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Real Mary King’s Close – tickets, prices, timings, what to expect, Annie and other ghosts


The Real Mary King’s Close is one of the best underground tours in Edinburgh.

Hidden beneath the Royal Mile, Mary King’s Close is a collection of streets, homes, and passageways offering a glimpse of life in Edinburgh in the 17th century.

The name “Mary King’s Close” derives from a woman named Mary King, a prominent figure in the area during the 17th century.

The close was called after her, and her house was one of the many buildings in the close.

The place was eventually closed off and buried due to construction and redevelopment in the city.

Guided tours at this highly-rated attraction help visitors learn about the myths and mysteries surrounding the people who lived, worked, and died here.

This article shares everything you must know before booking your Mary King’s Close tickets.

A ‘Close’ is a residential street without through access. It is a Scottish term referring to ancient narrow streets beneath Edinburgh’s High Street and Royal Mile. 

Top Real Mary King’s Close Tickets

# Mary King’s Close tickets

What to expect at Mary King’s Close

Mary King’s Close is not a regular tourist attraction. Watch the video below to know what to expect. 

Visiting Real Mary King’s Close offers a memorable and immersive experience as you explore the hidden underground streets and spaces beneath Edinburgh’s Royal Mile.

The knowledgeable guides wear period costumes to enhance the historical atmosphere and share stories of plague epidemics, murder, and intrigue.

These stories provide insight into the daily lives, struggles, and triumphs of the residents.

You will see a variety of spaces, including living quarters, shops, and even remnants of the old streets.

The underground environment and dimly lit spaces create a mysterious and atmospheric setting.

The close quarters and narrow alleyways add to the sense of being transported back in time.

The underground environment might not suit everyone, particularly those with mobility issues and claustrophobia.

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Where to book tickets

Mary King’s Close tickets can be booked online or at the box office window.

Online ticket prices tend to be cheaper than tickets at the venue.

When you buy online, you can avoid the long queues at the attraction’s ticket counters.

When you book early, you also get your preferred time slot.

Because the attraction sells limited tickets, they may sell out during peak days. Booking early helps avoid last-minute disappointments.

How do online tickets work

Once you purchase tickets for Mary King’s Close, they get delivered to your email address.

There is no need to get printouts of the ticket.

You can show the e-ticket on your smartphone when you visit the attraction.

Mary King’s Close ticket prices

The ticket of Mary King’s Close is priced at £25 for all visitors aged 16 years and above.

Children up to 15 years old pay a discounted price of £19 for entry.

Mary King’s Close tickets

The Real Mary King’s Close has been voted Scotland’s Best Heritage Tourism Experience.

Book your tickets to this popular attraction, discover over 400 years of history, and learn about the intriguing stories of Edinburgh’s past residents.

From the deadly plague epidemic to a famous royal visitor, many tales are just waiting to be told.

An experience rooted in social history, this 1-hour character-guided tour also includes an immersive walk-through of the city’s uniquely preserved streets and spaces underneath Edinburgh’s famous Royal Mile.

Due to uneven surfaces and some steep inclines, wearing sturdy footwear is recommended.

Due to the site’s underground nature, visitors with asthma are advised to bring any medication/inhalers.

Children under five cannot be admitted for health and safety reasons. An adult should accompany children under 16 years old.

Ticket price

Adult Ticket (16+ years): £25
Child Ticket (up to 15 years): £19

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How to reach Real Mary King’s Close

Real Mary King’s Close is on the Royal Mile, almost opposite St Giles’ Cathedral. 

Mary King's Close location map
Map Courtesy: Realmarykingsclose.com

Address: The Real Mary King’s Close, High Street, 2 Warriston’s Close, Edinburgh, EH1 1PG. Get Directions

By Bus

You can take Lothian Bus No 31 (East Craigs – Bonnyrigg) or Bus No 37 (Silverknowes – Deanburn or Ladywood) to High Street

A two-minute walk from the High Street bus stop takes you to Real Mary King’s Close.

You can board bus number 9, 23 or 27 to Victoria Street take a three-minute walk, and reach the attraction.

Bus numbers 10, 11, 15, 16, 101, 101A, 102, N11, N16, N37, N43, N107, N113, X54, X55, X56, X58, X58A, X59, X59A, X60, and X61 will take you to Princes Street (Stop PR) and by taking a seven minutes walk you can reach the historical landmark.

