Alternative Romantic Breaks
31 January 2022
It’s that time of year again – red roses, cute teddy bears and heartfelt gestures can be seen all over the city. Yes, it’s Valentine’s Day and love it or loath it, you can’t escape it!
If the very thought of Valentine’s Day sends shivers down your spine, this year why not try some alternative ways to celebrate the most romantic day of the year - like exploring Edinburgh’s darker side.
Renowned as one of the most haunted places in Europe, the city’s streets are well known for their tales of dark deeds, mystery & intrigue and ghostly presences – the perfect excuse to hang on tight to your loved one!
Read on to discover the fright-filled adventures you could be having in Edinburgh this Valentine’s Day…...
Ultimate scary experiences
If you love a good scare, these bone-chilling events are bound to make your heart skip a beat!
1. South Bridge Vaults Paranormal Investigation
Dating back to the 1700s, Edinburgh’s South Bridge Vaults were once home to the city’s destitute, prostitutes and criminals and is thought to be one of Scotland’s most haunted locations.
Are you brave enough to join Auld Reekie Tours for their South Bridge Vaults Paranormal Investigation and see if you can make contact with some of the vault’s previous residents?
Comfortable warm clothing and sensible footwear is advised.
Strictly over 18s only.
26 February, 11:55pm to 05:00am.
2. Sin In The City Tour
Think Edinburgh’s Old Town history is all about royal receptions and fine manners?
Discover a more mischievous and risqué side to the city on Mercat Tours’ Sin In The City Tour as they share with you stories of brothels, drinking dens, riotous nudity and adult-themed tales that’ll leave you howling with laughter and blushing to your roots!
Suitable for 18+ years, this 90 minute tour finishes with a glass and more salacious stories in the candle-lit Megget's Cellar.
Plus, in conjunction with VisitScotland’s Great Days Out, get 50% off when you book using code VSDAYSOUT21.
Tour available 11 and 12 February.
3. Ghost Bus Tour
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If you prefer your ghost tours to have something of a more theatrical feel to them, then be sure to check out The Ghost Bus Tour.
Strap yourself into your seat in this 1960’s black double-decker bus (which incidentally used to be used for funerals) and you’ll soon find yourself in fits of giggles as the creepy conductor treats you to some quirky horror stories, all while travelling through Edinburgh’s historic streets.
A true comedy-horror theatre experience on wheels, this is a unique way to explore Edinburgh’s gory past.
4. Edinburgh Dungeon
Using live actors, theatrical sets and hair-raising rides, The Edinburgh Dungeon is the ultimate journey through Edinburgh's darkest history.
Be prepared to scream with fright and laugh out loud as you meet some unsavoury characters, all of whom have mischief on their minds. From graverobbers Burke & Hare, who’d just love to get their hands on you; to the Torturer, who’s always on the lookout for 'volunteers'’ to test his implements on - a trip here is packed with scary fun!
Looking for more ways to get your heart racing? Strictly for 18+ years only, Dungeon Lates features more scares, cheekier jokes and plenty of edge of the seat surprises!
Dungeon Lates run every Friday from 18 February.
5. The Heart of Midlothian
As you and your loved one walk hand in hand up the Royal Mile, as you pass St Giles’ Cathedral cast your eyes down and you will see a heart-shaped mosaic set in the cobblestones.
A romantic symbol?
Sadly no. It marks the site of the Old Tolbooth, a 16th century building that was used as a place for collecting tolls, council chamber, courthouse and notorious prison.
Today, it has become customary to spit on the heart for good luck, although no can say for sure why. Some believe it’s a practice left over from when passers-by would spit at the prison in solidarity with those inside; others say it was the prisoners themselves who spat on the heart, if they found themselves lucky enough to be released. Others say it’s a gesture of good luck for the local Edinburgh football team, Hearts, whose emblem is derived from the stone heart.
Whatever the reason, today it’s a popular photo location for tourists…. just watch out for the spitting!
The perfectly chilled drink
There’s no doubt about it - ghost tours and 5* fright attractions are thirsty work.
After all the excitement you might to relax with a stiff drink – but be warned, while Edinburgh’s bars are stocked with some of the finest spirits, some of our watering holes are also frequented by spirits of the ghostly nature…...
From the bar where a shadowy figure pushes glasses off tables and knocks pictures off walls, to the bar frequented by notorious murderers Burke and Hare, the drinks served here are definitely chilled!
Discover more in our guide to 5 of the Spookiest Bars in Edinburgh >
Check-in to a darkly decadent hotel
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Looking for a hotel that’s darkly decadent and unapologetically extravagant?
With no beige walls in sight, House of Gods offer guests a range of rooms – small, but perfectly formed, the Cabin Rooms are reminiscent of the opulence of the Orient Express. Or why not kick back, relax and leave your worries behind as you sink into the sumptuous surroundings of the Nirvana suites.
Hotels with a ghostly presence
You want somewhere comfortable to lay you head at night – and it seems ghosts are the same!
From the castle where legend has it that the ghost of Mary Queen of Scots wanders the halls at night, to the former newspaper building where the ghostly presence of a printer has been seen, discover more about the Edinburgh hotels so good that the residents never want to check-out!
Read on to discover more in our guide to the Top Haunted Hotels in Edinburgh >
Looking for more tales of Edinburgh’s dark side? From graveyards and spooky attractions to hidden streets, discover more in our guide to Edinburgh's Haunted Past >