of historic Edinburgh, researched, written, and recorded by one of our own tour guides, that you could take whenever you wish.

Map of Edinburgh Attractions

Here’s a sample.

  1. Purchase an audio tour (£2.30)
  2. Get a confirmation email with .mp3, pdf, and embeddable Google Map
  3. Enjoy the tour(s).


As the name implies, this section will cover some of the more notable modern areas of the city, providing details about the recent history of Edinburgh.

Edinburgh New City Tour

If you’re looking for tips about the best places to eat or the most interesting newer attractions in the city, this is probably the best type of tour to take.

While on a New City tour, you can expect to see popular landmarks and sites such as these:

  • Princes Street Gardens
  • Scottish Prime Minister’s House
  • Scottish National Gallery
  • The main street for shops, pubs, restaurants
  • Best views in the city
  • Calton Hill
  • And more!

To see these sites and learn more about them, consider taking the following tours.

City Explorers

In addition to their Old City tour, this company also offers an outing that covers the newer, more modern areas of Edinburgh as well.

This New City tour is available in both English and Spanish every Sunday and Thursday at 14:00 (2 pm).


Did you know that Edinburgh was actually one of the biggest influences on the Harry Potter franchise?

Many of the locations from the book are inspired by real-life places in this city.

And to learn a bit more about these sights, or to visit on your own, take a look at our self-guided tour of Potter locations in Edinburgh.

Discover how Edinburgh became the birthplace of this young prodigy wizard who would eventually take the world by storm

There are at least two companies currently offering pay-what-you-wish walking tours which cover the many ties between Edinburgh and Harry Potter.

You can expect to see and learn about some of the following locations on this tour:

  • The Original Diagon Alley
  • The Inspiration for Hogwarts
  • The Elephant House
  • Where Lord Voldemort Was Buried
  • Cafes and Hotels Which Inspired J.K. Rowling
  • Discover the Origins of Quidditch
  • And more!

If these sites and subjects are of interest, consider taking one of the following free walking tours.

Free Harry Potter Tour Edinburgh


Edinburgh Underground Vault Tours

Uncover the shadowy history of Scotland's capital with the Edinburgh Underground Vaults Tour, led by Auld Reekie Tours.

This journey takes you into the mysterious South Bridge vaults, established in the 1700s, where you can almost feel the echoes of Edinburgh's destitute past.

Recognized among the eeriest locations globally, these vaults carry legends of hauntings and spectral occurrences.

In this 1-hour exploration on foot, your guide will recount spine-chilling stories of witchcraft, disease, murders, and the eerie presences said to inhabit these dim, candle-lit chambers.

Wear sturdy footwear, as the path leads through twisted staircases and uneven terrain.

Discover grim tales from Edinburgh's history, including a detailed look at a torture exhibition. Reserve your spot today and dare to step into the hidden underworld of Edinburgh's Old Town.

GPS-Enabled Audio Tour

We also offer an audio tour of Harry Potter sights in Edinburgh, researched, written, and recorded by one of our own tour guides.

Harry Potter Tour Route Map

Here’s a sample.

  1. Purchase an audio tour (£2.30)
  2. Get a confirmation email with .mp3, .pdf, and embeddable Google Map
  3. Enjoy the tour(s).

Orange Tours

In addition to their other free tours, Orange Tours offers a 1 ½ hour tour which is available in English and Spanish each day at 13:30 (1:30 pm).

City Explorers

This tour covers both landmarks and people who inspired characters in the books over the course of 1 ½ hours, and it is available daily at 14:00 (2 pm).


The history of this city is filled with legends and myths, but there’s also a darker side to Edinburgh’s past. 

Learn about some of the creepier and more disturbing aspects of Edinburgh’s past, including tales of witchery, body-snatching, assassinations, and even the plague.

There are at least two free ghost tours you can take in Edinburgh.

You can expect to see or hear about some of the following subjects:

  • Haunted Graveyards
  • Burke and Hare Murders
  • History of Public Executions
  • The Real Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde
  • History of Witch Trials
  • And more!

Consider one of the following pay-what-you-wish ghost tours if you want to discover the haunted history of this city.

Orange Tours

This 1 ½ hour free ghost tour is available in both English and Spanish, and it’s offered every night at 18:00 (6 pm).

Free Tours with Tourist Passes

If you're planning to explore multiple attractions in Edinburgh, the Edinburgh City Pass is your best value for the trip. With this pass, visitors can access free walking tours at no additional cost, including:

  • Edinburgh Castle Tour
  • The Royal Yacht Britannia
  • The Scotch Whisky Experience
  • Palace of Holyroodhouse
  • Edinburgh Bus Tours
  • Auld Reekie Tours
  • Edinburgh Zoo
  • Museum of Edinburgh

By purchasing the Edinburgh City Pass, you not only gain access to these amazing spots of the old city of Edinburgh but also enjoy the best value of your visit without the need to queue. Whether engaging with local history or uncovering sinister stories, this pass offers a more personalized experience for your Edinburgh exploration.

City Explorers

Available in both English and Spanish, this 1 ½ hour free walking tour begins at 19:00 (7 pm) every night.


About The Author

Stephen Pickhardt

Stephen is the CEO of Free Tours by Foot and has overseen the transformation of a local walking tour company into a global tour community and traveler’s advice platform. He has personally led thousands of group tours in the US and Europe, and is an expert in trip planning and sightseeing, with a focus on budget travelers. Stephen has been published and featured in dozens of publications including The Wall Street Journal, BBC, Yahoo,, and more.
Updated: September 4th, 2023

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