If you board Bus No 22, get down at Waverly Steps and walk eight minutes to Mary King’s Close.

Airport to Mary King’s Close

From Edinburgh airport you must board 100 Airlink bus, which is also known as the City Center Express.

After ten stops and 23 minutes, the bus reaches its destination – Waverley Bridge

From the Bridge, a four minutes walk gets you to Real Mary King’s Close, Edinburgh.

By Train

Edinburgh Waverley Station is the primary station serving Edinburgh and is just 300 meters (.2 miles) from Mary King’s Close, available trains – Avanti West Coast, Caledonian Sleeper, CrossCountry, LNER, ScotRail, and lumo.

For train timings and prices, check Scotrail.

By Car

If you want to reach this Royal Mile attraction by car, turn on Google Maps and get started.

If you do not wish to travel by car, it is best to use Uber, Central Taxis, or City Cabs.

Car parking options are limited in Edinburgh Old Town. 

If you still insist on bringing along your car, check out Edinburgh Council’s website for parking slots. 

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Real Mary King’s Close entrance

Real Mary King’s Close is almost opposite St Giles’ Cathedral, on the Royal Mile.

Look out for the above entrance.

The Royal Mile is sloped but is relatively level at the main door of the attraction.

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Real Mary King’s Close opening hours

The Real Mary King’s Close is open on all days of the week, but the timings vary according to the season.

During the peak months (1 April to 31 October), the first tour at Real Mary King’s Close starts at 10 am, and the last tour begins at 9 pm. 

During the lean months (1 November to 31 March), the attraction continues to schedule its first tour at 10 am, but the timing for the day’s last tour varies during the week. 

From Sunday to Thursday, the day’s last tour is at 5 pm, and on Friday and Saturday, the day’s final tour starts at 9 pm. 

Real Mary King’s Close is closed on Christmas Day.

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How long does Mary King’s Close take

Visitors usually spend 90 minutes at Mary King’s Close. 

It is best to reach the attraction 15 minutes before the tour time.

While waiting for your tour to start, you can explore the exhibition and learn about life in Real Mary King’s Close. 

The fully guided underground tour takes 60 minutes, after which you return upstairs. 

If you step inside Royal Exchange Coffee House, the Cafe at Mary King’s Close, you need an additional half-hour.

Best time to visit

The best time to take the guided tour is to book the day’s first tour.

Weekdays tend to be less crowded than weekends.

Consider visiting on a weekday to avoid larger crowds if your schedule allows.

Edinburgh experiences peak tourist seasons during the summer (June to August) and around major festivals like the Edinburgh Festival Fringe in August.

During these times, attractions, including Mary King’s Close, may be more crowded.

If you prefer a quieter experience, consider visiting during the shoulder seasons in spring (April to May) or fall (September to October).

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Mary King’s Close tour in Edinburgh

Mary King's Close Tour in Plague Room
Mary King’s Close tour going on in the Plague Room. Image: Realmarykingsclose.com

You must know everything about Mary King’s Close tours before you book your tickets. 

1. These tours are not suitable for children under five years of age. There is talk of ghosts and haunted spaces, and that’s why younger kids aren’t allowed to join in.

2. As part of the Mary King’s Close tour, you must climb up 58 steps and climb down 38 steps. Since this is an underground tour, there are no lifts. 

3. The walking surface is often uneven, with steep inclines in some places, so we recommend comfortable and sturdy shoes.

4. Many areas of the underground alleys are dimly lit to re-create the dramatic effect of life in Mary King’s Close, in the 17th century. As a result, some visitors are known to experience disorientation and claustrophobia.

An alley in Mary King's Close
An alley in Mary King’s Close. Image: Realmarykingsclose.com

5. But you needn’t worry because the guide walking you through the tour will have two-way radios and can call in another member to assist you back to the reception.

6. Mary King’s Close Guided Tour is narrated through the eyes of four characters – Agnes Chambers (the maid), Robert Fergusson (the poet), Walter King (the plague cleaner), and John (the plague Doctor). We write about the Mary King’s Close characters in detail below.

7. The Real Mary King’s Close is unsuitable for wheelchair access. For more on accessibility, click here.

8. Since the Real Mary King’s Close is an underground attraction, visitors with asthma must bring along their medication/inhalers.

