Edinburgh audio tour: Edinburgh’s Old Town Highlights: The Origin of Scottish Design

Edinburgh’s Old Town Highlights: The Origin of Scottish Design

Walking Tour

90 mins

About the Tour

If you’re curious about the origins of Scottish design then join me, an architecture tutor and tour guide, on a walking tour in the atmospheric Old Town. Together we’ll explore the fascinating historical buildings that give the area its character, and admire award-winning contemporary architecture like the famous Scottish Parliament.

On this tour, we’ll meander through narrow closes, beneath stepped gables and turrets, pausing at breathtaking viewpoints. I’ll also show you the easy-to-miss details on the buildings, and share old maps and drawings as we walk Edinburgh’s famous Royal Mile.

Along the way, you’ll see:

• The oldest tenement on the Royal Mile
• An unusual, lesser-known side of the National Museum of Scotland
• The difficult-to-find Riddle’s Court, once a merchant's house
• The elegant Sugarhouse Close, a beautifully-restored 19th century brewery
• The sweeping views from Victoria Terrace

Along the way, I’ll also answer questions like:

• Is the Old Town really that old?
• Which medieval Scottish castles inspired Victorian buildings in Edinburgh?
• Why did construction of the Scottish Parliament go ten times over budget?

Discover Edinburgh’s complex history through the lens of its most influential architects, on a 90 minute walk.

Tour Producer


Olga Gogoleva

Hello there! My name is Olga, I am a designer and an architecture tutor here at Edinburgh University. I am also a founder of a tour company Cobble Tales.

At Cobble Tales, local architects and architecture students have been guiding enthusiasts and professionals, visitors and locals since 2016. Our many 5-star Tripadvisor and Google reviews testify to our quality tour content and a great time exploring Edinburgh on a walking tour.

I love showing off Edinburgh's beauty and chatting about buildings, so let's get going!

Major Landmarks

  • The oldest tenement on Royal Mile

  • The (in)famous Scottish Parliament

  • The hidden side of National Museum of Scotland

  • The difficult to find Riddle Court

  • The elegant Sugarhouse Close

  • Sweeping views from Victoria Terrace

Directions to Starting Point

The tour starts outside the Royal Scottish Academy on the Mound, facing Princes Gardens East. It is a large open space next to where Hanover Street meets Princes Street.

Please note that from mid-November until mid-January, this open space and Princes Gardens East are occupied by a Christmas market. This can affect the first three stops. You can still enter and use the route as planned, or walk on Princes street if the park looks too busy.

Show Directions
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Places to stop along the way

  • National Museum of Scotland (especially the roof terrace and the balcony café).
  • Milkman Café on Cockburn street has great artisan coffee and hot chocolate as well as great window seats for people watching.
  • Thistle chapel of St Giles Cathedral.
  • Afternoon tea at the “Colonnades” in the Signet Library.
  • Inside tour of the Scottish Parliament.

Best time of day

Can be done any time of the day but ideally before dark, as Princes Gardens close at dusk. During working hours you will find more courtyards and closes open.


Wear some comfortable footwear and pack a waterproof jacket!


It’s my first time doing audio tour and it’s really impressive! Olga did a great job to introduce the history of surrounding buildings and the walk was very enjoyable (and the weather is good today). Thank you Olga bringing this special experience to me :)

Posted by Anonymous Explorer , 20 days ago

Thanks a lot for this wonderful visit
We spend a really good time with lot of detail and amazing points of view of the city

Posted by Anonymous Explorer , 26 days ago

Me and family loved the architectural audio tour in Edinburgh Old Town. At the same time, we had all the freedom to stop for photos, food, and shopping. The narration is very clear, lively and informative. Both architects and non architects in the family enjoyed this experience, thank you!

Posted by Anonymous Explorer , 3 months ago

Glad you and family enjoyed the tour in Edinburgh Old Town. Indeed, there is all the freedom to do other things on the way!

Kind regards,
Olga @ Cobble Tales

Posted by Olga , 3 months ago

Informative and fascinating to see Edinburgh from the lens of an architect!! Kept me entertained for 4 hours on my day trip.

Posted by Anonymous Explorer , 4 months ago

That's the beauty of it I suppose, you can take as long as you please! Thank you for such lovely feedback about the Edinburgh Old Town audio tour.

Olga @ Cobble Tales

Posted by Olga , 3 months ago

Really lovely tour , I enjoyed it . I got a deeper understanding of Edinburgh now.

Posted by Anonymous Explorer , 5 months ago

Thank you for the comment, glad you liked your Edinburgh audio tour!

Kind regards,
Olga @ Cobble Tales

Posted by Olga , 5 months ago

My first experience of VoiceMap. Edinburgh is my home city. This tour (as described) has a bit of a focus on buildings and architects, but still very interesting. It is pity that the guide has a foreign accent/pronunciation instead of a native speaker.

Posted by Anonymous Explorer , 6 months ago

I am really happy you have found the Edinburgh Old Town audio tour interesting. I agree, I too wish I had developed a great Scottish accent! But I am glad it did not get in the way of you enjoying the tour, as was true for over a thousand customers on our live tours (see reviews on TripAdvisor for more details) . For everyone who would like to test the audio before purchasing, you can listen to up to three locations for free here on VoiceMap.

Kind regards,
Olga @ Cobble Tales

Posted by Olga , 5 months ago

Just finished this tour in Edinburgh Old Town from my own home. The story is very interesting, and with streetview I could follow the tour very well. Loved it!

Posted by Anonymous Explorer , 7 months ago

Thank you, so happy to hear the Edinburgh Old Town tour worked well for you as a virtual experience!


Posted by Olga , 7 months ago

Excellent walking tour in the Old Town of Edinburgh! The tour is very well narrated and takes you to beautiful parts of old Edinburgh. I had the idea while my designer friend was visiting, and we both loved it. I am a resident and still learnt SO much, thank you Olga.

Posted by Anonymous Explorer , 10 months ago

Amazing feedback for this Edinburgh Old Town tour! Thank you.


Posted by Olga , 10 months ago

Thank you for your kind words, I am really happy you loved my Edinburgh Old Town audio tour!


Posted by Olga , 11 months ago

I really enjoyed this tour! I discovered so much listening to Olga. She's very knowledgeable and has a lovely voice. It was so fun going down small streets I've not seen before and hidden view points no tour book can tell you about. Thoroughly recommend!

Posted by Elizabeth Montgomery , 11 months ago

Thank you Elizabeth, that's very kind. I am glad you enjoyed your audio tour in Edinburgh Old Town!

Kind regards,

Posted by Olga , 7 months ago
Preview mode limited to first 3 locations.
Edinburgh’s Old Town Highlights: The Origin of Scottish Design