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Take the Family › The 7 Spookiest Sights in Edinburgh with Kids

The 7 Spookiest Sights in Edinburgh with Kids

University of Edinburgh's Anatomy MuseumUniversity of Edinburgh's Anatomy Museum© Hugh Pastoll/The University of Edinburgh 2011

The Scottish capital is a great bet for a family break during the witching season, with Halloween activities and events for all the family, but it's a hit with older kids any time of year. Here are our top recommendations for those of a ghoulish bent:

Burke and Hare: The Business of Murder - The Edinburgh Dungeon

This tour has visitors edging their way through the darkness and tombstones of the murky burial ground to find themselves in the gravest of situations as two shadows move menacingly through the gloom – will they be Burke and Hare's next donation to the medical profession? There are no lower age limits, but the Dungeon is not suitable for very young children of those of a nervous disposition, and under-16s must be accompanied by an adult.

Surgeon's Hall

Scotland's largest medical museum follows the story of surgery in Scotland from its earliest days through the Burke and Hare murders to modern keyhole surgery. Displays include early anatomical specimens and surgical instruments, a pocketbook made from the skin of Burke, and a hands-on keyhole surgery-training unit. The recommended minimum age is 10, and under-16s must be accompanied by an adult – the museum contains human remains that some may find unsettling.

Children's Spooky Underground Tour

See our review.

Mercat Tours - The Vaults

These special Halloween tours take visitors underground into the Blair Street Vaults, where Burke and Hare are said to have hunted for victims, abandoned in the early 19th century. Alternatively, there’s a 1.5hr Halloween Ghostboat ride through the dark haunted waters of the Union Canal, or for those with older kids, the late-night Haunted Halloween Tour. No under-5s are allowed on tours;  ages 5–15 must be accompanied by an adult. Brave parents might like to come back for the Halloween Vigil, for ages 18 and up.

The Cadies & Witchery Tours

These suspenseful but mirth-filled tours of Edinburgh's Old Town are suitable for all ages, on parental discretion. Visitors step back in time a few hundred years as Adam Lyal (deceased) and his spooky chums bring the Scottish capital's grisly past vividly to life, and may even meet Burke and Hare.

University of Edinburgh's Anatomy Museum

Come here to hear about the ironic end to the Burke and Hare story  – as part of his punishment, Burke's body was donated to the medical school for ‘useful dissection’, and his skeleton is still on display at the University Medical School. It's only open to the public on the last Saturday of each month.

The Police Centre

The small museum on the Royal Mile exhibits another pocketbook made of Burke's skin and also has displays on the history of Edinburgh's policing, with info on Burke and Hare and other notorious Edinburgh criminals such as Deacon Brodie. 

For our tips on where to stay and eat – plus other things to do in the city – see our Edinburgh with Kids guide.

By Rhonda Carrier

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