9. Tourists under the influence of alcohol are not allowed to join the tour, even if they hold valid tickets.

10. Visitors can’t take photographs during the underground tour.

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Real Mary King’s Close audio guide

If you understand English, you won’t need an audio guide while visiting Mary King’s Close because a ‘character’ guide is always with you.

However, if you prefer tour guidance in another language, you can opt for an audio guide in – French, Mandarin, Spanish, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, Hungarian, Dutch, or German.

The audio provides an overview of the tour but is not an exact character guide interpretation of the experience.

To reserve an audio guide, you must email the attraction in advance. Get in touch with contact@realmarykingsclose.com.

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Characters at Mary King’s Close

The Mary King’s Close tour is brought to life by actors, portraying four characters from different professions who lived in the Close during different times. 

Agnes Chambers, the maid

Agnes is a maid in the household of prominent merchant burgess Alexander Cant. 

Her story unravels in 1534 when murder gets committed in Craig’s Close, and too many things happen too fast.

Robert Fergusson, the poet

Robert is a well-known poet living in Mary King’s Close and the literary inspiration to Robert Burns

His story unravels in 1771, just before he joined the infamous Cape Club

Three years later, he would sustain a brain injury because of a fall down a flight of stairs, get admitted to a ‘hospital,’ and pass away when just 24 years old.

Walter King, the foul clenger

A Foul Clenger can also be called the ‘Plague Cleaner’, for they were responsible for cleaning the plague victim’s home following an outbreak.

Walter’s story unravels in 1645 during the deadly plague epidemic. 

His efforts of keeping the Mary King’s Close clean hardly got any appreciation. 

His only safety precaution was the Cross of St Andrew on his uniform. 

Joannes Paulitius, the Doctor

Joannes was a pioneer of emerging medical sciences in Edinburgh.

Edinburgh City Council recruited him to treat the plague-infected for a handsome salary of £8o Scots per month.

Unfortunately, he caught the Plague himself and died soon after.

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What is Mary King’s Close – the full story

The Real Mary King’s Close is a cluster of underground streets housing people of all classes since the 17th century. 

It got its name because of Mary King, a rich merchant woman who was the most prominent citizen living in these streets from 1635 onwards. 

Layout Map of Mary King's Close
Map Courtesy: Haunted-scotland.co.uk

Many believe Mary King’s Close was one of the first skyscrapers in the World.

Back then, cleanliness wasn’t a priority, and the situation worsened in Closes, where the poor lived.

Unsanitary living conditions resulted in an influx of flea-infested rodents, and by 1645, the city of Edinburgh witnessed the dreaded bubonic plague.

Many, including those living in Mary King’s Close, died. 

Those infected by the plague had swollen glands, bulbous puss-filled boils on the groin area and under the arm and severe bouts of vomiting. 

Precautions were taken to avoid the spread. For instance, infected people weren’t allowed to leave their homes. 

White rags hung outside the houses of plague victims to indicate that they needed food supplies.

John Paulitious was the first plague doctor of Edinburgh, but he died in June 1645 after contracting the disease.

Dr George Rae was a medical pioneer and Edinburgh’s second official plague doctor, who rose to the occasion and saved many patients from certain death. 

Plague Doctor's costume

Since he knew it was easy to get infected, he clothed himself in a scary-looking thick leather coat to prevent the fleas from biting him. 

He also wore a bird-like mask with sweet-smelling herbs in the front to protect himself from the foul smell and germs.  

Although the Edinburgh plague was mostly airborne, the leather protected Dr George Rae from rat and flea bites. Image: Plaguedoctors.tumblr.com

For the risk he took and the effort he put in during the bubonic plague, he was to receive a lot of money from the city council. 

The Edinburgh town council never intended to pay the money promised to Dr Rae because they didn’t expect him to survive the plague.

But he did survive and also saved a lot of the city people. 

Some say the Doctor never got the money.

Others believe that he fought a case against the Council and got what was due to him after a decade or so.

Life continued like this for another 100 years, and by 1750, Mary King’s Close was unbelievably dirty, overcrowded, and in a state of decay.

Around this time, the Old City authorities worried about losing trade to Edinburgh’s New Town, so they agreed to build a Royal Exchange opposite St Giles Cathedral. 

