Robert Louis Stevenson - The Edinburgh Years

Half day private vehicle tour

Robert Louis Stevenson was an Edinburgh boy through and through, born into a famous dynasty of lighthouse engineers. Young RLS though, was different from the very start, as he navigated his solidly middle-class upbringing in the New Town.

Frail in health and nervous on the one hand, Robert Louis Stevenson had a restless creativity, always with notebook in hand to record and create. He studied law at the University of Edinburgh, but his interest ran more to the city’s demi-monde, through which he cut a raffish young figure in his trademark velvet coat, always watching, always absorbing – scenes, actions, characters – the experiences that would come bursting out in a creative storm not much later.

Away from the hubbub of the city, he took inspiration too in the quietude and cheerfulness of his minister grandfather’s home at Colinton, and at the family’s summer retreat in Swanston, on the slopes of the Pentland Hills.

Your intinerary

  • Our luxury vehicle will pick up your party from your accommodation or cruise vessel. First, you’ll visit where it all began, Stevenson’s birthplace in the New Town. From there we’ll walk in his baby-carriage tracks to the Royal Botanic Gardens, and little RLS’s favourite pond.
  • Next you’ll see the house where RLS spent most of his boyhood, in Heriot Row. We’ll see the location of his first school, as well as passing Edinburgh Academy, where he had his high school years.
  • You’ll follow him up to university, viewing Old College Quadrangle, as well as his local ‘howff’ or hangout, just across the road


  • You’ll visit picturesque Colinton Village and the church and house where RLS many happy days. Here we can follow a laid-out RLS trail up the ‘long steps’ to the main street, seeing poetry installations from ‘A Child’s Garden of Verse’ as we go.
  • Finally, we’ll go to the very edge of the city, to rural Swanston, to see where the Stevenson family spent their summers, far from the dirt and hustle of the city; a place where RLS took much inspiration.
  • The tour will end with you back in the city at your chosen point, or you can continue the RLS theme by dining either at Swanston, or at the historic Hawes Inn, South Queensferry (meals and later return journey to Edinburgh not inclusive)

Tour Essentials

  • Credit/debit cards, cash, Apple/Samsung pay accepted
  • Half day tour (approx four and half hours)
  • Inclusive refreshement stop with tea/coffee and scones


  • Free cancellation up to 24hrs before tour time
  • Commentary from local guide
  • Complimentary pickup and drop-off at your accommodation or your preferred location
  • Children welcome, but we cannot provide child safety seats