People walking through 17th century streets at The Real Mary King's Close.

The Real Mary King's Close

  • The Real Mary King’s Close is reopening with new COVID-safety measures in response to the latest government advice.
  • Uncover a labyrinth of hidden streets underneath the lively hub of Edinburgh’s Royal Mile.
  • The Real Mary King’s Close is one of the only preserved streets in the country, kept exactly as it was in the 17th century.
  • Explore the underground passageways, homes and Old Town alleyways, discovering the mysterious and haunting history of the people who lived, worked and died at what is now one of the most popular Edinburgh attractions.


Unlock 400 years of history, secrets and myths in Edinburgh’s only 17th-century preserved streets, The Real Mary King’s Close. Tucked away underneath the city’s Royal Mile, this hidden warren has been left completely as it was in the 1600s and offers a fascinating look into history as it’s never been seen before.

In this pocket of Edinburgh frozen in time, you’ll get to learn all about the people that lived in these very streets and experience what life was like in 17th-century Scotland. Your eccentric character guide will fully immerse you in the history, with atmospheric rooms, spooky apparitions and ghost tours of the city’s legends, featuring the tale of the haunted doll. Be prepared to hear all about the Scottish’s capital’s gruesome history, from witch hunts and plague doctors to infamous ‘gardyloo’ warnings, when chamber pots were messily emptied from windows!

17th century character greeting people at The Real Mary King's Close.

As you wind through the Edinburgh vaults and passageways, you’ll meet live action characters from the past including the Close’s maid, merchant, poet and foul clenger, all ready to enthral and mystify you with their tales of a bygone time. You’ll learn all about Mary King herself, a sewer and fabric trader in the 1600s who became a powerful businesswoman despite being widowed and a mother of four.

If your family loves all things historic, mysterious and a little bit gruesome, then don’t miss this immersive Edinburgh museum offering a ghost tour like no other. The Real Mary King’s Close’s preserved web of streets and eerie tales of times gone by are one of the best places to visit in Edinburgh with curious kids, before returning to the present day in the city’s New and Old Towns. 

Want to learn more about Scotland’s fascinating history? Why not take a visit to Holyroodhouse or Edinburgh Castle whilst you’re there.

What to know before you go

  • The Real Mary King’s Close is opening with COVID-safety measures in place. You will be met at an Arrival Zone where you will be talked through the safety measures, the venue will have social distancing signage and hand sanitiser stations throughout as well as reduced capacity, staff safety protocols, thorough cleaning regimes and a card-only policy. The venue asks that you arrive 15 minutes early to complete the safety checks on arrival and wear a face covering whilst inside the venue unless you are exempt.
  • Each tour lasts approximately one hour and they run every 15 minutes.
  • Please arrive at least 15 minutes early for your allocated slot. While you wait you can browse The Real Mary King’s Close museum exhibition. 
  • The tour is not suitable for children under 5 years or animals, and under 16s must be accompanied by an adult.
  • There is a Coffee House on site serving snacks, drinks, light meals and afternoon tea, as well as a gift shop. Outside of the venue, there are lots of family-friendly places to eat within walking distance in Edinburgh’s Old Town and New Town.
  • You can download the RMKC app for more info, facts, top tips and exclusive discounts.
  • Multi-language audio guides are available for your tour on a first come, first served basis.
  • An e-reader script is available for visitors with hearing impairments.
  • There is level access to the main entrance, cafe and shop, but there are 58 steps going underground and 38 to ascend on the tour, so unfortunately it is not suitable for buggies or wheelchair users. There is no lift access. If you require assistance by a guide dog then please contact the venue to arrange this.
  • This character-led tour includes some spooky elements and dimly areas that some visitors may find frightening or claustrophobic. All guides are equipped with radios if you should need to leave the tour at any stage.
  • Sturdy footwear is recommended for RMKC’s Edinburgh ghost tours.

Getting there

  • The Real Mary King’s Close postcode is EH1 1PG. It is on the Royal Mile, just across from St. Giles’ Cathedral and Mercat Cross.
  • The closest train station is Edinburgh Waverley, which is within walking distance. 
  • The quickest route is via the 100 steps at Warriston’s Close over Waverley Bridge, but to avoid the climb you can walk up Cockburn Street and turn right at the junction at Royal Mile, walking until you get to the building.
  • Plenty of Lothian Bus routes stop nearby at the high street or Edinburgh bridges.
  • There are very few parking spots in Edinburgh’s Old Town and access to the Royal Mile is limited, so The Real Mary King’s Close request that you arrive via public transport, on foot or by bicycle where possible.
  • Edinburgh has a great cycle network; just follow signs for the Old Town or High Street to locate the venue and cycle racks are available just outside.
  • Please follow the latest government guidelines if you are travelling by public transport.

Image © The Real Mary King's Close.

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