Edinburgh audio tour: In the Footsteps of Mary Queen of Scots: An Edinburgh Old Town Walking Tour

In the Footsteps of Mary Queen of Scots: An Edinburgh Old Town Walking Tour

Walking Tour

60 mins

About the Tour

Have you ever wondered what life was like in Edinburgh during the reign of Mary Queen of Scots? On this walking tour, we’ll explore the hidden corners as well as the major landmarks in Edinburgh’s historic Old Town, through the eyes of Scotland’s most famous monarch. While weaving in and out of the narrow closes and cobbled streets, you’ll find a new story on every corner. I’ll tell you about the murders and mysteries surrounding Mary, and how these tragic events unfolded right here in Scotland’s capital.

Starting outside the Palace of Holyroodhouse, you’ll walk the length of the Royal Mile to Edinburgh Castle. Along the way, I’ll tell you about two of Mary’s three husbands, Lord Darnley and the Earl of Bothwell, and about her lover David Rizzio. I’ll show you the John Knox House, and where the leader of the Reformation is buried, outside St Giles Cathedral. You’ll also hear about his conflict with Mary.

Other highlights on this tour include:

• Hearing the sordid story about Lord Darnley murdering Mary’s lover, David Rizzio
• Walking through the ancient Canongate Kirk where David Rizzio is reportedly buried
• Finding out about Mary’s personal collection of jewellery and other artefacts on display at the National Museum of Scotland
• Seeing Huntly House and hearing about the Gordon Earl’s plan to kidnap the Queen
• Passing through White Horse Close where Queen Mary kept her horses
• Ending in the shadows of the majestic Edinburgh Castle, where Mary’s son James VI of Scotland was born

Hear historic Edinburgh’s tales on this hour-long whistle stop tour, which also provides a fantastic introduction to Mary’s turbulent life here during the 1500s.

Renaissance by Audionautix is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license.

Tour Producer


Katrina Milne

Hi, my name is Kat - I am originally from the North East of Scotland. I relocated to the city of Edinburgh 7 years ago to study at University. I have a degree in Tourism Management and focussed my university thesis paper on Scottish film sites, and in particular, Harry Potter.

In 2018 I started my own tour company - Travel Kat Tours. We specialise in small group and private tours around the U.K. leaving from Edinburgh. Our Walking Tour in Edinburgh is one of the top rated experiences on Airbnb and we have taken over 2000 clients on our tours since our launch in 2018. We have 5-star rating reviews and thrive upon showcasing our beautiful country.

When I am not showing guests around Edinburgh, I also maintain a travel blog and try to explore as much as I can. I have been lucky enough to have visited over 50 countries, but I still maintain that Scotland is my favourite!

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Major Landmarks

  • Palace of Holyroodhouse

  • Royal Mile

  • White Horse Close

  • Canongate Kirk

  • Huntly House

  • John Knox House

  • Mercat Cross

  • St Giles' Cathedral

  • National Museum of Scotland

  • Lawnmarket

  • Riddles Court

  • Gladstone's Land

  • The Witches Well

  • Edinburgh Castle

Directions to Starting Point

The tour begins at the gates of Holyrood Palace. As you face the Palace, you will see the Queens Gallery. We will start on the left hand side on Abbey Strand. You can walk up to the black gates, but you must not enter.
You will know you are in the right place when you can see the Palace buildings and the stone water fountain in the courtyard. Please do not be alarmed if you see police officers around, this is normal around the Scottish Parliament area.

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Places to stop along the way

At our first stop we will be outside Holyrood Palace, you can visit inside and see the surrounding grounds. There is a combo ticket that can be bought if you wish to also visit Edinburgh Castle.
On route we will walk past John Knox's house. This has now been turned into a very well preserved museum and I recommend a look inside. Across from John Knox's house there is an independent fudge shop, called the Fudge Kitchen if you want a sweet treat.
Further up the Royal Mile on the Lawnmarket area, there is Gladstones Land, this ancient building also has a great coffee shop and ice-cream parlour on the ground floor.

Best time of day

The tour can be taken at anytime, however if you wish to visit the attractions on route please bear in mind that last entry is 16:45. Early morning is a good time when the streets are a little quieter.
On the odd occasion there may also be high security around the Palace and Parliament areas, this is when the Royal family visit and the area may be restricted.
However during the month of August, please expect the Royal Mile area to be busy when Edinburgh Festival is on. Also during the month of August, the Castle area and esplanade will be closed during the evenings for an event.


The area is safe, just be prepared for the Scottish weather! Bring a waterproof jacket or umbrella. Also be aware of loose cobblestones in certain areas.
Please note that if you wish to visit the Holyrood Palace, it is closed Tuesdays and Wednesdays.


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In the Footsteps of Mary Queen of Scots: An Edinburgh Old Town Walking Tour