This spot was where Mary King’s Close stood with its streets and houses. 

The builders didn’t knock down the houses. Instead, they removed the top floors and used the lower levels as the Royal Exchange’s foundations.

The other end of Mary King’s Close was demolished in 1853 to build Cockburn Street.

Since the ground slopes in that region, the houses closer to the Royal Mile were destroyed, but those further away were buried intact. 

Even though it was buried under the Royal Exchange, people didn’t abandon Mary King’s Close completely. 

Some residents continued to live and run their businesses out of the houses in this half-buried Close.

The Chesney family made saws for a living and were the last to vacate the Close. 

In 1902, they got forced out as the Royal Exchange building – now the City Chambers – was extended.

Everything was forgotten for a century, but in 2003, Mary King’s Close welcomed visitors for the first time to step down and explore Edinburgh’s past. 

Today, tourists can book their Mary King’s Close tickets and tour these underground streets of Edinburgh. 

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Annie and her Doll

Annie, the little girl, is Mary King’s Close most famous ghost.

In the 90s, the Japanese psychic Aiko Gibo visited The Real Mary King’s Close while making a film about Britain’s haunted places.

When she tried to step into a room that belonged to Mary King’s Close and was very close to Allan’s Close, she felt much pain and unhappiness.

She couldn’t step in.

She could feel a small child tugging at her trousers — a girl who had been separated from her family and now wanted to be reunited with them.

Finally, with a lot of effort, Aiko Gibo could step in.

Once inside the room, the world-renowned psychic could communicate with the young girl’s spirit.

Annies Doll at Mary Kings Close

Aiko said, “Her name is Annie, and she has lost her favorite doll. She is very sad.”

The next day, the Japanese psychic bought a doll from the local Royal Mile shop and returned it to Annie.

After receiving the doll, Annie is supposed to have told Aiko that her spirit won’t disturb Mary King’s Close as long as the doll is with her.

Once visitors learned Annie’s sad story, they brought dolls and other toys.

Now, the room, named after her, is full of gifts left for Annie.

Many visitors report temperature changes and feeling a strange presence in her room.

Some attribute it to the 10-year-old girl named Annie, while many others say it is just a story that got them pumped up.

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How haunted is Real Mary King’s Close

The Real Mary King’s Close is considered by many to be one of the most haunted places in Scotland.

Tales of ghost sightings have dated back to 1685. 

Some blame the Mary King’s Close ghost sightings on Nor Loch, a stagnant and highly polluted marsh nearby. 

They say the biogas escaping into the Close creates eerie lights and sounds, making people believe in spirit sightings.

Many also believed that the gas escaping into the Closes nearby was known to cause hallucinations.

Watch this documentary below to find out bone-chilling stories about Mary King’s Close –

FAQs about Mary King’s Close

Here are some frequently asked questions about the Real Mary King’s Close:

Who was Mary King?

According to records, Mary King was a well-known businesswoman in the 1630s. She was a mother of four, a widow at the time, and made a career by sewing and trading fabrics. The fact that a close was named after a woman back then was extremely unique and demonstrated Mary’s prominence in the community.

Are pets allowed on the tour?

The nature of the tour does not make the tour suitable for animals. If you require a Guide Dog’s assistance, please get in touch with the authorities to arrange your visit; they will gladly accommodate you.

Is photography allowed on the Mary King’s Close tour?

Unfortunately, pictures are not allowed due to the nature of the site. A static camera takes a photo for you at the iconic close. It is, of course, optional for you to purchase once the tour has finished. Alternatively, consider purchasing a souvenir guidebook at the time of the booking or just before your tour starts.

What happens if I feel claustrophobic or disoriented during the Mary King’s Close tour?

If, during the tour, you feel claustrophobic or disoriented, please report it to your guide. Guides are equipped with radios and will arrange for a team member to take you back upstairs.

Are the stories told during the tour true?

The stories shared during the guided tours are based on historical facts and accounts. While some elements may be dramatized for storytelling purposes, the narratives are rooted in the history of the closes.

How do I purchase tickets for Mary King’s Close?

Tickets for Real Mary King’s Close can be purchased online in advance, and it is advisable to book in advance, especially during peak tourist seasons.

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This article was researched & written by

Edited by Rekha Rajan & fact checked by Jamshed V Rajan

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