Edinburgh's most haunted and magical places.

If you're looking for magical or haunted, Edinburgh is the place to be! Deemed the most haunted city in the world, it has its fare share of dark historical events and strange phenomena.

Let's go for a quick ride through the city known for its unsettling atmosphere.

Victoria Street & West Bow 

The charming, colorful, and twisted street is one of the most recognizable landmarks in Edinburgh. Originally, the street was named West Bow (the bottom end of it still is) and served as an entrance road to the city from the north. It was renamed in honor of Queen Victoria after substantial modernization in the 19th century.

Rumor has it that Victoria Street was an inspiration for Harry Potter's Diagon Alley.

It just so happens that two Harry Potter-themed shops (Museum Context and The Great Wizard) are located in the middle section of this picturesque street.

Museum Context used to be the home of the oldest shop in Edinburgh: Robert Cresser’s brush shop (established in 1873). It was permanently closed down in 2004, but according to its clients, it had an uncanny, old-timey, Dickensian vibe! Check out some pictures of the place here.

Museum Context- the display window:

Victoria Street is also infamous for its most notable dweller- Major Thomas Weir (known as the Wizard of the West Bow). He lived with his sister at the top of the street in the impressive-looking house. The house itself was torn down and another structure (today's 'The Quaker Meeting House') was built in its place.

'The Quaker Meeting House'

Major Thomas Weir was a respectable member of the local community (even gained a nickname Bowhead Saint) before it was discovered that he was in fact as far as it gets from being a saint. After his retirement in 1670, Weir admitted to leading a life full of sorcery, cruel deeds, and depraved behavior (for example, an inappropriate relationship with his sister). Both were sentenced to death and executed for witchcraft shortly after.
For decades, Weir's house stood mostly empty. After a few ghostly accounts from very brief new owners, street occupants, and nosy visitors, it gained a reputation for being haunted.

'The Quaker Meeting House' (on the left)

What were the ghostly accounts, you ask?
Eerie music and lights coming from inside of the empty house, ghostly bull apparition, and most notably- the impression that you're going up the stairs when in fact you were going down and vice versa. After being unoccupied for the whole century, the house was eventually demolished.

'The Quaker Meeting House' (on the right)

But as it turns out, parts of the original building may still exist within the walls of Quaker Meeting House and one of the staff members claimed to see Weir's ghost walking through the wall. Some also insist that Weir's life was the inspiration for Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.

Greyfriars Kirkyard

Greyfriars Kirkyard is most known for the touching story about a loyal dog named Bobby. After the death of his owner, the faithful pooch guarded his owner's grave for 14 years. Bobby died in 1872 and was buried on the Kirkyard grounds.

The statue of Bobby had been erected in 1981.

There's also a pub (next to the Greyfriars Kirkyard entrance) and a gift shop (on the graveyard site) named after Bobby.

But this story isn't the only one that Greyfriars Kirkyard is known for.
The place is known to all Harry Potter fans because some of the names on the graves were an inspiration for the characters in J. K Rowling's most famous book series (including the name of Tom Riddle aka Voldemort ).

Another notable person connected to place (but for all the wrong reasons) is Sir George Mackenzie of Rosehaugh aka Bloody Mackenzie).
He was a lawyer and a writer responsible for torturing and killing Covenanters in the 17th Century. His Mausoleum is located on cemetery grounds but
his tomb is not attended out of respect for the victims.
People visiting the site often report bruises, scratches, and faint spells, and a vengeful spirit of Mackenzie has been blamed for it.
But the most recent account concerning Bloody Mackenzie dates to the news story from 2004. Two teenage boys were charged under old legislation created for prosecuting 18th-century grave robbers. Teenagers forced their way were into the tomb and...
Please, read the news report to know exactly what they did.

My personal experience at the site? Churchyard grounds are much colder than the street nearby. Much, much colder. But I wasn't brave enough to go any further than Bobby's grave near the entrance.

Edinburgh Castle 

Edinburgh Castle is in fact a series of buildings that were gradually erected trough out centuries (the oldest being St Margaret's Chapel, circa 1130). Castle is haunted by several ghosts, the most famous of them being the Piper Boy that was lost in the tunnels underneath the castle and Lady Janet Douglas, a noblewoman accused of witchcraft and burned at the stake in 1537.

Visitors often hear the bagpipes from underground, and see shadowy figures roaming castle grounds.

Fog Covered Edinburgh Castle

The Witches Well 

The Witches Well is a small drinking fountain with a commemorative plaque mounted to the west wall of The Tartan Weaving Mill (building located at the entrance to Edinburgh Castle Esplanade). Hundreds of women were accused of witchcraft and burned at the stake on the Castlehill (and other locations in the country) between 1479 and 1722 (and 3141 were accused in Scotland, alone). Please, check out the interactive map showing where supposed witches lived.

A common practice during witchcraft hunt entailed: catching a woman accused of witchcraft, using a rope to entangle her hand with her feet, and throwing her into the Nor Loch (now Princes Street Gardens) from the Castlehill. If she was able to untangle herself, that meant she was guilty and was later executed. If she drowned, she was innocent and, well, ups...?😠

Haunted Pubs

World-famous haunted happenings include staff trapped in the cellar by an unknown force (Whistle Binkies), ghostly apparitions (The White Hart Inn, Whistle Binkies) banshee-like screams & drinks flying off the table (The Banshee Labirynth), mysterious girl-figure sightings and whispers heard in the empty pub (The Last Drop Tavern).

Parts of the South Bridge Vaults were most likely incorporated into The Banshee Labirynth and Whistle Binkies buildings. SouthBridge Vaults (or Edinburgh Vaults) are series of damp, stuffy corridors and chambers located underground in the South Bridge area (now used for Ghost Tours and entertainment purposes). Those secretive, dark tunnels were known at the turn of the 18th century as a center for criminal activity. Rumor has it that body snatchers used the vaults as a storage place for corpses.

The Last Drop Taverns is located opposite former gallows (hence the name) and is 'home' to a spirit of a little girl that seemingly used to live upstairs.

The White Hart Inn is haunted by a mischievous ghost that likes to cause trouble for the staff. Prankish specter is known for misplacing heavy objects (like barrels) and slamming doors. The ghoulish figure was caught on camera several times!

The Banshee Labirynth is visited, just as the name suggests, by a shrieking spirit from Irish Mythology known as a Banshee (she reportedly warns about the death in the family).
The staff of the Whistle Binkies experienced a lot of paranormal happenings over the years (including aforementioned trapping in the cellar), but two of the ghosts visiting the place are known by name! The Watcher' (spooky man-like figure wearing a long, black coat) and The Imp (known for the ghoulish pranks and misbehaving).

The oldest pub in Scotland

The Sheep Heid Inn is Scotland's oldest pub. It was established in 1360 (talking about the tradition!) and hosted many prominent guests over the years (King James VI of Scotland, Mary, Queen of Scots, and Robert Burns being the most famous ones).

And if you think it doesn't get better than that, you're wrong, because, inside the pub, you can play skittles in Scotland's oldest skittle alley!

The Elephant House

It advertises itself as the birthplace of Harry Potter.
J.K Rowling admitted that parts of the first book were written at the cafe.

Mary King's Close & Lady Stair's Close

Edinburgh's Old Town is filled with dark alleys, spooky enclosures, and mysterious passages. Mary King's Close (now a popular tourist attraction) has a reputation for being haunted. Stories of various ghoulish sightings are circulating among folk since the 18th century. Mary King's Close is located opposite Princes Gardens that used to be Nor Loch (extremely murky and heavily polluted man-made reservoir). People might have seen biogases from the boggy lake giving an eerie glow, or they might have suffered from hallucinations from the gases escaping. Alternatively, they saw angry apparitions that were a result of the accused witches being executed in Nor Loch.

