Frequently-asked questions

If you have any questions about our Edinburgh walking tours, this page will give you the answers.

Photo: Stanley Howe

Are your tours really free?

During the Edinburgh International Festival and Fringe, our twice-daily tours are completely free - with no catches. Our guides do not expect tips and will never ask for one.

We do charge a modest fee for our custom tours, but we do everything we can to keep this to a minimum. These fees go towards our running costs.

If you don't make money from your tours, why do you do it?

Because we love doing so. Our guides all have a great enthusiasm for our city and its history, and get a great deal of pleasure in sharing their knowledge with others. We hope that you will get as much enjoyment from taking part in our tours as we do from leading them.

There are other free walking tours advertised in Edinburgh. Why should I choose yours?

Unlike some other tour organisers, we do not employ transient students or backpackers as guides. All our guides are long-standing Edinburgh residents who have gone through a rigorous training and qualification programme.

Also, unlike other tour organisers, we keep our groups small: typically six to eight people per tour, and rarely more than 12. That way, everyone can clearly hear the guide and has an opportunity to ask questions.

Click here to see what other visitors have said about our tours.

Photo: Kim Traynor

What if I turn up for a tour and find that it is full?

We usually run four tours during each morning and afternoon session, starting at roughly ten-minute intervals. If a tour is full, we would simply ask you to wait a few minutes for the next one.

What if the weather is bad?

Our tours go out in all weathers. A light rain or chilly wind won't put us off, but, if the weather is particularly bad, the guide might choose to shorten the walk or to spend more time at indoor sites such as the Old Parliament Hall or various churches (subject to opening hours and other factors).

I will be in Edinburgh outside the period of the Festival and Fringe. Can I still go on a tour?

Yes. We can arrange a custom tour for your family or group at any time during the year (subject to our guide's availability). These tours are run by the same expert guides as those during the Festival. Note that we charge a small fee for custom tours.

Can I arrange a custom tour at short notice?

We ask for a minimum of two weeks notice for a custom tour - or longer in the case of a large party that might need more than one guide.

How long does a tour take?

Our free tours take between 2 and 2½ hours. But if you don't have that much time available, don't worry. You are welcome to leave the tour early, for example if you have another event to go to.

Photo: Kim Traynor

How far will I have to walk? Is the walk difficult?

The route of the walk is approximately one mile (1.6 km) - and it's mainly downhill. There are no special difficulties, but keep in mind that this is an old town with narrow pavements and some uneven surfaces, so you will need to take care. See also our Safety on Tours page.

Will there be a "comfort break"?

We don't usually plan a specific toilet stop on our tours but there are several places on the route where toilets are available. The guide will be happy to point these out on request.

Where do the tours start from?

Our free tours all start from in front of the City Chambers in the Royal Mile - see our Contact Us page for directions. For our custom tours, you will normally agree a meeting point with your guide.

Can I park at the City Chambers?

No. Parking anywhere in the vicinity of the Royal Mile during the Festival is extremely difficult. What's more, the streets in the Old Town are narrow and crowded, and parts of the Royal Mile (including the section in front of the City Chambers) are closed to vehicles during the Festival. If you are bringing a car to Edinburgh, our advice would be to leave it at your accommodation and to travel into town by bus or on foot. (See here for details of local bus services.)

Are the walks suitable for families?

Yes. We are happy to take children on our tours, provided they are accompanied by a responsible adult.

Can you take blind people?

We will happily organise a tour for blind or partially-sighted people. Please ask us for details.

Photo: Kim Traynor

What languages are your tours in?

Our tours are usually in English but we are also able to offer tours in French and German as well as an English tour with a Japanese interpreter. These foreign-language tours are subject to the availability of suitable guides, so it's best to check with us in advance.

Can I go on a tour more than once?

Certainly. Given that we have around 50 guides, each with his or her own preferred route, preferences for which places to visit and favourite stories to tell, it's unlikely you would get exactly the same tour more than once. We have clients who come back year after year and tell us that they always learn something new.

Where can I find out more about Edinburgh and the Royal Mile?

The About Edinburgh page on this website would be a good place to start.

I am interested in becoming a guide myself. How do I go about it?

We would be delighted to hear from you. To find out what is involved, see Becoming a Guide. For the email address of the person to contact, see our Contact Us page.