Curious and Eccentric Edinburgh

Half day private vehicle tour

A most curious capital…

This is a tour for coinnoisseurs of the unusual!

Edinburgh, and its seaport neighbour Leith, have an incredibly deep and colourful history, and it’s only natural that at certain specific places and times, that history gave rise to some of the most odd and idiosyncratic people and projects that Scotland, or perhaps anywhere, has seen. World-class unusuality, you might say!

Luckily for us, Edinburgh is a city that preserves its history to an extraordinary extent, and so we can still visit many of these curious places, and hear the fascinating stories of their builders or owners.

Even better, many of the best of these curiosities, which feature on no other tour itinerary (even ours!) lie along a convenient road route, from east to north and finally central Edinburgh.

On our route to unearth these curiosities, we’ll be seeing some beautiful, unusual, and also very old buildings and monuments, as well as standing on the sites of past eccentricity – but we’ll also be hearing the stories behind the places – often of people now obscure, but who in their time have graced the stage of Edinburgh with their eccentric presences!


Portobello – this is Edinburgh’s seaside resort, where we’ll visit a set of fine columns of stone – or is it stone? The answer is in the story of one of the most inventive and entrepreneurial women of 1700’s Britain. We’ll also pass a shop that holds one of the great British food culture secrets!

Craigentinny – this east Edinburgh suburb houses possibly Britain’s most eccentric monument – the famous Craigentinny Marbles, conceived by mid-Victorian MP Henry Miller as his incredibly extravagant tombstone. But both the tomb itself, and Henry Miller’s life, contain fascinating (and related) secrets…

Restalrig – in this Edinburgh suburb’s ancient cemetery, we seek out two particular graves – one being of one of the city’s most prominent French residents of the 1700’s, who has an unusual Edinburgh claim to fame; the other, that of perhaps Edinburgh’s greatest eccentric, a high bar indeed! Even this man’s gravestone has an eccentric story!

Leith – in Edinburgh’s historic seaport, we’ll pass the green park of Leith Links, which has two very unusual secrets; then we’ll see a simple stone which is Norway’s contribution to Edinburgh curiosity! Whilst in Leith, we couldn’t NOT take you for our coffee-break to our finest Italian delicatessen, the world famous Valvona and Crolla!

Stockbridge – here in the Victorian edge of the New Town, we’ll stand on the site of perhaps the most ‘steam-punk’ attraction that has ever been created – the incredible Royal Patent Gymnasium of 1865, eccentric brainchild of Edinburgh businessman and health fanatic John Cox. The attractions included ‘The Great Sea Serpent’ – a circular rowing machine seating SIX HUNDRED rowers – which had its own brass band signature tune!

New Town – as we come up the hill into the city centre, we’ll pass the childhood home of our world-famous and much loved author, Robert Louis Stevenson, perhaps Edinburgh’s most famous eccentric! Then, passing through the east of the city centre, we’ll learn the importance of an extremely humble piece of metal, and also why one famous Edinburgh clock is only right once a year! We’ll also pass along a street whose name is actually a joke at the expense of our greatest philosopher, David Hume!

Calton Hill – here, at the conclusion of our tour, we’ll not only get the definitive view over central Edinburgh, but also be in amongst Edinburgh’s great monuments – which, as you might guess, come with very curious stories!

Over our half-day tour, you’ll have seen some fine and overlooked locations of our wonderful city, but also heard many normally deeply-buried stories of some of our most inspired and unusual citizens!

tour essentials

  • Credit/debit cards, cash, Apple/Samsung pay accepted.
  • Pickup and return to accommodation, cruise vessel or any Edinburgh location
  • Visiting curious and eccentric locations in Edinburgh
  • Price includes refreshments at Valvona and Crolla delicatessen.
  • Fully licensed and insured driver-guides. Tours fully in German available by arrangement.
  • Children welcome, but families must provide own booster seats if required.
  • Weather dependent tour – 7 Hills Tours reserve the right to cancel with refund in case of severe weather.