Lady Stair's Close is located next to The Writers' Museum. No spooky legends here, but it looks mysterious, for sure.

Black Moon Botanica

Black Moon Botanica is an atmospheric candle maker shop located at traditional Candle Maker Row (where all the candles used to be made and wax smell often overwhelmed nearby residents). At Black Moon Botanica you can buy handmade candles and chat about Tarot and herbs. Caitlyn Dewar is the owner of the establishment. She's interested in witchcraft. Her family lived above the shop back in the day.

 Frankenstein Bar

Located in a beautiful gothic building (former Elim Pentecostal Church), full of spooky atmosphere and filled with haunting decor (second floor looks like dr Frankenstein's lab!).

The venue is a real treat for horror fans: old movies are being played on repeat on various tv screens and there's one of the kind monster show (mechanical Frankenstein Monster waking up among the fog) taking place every few hrs. Downstairs, there's a world-famous bierkeller with live Rocky Horror Picture Show and live music.

The Witchery by the Castle

The Witchery by the Castle is a decadent dining venue with lavish suites available to rent. And, as the name suggests, is located right by Edinburgh Castle!
You can check out the decor and the suites here.

Camera Obscura & World of Illusions

Popular tourist attraction located in a tower by Edinburgh Castle. It features working camera obscura and various interactive exhibits (including vortex tunnel and mirror labyrinth).
The rooftop is accessible with built-in telescopes on the terrace.

Camera Obscura & World of Illusions (on the left) and Witchery by the Castle (on the right).

Holograms at 'Camera Obscura & World of Illusions'

Happy Sightseeing!


  1. Oh what perfect timing! I just finished a book yesterday set in Edinburgh-- The Christmas Bookshop-- and I have been trying to picture the setting. This was pretty close to what I pictured too!

    1. Just googled the book. Edinburgh seems like a perfect setting for a story of that nature. And there's no shortage of old bookshops and antique shops filled with books in the city:)

  2. Wonderful, wonderful post! Edinburgh has been on my bucket list for years, and thanks to this post, it's moved up several spots.

    1. Thanks! Glad you like it.
      It's worth visiting, for sure.
      Scottish National Gallery has an amazing collection of art and ghost tours are fun, too. :)

  3. Wow! Great post, thank you for sharing. I am going to share it later next week on my Facebook page. Have a great weekend.

  4. Thank you for the tour and for linking up with #weekendcoffeeshare

  5. Wow, this is quite a tour. Your foggy/ghostly pictures are gorgeous, but your spellbinding story kept me scrolling to the end. Thanks for sharing. :)

    1. Thank you :) I half-expected to see at least one ghost on one of those foggy pics ;)

  6. Your street photography is intriguing.

    1. Thanks! Spookiness of the city did most of the work ;)

  7. Wow! All in one city. What a fabulously spooky tour. Thanks a bunch!

    1. Thanks for visiting! Glad you like it :)

  8. Oh, I love Edinburgh so much! Even more so after seeing this post! Your photos make everything look spooky and creepy - I love it. I've only been one day in Edinburgh and only saw the tourist spot, so I'd love to go back and see more. We were in a shop at the top of the hill (I think?) that had a lot of Harry Potter stuff but also Star Wars, I think. Thanks for sharing! I need to keep some of these names for the future. I absolutely adored the name "the last drop" for a pub!

    1. 'The last drop' made me chuckle, too- so clever!
      For such a, I dare to say, small city, there's a lot to see in Edinburgh.
      I Hope you'll be able to visit soon!

  9. Edinburgh looks so pretty! I can see the inspiration behind the Harry's Potter Diagon Alley.

    1. Thanks. Once you see it, it's hard to unsee it, right? :)
      It's so cool that it was based on a real-life place!

    2. Can I buy prints of these photos? Love them. Thanks


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