Uncover the secrets of Edinburgh’s past with a visit to Mary King’s Close, a hidden gem beneath the city’s Royal Mile. Named after Mary King, a 17th-century merchant, this historic close offers a fascinating glimpse into Edinburgh’s history. But is it suitable for families with children? Let’s find out.

Delving into History at Mary King’s Close

Mary King’s Close is a captivating labyrinth of streets frozen in time beneath Edinburgh’s bustling streets. Led by costumed guides who bring history to life, visitors journey through a network of closes, including Mary King’s, the best-preserved of them all. Along the way, you’ll learn about daily life in cramped conditions, hear stories of historical figures, and discover the impact of the plague on the city.

Two murals by Ross McCrae. The left is of a plague doctor with a masked face. The right is of a little girl with yellow eyes.

Is it Scary for Kids?

While Mary King’s Close isn’t intended to be a scare attraction, the dimly lit passages and eerie atmosphere may unsettle younger visitors. Some children may feel a bit nervous, especially as the tour descends below street level – I remember going years ago on a school trip and someone screaming at one point. I waited until my daughter was older because of this, but actually it really wasn’t as creepy as I remembered and she was absolutely fine (aged 9). However, the focus is on history rather than frights, with factual stories shared by knowledgeable guides. There are moments of suspense, such as ghost stories and theatrical effects, but overall, it’s a fascinating educational experience.

Family-Friendly Highlights

Despite its historical significance, Mary King’s Close offers entertainment for curious minds of all ages. Children aged 5 and above are welcome, but I’d recommend a minimum age of 8 due to the tour’s length and content. Kids will marvel at the perfectly preserved seventeenth-century house, with its original floral patterns still visible on the walls. They’ll also learn about the city’s final plague outbreak and hear tales of ghostly encounters, including the infamous Annie and her doll

Practical Information

Located at 2 Warriston’s Close on the Royal Mile, Mary King’s Close is a popular attraction, so booking in advance is advisable. Tickets start at £22.50 for adults and £16 for children, with no children under 5 admitted. The tour lasts approximately an hour and is not wheelchair accessible. There are a number of steps as part of the tour and the site is steep. But the cafe and Gift Shop are both accessible – including the toilets. The nearest bus stops are on the Royal Mile, George IV Bridge, and the South Bridge.

A shop at Mary Kings Close, Edinburgh. Five people are standing looking at items.

Mary King’s Close offers a unique opportunity to step back in time and explore Edinburgh’s hidden history. While it may not be suitable for very young children, older kids like Kate will appreciate the adventure and intrigue of this underground world. So, gather your family and embark on a journey through centuries past at Mary King’s Close – just don’t forget to bring a doll for Annie!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *